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[Image 1: Map of the Mayaguez recovery, 15 May 1975.]

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to the report of a later Congressional investigation, "Despite the availability of various assets and the apparent uncertainty concerning the location of the Mayaguez crew, little attempt appears to have been made to use photography or other means to verify reports or obtain additional information."*22


Austin's first decision dealt with this scarcity of intelligence and his need for additional information about the island and its terrain. This became a formidable task in itself as every possible source was sought and used, from Cambodian refugees in Thailand, to a former Cambodian naval officer, to an oil company employee familiar with the Cambodian coastal waters, all with little success. On top of this, no one possessed a tactical map of the island.23


In an attempt to fill the void, an Army U-21 took Lieutenant Colonel Austin, his S-3, and two other officers to Koh Tang, 195 miles from Utapao, for an airborne inspection of the island, but the Air Force restricted the flight's altitude to 6,000 feet. The Air Force imposed the restriction in order to avoid drawing undue attention to the flight or worse yet, enemy fire. This severe limitation became even more critical when it was discovered that the only photographic equipment available was a Marine's pocket camera.




*Admiral Steele commented on the actions he took and those actions he requested which were denied: "As soon as the Mayaguez seizure had taken place and we were informed of military action to be taken to recover her, I turned [around] the Coral Sea task group which was enroute to the Coral Sea battle observance in Australia-they were about to enter Lombok Strait at the time. Shortly thereafter, we requested permission to fly reconnaissance flights in the area, and later, specifically over the island ofKoh Tang. Despite repeated requests to do this, it was denied until so late thai the reconnaissance flight's photographic results could not be processed in advance of the actual assault on the island. I think that this is another example of a disastrous attempt to micromanage, from distant headquarters with inadequately trained staff, large operations in which communications play so great a pan." Steele Comments.









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