one of the first times in combat, the air-ground team "in its classic
Despite the operational control retained by III MAF and the 1st MAW of its fixed-wing assets, the Marines recognized the primacy of the Seventh Air Force commander as the MACV air coordinator. The air directive permitted ComUSMACV in the event of emergency to direct the Commander of the Seventh Air Force to assume operational control of Marine aircraft. Moreover, in August 1965 in an agreement between General McCutcheon, who commanded the 1st MAW from May 1965 through May 1966, and General Joseph H. Moore, the commander of the 2d Air Division, which later became the Seventh Air Force, the Marines acknowledged that the Air Force command had overall responsibility for air defense in the unlikely event of a North Vietnamese air attack.19
In accordance with this agreement, the Marines designated a certain
number of aircraft for air defense purposes. The Air Force, through
its control and reporting center (CRC)* in I Corps, codenamed Panama,
located on Monkey Mountain on Tiensha Peninsula, had the authority to
alert or scramble and assign air defense targets to these Marine fighters.
Moreover, the CRC determined when and if the 1st and 2d Light Antiaircraft
Missile (LAAM) Battalions "were free to engage a target presumed to
be hostile" with its HAWK** surface-to-air guided missiles. Part of
MACG-18, the two battalions, each with a basic load of 108 missiles,
were responsible for ground antiair defense at Da Nang and Chu Lai.
In January 1968, Lieutenant Colonel Marshall J. Treado, the commander
of the 1st LAAM Battalion at Da Nang, had one battery near the Hai Van
Pass, another on Monkey Mountain, and the third west of the airbase
near the 1st Marine Division headquarters. The 2d LAAM Battalion, under
Lieutenant Colonel Stanley A. Herman, disposed its batteries in similar
fashion around Chu Lai to provide adequate protection. Lieutenant Colonel
David S. Twining, who later commanded Marine Air Control Squadron (MACS)
4, credited the LAAM Battalions with "permitting the allocation of virtually
all of the Marine fighter/attack resources to the attack role." He noted
that by 1968, only two "Air Force F-4 aircraft maintained on strip alert
for launch against unidentified inbounds were the only additional routine
air defense measures required . . . ."20***
Outside of the specific air defense measures directed by the Seventh
Air Force, the heart of the Marine air command and control system was
the 1st MAW tactical air direction center (TADC).**** A component of
MACG-18, the TADC oversaw the use of all Marine aircraft, both fixed-wing
and rotary, and determined the requisite number for specific missions.
The TADC consisted of two subordinate agencies, the tactical air operations
center (TAOC), responsible for air defense, air surveillance, and air
control, and the direct air support centers (DASCs) which maintained
control of close and direct air support missions.21
The wing TAOC, manned by Marines from MACS-4, had the latest in technology to carry out its duties. When the squadron arrived in June 1967, it brought with it a "modern semi-automated, computer-oriented TAOC" to replace the older manual procedures. MACS-4 emplaced the TAOC on Monkey Mountain near the HAWK firing positions there and the Air Force "Panama" CRC. The squadron required ample space for its sundry radars and antennae. It took four huts to house the Tactical Data
* The Panama CRC was an element of the U.S. Air Force tactical air
control system from which the Air Force directed radar control and warning
operations within its sector. It was subordinate to the Seventh Air
Force Tactical Air Control Center in Saigon which controlled all Air
Force tactical air operations and air-warning functions in South Vietnam.
The TACC in Saigon "did not have authority over operations in the northern
route packages of North Vietnam; Air Force operations there were controlled
by the Seventh Air Force Command Center. Until Mar 1968, the Seventh
Air Force Command Center also controlled operations in Route Package
One." Dr. Wayne Thompson, USAF Historical Office, Comments on draft,
dtd 23Nov94 (Vietnam Comment File).
** The acronym HAWK stands for Homing-All-the-Way-Killer. The HAWK
air defense is a mobile, surface-to-air guided missile system designed
to defend against enemy low-flying aircraft and short-range rocket missiles.
*** While there was discussion of rotating the 2d LAAM Battalion out
of Vietnam, the Tet offensive and the Khe Sanh crisis resulted in the
battalion remaining at Chu Lai. Brigadier General Earl E. Anderson,
the III MAF Chief of Staff, even proposed to move the battalion from
Chu Lai to Quang Tri because of a postulated increased air threat. Anderson
argued, "we all recognize that it is vital to intercept enemy aircraft
as far from the troops installation as possible." BGen E. E. Anderson
Itrs to MajGen Keith B. McCutcheon, dtd 19Feb and 14Mar68, Encl to Gen
Earl E. Anderson, Comments on draft, dtd 18Dec94 (Vietnam Comment File).
Later in the year, the possibility of the enemy air threat had diminished
again and the 2d LAAM Battalion departed Vietnam on 12 October 1968.
See also Chapter 21.
**** Although the Marine Corps normally designated its senior air
command and control organization the Tactical Air Control Center, it
used the usually subordinate term, TADC, in Vietnam to avoid confusion
with the Seventh Air Force TACC in Saigon.