[Image 1: Marine Corps Historical
Collection. Acting Cambodian President Saukham Khoy arrives on the Okinawa.
Lon No had Ieft on l April after receiving an "invitation to vacation" with
the Indonesian president.]
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modifications to the plans for notification, assembly, and transportation of evacuees.
With each passing day, the situation at the airfield became less tenable. The Communists continued to press their attacks all around the city and with the insurgent reinforcements arriving from Neak Loung, the balance of combat power began to shift. The rebels controlled, uncontested, the eastern side of the Mekong, and by 10 April they so inundated the airfield with artillery fire that the United States ceased all fixed-wing evacuation operations.
With this option eliminated, site selection for helicopter landing zones dominated the command group's planning meetings. Acknowledging Communist control of the east bank of the Mekong River, the planners decided not to use the zone closest to the Embassy because of its proximity to the river. These LZs were situated on the Mekong's west bank. Instead, they selected, as. a single landing site. Landing Zone Hotel, a soccer field about 900 meters northeast of the Embassy. Masked from the river by a row of apartment buildings, this LZ could not be interdicted by direct fire weapons, making it the safest location and thereby the best choice.
The Embassy personnel prepared to depart on 11 April, but instead delayed one
more day. The decision to wait assumed as accurate and reliable the estimated
arrival time of the Hancock. With its presence, the Marine Corps would have
available HMH-463. Until this point, the planners had assumed only one Marine
Corps squadron would be available and expected to employ an equal number of
Air Force helicopters to have sufficient lift capability. The Hancock's arrival
allowed a modification to this scheme of maneuver and consisted of using HMH-463
in the initial insertion and extraction phase while keeping the Air Force "53s" in
reserve. In addition the Air Force helicopters could be employed as sea and
air rescue. Planned use of these additional CH-53s also included adding them
to the flow as necessary, and recovery of the command clement.31
On the morning of 12 April, each member of the Embassy staff and the command element prepared for his specific evacuation task. At 0730, Ambassador
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