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[Image 1: Marine Corps Historical
Collection. Three
of the thousands of MR l refugees evacuated during the first 10 days of April
1/4 and sailors of ARG Bravo conducted Operation Fortress Journey which lifted
evacuees from the sea to MSC ships which then took them to Phu Quoc island.]

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advancing North Vietnamese Army and the indecision of the South Vietnamese government. As one of the participants, Captain Charles J. Bushey, related in a letter to his wife, "I overheard one radio call late this afternoon asking Saigon where they wanted the refugees taken. Would you believe Saigon said they did not know where they could be taken?"20

Operating off the coast of Vietnam, the task force eventually deployed to the vicinity of Phu Quoc as evacuation efforts off Phan Rang and Phan Thiet ceased with the renewed Norm Vietnamese onslaught. The island of Phu Quoc offered the task group a new challenge. The group's arrival there coincided with the arrival of the Military Sealift Command's refugees.21

The events which had occurred earlier on board the Pioneer Contender overshadowed a less dramatic, but still important incident at Phu Quoc. No one there would take responsibility for unloading the refugees for fear they would riot and possibly kill South Vietnamese already on the island. Out of necessity, the Amphibious Evacuation RVN Support Group became heavily involved in this phase of the refugee operation, providing protection and an orderly transition. Marine security forces were on several Military Sealift Command ships in the harbor, and in each instance, Marine lieutenants led the reinforced rifle platoons protecting these vessels. They had full responsibility for their embarked refugee's welfare and that security extended to getting them safely to the island. This required maintaining close control of the evacuees until every last one of them had reached Phu Quoc.

Despite the apparent dangers involved in this task, the clearing of a ship represented a far easier challenge than the initial securing of a vessel. Each Marine unit

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