Page 529

Page 529 (1968: The Defining Year)

Photo from the Abel Collection

BGen Homer D. Hill, one of the assistant wing commanders,
poses at the Khe Sanh airstrip before the evacuation of the base. The
wing opened an auxiliary command post at the Quang Tri Airfield under
Gen Hill to coordinate helicopter operations with the 3d MarDiv.

iliary CP, under one of his assistant wing commanders, Brigadier General
Homer D. Hill. Anderson directed Hill, "to interest himself in all aspects
(not only helos . . .)" of the wing in northern I Corps.32

While Anderson still complained that "Davis is totally insatiable,"
the establishment of the forward headquarters improved the relations
between the wing and the division.* Major General Davis later related
that the assignment of Hill to Quang Tri "provided this division with
... an air/ground team capability . . . ." He stated that Hill's presence
made his mobile concept work, "so long as he was here we were solving
problems." In October 1968, General Hill mentioned in a letter to General
Anderson that the division and wing had conducted about 75 "highly successful
helicopter heli-borne assaults in and around the DMZ" since he had been
there. Hill's assistant participated in all "3d Division planning and
Task Force operations." According to Hill, this was helpful to both
the ground and air commanders: "We stay on top of all operational discrepancy
reports-both ways moving fast to correct what is wrong from either side-Division
or Wing." General Hill wrote that he attended all division briefings
with General Davis and went with him "on many of his helo rides to his
units calking to our FACs [forward air controllers] and ALOs [air liaison
officers] as well as the regimental and battalion commanders." Hill
praised Anderson for establishing the forward headquarters and that
it had paid dividends in Marine air-ground relations.33

This short honeymoon between the 3d Marine Division and the wing sn
came to an end. In October, the wing decided to close the forward headquarters
and bring General Hill south to be parr of a joint 1st Marine Division
and wing task force to conduce Operation Meade River in the Da Nang
area of operations. General Davis, the 3d Division commander, protested,
but co no avail. According to Davis, when Hill departed, the situation
immediately deteriorated. Davis complained that without Hill, he was
left "to deal [with] agents of the wing and agents of III MAF who were
not in a position to make any decision short of going to Da Nang. This
was unworkable." In an attempt to placate the 3d Division commander.
General Quilter would honor specific requests to send General Hill "to
come up and stay awhile" until the particular problem was resolved.
Davis stated, however, for the most part, "it has not been a good arrangement
to attempt to conduct a air/ground team effort up here with the air
part of the team having no authority."34**

* General Davis commented on the draft that he was, "amused at my
'insatiable' need for choppers . . . when l had more enemy than anybody
else!" Gen Raymond G. Davis, Comments on draft, dtd 4Sep95 (Vietnam
Comment File).

** Both Lieutenant Colonel Shauer and Lieutenant General Carey praised
in their comments the efforts of General Hill in improving relations
with the 3d Marine Division. In a letter to Shauer in June 1968, General
Hill wrote, "I have noticed a great improvement in UH-34 ops over the
last few days as a result of things you have done. I believe relationships
have improved considerably between supporting and supported units. This
is good. Keep up the fine work. Let me know of any problems we can help
on." Shauer Comments and BGen H.D. Hill ltr to Maj Shauer, did 29Jun68,
Encl, Shauer Comments. General Carey declared that while General Hill
was with Davis the relationship with the division "was superior. Simply
because he spoke for the wing and worked so closely with the Division
commander." According to Carey, Hill "maintained a constant dialogue
on both fixed-wing and helo support for the Division. It was not uncommon
for him to be on the phone at all hours of the day and night working
closely with us on the details of the required support. He certainly
look the pressure off the Wing G-3 section. After he left, work had
to be conducted through an intermediary, which really slowed down

Page 529 (1968: The Defining Year)