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USMC Photo A184402

Marines from the 1st Battalion, 3d Marines disembark from U.S. Air Force C-130 transports at the Da Nang Airbase on 8 March. The airlift of the battalion was held up for 24 hours shortly after these Marines arrived.



begun the airlift of Lieutenant Colonel Bain's battalion from Okinawa to Da Nang. On the morning of 7 March, Major General William R. ('Rip') Collins, the 3d Marine Division commander, as directed by a CinCPac message, requested the 315th Air Division of the U.S. Air Force to provide the transportation to move the unit to Vietnam. On Okinawa the 3d Division commander alerted Lieutenant Colonel Bain, and the first elements of the battalion moved from Camp Schwab to the air facility at Futema that night. The BLT was organized into assigned aircraft loads, then moved from Futema to Naha Air Base. At 2200, the Air Force approved the movement orders, establishing 30-minute intervals between launches of the C-130 aircraft.

Shortly after midnight, General Collins radioed MACV headquarters in Saigon for authority to launch the first plane of the airlift which was scheduled to arrive at Da Nang at 0900 on the 8th. Six hours later, MACV granted this clearance but later changed the arrival hour to noon. After a three-hour wait, the first elements consisting of the command group of the battalion and part of Company C left Naha Air Base at 0725. In reporting the move, General Collins observed that the entire lift could take place during daylight if he were allowed to expedite aircraft departures. The MACV Chief of Staff, Major General Richard G. Stilwell, called the CinCPac Command Center and stated that Da Nang could not accommodate two BLTs arriving at the same time. Brigadier General Keith B. McCutcheon, an outstanding Marine aviator of both World War II and Korea then serving as the CinCPac J-3, reminded Stilwell that MACV had already granted clearance for the air movement. General Stilwell replied that conditions had changed and that the airlift would have to be held up. CinCPac so instructed the Commanders, Pacific Fleet and Pacific Air Force.23

The first planes carrying the lead elements of the 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, arrived at the Da Nang Airbase about 1300 on the afternoon of 8 March. Although snipers fired at them during their landing approach, the aircraft were undamaged. After the




Page 14(1965: The Landing and the Buildup)