Aerial view of Udorn airstrip. (USMC Photo A182977').
base during this unit's deployment and was still in the area in 1962 when the decision was made to commit JTF 116 to Thailand.
Lieutenant Colonel Harvey M. Patton's VMA-332, an A-4C (Skyhawk) jet attack squadron, claimed the distinction of being the first Marine unit to arrive in Thailand in response to the 1962 Laotian crisis. The 20 single-placed Skyhawks departed the Cubi Point Naval Air Station in the Philippines on the morning of 18 May, were refueled in flight by aircraft from VMA-211, another Marine A-4 squadron, and landed at Udorn around noon. The bulk of the Marine units began arriving in Thailand the following day. At Bangkok the Special Landing Force, composed of Lieutenant Colonel Harold W. Adams' 1,500-man Battalion Landing Team 3/9 and Lieutenant Colonel Fred A. Steele's HMM-261, an HUS-1 helicopter squadron, disembarked from the ships of the Amphibious Ready Group.* That same day Marine GV-1 refueler-transports began airlifting additional aviation support detachments from Okinawa to Udorn. These included detachments of Marine Air Control Squadrons 2 and 4 (MACS-2 and -4), Marine Air Base Squadron 12 (MABS-12), and a Provisional Marine Aircraft Group (Prov-MAG) headquarters. Upon landing Colonel Ross S. Mickey, the commander of the ProvMAG, established his headquarters at the airfield and assumed operational control of all USMC aviation
*A Marine battalion landing team derives its designation from the infantry battalion around which it is built, in this case the 3d Battalion, 9th Marines. In 1962, the BLT included a howitzer battery, a tank platoon, an amphibious tractor platoon, a pioneer platoon, a motor transport platoon, an antitank platoon, and air and naval gunfire liaison teams. Following the commitment of the SLF on 19 May, another BLT and helicopter squadron from Okinawa reconstituted the Seventh Fleet Special Landing Force.
[eHistory Editors Note: eHistory was contacted by Jim Strachan regarding content on pages 89 and 90. The following is from an email from Mr. Strachan.
I read with interest the account of JTF 116 which was largely focused on the US Marines in Thailand. There was a brief mention of the US Army 25th Infantry Division unit on Pages 89 and 90, as I recall, which was reported to be in Thailand on a SEATO exercise in May 1962. The unit is misidentified in your history in two places as the "1st Brigade, 27th Infantry". This unit was the 1st Battle Group, 27th Infantry, nicknamed the "Wolfhounds". The unit was one of the 25th Infantry Division's five battle groups stationed on Oahu. It was commanded by a Colonel and consisted of a Headquarters Company, five rifle companies designated A, B, C, D, and E, and a Combat Support Company with 4.2 in mortars. After the Marines left Thailand, the Wolfhounds remained and my unit, the 1st Battle Group, 35th Infantry, nicknamed "Cacti Green", replaced the Wolfhounds in August 1962, returning to Hawaii in December 1962. As a platoon leader in C Company, 1/35, my rifle platoon patrolled and conducted civic action activities from near Korat east to Ubon on the MeKong and up and around the northeast corner of Thailand to Sakorn Nakorn, Nakon Phanom, Udorn, Tha Bo, Kon Kaen and back to Korat over a several month period. So, the 1st Battle Group, 27th Infantry, and the 1st Battle Group, 35th Infantry, from the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii, spent most of 1962 as a US Army "show of force" in northeast Thailand under JTF 116. You may want to research and clarify this aspect of JTF 116 history in your eHistory, as the Army had a significant combat presence in Thailand in 1962 which remained longer than the Marines.
Missouri City, Texas]