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and panic had created a military and political crisis in South Vietnam, and as a result the available Western Pacific forces now had two contingencies with which to contend, possibly at the same time. With the Hancock steaming west and the situation in Vietnam deteriorating. Eagle Pull planners developed a fifth and final option for the fixed-wing plan.
Throughout the planning phase, the anticipated number and location of evacuees fluctuated. At one point in the planning cycle, 21 March, the Embassy forecast 3,600 refugees, a number far exceeding the original prediction of 400. In the event it became impossible or unfeasible to evacuate such a large number by helicopter, especially if the highly vulnerable Pochentong Airfield suddenly came under attack, an additional course of action had to be available. The fifth option, devised as a "worst case" version, served this purpose. It called for the use of fixed-wing, U.S. Air Force aircraft to effect the withdrawal. Under these circumstances, a ground security force large enough to secure the entire airfield would be needed, The ex-tensiveness of the area to be secured would mandate the deployment of at least two battalions thereby making the event a multi-battalion operation. For this reason, on 26 March, the III MAF Commander, Major General Carl W- Hoffman, reactivated the llth Marine Amphibious Brigade.23
General Hoffman selected Brigadier General Harold L. Coffman, Assistant Division Commander, 3d Marine Division, to be the commanding general of the llth MAB. During December 1974, General Coffman had commanded the 9th MAB while participating in Operation Pagasa II in the Philippines. Upon being designated Commanding General, llth MAB, he requested that several of the officers formerly assigned to his staff during that exercise be added to the newly constituted MAB's roster. The 3d Marine Division complied with General Coffman's request and temporarily transferred the designated officers to the llth MAB. The newly assigned Marines quickly formed a planning staff, the nucleus of the new brigade. Staff agencies within the division headquarters readily provided administrative support to this nucleus of 10 officers.24
The planning for participation by the llth MAB in the evacuation of Cambodia began immediately and the planners used the United States Support Activities Group/Seventh Air Force's Operation Plan 5060(C) as a blueprint. In the process, the MAB staff resolved the differences in assumptions, missions, and courses of action as they arose. The llth MAB distributed its operational plan on 2 April as the combat activity in Cambodia reached a new level of intensity. To expedite matters and insure immediate delivery to prospective subordinates, the MAB issued the plan in message rather than standard, more formal, format.
As drafted, the planning concept contained a six-phase operation: Phase I-Movement to Ubon Air Force Base in Thailand on board Military Airlift Command aircraft; Phase II-Air assault movement to Pochentong on board Marine and US. Air Force C-130 aircraft; Phase III-Establishment of a defensive perimeter around Pochentong; Phase IV- Conduct of security and evacuation operations; Phase V- Withdrawal from Pochentong; and Phase VI - Return to home stations. The operation entailed the employment of Lieutenant Colonel Royce L. Bond's BLT 1/9, Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Loehe's BLT 3/9, and forces from the 31st MAU (BLT 2/4 and HMH-462). The plan called for initial insertion of one BLT, 2/4, by HMH-462 helicopters in order to secure the runway at Pochentong. Immediately after the insertion, BLT 3/9, including its artillery battery, would be flown to Pochentong on board C-130 aircraft. The two battalions would then press outward establishing a security perimeter around the airfield complex. Evacuation operations would begin approximately 45 minutes after the initial landings. The helicopters would ferry evacuees from Phnom Penh to Pochentong to board C-130s for the flight to Thailand. An estimate of seven hours to evacuate and three hours to extract the security force made this operational plan a complex and involved process, requiring tactical Air Force aircraft on station over Pochentong and Phnom Penh. Additionally, the MAB's reserve, BLT 1/9, would be placed on call at Ubon Air Base, Thailand, for possible insertion should the situation dictate.
Precise timing was of the essence. Critical to the success of the entire plan was the air assault schedule developed by Major Martin J. Lcnzini, the brigade air liaison officer, on loan from the 9th Marines. Major Lenztni, an A-4 pilot and former commanding officer of VMA-225, formulated a scheme of movement that meshed the flow of amphibious-based helicopters with a stream of fixed-wing transports. His objective was to achieve a maximum build-up of security forces at Pochentong in the shortest possible time. The complex, critical time-flow charts that he developed made this an exceptional plan.
Before the plan could be tested, its reason for im-
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