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to leave the Embassy. Captain Berry later explained that radio message: " 'Tiger-Tiger-Tiger' was the call to be made when the Ambassador was on board and on his way out of Saigon. It had absolutely nothing to do with the cessation of the operation. We had originally planned to bring the Ambassador out on the afternoon of the 29th."60


At this juncture, thinking the mission complete and the Ambassador safe, Captain Walters headed back to the Okinawa. Subsequent to his landing at approximately 0700, the command realized that Captain Walters did not have the remaining Marines on board* Due to a misunderstanding and miscommunication, they were still at the Embassy. General Carey immediately recycled a CH-46, but by this time due to the ships' offshore movement, the time required to reach the Embassy exceeded 40 minutes.61


To the Marines waiting in Saigon, attempts by the South Vietnamese to reach the roof kept them busy and as a consequence, they did not notice the extended gap between the flights. Major Kean later stated that he and his Marines did not become alarmed because they knew that another CH-46 would arrive: "We never had a doubt that our fellow Marines would return and pick us up. They had been doing it all night long."62


For the immense size and complexity of this operation, there were few mistakes. Besides the nearly 5,000 people evacuated from the DAO compound, 978 U.S. and 1,120 third-country nationals were lifted from the Embassy.63 Despite numerous phone calls and extensive efforts to ensure that all Americans, even deceased ones, were extracted, the bodies of Corporal McMa-hon and Lance Corporal Judge were left behind. Inexplicably, they had been left at the Seventh Day Advenrist Hospital, nearby Tan Son Nhut. (In phone calls to the hospital on the afternoon of 29 April, the few remaining members of its staff reported that the deceased Marines' bodies had already been delivered to the task force. Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts through diplomatic channels recovered them the following year.)64 In addition, the Marine Corps suffered the loss of two aircraft. One of the two was an AH-lJ Cobra, whose pilots. Captain John W. Bowman, Jr., and First Lieutenant David L. An-droskaut, successfully made a night water ditching after the Cobra's engines flamed out from fuel starvation. Shortly after overflying the USS Kirk (DE 1087) while in search of the Okinawa, Captain Bowman noted that his altimeter read 900 feet and his fuel gauge 200 pounds. In the next instant, he found himself groping with an emergency autorotation to a dark, empty sea. Many agonizing moments after impact, Captain Bowman finally managed to unfasten his seat belt on the third attempt while his sinking helicopter filled with water. He recalled, "As I exited the helicopter in the dark, l had no idea which way was up, but I remembered that the helicopter must be sinking toward the bottom, so I swam in the opposite direction and Just when I was about to doubt my decision, a sliver of moonlight bounced off the dangling legs of my co-pilot, suspended just above my head."65 Soon after Bowman and his copilot linked up, a boat, launched from the Kirk after its officer of the day heard the helicopter's engines quit, picked them up,


The other aircraft's pilots were not as forrunare. A CH-46F from the Hancock
flown by Captain William C- Nysrul and First Lieutenant Michael J. Shea crashed
into the sea on its approach to the ship after having flown a long and exhausting
night sea and air rescue mission (SAR). Amazingly, the two enlisted crewmcm-bers
survived, but the bodies of the pilots were not recovered. The cause of the
crash was never determined, but crew inexperience and unfamiliarity with the
mission may have been factors.** Normally, ships carrying helicopters do not
use a SAR helicopter. Instead they assume that all airborne helicopters are
potential SAR aircraft during helicopter flight operations. The Hancock, accustomed
to fixed-wing flight operations where an airborne SAR helicopter is mandatory,
did not modify its procedures, However for an operation of this size, a designated
rescue helicopter provided the task force with the capability of respond-



*Captain Berry recalled the incident somewhat differently. He stated, "When Lady Ace 09 brought the Ambassador out there were only two CH-46s still flying (Lady Ace 09 and wingman). This was because there was much confusion over flight time. When I landed on board the Blue Ridge and informed General Carey of the lack of aircraft he rook immediate action with HDC on board the Okinawa- Lady Ace 09 and flight then returned to the Embassy and extracted most of the remaining Marines-as we were departing Swift 2-2 was approaching the Embassy for the final pick-up. The reason for the long delay between [he Ambassador and the Marine pick-up is easy to figure our-only TWO aircraft flying from the 28 CH-46s and 30 plus CH-53s (CH-53s could not land on the roof.)" Berry Comments.


**Caprain Berry recently rctaicd the flying backgrounds, of this crew. He said, "Captain Nysmi had just returned from Pensacola fixed-wing instructor dury and had about 20 hours of refamiliari-zation in the '46.' His co-pilot was First Lieutenant Shea, a CH-53 pilot, who had gotten approximately 25 CH-46 hours with us in Futema before deploying." Berry Commenrs.









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