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Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Center of Military History


In February 1968, MACV established a forward headquarters at Phu Bai
under U.S. Army Gen Creighton W. Abrams. Deputy ComUSMACV, which caused
some resentment among Marine officers.


posing headquarters between III MAF and MACV and providing an additional lay
er of command from above. According to General Cushman, "when Abrams came north, oh Christ, we got messages all night long, in the middle of the Goddamned night and everything else."' Colonel Franklin L. Smith, a member of the III MAF G-5 staff, recalled: "They [the MACV (Forward) Headquarters staff) were located up there and forgot that they were a senior headquarters to III MAF on one hand [by not keeping III MAF informed on its actions] and remembered very well on every other hand because they began to interpose themselves between III MAF" and subordinate units. Cushman concluded, "as would be expected, having the senior commander's agent in the battle area resulted in his exercise of more command influence and direction of III MAF Forces . . . than is customarily exercised by the senior command."36

The creation of the MACV (Forward) headquarters also caused resentment
among Cushman's subordinate Marine commanders, ii not Cushman himself.
Major General Murray, the III MAF Deputy Commander, later stated that
he assumed that MACV established the forward headquarters because it
did not trust III MAF to control the situation. The 3d Marine Division
commander General Tompkins was even more blunt: "I thought it was the
most unpardonable thing that Saigon did." Despite the disclaimers on
the part of MACV that it had still utmost trust and confidence in Cushman,
Tompkins declared, "you don't move a MACV (Forward) up in a combat area
unless you're very, very, very worried about the local commander, afraid
he can't hack it. ... it's tantamount to ... a relief of a commander."37


On 14-15 February, the sudden relief of Major General Murray because of illness by Marine Major General William J. Van Ryzin, who arrived from Washington, only compounded the confusion. Rumors circulated in Saigon about a shakeup in the Marine command, which was not the case. On the 14th, Murray informed General Cushman of his incapacity and turned himself into the hospital. Van Ryzin received the news on the morning of the 14th and was on an aircraft for Vietnam by 060U the following day.38


By mid-February there was an obvious need to clarify the command relations in northern I Corps. On 17 February, at a meeting at Phu Bai with Generals Abrams and Cushman, Westmoreland announced char he planned to form a provisional corps (which would formally be called Provisional Corps) in northern I Corps sometime in early March that would consist of the 1st Air Cavalry Division, the 101st Airborne Division, and the 3d Marine Division. The MACV (Forward) headquarters would then be deactivated and the new Provisional Corps would be subordinate to III MAF. General Westmoreland stared that he hoped to appoint U.S. Army Lieutenant General William B. Rosson to head the new command. Rosson, the previous spring, had commanded the U.S. Army's Task Force Oregon which later became the Americal Division at Chu Lai. Having enjoyed excellent personal relations with III

*General Earl E. Anderson, who served as the III MAF Chief of Staff,
remembered: "More than once l had to yo to General Cushman's quarters
to awaken (not an easy task as he was a very sound sleeper and had a
hearing loss suffered at Pearl Harbor when he was aboard the Pennsylvania)
and ask him to come to the command center to take a call from Abrams
on the scrambler phone, which he hated to use. While General Cushman
respected Abrams as a combat officer, Abrams was very opinionated and
often abrasive." Gen Earl E. Anderson, Comments on draft, dtd 18Dec94
(Vietnam Comment File).





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