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center, Admiral Gaylcr told Colonel McCain to expect an initial input of 10,000-13,000 with a rapid buildup to 50,000. He said, "The center's operation is expected to last a minimum of 90 days."38 With these requirements in mind and after having surveyed the initial situation at Asan during the moratorium, Colonel McCain reported to the Commandant of the Marine Corps thai he would need eight officers and 225 staff noncommissioned officers and enlisted men to accomplish this task. Little did he know then the volume and rate ar which refugees would arrive, and that the operation would last double the forecasted minimum. Besides Marine Barracks, Guam's involvement, Colonel McCain enlisted the assistance of 10 men from Marine Detachment, USS Proteus (AS 19) (a submarine tender), as a working party to assist in establishing a refugee camp at Orote Point, Guam. He also obtained permission to assign one officer and 60 Marines from his Company C as a force to participate in the conversion of a local hotel into an evacuee billeting site.39


As Operation New Life unfolded, the Marines' involvement significantly expanded. Besides assisting in the opening of new camps, the Marines worked on the docks meeting the Military Sealift Command ships as they arrived; their efforts made the refugees' initial transition easier. From the unloading of the ships to the processing of the refugees, the Marines had one philosophy: as much as possible, make the evacuees feel at home. Captain Provini, who had witnessed refugee resettlement efforts in Vietnam in 1972, offered his advice based on the South Vietnamese Government's handling of the former Quang Tri residents. His experiences and ideas were instrumental in developing this "Welcome Home" philosophy He pointed out that the refugees coming south after the fall of northern I Corps in 1972 received a very regimented welcome. The South Vietnamese Government officials placed them into holding areas for subsequent relocation and readmittance into society. The consequences of this were tragic; the refugees experienced confusion and fear. Eventually, they rebelled and this act provoked their countrymen into using force against them. As a result, these South Vietnamese felt like prisoners in their own country.40


Avoiding such aggressive behavior became the focus and intent of the Marines on Guam. The camp guards and staff made every effort to let the Vietnamese know that they could expect the best treatment possible, Upon arrival at Camp Asan, the Vietnamese departed their buses for their first event, a "welcome aboard" brief. At this initial meeting, and throughout their stay, chaplains always made their presence known by announcing that they, too, were available to assist and counsel anyone in need. Besides their well-timed human relations training, the Marines acted with one purpose, "to show compassion and consideration to the refugees." To further enhance their image and present a sharp appearance, the Marines at the refugee operation center always wore the uniform prescribed for the occasion. Those working at Camp Asan wore their modified blue uniform instead of combat gear, for two reasons. They hoped to provide a favorable first impression to the Vietnamese to reduce their anxieties, and they wanted to make them feel welcome in their new home. The Marines thought combat gear would remind the refugees too much of the war and the pain they had left behind.41


By presenting the appearance of a city with a friendly living environment, the Camp Asan Marines gained the confidence and trust of the new arrivals. Using this trust, they induced the refugees to form their own community structure and govern themselves. Once the refugees elected a mayor for their new "city," the Marines assumed advisory roles and became even less conspicuous. The elected official, "Tony" Lam, assumed the title of Vietnamese camp manager, and retained this function until transfer to the states on 25 July Lam's departure signalled the end of the camp's outstanding internal command network. For three months (April 25-July 23), Lam and his organization virtually ran the Asan camp.42


Satisfied with the progress and developments at Camp Asan, Colonel McCain redeployed some of his Asan Marines to the satellite camps: Tokyu Hotel, Camp Socio, and J&G Construction Camp. Despite the move, their mission remained the same, "to organize, supervise, assist and take care of the refugee populations within these camps."43


Throughout this endeavor, Colonel McCain received his guidance for the conduct and running of the camp from Admiral Gayler's representative on Guam, Rear Admiral George F. Morrison. Admiral Morrison actively participated in the refugee operation and after an initial briefing of Colonel McCain and his staff on 23 April, he personally visited Camp Asan at least two more times. One of those times, on 9 May, Rear Admiral Morrison escorted the overall commander. Admiral Gayler (CinCPac), through Camp Asan.


Apparently satisfied with Colonel McCain's handling of the operation, Admiral Morrison changed Colonel McCain's title from Camp Coordinator of all









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