Page 155


[Image 1: Marine
Corps Historical Collection An overhead view of the DAO compound
with the Air America terminal across the street to the west,
at left. Large building at center is DAO offices, formerly
MACV headquarters.]


Page 155(The Bitter End)




inclusion of these rules of engagement, the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade concluded
its evacuation planning. With a blueprint in hand, everyone's attention refocused
on the events in South Vietnam as the brigade staff calculated when they might
expect to execute Operation Frequent Wind.27 DAO Planning: The SPG and Project
Alamo


During April 1975, while Task Force 76 maneuvered its ships off the coast of South Vietnam and 9th MAB prepared for the evacuation, the Defense Attache Office in Saigon maintained an incredibly busy schedule. One group in particular had been sustaining, since its formation in late February, a furious planning pace. Known as the SPG or Special Planning Group, it consisted of Colonel Eugene R. "Pat" Howard, the senior member; Major Jaime Sabater.Jr., a representative to the Four-Power Joint Military Commission; Captain Anthony A. Wood, the Joint Casualty Resolution Center's deputy for operations in South Vietnam; and Army Captain George Pctry, a member of the Joint Casualty Resolution Center.


Years later Captain Wood recalled his mission: "We had to devise a plan to fortify and reinforce the Compound to hold 10,000 people for 10 days should the situation dictate that in order to accomplish evacuation. Immediately I called it Alamo because it seemed obvious that was what we were doing and the name stuck." Project Alamo included the fortification of the compound for the purpose of safely evacuating from Saigon all Americans and "third country nationals."28


General Smith designated his deputy defense attache, Brigadier General Richard M. Baughn, USAF, as the person responsible for all matters relating to evacuation. To assist General Baughn in coordination of the overall evacuation. General Smith created three other groups and integrated them into the process. For overall command and control, he established the Evacuation Control Center (ECC) and located it in the old MACV bunker, and for processing of the anticipated high numbers of evacuees, he organized the Evacuation Processing Center (EPC) which eventually settled on the DAO Annex as its processing site. As a source of counsel and a conduit for information exchange, he formed the evacuation council whose meetings Captain Wood and approximately 30 other members of the Defense Attache Office attended.


Almost all of General Smith's staff participated in more than one aspect of the evacuation process due to the compressed timcframe and the complexity of the mission. The innumerable tasks undertaken by Lieutenant Colonel William E. McKinstry, operations staff officer in the Readiness Section, Operations and









Page 155(The Bitter End)