Photo from the Abel Collection
U.S. Army BGen Howard H. Cooksey, an assistant
division commander of the Americal Division, paints a "Happy Birthday"
on a 500-pound bomb at the Chu Lai airstrip in honor of the 193d anniversary
of the Marine Corps and in appreciation of Marine close air support
for the division. Col Rex A. Deasy, commanding officer of MAG-12, looks
diminishing expectations.* On 9 September, General Cushman asked General
Abrams tor authorization to have "mission direction of in-country Marine
strike assets on a 30-day trial period within the framework of single
manager." The III MAF commander then provided Abrams with a detailed
breakdown both of Air Force and Marine sorties in support of ground
forces in I Corps covering the period from 30 May until 2 September.
According to III MAF statistics, 61 percent of the total sorties were
preplanned while 3-4 percent of this total were "add-ons" and scrambles"
(See Table l). Nearly 40 percent of the Marine sorties fell into this
latter category as compared with only 29 percent of the Air Force sorties
in I Corps. According to Cushman, such a high percentage of add-on.s
and scrambles "points up either a shortage of preplans or less than
optimum utilization of available resources." He believed the 30-day
trial period would demonstrate a marked improvement in these percentages.94
Despite discussion with Seventh Air Force officials and some optimism
on the part of the 1st MAW staff that MACV might accept this trial period.
General Abrams turned down the III MAF request. The MACV commander opposed
what he considered double management, and hoped to end the dispute once
and for all. Supported by General Wheeler, the JCS Chairman, Abrams
ended the formal monthly evaluations of the system. As he stated in
November 1968, "we do not wish to appear intransigent about this matter
... but it is vital that ComUSMACV retain the centralized control and
direction of TacAir [tactical air] in the hands of a single individual."95
* On the tactical level. Colonel Robert D. Slay, who commanded MAG-11
from June through the end of the year, wrote chat he "insured that my
FRAG orders from 1st MAW were carried our; l really didn't care where
the FRAG orders rn Win^; came from. Politics and in-fi^htin^ tor control
ot air assets was of little concern . . . where the flying and dyin(;
rook place. The concept of the Marine Air-Ground Team was well understood,
however, and my command was hrieted to ^ive first and highest priority
to any Marine ground unit in trouble." Col Robert D. Slay, Comments
on draft, dtd 25Nov94 (Vietnam Comment File).