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[Image 1: Department
of Defense Photo
(USMC) A708034
Col Edward].
Bronars, pictured
here as a lieutenant
general, served
as USSAG's Chief
of Surface Operations
and Plans Division
in 1975-74. In
August of 1973, he chaired the first in a series
of joint planning
conferences held
at Nakhon Phanom,
Thailand.]

[Image 2: Marine Corps Historical Collection. Col
Stephen G. Olmstead,
pictured here as a lieutenant general, commanded the 9th Marines
and was the designated commander
of the ground
security forces for Operation Eagle Pull. Although Phnom Penh
was not evacuated during his tour, Col Olmstead
made several inspections
of the Cambodian capital.]

Page 45(The Bitter End)


which, after the excitement had subsided, did take place on 4 July 1973 in a rather anticlimactic atmosphere.24


Helicopter availability remained a major point of concern for CinCPac. The number of available Air Force helicopters combined with the highest estimate of evacuees required an excessive number of round-trip flights. As a consequence it prolonged the exposure to enemy ground fire and represented an unnecessary risk. The estimated duration of the operation, 48 hours, was unacceptable, and more helicopters had to be located or the number of evacuees had to be reduced. Fortunately, minesweeping operations off North Vietnam were rapidly approaching conclusion and amphibious assault ships and their embarked helicopters would be available by l August. The assignment of naval forces to the operation would not only double the number of available helicopters, but also would halve the distance from launch point to destination. This would significantly reduce the duration of the mission.25


On 30 July, upon completion of Operation End Sweep, the 31st MAU was reconstituted. Its helicopter organization was reconfigured to accommodate a maximum number of CH-53s on board the USS Tripoli (LPH 10). Consisting of 13 CH-53s, 4 CH-46s, 2 "Hueys," and 4 "Cobras," the new helicopter composition of the MAU became known as the "Eagle Pull mix". The reorganization of the MAU provided significantly enhanced flexibility to the planners. At this point though, the only MAU units incorporated in the operational plan were the helicopters.29


During the period 3-5 August 1973, the first series of planning conferences involving representatives of III MAF and USSAG convened at General Vogt's headquarters in Nakhon Phanom. The initial conference had as its goal coordination of III MAF's participation. Those present included the 31st MAU's new commander, Colonel David M. Twomey; the commanding officer of the 9th Marines and designated commander of the ground security forces. Colonel Stephen G. Olmstead; the III MAF Eagle Pull liaison

 








Page 45(The Bitter End)