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grenades. Unlike Captain O'Brien, however. Sergeant Banks was able to maintain radio contact with Gunnery Sergeant Morrison in Marine House and remain in telephone communication with Sergeant Harper inside the Embassy. After consulting with Gunnery Sergeant Morrison and Harper, Banks and the Army lieutenant thought it best to wait until daylight and more reinforcements before making any further moves. With American MPs and Marines surrounding the Embassy and the continuing harassing fire, the VC had little chance to escape and no prospect of reaching the Chancery itself.44


The waiting until daylight proved to be a sound tactic. At about 0630, a U.S. Army helicopter alighted on the Chancery roof and evacuated both Sergeant Soto and the wounded Corporal Zahuranic. Shortly afterward, Captain O'Brien was able to reach his radio and radioed Gunnery Sergeant Morrison for additional weapons and a few more men, both of which were forthcoming. With the additional reinforcements and with strong covering fires, the Marines and MPs by 0730 finally forced their way into the compound from both over the northeast wall and through the Norodom compound gate. The VC only offered a desultory resistance and took what refuge they could. At 0800, another Army helicopter landed troops from Company C, 502d Infantry, 101st Airborne Division on the roof of the Chancery. All that was left was the moping up. At 0900, Captain O'Brien grouped his Marines together and made a floor to floor sweep of the Chancery to make sure none of the attackers had somehow taken refuge there. It would be another two hours before the building would be clear. The Marine captain estimated that there were about 200 people swarming around the Embassy grounds and the building itself including "reporters, writers, cameramen, MPs, 101st Airborne troops, and civilians." People were "taking pictures, asking questions, and picking up anything in sight, everything was up for grabs." Finally by late morning, the crowd had thinned out and the Marines had effected some "semblance of order." From the onset of the attack until the last Viet Cong was killed by retired Army Colonel George Jacobson, the Mission Coordinator for the Embassy, in his house on the grounds, was about seven hours. Most of the VC attackers were dead except for two prisoners and the Americans suffered casualties of five dead and five wounded. One of the dead, Corporal James C. Marshall who had been killed by a sniper bullet while on the roof of the Norodom Building, and five of the wounded were Marines.



While one of the most dramatic events of the Communist Tet offensive, especially considering the play it received upon American television, the attack on the Embassy was in reality a sideshow. The attack had failed miserably, and the attackers never reached the Chancery building, but largely milled about in the compound until finally killed or taken prisoner. Despite its futility, the assault on the Embassy compound provided a propaganda coup for the enemy and pointed out the need for further security at the Embassy. By the end of the year, the Marine Security Guard had expanded by 39 men with plans to form the detachment into a separate company. On 1 February 1969, the Saigon detachment became Company E, Marine Security Guard Battalion (State Dept).45 Individual Marines in Saigon and Elsewhere in Vietnam


At the beginning of the year, outside of I Corps and mostly stationed in Saigon were some 200 individual Marines almost evenly divided between officers and enlisted men. Most were assigned to the MACV headquarters staff, but others served on the MACV radio and television staff, with the Studies and Observation Group (SOG), and other special groups. On the MACV staff, the senior officer was Brigadier General John R. Chaisson, who as MACV Deputy J-3 for Operations, ran the MACV Combat Operations Center, and developed a very close relationship with General Westmoreland, the MACV commander. To a certain extent, Chaisson became Westmoreland's informal advisor on Marine matters. A frank, outspoken officer, Chaisson was perhaps best remembered for his press conference on 3 February 1968, when he admitted that the Viet Cong had surprised the MACV command with the intensity and coordination of the Tet offensive.46


In mid-1968, Marine Brigadier John N. McLaugh-lin relieved Chaisson in the same capacity. By the end of November, for whatever reason, there was some reduction in the Marines assigned to MACV, now consisting of 77 officers and 53 enlisted men.47


In I Corps, there was another group of Marines who served individually as advisors under MACV to South Vietnamese Army units. In late 1967, 20 Marine officers and 23 enlisted men served in that capacity. Another 129 Marine enlisted men provided security to the I Corps Advisory Group at Da Nang. By the end of 1968, the total number of Marine advisors was 27, 15 officers and 12 enlisted men. The enlisted Marines for security were no longer needed.48







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