Nang just north of Marble Mountain Air Facility, conï¿½tained an exchange, a USO center, and a cafeteria and snack bar. Marines could attend films, go swimming in the South China Sea, work out in a gymnasium, or avail themselves of the tennis courts, softball field, shuffleboard and volleyboard courts, and archery range. The entire complex had as its objective "to proï¿½vide . . . billeting, messing, and recreational facilities in a relaxed atmosphere."117
To give infantry companies temporary relief from the strain of constant operations, the 1st Marine Diï¿½vision during 1969 established a "Stack Arms" center at Camp Lauer, what was then the 1st Amphibian Tracï¿½tor Battalion's and then in mid-1970 the 2d Battalï¿½ion, 1st Marines' cantonment south of Marble Mountain. Infantry companies, in rotation, spent 48-hour stand-down periods at this camp, in effect a simpler and smaller version of China Beach. Here, relieved of all regular duties, the riflemen could enï¿½joy beer, steaks, sports, swimming, and leisure. Regimental commanders regarded "Stack Arms" as an excellent morale-builder, but limited facilities allowed each company to take advantage of the program only twice a year.'18
During 1970, Colonel Edmund G. Derning. Jr., inï¿½stituted a similar program within the 7th Marines. On a monthly basis each rifle company in the regiment went back to a 7th Marines base for 72 hours of rest and rehabilitation. According to Derning, "only the most distressing of operational requirements, actual contact or commitment with the enemy" could force a company to skip its scheduled rest period. The proï¿½gram was designed to give the men a little rest, upï¿½date administrative records, repair weapons and individual equipment, and return to the field three days later refreshed. Derning recalled:
This was not a rest break, ... as they marched in, they were relieved of their weapons by armorers- Weapons were tagged, any deficiencies noted, and they were turned over to the armorers for repair. The troops continued to march, were stripped down, and were examined by corpsmen and medical officers for health problems and so on. After this examination and the notes and comments were taken for care, . . the troops continued on for a complete washdown and usually that afternoon a Steak dinner, a little kind of beer-bust or something in a safe, secure area.
On the second day weapons were prepared, personnel records were updated ï¿½ birth recorded, promotions renderedï¿½and in the afternoon when the weapons were returned, weapons were fanfired and zeroed. Supplies, raï¿½tions, and ammunition were issued on day three, and the men were mustered outside the billets where a battalion or regimental inspection was conducted. When the inspection was complete, the Marines shouldered their packs and weapons, the chaplain offered a blessing and a moment of prayer, and the company, which was not permitted to return to their billeting area, marched back out into their area of operations.119
Military recreation facilities were much needed durï¿½ing III MAF's last year of combat, because Marines, like other American personnel, were effectively forbidï¿½den access to the Vietnamese civilian economy. XXIV Corps and III MAF during 1970 kept the city of Da Nang, and all other Vietnamese towns, villages, and hamlets, off-limits to troops unless they were on offiï¿½cial business with written authorization from unit commanders or staff section heads. The commands also placed a 2000-0600 nightly curfew on movement outside United States bases and effectively closed all Vietnamese businesses and places of entertainment, as well as private homes, to American military perï¿½sonnel. Only advisors and other Americans who had to attend social engagements with counterparts were exempt from this ban. By these stringent regulations, the commands hoped to improve military security, reduce prostitution and the drug traffic, and prevent confrontations between American troops and the inï¿½creasingly hostile civilian population.120
On 25 April 1971, XXIV Corps partially relaxed these restrictions; it opened Da Nang City to off-duty personnel between 0600 and 2300 each day. 3d MAB followed the new policy, but it required all Marines going into Da Nang to travel in vehicles provided by their units and with an on-duty armed driver and guard in each. The first open week in Da Nang passed without major incident, although the CORDS city adï¿½visor considered it a poor test, since it was the week before a payday. Still, he reported, "bars, restaurants, souvenir stores, cycle and Honda drivers have enjoyed a bonanza," and Vietnamese national police at the air base had intercepted many incoming prostitutes on civilian flights from Saigon. Da Nang remained open throughout the 3d MAB's remaining time in Vietnam.121
Besides furnishing recreation and services for their troops. III MAF commanders by late 1970 were devotï¿½ing much thought and effort to solving what they called the "communication" problem. Lieutenant General Jones summed up the widespread concern: "Simply stated," he declared, "we aren't getting the word out. We aren't spending enough time making Marines understand what we're trying to achieve and why." In the same vein, General Chapman exhorted commanders to "establish communications through