Page 233


[Image 1: Department
of Defense Photo (USMC) A357525. Vietnamese children leam
American ways fast, assisted by members of Operation New Arrival
at Camp Pendleton.]

[Image 2: Department
of Defense Photo (USMC) A357508. Vietnamese children leam
American ways fast, assisted by members of Operation New Arrival
at Camp Pendleton.]

Page 233(The Bitter End)




which provided for the safety of all occupants and camp workers, and various
other support elements such as refugee affairs, communications, logistics,
and medical.65


Once organized, this staffing structure functioned smoothly and efficiently.
After Colonel George A. Merrill and Colonel Robert W. Calvert and the 1st
and 7th Engineer Battalions, assisted by the 1st Shore Party Battalion, completed
the camp construction on 4 May, it simply became a matter of improving and
refining the product. Colonel Rochc, the officer-in-charge, wrote: "The Herculean
task of completing a camp of 18,000 people was accomplished in less than six
days. The accommodations though Spartan at first, were continually expanded
and improved, providing not only the necessities of life but also many comforts
and amenities for the refugee population."66


The day after the completion of the last camp (on 5 May), the former Vice President
of South Vietnam, Nguyen Cao Ky, arrived* Four days later, the camp population
peaked at 18,608,** and then the sense of urgency that had gripped the Marines
since their last-minute notification, began to subside. It gradually turned
into a daily routine of insuring that the refugees had everything they needed
including a locally produced Vietnamese newspaper. The daily routine was somewhat
altered on 30 June when the senior military coordinator retired from the Marine
Corps, but General Graham quickly returned to his former position. On 2 July,
the Marine Corps recalled him to active duty.87


The refugee center continued in operation well beyond the arrival of the last
refugee in mid-July 1975. Between mid-May and the end ofJuly, Mr. Thorne and
his civilian organization found new homes and sponsors for 29,135 evacuees,
in effect, freedom and a new


*Colonel Woodham related the events surrounding Vice President Ky's arrival
and how Camp Pendleton had received detailed guidance from the State Department
and Headquarters Marine Corps on how to behave. Despite specific instructions
to all concerned to the contrary. Ky was still waited upon as though royalty
and served his meal the first day of his arrival. Woodham said. "A Marine
captain had made an independent moral decision that 'no vice-president' of
an allied nation would have to stand in line for his food. He was immediately
relieved and returned (o his base." Unfortunately Colonel Woodham gained knowledge
of this by watching the evening news. Upon calling the camp, Colonel Corf-man.
its commander, replied that the story was false. Shortly thereafter a return
call from the camp revealed thai the evening news report was indeed correct.
Woodham Comments.


**Actually, the camp complex reached its maximum occupancy on 13 July at 20.&48,
but this came after an increase in the size of the original facilities. NcwArr
AAR.








Page 233(The Bitter End)