Page 234


[Image 1: Department
of Defense Photo (USMC) A357523. Former South Vietnamese Vice
President Ky enjoys the attention of the media. His presence
and the nation's interest created a media challenge for BGen
Graham and his staff.]

Page 234(The Bitter End)



beginning. Yet despite these relocations, Camp Pendleton still housed more than
18,000 Vietnamese and Cambodians*. By October, less than three months later,
all but a few hundred refugees had been placed. In the final report, Colonel
Roche stated, "On 31 October, the last eleven Thai Dam refugees departed and the Camp Pendleton portion of Operation 'New Arrivals' was completed-mission accomplished.""


By September, the New Arrival Task Force had become so organized that Colonel Roche issued a phase-down plan. In pan, it said that phasedown would begin about 15 September and be conducted in increments. The plan projected l November a5 the closeout date for all refugee operations.69 The camp officially closed on 15 November.


Certainly more than satisfied with the accomplishments of his Marines, General Graham noted in his summary of lessons learned that the paucity of available information on refugee operations and the dual chain of command caused him numerous problems


throughout the operation.** To eliminate this in the future, he encouraged the publication of a manual on



*Included in this total were a few hundred Cambodians evacuated during Operation Eagle Pull.

**General Graham in recent comments on this operation singled out two officers
who contributed significantly to the success of this operation and he felt
deserved recognition. He related that: "Colonel George A. Merrill was directly
responsible for organizing and obtaining the logistical support for the refugee
camps. For the first few critical weeks of the operation, he was instrumental
in establishing the tent camps as well as the billeting, messing, and sanitation
facilities and the myriad associated details. Without his efforts to ensure
(hat these necessities were in place and functioning in an exceptionally short
period of time, Operation New Arrival could have encountered major difficulties
and the inevitable backlash of criticism from the national and world news
media.


"Lieutenant Colonel Arthur P. Brill, Jr.. found himself in the unique position of having to deal with the media. He was the Base Public Affairs Officer and a few days after the arrival of the refugees, it became obvious that the public affairs aspect of the operation would have a major impact on the image of the Marine Corps and the Administration. Well over 100 reporters from the major wire services, the press, television and radio, both national and international. descended on Camp Pendleton, clamoring for information on the refugees. It was equally obvious that I did not have the time 10 deal with them. I therefore assigned Lieutenant Colonel Brill to the camp on a full-time basis. His handling of the media was superb and it resulted in outstanding and positive news coverage throughout the operation." Graham Comments.









Page 234(The Bitter End)