Page 132


[Image 1: Marine
Corps Historical
Collection. Fishing
boats rest peacefully
in water near
N ha Trong prior
to the catastrophic
collapse of MR
2 and the closing
of the American
consulate in
the city on l
April 1975. Anything
that floated,
including tires,
was used by thousands
of Vietnamese
fleeing the NVA.]

Page 132(The Bitter End)


his
new instructions-to leave Nha Trang immediately. In the
confusion of their unexpectedly sudden departure, the Marines
left their health and pay records behind. To retrieve them.
Staff Sergeant Painter sent Sergeant Michael A. McCormick,
his assistant noncommissioned officcr-in-charge, back to
the consulate. When McCormick returned to the airfield less
than an hour later, he noticed that his bag, left with those
of the other Marines, was gone. Incredulously, he realized
thai Painter, and the other members of the detachment. Corporals
Robert L. Anderson, John G. Moya, Lcvorn L. Brown, and Jimmie
D. Sneed, had left without him. Later, he discovered that
they, along with the consul general and the other Nha Trang-based
Americans, had flown to Saigon. Sergeant McCormick quickly
found another American in the same lonely situation who
said that an Air America helicopter was presently inbound
to Nha Trang. The Air America helicopter only had enough
fuel to fly them to Cam Ranh Bay whereupon it refueled and
then flew on to Saigon. McCormick recalled, "I will never forget the anger, fear, and then relief I experienced that day. I was very fortunate to escape Nha Trang. The enemy was everywhere." Subsequently,
Sergeant McCormick
learned thai Staff Sergeant Painter had no choice that day
but to leave when he did because of the
consul general's
orders.*29


As an epilogue, the Nha Trang Marines spent more than three weeks in Saigon before they moved to the Marine Security Guard Headquarters in Manila. During their interlude in Saigon, Lance Corporal Darwin D. Judge arrived in South Vietnam as an Embassy Guard replacement on 24 April. The NCOIC of the Embassy Detachment, Master Sergeant Juan J. Valdez, assigned Sergeant McCormick the responsibility of orienting and acquainting Judge with his new surroundings. A few days after McCormick and the Nha Trang Marines left. Judge, along with Corporal Charles McMahon,Jr., was transferred to the DAO Compound to augment the security force guarding thai installation.30 Ill MAF and the NVA Onslaught


For the two weeks preceding the fall of Nha Trang, III MAF Headquarters had been attempting to complete its preparations for a number of contingencies.


*Scrgcani McCormick recalled years later that the Nha Trang Marines did not simply "cut and run." They were prepared to stay as long as necessary, but were never given the opportunity. McCormick Comments.








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