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ble to leave an isolated unit overnight and try to reinforce and resupply it. The USSAG commander knew that if he attempted to extract the platoon on the eastern beach, he had no choice but to evacuate all of them at one time. General Burns believed that he could resupply the western zone, and with this logistical support, the Marines could sustain themselves through the night. Even without an immediate resupply, the main body of 202 Marines could sustain a night attack, but Lieutenant Cicere's small force in the eastern zone, if not reinforced, could not. With this possibility facing him, General Burns ordered the second-wave helicopters (two HH-53s had remained in the area. to perform SAR duties) to withdraw Second Lieutenant Cicere and his 20 Marines from Koh Tang. At approximately l4l5, these "Jolly Greens" (JG 11 andJG 43) attempted to enter the eastern zone and, as all but one of their predecessors, failed. One of the two helicopters (Jolly Green 43) suffered extensive damage. Jolly Green 11 and King 24, the HC-130 used to refuel the HH-53s, escorted JG 43 to the Coral Sea (CVA 4?), where it made an emergency landing at 1436. The Cora/Sea repaired the HH-53 in record time and had it back in service by 1700. This maintenance miracle meant a 25-percent increase in the number of available helicopters, because by this time only four others remained operational. Even that many helicopters existed only because the newly repaired JG 44 had Just arrived from Nakhon Phanom where it had been out of service since the beginning of the Mayaguez mission* In addition toJG 44, JG 11, JG 12, and a CH-53, Knife 51, stood ready for further duty while Jolly Green 43 underwent repair. The importance of the rapid turnaround ofJG 43 and the unexpected return to service ofJG 44 significantly increased when the Air Force undertook yet another effort to rescue the Marines and airmen pinned down on Koh Tang's eastern beach.63


Even though JG 11 and 43 had failed to penetrate the eastern zone, General Burns
still believed that rescue by air was possible. He knew, however, that it
could not be accomplished without additional support. As a consequence, the
Navy and Air Force decided to coordinate their efforts and together to attempt
recovery of Lieutenant Cicere's platoon. In addition to the harassing fire
from the Cambodians on the ground, the Marines were receiving fire from Cambodian
gun-boats just offshore. So while the Coral Sea's maintenance crew was completing
its repairs onJG 43, the forces on the scene were preparing to undertake a
joint withdrawal from the eastern zone. Despite the importance of the events
about to occur on Koh Tang's eastern shore, no information was ever communicated
by the AMC to the ground force commander, Lieutenant Colonel Austin. Between
1730 and 1800, the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps combined to perform a
successful and casualty-free extraction of the Marines and airmen from the
eastern zone. While the Wilson's gig, call sign "Black Velvet," provided close-in ship-to-shore suppressive fire using four mounted M-60 machine guns and immediate rescue capability, the OV-10 FAC, call sign "Nail 68," the
air commander, called in F-4s and A-7s to neutralize enemy positions and cover
Lieutenant Cicere's withdrawal. Even though the OV-10 and all aircraft in
the vicinity, including Jolly Green 12 and Knife 51, strafed the Cambodians,
Jolly Green 11 (the rescue bird) srill took heavy fire. Due to the damage
it incurred. Jolly Green 11 did not fly again.64


The Marines contributed to their own rescue by returning disciplined and effective ground fire which kept the helicopters' rime in the zone to a minimum. Lieutenant Colonel Austin's operational summary reported that "The Marines made an orderly withdrawal, stopping to fire weapons every few feet. They were pursued by enemy forces who had obtained hand-grenade range on several occasions."85 In forcing the Communists to respect their position even though they were withdrawing, the Marines made possible a successful recovery, evidenced by the fact thatJG 11 landed on the Coral Sea with 25 passengers, 20 Marines and 5 air crewmen, only a few of whom had wounds, none incurred during the extraction.** Second Lieutenant Michael A. Cicere, commander of the 3d Platoon, Company G, related his recollection of this



*Major Guilmartin, who had flown rhe last flyable, rescue Super Jolly (who for
the mission used the call signJG 44) to Utapao late in the afternoon of 15
May, explained his understanding of how the Navy repaired JG 45's damaged
fuel line, hit by a 50-caliber round: "The flight mechanic. Technical Sergeant
Billy D. Willingham, assisted the Navy maintenance personnel who effected
the repair by cutting out damaged line (one and one-quarter inch aluminum
standpipe) with a hacksaw and put in its place a section of hose held together
with radiator hose clamps. Certainly, not by the book, but despite concerns
about fuel contamination by the pilots, it worked." Guilmartin Comments.


**In reference to injuries, Second Lieutenant Cicere recalled:


"There were two personnel with us that were wounded: one a Marine (PFC Nichols, I believe) shot in the foot; the second, an Air force crewman who was wounded in rhe arm and leg exiting the hulk of Knife 23 and dashing toward the tree line. He left the aircraft well after the Marines and the other Air Ibrce personnel had disembarked the stricken helicopter after it was shot down." Cicere Comments,









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