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served as the first. Later that year (1973) Lieutenant Colonel George E. Strickland reported to the DAO to assume the duties of the departing Lieutenant Colonel Fillmore. In June of 1974, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Lukeman relieved him. The primary responsibility of each of these officers was to ensure that the South Vietnamese Marine Corps received an uninterrupted flow of supplies and equipment.33
Fillmore, then Strickland, and later Lukeman and the five American civilians who worked in the Logistics Support Branch were not subject to the rigid travel restrictions imposed on most of the DAO personnel. Exempt from this impediment, they made frequent trips to Military Region l (Huong Dien, Hue, Phu Bai, and Da Nang) and to other VNMC locations including Vung Tau and Song Than. This kind of contact enabled them to provide "personalized, direct, field support" to the Vietnamese Marine Corps. Lieutenant Colonel Strickland recalled, "Most of my tour was spent living with the Vietnamese Marine Corps in a bunker. While in Saigon, I maintained a billet at the Brinks Hotel, three blocks from my office. All of the U.S. civilians [LSB staff] lived in Vietnamese housing close to VNMC headquarters."*34
The senior Marine in the DAO then was Colonel Nicholas M. Trapnell,Jr., chief of the Plans and Liaison Branch, Operations and Plans Division. Responsible for planning and liaison on matters relating to support of South Vietnam's military, Colonel Trapnell assumed those duties in April of 1973 from his predecessor, Colonel William B. Fleming. Colonel Paul L. Siegmund relieved Trapnell a year later and departed South Vietnam in March 1975. Colonel Eugene R. "Pat" Howard reported to the DAO in January 1975 as Siegmund's replacement. Colonel Trapnell recalled, "I arrived late March 1973 and had a brief overlap with Colonel Bill Fleming. March 28 was the 'Magic Date' by which all military advisors had to be 'out of country.' "35
During the summer of 1973, Lieutenant Colonel Charles A. Barstow assumed the third Marine Corps billet in the DAO. Lieutenant Colonel Barstow became the readiness deputy of the Operations and Plans Division, replacing Major Joseph F. Nardo who a few months earlier, in April, had relieved Major Richard F. Johnson. In September 1974, Lieutenant Colonel William E. McKinstry undertook those tasks.
A fourth Marine officer was assigned to a billet created as a result of the ceasefire agreement: Liaison Officer, Four Power Joint Military Commission, RVN. Major Larry D. Richards joined the Four Power Joint Military Commission in 1973 as one of the U.S. representatives tasked with liaison duties. He was subsequently replaced by Major Jaime Sabater.Jr., whose planned but never effected relief was Major Richard H. Esau, Jr:"
In 1974, the number of Marine officers in South Vietnam increased by one when Captain Anthony A. Wood transferred from the Joint Casualty Resolution Center (JCRC) in Nakhon Phanom to Saigon. His official title was Operations Officer (Forward, South Vietnam), JCRC. In February 1975, he joined the Special Planning Group at the DAO headed by Colonel Pat Howard. Colonel Howard, an aviator, had been tasked by Major General Homer D. Smith, USA, the Defense Attache, with the additional, but secret, responsibility of discreetly planning for an evacuation of Saigon.** (Ambassador Graham Martin had refused to entertain any discussion of such an eventuality.) Lieutenant Colonel Strickland observed, "Both Majors Diffee and Bergen of Company E, MSG Bn (Marine Security Guard Battalion) worked continuously on an American Embassy security and evacuation plan in spite of Ambassador Martin's refusal to foresee its importance. They made a superb effort to be prepared."37
Company E of the Marine Security Guard Battalion, commanded by Major Gerald E. Diffee until 15 September 1973 when Major Daniel F. Bergen relieved him, represented the largest group of Marines in Southeast Asia following the signing of the Paris Peace Accords. It was charged with the responsibility of providing security for the United States Embassy in Saigon and consulates in Da Nang, Nha Trang, and Bien Hoa. Company E was organized into a headquarters and three platoons. Two platoons accounted for the interior and exterior guards at the embassy and the consulate detachments, while the third platoon
*Fivc American civilians worked in the VNMC Logistics Support Branch. Two members of the staff, the deputy chief of VNMC logistics Support Branch and the branch's supply advisor, were former Marines. Terry Edwards, a Marine captain in world War II, served as the second in command, while Charles C. Gorman, Master Gunnery Sergeant, USMC (Ret), and a former supply chief, lived up to his own supply motto, "A supply shack is only a sorting place. The supplies belong in the field with the troops." Strickland comments.
**Colonel 'Hapnell stated that "The planning that led to the creation of the Special Planning Group began in the DAO under General Murray approximately six months prior to his departure on around September 1973" and that concurrent planning was already underway at USSAG. Trapnell Comments.
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