Page 189


[Image 1: Photo
courtesy of LtCol William R. Mclion. USMC. The first section
of CH-53s approaches the DAO landing zones. At 1506 the first
helicopters of HMH-462 touched down at the Alamo, officially
beginning Operation Frequent Wind.]

Page 189(The Bitter End)




helicopter and at 1315 departed the Slue Ridge for the landing zone.31


At 1350, a section of Huey helicopters landed at the DAO Compound and discharged its passengers, General Carey and Colonel Gray. During their approach to the compound, they experienced a firsthand view of the enemy's firepower. The NVA was shelling nearby Tan Son Nhut Airport with ground, rocket, and artillery fire. Upon touching down after an uneventful but exciting flight. General Carey exited the lead helicopter followed by Colonel Gray from the second Huey. They quickly established an austere command post in preparation for the arrival of the Marine CH-53s and the ground security force.32


Proceeding by way of Point Hope, the initial checkpoint and the spot where the Peoria positioned itself to pick up any downed pilots, the first wave checked in with Air Force control. Upon contact with Cricket, the flight radioed its next checkpoint, Keyhole, and its destination, the DAO Compound. Just prior to passing Keyhole, Cricket directed Lieutenant Colonel Bolton and his squadron to switch to the landing zone controller's frequency. After an initial radio check, Bolton requested and obtained clearance into the zone for his flight, and the first wave started landing at 1506. At that moment, it was 0306 in Washington, the same day, 29 April 1975, and 2106, 28 April, at the CinCPac Command Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.


Greeted by the cheers of a crowd of American and South Vietnamese evacuees, the Marines of BLT 2/4 rushed to their assigned positions in the sector. They wasted no time in establishing a security zone to protect the 679 people in the compound who were waiting to board the helicopters. (The evacuees in the compound at 1500 represented only those who had been pre-staged for the initial lift. Subsequent refugees were organized as they arrived.) Years later, the Defense Attache, General Smith, described the crowd's mood: "The Vietnamese were undeniably sad and even apprehensive but throughout it all very calm. The Americans were also sad but perhaps for different reasons."33


After loading the first group of evacuees, the 12









Page 189(The Bitter End)