General Youngdale completed his overseas tour on 13 July, he was not replaced by another Marine.*
Early in 1965, a discussion took place between the Department of the Army and ComUSMACV over the replacement of Youngdale. Although the joint staff of MACV was already preponderantly Army, U. S. Army authorities thought that the billet should be assigned to an Army brigadier. General Westmoreland explained:
Much of the MACV staff consists of a purely Army advisory effort and results in a staff which appears to be heavily weighted with Army personnel. The RVNAF and Joint General Staff organizations are both predominately Army and demand a large Army contingent in the MACV staff.17
When the Marine Corps informed General Westmoreland in March that it would not be able to provide an officer of equal rank to replace Youngdale, the matter was settled and the billet was assigned to the Army.
With the rapid influx of American troops into Vietnam, the authorized strength of the MACV staff grew from 1,702 men in January to 2,427 servicemen at the end of 1965. Marine Corps billets on the joint staff correspondingly increased to 131 that year. Because of the time requirements necessary to transfer personnel overseas, only 56 of these positions had been filled by 31 December.
During 1965, 35 Marine officers arrived to fill staff positions. Among these officers were Colonels George L. Hollowell, Chief, Operations Branch, J-3; Webb D. Sawyer, Chief, Plans Branch, J-4; Maxie R. Williams, Chief, US/SEATO Division; and Francis F. Parry, Combat Operations Center.
On 11 November, a MACV steering committee recommended the establishment of a combat operations center within the J-3 Division to provide a centralized MACV agency for the collection and dissemination of information to enhance MACV direction of operations and control of subordinate commands. General Westmoreland approved the recommendation and proposed to Admiral Sharp that the operations center be headed by a Marine Corps brigadier general. After consulting with General Greene and the other Joint Chiefs, Sharp concurred.18
When the Combat Operations Center was activated in mid-November, its first director was a Marine, Colonel Parry. Describing his assignment to the MACV staff, Parry stated when he departed for Vietnam the previous month, he was told that he was to be the plans officer for a joint command. Upon arrival, he discovered that MACV had decided not to activate such a command and he was assigned, instead, to the MACV J-3 Division. Colonel Parry remembered that: "After several days in J-3 Operations learning the ropes, Bill DePuy [Brigadier General William E. DePuy (USA), the MACV J-3] called me in and told me that General Westmoreland had decided to organize a Combat Operations Center." According to Parry, General DePuy told him that the "Air Force was holding up the assignment of a Marine BG to MACV because they wanted more general officer slots on the staff. Bill asked me to organize the COC and be its director until such time as the Marine BG arrived."19 Marine Brigadier General William K. Jones relieved Colonel Parry as director of the Combat Operations Center on 31 December 1965.
Another Marine MACV staff officer, Colonel Webb D. Sawyer, recalled his service as head of MACV J-4 Plans Branch:
From the time of the landing of the Marine Brigade, throughout the buildup of forces within Vietnam, the logistic planners at MACV never came down from the overhead. It was a never ending cycle of short-fuzed studies, high level conferences in Honolulu, SEATO logistic planning meetings in Bangkok, and consultations with ARVN.20
Confronted with this myriad of problems, Sawyer found his job challenging but satisfying. He concluded: "Anyway, all in all, it was a most exciting and interesting year."21
Company L, Marine Support Battalion
One small and unheralded Marine unit, Company L, Marine Support Battalion, redesignated on l January 1965 from Subunit l, Company C, Marine Support Battalion, provided a vital intelligence function for MACV during 1965. Headquartered at Phu Bai with the Army's 8th Radio Research Unit, the unit consisted of one officer and 31 enlisted cryptologists. The company was augmented by one
*According to Colonel Webb D. Sawyer, General Westmoreland appointed him "Commanding Officer of the Marine Corps Unit, Headquarters, U. S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam," in that he had become the senior Marine on the MACV staff upon the departure of GeneralYoungdale. BGen Webb D. Sawyer, Comments on draft MS, dtd 250ct76 (Vietnam Comment File).Page 210 (1965: The Landing and the Buildup)