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[Image 1: Photo
courtesy of Col
Peter F. Angle,
USMC (Ret.).
Col Stephen G.
Olmstead, ground
security force
commander, stands
outside his quarters
in Phnom Penh,
The Eagle Pull
Command Element.]

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On 28 September 1973, a typical Eagle Pull drill was conducted at the direction of Colonel Alexander S. Ruggiero, the 3d Marine Division G-3. He randomly asked individual Marines under what circumstances they would fire their weapons. Ruggiero concluded that the Marines in Companies F and G were well schooled in the rules of engagement, but also determined that some Marines knew not enough and others too much about the pending operation: "... Co G['s] . . . men gave the overall impression of being quite bewildered by the whole thing .... Co F, knew a little too much as they identified the country."*6

With the passage of time and subsequent drills, the functioning of the entire apparatus became smoother. The air contingency BLTs were ready to go, dedicated drivers from the 3d and 9th Motor Transport Battalions knew exactly where to go, and the control agencies knew how to move the air contingency BLTs in the shortest amount of time.7

When the dry season in Cambodia began in 1975, the air contingency BLT was the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Gene A. Dccgan. In early January of that year, BLT 2/9 increased its alert status. Lieutenant Colonel Dccgan recalled his designated Eagle Pull rifle companies, Company G, commanded by Captain James H. Davis, and Company H, commanded by Captain James L. Jones, Jr., from the Northern Training Area where they had been undergoing post-deployment training. As the month progressed and the Khmer Rouge pressed ever closer to Phnom Penh, the evacuation reaction time was decreased from 16 to 3 hours. Lieutenant Colonel Dcegan and his S-3, Major Barry J. Murphy, became daily visitors at the division and MAF headquarters. Major General Kenneth J. Houghton, who had succeeded Major General Fred E. Haynes, Jr., as commanding general of the 3d Marine Division, almost daily presided over briefings of the designated Eagle Pull commanders. These changes foretold what everyone knew, that actual operations would soon supplant training as the priority of the day.

On 30 June 1973, four days after the requirement materialized for an overall ground commander, known as the Ground Security Force (GSF) Commander, General Ryan selected Colonel Stephen G. Olmstead, the commanding officer of the 9th Marines, to serve in that capacity. One of Colonel Olmstead's first duties involved a trip to Hawaii to brief Admiral Gayler at CinCPac and General Wilson at FMFPac on the concept and scheme of maneuver for Operation Eagle Pull. In August 1973 he went to Nakhon Phanom to participate in the initial planning conference between the USSAG staff and III MAF Marines. Returning to Okinawa, he formed his command clement, which included Major Peter F. Angle (air liaison officer) and two communicators. Then throughout the fall and early winter, the command element stood ready to fly to Nakhon Phanom should the need arise for a final liaison with the USSAG commander before scarring the actual evacuation. The 1974 dry season was less than a month old when the call came.

�Colonel Ruggiero also concluded from his inspection that each driver in the convoy needed to know through which gate to enter Kadena, because the convoy commander did not have time to wait until all the trucks had been loaded before beginning the movement (Maj Henry C. Stackpolc memo to CO, 9th Mar, Subj: Eagle Pull. dtd 29Scpt73, p. l. Eagle Pull File). He also commented, years later, that the continuous rotation of companies to the Eagle Pull contingency made the maintenance of secrecy even more difficult, but the paramount concern during early training centered around the dense traffic on the roads to Kadena. Ruggiero Comments.

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