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[Image 1: Department of Defense
Photo (USMC) 0"60S75. Capt Thomas A. Keene, Commanding Officer, Company
F, 2d Battalion, 4th Marines, briefs his men before embarking in HMH-462
helicopters
to launch
Operation Eagle Pull in Cambodia. Capt Keene and his Marines were located
on the Okinawa along with Company H, commanded by Capt Steven R. Bland.]

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aircraft parts at Utapao Air Base for pick-up by ship's helicopters, the Navy assured vital spares needed to maintain the Marine CH-53s in top operating condition.35


This spirit of preparation and teamwork spilled over into other areas as well. Especially evident in the junior officers, this willingness to prepare for every eventuality manifested itself in the daily training programs which the officers, along with their NCOs, conducted. During these sessions, the small unit leaders disseminated enough information to keep the Marines appraised of the tactical situation and aware of their operational status. This continuous two-way exchange went a long way toward sustaining morale and maintaining an edge.36


The constant flow of information also meant continually changing data which in turn necessitated alterations in the final guidance. The helicopter employmenr and landing tables (HEALTS), developed months earlier by the joint effort of the squadron and battalion staffs, facilitated incorporation of last-minute changes and provided the ARG with much needed flexibility. This plan enabled the MAU to deliver to the operational area several different hcliteam configurations. The MAU commander commented years later that "the planning considerations concerning helicopter flow and unit integrity . . . were integral to the plan even prior to the allocation of CH-53 assets during February."37


To sustain this flexibility meant quickly acquiring and disseminating the most up-to-date data available. Colonel Roche's numerous liaison visits to Nakhon Phanom provided him an opportunity to access a source of this knowledge. At USSAG Headquarters, an abundance of intelligence, particularly photo coverage of the landing zones, existed. Colonel Roche considered this the most-current and best-prepared information on the tactical situation in Cambodia. As a result, every unit commander, including the fire team leaders, received a derailed briefing on his specific landing zone and the lay of the land around it. In addition, for each course of action, the Marines rehearsed their procedures for both helicopter embarkation and their sector defense deployment. It seemed that no detail escaped inspection or rehearsal and as a consequence, this well-drilled group of Marines represenred an assault unit properly prepared to perform an operation requiring precise timing and movement. At the MAU and battalion staff level, the commander and his staff discussed anticipated problems and worse-case situations with the expectation that nothing would be overlooked. Finally, this team effort would be put to the test.38


Beginning 7 April, the 31st MAU went to a one-hour readiness posture, which meant by 0400 each day, all heliteams had to be assembled in their assigned area, fully outfitted and ready to go. At this lime, staged ammunition marked with a team's number was broken out for issue. Pending the signal to execute, the flight crews and heliteams waited and the actual issuance of ammunition was placed on hold.39


On the afternoon of 11 April, the MAU received the order to execute Operation Eagle Pull. General Burns established L-Hour as 0900 the following morning. The option selected involved the use of a single landing site. Landing Zone Hotel. At 1930, 11 April on the Okinawa, Colonel Roche called a meeting of his subordinate commanders. For the final time, the MAU S-3, Major James R. Brown, Jr., briefed the selected plan of action.40


The use of Landing Zone Hotel would require a 360-man security force. To balance the principle of








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