Page 123

[Image 1: Marine Corps Historical CollectionAir
Force HH-53 crews from 21st SOS celebrate the successful finish of Operation
Eagle Pull. Air Force
helicopters extracted Col Sydney H. Batchelder and his command group.]

Page 123(The Bitter End)

received fire.* Captain Melton, the Company G commander, recalled the extraction
of his ground security forces:

I had passed the word to my company to pull in the perimeter; that we were
leaving. I expected no problems, but there ms a lot of noise from the helicopters.
As Company G began embarking I saw Lieutenant Colonel Sladc near the last
helicopter. He motioned 10 me and I ran over to him. He asked me how things
were going and I said fine. He nodded his approval and said I should get back
to my company and make sure that I had everybody. I ran to the one remaining
helicopter to be loaded and stood at the tailgate and watched the platoon
sergeant couni his people on board, l stood in dismay as the sergeant's eyes
grew wide in disbelief and horror. He turned toward me and indicated by mouthing
his words and using two fingers that he was missing two Marines, l motioned
to the platoon commander and the platoon sergeant to follow me. We ran around
the long building on the edge of the soccer field (the LZ) to the entrance
gate the platoon had been guarding. We saw two Marines standing in their original
positions, almost catatonic. They probably had not moved since being first
posted there and they had not heard the order to move out. I fan up to one
and slapped him on the shoulder and veiled at them that we were leaving. When
they both turned around and saw thai the sector wa.s completely void of Marines,
their faces whitened in shock and dismay and they then [urncd and sprinted
full speed to the waiting helicopter.46

Removal of the ground security force came none too soon because as the last
helicopter lifted off Landing Zone Hotel, several rounds round their mark.
The Khmcr Communists had finally hit the center of the zone, but fortunately
for the command element and the Air Force pilots they did so nine minutes
too late.

Neither the Marines nor any of the other participants sustained casualties.
The Okinawa eventually berthed all of the extracted citizens, and in the process
of removing them from Cambodia no American, not the Marines on the ground
nor the tactical aircraft airborne, fired a shot in anger. The two Air Force
HH-53s from the 40th ARRS sustained the only combat damage of the operation.
Small arms fire during the final extraction caused minimal damage to the first
aircraft, but a 12.7mm heavy machine gun round hit the second chopper's tail
rotor as it climbed out of the zone. Escorted by a third, backup HH-53, this
Jolly Green Giant, despite severe vibrations, made it safely back to Ubon
Air Base in Thailand.47

The last Marine helicopter to leave Cambodia landed on the Okinawa at 1215.
At 1450, a HMH-462 bird with Ambassador John Gunthcr Dean and his party

*ln his comments. Lieutenant Colonel Guilmartin related that these two HH-^3s
were commanded by First Lieutenant Donald Backlund and First Lieutenant Philip
Pacini who rcccivc-d credit from the USAF for "Combat Support Missions" vice
"Combat Missions." Guilmartin Comments.

Page 123(The Bitter End)