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[Image 1: Department
of Defense
Photo (USMC)
A26873. Aerial
view of Nam Phong,
Thailand, looking
from the southeast
to the northwest.
In the left center
of the photo is the parking
apron housing
the Task Force
Delta aircraft.]

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did not cause a proportionate reduction of tactical air forces based in Thailand. The North Vietnamese Easter Offensive of 1972 justified the retention of sizeable numbers of tactical aircraft in the theater, and even resulted in a temporary increase in the number of Thailand-based tactical airplanes.

During the Easter Offensive, Marine Aircraft Group 15 (MAG-15) deployed to Da Nang on 9 April 1972 as a three-squadron fighter/attack group. Task Force Delta. It was moved to Nam Phong, Thailand, on 15 June.4 Ironically known as the "Rose Garden," Nam Phong was nothing more than a Royal Thai training base with an airstrip. Its nickname borrowed from the Marine Corps advertising slogan, "We don't promise you a rose garden." Nam Phong was christened by the first Marines of MAG-15 to arrive. They knew immediately what the recruiter meant by that phrase when they set their eyes upon the barrenness of the base and realized the bleak existence that awaited them and their soon-to-arrive reinforcements, All Weather Attack Squadron 533 (VMA[AW]-533).* Yet there was little time to concern themselves with accommodations as moments after their arrival, the first strike mission was launched against NVA targets in South Vietnam. Besides, with Marine expeditionary equipment and Seabees' help, Nam Phong was transformed into a fully operational airfield, eventually possessing many of the comforts of home, including showers.5

During Task Force Delta's stay at the "Rose Garden,"

*MAG-15, originally configured as a three-squadron fighter/attack group, was comprised of the Iwakuni-bascd VMFA-115 "Silver Eagles" and VMFA-232 "Red Devils" plus the Kaneohe Bay-based VMFA-212 "Lancers." When the group relocated to Nam Phong, VMFA-212 returned to Hawaii, and was replaced by MAG-15's VMA(AW)-533 "Hawks." The fighter/attack squadrons flew the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom with VMFA-115 employing 12 F-4Bs, VMFA-232 15 F-4Js. and VMFA-212 11 F-4)s. VMA(AW)-533 arrived at Nam Phong on 20 June 1972 with 12 A-6As. By the end of June this organization, called Task Force Delta and commanded by Brigadier General Andrew W. O'Donnell, also operated four CH-46D Sea Knights belonging to H&MS-36 and four KC-130F Hercules aerial rcfuclcrs from VMGR-152.

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