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[Image 1: Department of Defense
Photo (USN) 1162058. Vietnamese refugees
scramble down a cargo net to a barge manned by men of the 1st Battalion,
4th Marines
who served as a specially tailored security force. In the foreground is tiny
Pawnee, which played a role throughout the evacuation of northern South Vietnam.]

 

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one of scheduling and coordination: matching available Marine security forces with the numerous requests for protection made by commercial ships laden with starving and armed refugees.


This new use of Marines-as specially tailored, reinforced, platoon-sized security forces for Military Sealift Command's ships-required new planning. Each of the four rifle companies was broken down into three "security forces," task organized with support from the weapons platoon, medical section, engineers, military police, and interpreters. Two additional security detachments were formed out of various headquarters elements, as backups should they be needed. Various attached personnel-doctors, counterintelligence specialists, and some interpreters-were kept in a central pool to be used in general support. This security force structure was supported by ships of Task Group 76.8 and the helicopters of HMM-165. Each "force" was prepared to mount out with enough supplies to last a week.



In addition to the modifications in this force, the Navy reorganized Amphibious Ready Group Bravo. The reconstituted ARG Bravo consisted of the attack carrier, Hancock (CVA 19), the Durham, and the Frederick. The carrier Hancock, reconfigured as an LPH, served as its embarked squadron's (HMH-463) flight deck. The amphibious ready group, strengthened by the addition of the helicopter platform, prepared to embark Colonel Gray's 33d MAU. In anticipation of this reorganization, the Durham and Frederick transferred their embarked rifle companies to the Du-buque. This had to be done at sea in order to make room for the 33d MAU and still maintain the tactical integrity of the Amphibious Evacuation RVN Support Group. Crossdecking became a way of life for the Marines of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines. Some made as many as four ship changes in a week, usually on a moment's notice.15


On 5 April, the evacuation flotilla positioned itself off the coast of Phan Rang. The 1st Platoon of Com-







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