[Image 1: Department
of Defense Photo
Col David M.
here as a lieutenant
26 July 1975
to 16 February
1974. The 51st
MAU Marines assumed
the tasks of
forces for Operation
Eagle Pull in
and never relinquished
Page 46(The Bitter End)
officer, Major James B. Hicks; representatives from Seventh Fleet's Amphibious Ready Group Alpha, and key officers from participating Air Force units. Colonel Edward J. Bronars, USMC, the USSAG's Chief of Surface Operations and Plans Division, chaired the conference.
As part of the conference schedule, Colonel Olm-stcad and selected Marine officers visited Phnom Penh on 4 August and sighted the designated landing zones. While in Phnom Penh, Colonel Olmstcad participated with the Embassy staff in a command post exercise. The Marines who remained at Nakhon Pha-nom helped develop helicopter coordination schedules, procedures for the rescue of downed helicopters, approach and retirement lanes, and a plan for emergency resupply of committed forces.
After Colonel Olmstcad and his party returned to Nakhon Phanom on 5 August, Colonel Twomey, Lieutenant Colonel Arthur B. Colbcrt, and key MAU officers visited Phnom Penh for a similar reconnaissance. During these two visits, valuable liaison was established among the Marines, the Embassy staff, and the Military Equipment Delivery Team, Cambodia (MEDTC), headed by Brigadier General John R. Cleland, Jr., USA. The members of MEDTC were responsible for organizing, supervising, and controlling the Phnom Penh evacuation and, of particular importance, the selection of prospective helicopter landing zones.27
The landing zones were approved by the charge d'affaires in Phnom Penh, William K. Enders, based upon the recommendations of the MEDTC. The population concentrations in the city heavily influenced the recommended locations of the various landing zones. The number of zones reflected the planning assumption that chaos and confusion would render land transportation unusable.
The inability to improve prospective landing zones for helicopters limited the number of sites. Several athletic fields were potential landing zones, but light towers surrounding them made night use unsafe. This eliminated five of eight proposed landing zones including ones at the colosseum and at the university both of which initially were considered primary sites. Of those remaining. Landing Zone (LZ) B was adjacent to the Presidential Palace, while LZs C and H were the ones nearest to the American Embassy. The Embassy LZ, LZ C, was near the river bed, dry in winter and spring due to the absence of rainfall and completely surrounded by barbed wire. LZ H, added to the list in 1974, was a soccer field slightly removed from the river, bordered on three sides by apartment buildings; LZs Dl and D2 were alternate zones, each with a rated capacity of one aircraft per zone, to be used only if there were no means of getting evacuees to the primary zones.28
Subsequent conferences involving III MAF and 31st MAU representatives occurred with greater frequency as the situation in Cambodia worsened. During each conference, the Marines significantly refined and updated plans, including the addition of two options involving the employment of 31st MAU elements. The most important accomplishment was the integration of both the MAU's helicopter and ground elements into the plan. As a result, the final plan listed five courses of action for the helicopter evacuation option, Option III.
One common factor in all five alternatives was the source of the landing force command element, the 3d Marine Division. With the two most likely alternatives involving the 31st MAU, it seemed logical that the command clement should originate from within the
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