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The Chief of Staff, 9th MAB and his core of officers were normally collocated with the commander of Task Force 76, the commander of amphibious forces in the Seventh Fleet, where they functioned as a headquarters with representatives from each operational area. For contingencies and exercises, the full brigade staff was activated by drawing previously designated officers from III MAF, 3d Marine Division, and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, and integrating them into the original nucleus to form the tactical MAB headquarters. Ground combat, aviation combat, and service support forces were then attached to the brigade as mission or operational requirements dictated.
When General Carey arrived at III MAF Headquarters at Camp Courtney, Okinawa, on 3 April, he found only a handful of officers there. The Blue Ridge, with the MAB's nucleus staff officers already embarked, had left Okinawa for Subic Bay and the South China Sea. As soon as the advance staff reported on board, it began preparing for the evacuation of Military Regions l and 2.
After determining the whereabouts of his forward staff. General Carey conferred with General Hoffman. Both agreed that the MAB commander should consolidate his headquarters and Join Admiral Whitmire and the task force as soon as possible. Carey decided to join the Blue Ridge at Subic Bay where the reconstituted amphibious ready group was forming.
General Carey alerted his remaining staff members to prepare for immediate movement to Subic Bay and further transit to a rendezvous with Task Force 76. On 4 April, General Carey flew to Subic Bay, accompanied by Colonel Alfred M. Gray, commanding officer of the 4th Marines, and the MAB's augment staff. The augmented officers normally worked in the headquarters of the 4th and 12th Marines and the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, while Colonel Gray also held the position of commanding officer designate of the 33d MAU, the landing force assigned to ARG Bravo.42
Ill MAF's liaison officer in Subic Bay, Major Robert M. Reed, quickly arranged for office spaces for the brigade staff at the Subic Bay Marine Barracks. Ill MAF and 1st MAW Headquarters temporarily provided personnel on a rotational basis to augment the Marine Barracks office, which spent extensive time and effort supporting the numerous Marine units training in the Philippines and operating from Subic Bay. The brigade planners used this office space to begin planning for the real thing, setting aside their MABLEx plans, preparing for the upcoming emergency and a rendezvous in the South China Sea with Task Force 76.43
On 7 April, III MAF activated the 53d MAU and its attached elements. It consisted of BLT 1/9, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Roycc L. Bond, and the battalion's logistical mainstay, Major Donald O. Coughlin's LSU 1/9. Already on alert at Subic, having been flown there on 5 April by the USAF Military Airlift Command (MAC), BLT 1/9 was ready for the word to move out. In a round-the-clock shuttle, the Air Force delivered all of the battalion's attached elements, even the assault amphibian tractor platoon. It unloaded the final elements at the Cubi Point Naval Air Station (situated adjacent to and across the bay from the naval base at Subic Bay) Just 27 hours after the initial alert. Perhaps the most difficult part of this movement actually occurred on the ground, on Okinawa.
While Marines readied the assault amphibians for movement to Kadena, Air Force C-5 "Galaxys" prepared to fly to Okinawa to pick them up. By noon on 6 April, 9th Motor Transport Battalion's flat bed "low-boys," loaded with eleven tractors, began their trek from Camp Schwab. They had a 1600 rendezvous at Kadena with the world's largest transport aircraft. Lieutenant Colonel Joseph F. Molineaux, Jr., commanding officer of the 1st Amphibian Tractor Battalion, led the convoy. Even though he would not make the trip south with his tractor platoon, he had decided to at least go part of the way with his "tractor rats."*
By 1430, as the convoy passed through Ishikawa on the narrow, two-lane, east coast highway, the Okinawa Sunday traffic was literally backed up for miles. The low-boy drivers had their hands full contending with daring Okinawa drivers. These daredevils would dan in and out. dodging among the evenly spaced Marine vehicles, and challenging the oncoming, northbound traffic. Despite these intrusions, the tractors arrived at Kadena on time.44
Within two days of BLT 1/9's landing at Cubi, the heightened activity at the MAU camp and the airfield subsided. Its disappearance marked the successful conclusion of the hectic job of reconstituting Amphibious Ready Group Bravo. Likewise, the Hancock 's (CVA 19) arrival meshed perfectly with the Midway's (CVA 41)
*Lieutcnant Colonel Molineaux had assumed command of "1st Tracs" six months earlier, 8 October 1974. This organisation claimed the distinction of being the longest continually deployed unit in the Marine Corps. "1st Tracs" had shipped out of San Diego in Au-gusi 19^0 with the 1st Marine Division.
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