Page 065

[Image 1: Photo
courtesy of Col
Peter F. Angle, USMC (Ret).]

Page 65(The Bitter End)

came frequent visitors to Camp Hanscn and the surrounding Central Training Area, as Slade's battalion and Bolion's squadron perfected their teamwork. During November, two full-scale emergency evacuation exercises were conducted, one at Camp Hansen and the other at an abandoned World War II Japanese airfield on the Yomitan Peninsula of Okinawa. During the battalion's preparation period, 31st MAU/ARG Alpha continued its deployment, maintaining a relatively relaxed response time of 168 hours.26

On 16 December 1974, when the ships of ARG Alpha entered Buckner Bay to disembark BLT 3/4, BLT 2/4 stood ready, prepared to conduct an emergency evacuation if so ordered. After the exchange of BLTs, ARG Alpha headed south, eight days before Christmas. A few miles away, at MCAS Futema, HMH-462 was making its final preparations for the long flight to Cubi Point where it would stand by, available for employment should the situation suddenly change. The Other Contingency

While the focus of attention and planning was on Eagle Pull, the 4th Marines, MAG-36, and the 9th Marines, except for periods of airborne contingency BLT assignment, appeared to be left out of the mainstream of activities. This situation changed when Colonel

Johnson returned from his visit to South Vietnam in September of 1974. When he reported that no real plans existed to evacuate South Vietnam, especially the northern half, it became obvious that III MAF would have to begin preparing on its own for that possibility. Since the 31st MAU/ARG Alpha was already dedicated to Eagle Pull, any amphibious force involvement in an evacuation from South Vietnam would have to be planned and executed around BLT/ARG Bravo, the 9th Marines contingency group.

Shortly after Colonel Johnson's briefing on the situation in South Vietnam, Colonel Jack D. Rowley, the commanding officer of the 9th Marines, ordered his staff to dt velop a command post exercise (CPX) so the regiment and its deploying battalions could become familiar with the special emergency evacaution requirements and the situation in MR l. Under the staff supervision of the regimental executive officer, Lieutenant Colonel Robert L. Wise, Major Burrel H. Landes, the regimental operations officer, prepared the plans. Even before Major Landes and his S-3 section began their efforts to write an operation order, the regimental S-2, First Lieutenant Thomas W. Kinsell,

This sign in English, "Drive Safely," along the Mekong in Phnom Penh in 197 S-197 5, seemed to apply to Americans charged with planning the safe evacuation of officials from the capital city of a country where U.S. influence and responsibilities could not be ignored.

Page 65(The Bitter End)