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9th MAB staff began to modifiy the evacuation plan to reflect the recent organizational changes. In addition to ordering the brigade's reconfiguration, III MAF decided to reorganize its shipboard security forces. To accomplish this, the MAF attached a newly created ship security group to the 9th MAB, the Amphibious Evacuation Security Force (AESF). This unit replaced the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines as the Navy and Military Sealift Command's shipboard security contingent. The AESF was composed of a control group drawn from the headquarters staff of the 9th Marines and 10 72-man detachments representing various commands within the 3d Marine Division.
Weeks prior to the AESF's activation, the 3d Marine Division Commander, Major General Kenneth J. Houghton, anticipating this requirement, issued a letter of instruction which directed division units to supply him with a list of highly qualified Marines capable of carrying out this potentially dangerous and demanding security task. Upon receiving the word to activate this force. General Houghton instructed his division units to provide the previously designated Marines for transshipment to the Philippines and the South China Sea. At this point, the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing directed Marine Aerial Refueler Squadron 152 to respond to this short-fused, logistical requirement. In a round-the-clock shuttle on 17 April, the Marine KC-130s of'Tchi Go Ni" (152) moved the newly formed security force a thousand miles south to the "PI" (Philippine Islands).15
The restructured brigade consisted of three major elements: Regimental Landing Team 4 commanded by Colonel Alfred M. Gray, Provisional Marine Air Group 39 with Colonel Frank G. McLenon as its commander, and the Brigade Logistic Support Group headed by Colonel Hans G. Edebohls. BLT 1/9 led by Lieutenant Colonel Royce L. Bond, BLT 2/4 commanded by Lieutenant Colonel George P. Slade, and BLT 3/9 with Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Loehe as its commander made up the ground combat elements of the regimental landing team. The shipboard, combat-ready, flying units were HMH-462, HMH-463, and HMM-165. Lieutenant Colonels James L. Bolton, Herbert M. Fix, and James P. Kizer were the respective commanders. In addition, HML-367, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James R. Gentry, belonged to Provisional MAG-39, but its headquarters remained at Subic. Colonel McClenon assigned HML-367's aircraft to the other squadrons within ProvMAG-39 as he did the "Cobras" of HMA-369. The logistics support group was composed of LSUs 1/9, 2/4, and 3/9. Major Donald O. Coughlin, Major James A. Gal-laghcr, and Major Fred L. Jones commanded these individual units, respectively. Major David A. Quinlan served as the officer in charge of the newly attached unit, the Amphibious Evacuation Security Force.16
On 19 April, the 9th MAB arrived in South Vietnamese waters. As he had during the brigade's earlier afloat period, General Carey immediately reported to the task force commander for operational matters. Prepared and anxious for action, the 9th MAB had suffered little from the interruption. On 20 April, it published Operation Order 2-75, its plan for Operation Frequent Wind.17 The same day the brigade published its order, Colonel Alfred M. Gray, commanding Regimental Landing Team 4 (RLT-4/CTU 79-1-2), issued the regiment's operational plan. Major James E. Living-ston, the regimental operations officer, and his staffs collocation and close coordination with the brigade aided both headquarters in producing plans with detailed annexes in a highly compressed time period.
Close cooperation between the brigade and regimental staff also assisted in relieving some of the communications backlog on the Blue Ridge. Delays still occurred because of the large number of staffs using the communications facilities. The various organizations participating in the operation were so widely dispersed that the majority of the orders issued by the various headquarters had to be transmitted in message format. It therefore became essential for the brigade and its subordinate units to implement procedures to minimize or eliminate duplication of communications. The ability to pass instructions and changes without delay faced a crucial test as each command element intensified its dissemtnation efforts.18 The Concept
With the communications system nearly overloaded from the exchange of information needed to make last-minute adjustments to the concept of operations, the collection of accurate raw data became critical to the 9th MAB's final planning efforts. Thus the advance command element in Saigon undertook as one of its primary functions, the gathering of intelligence and its analysis. It had to update continuously the information on the evacuation sites, collate it, interpret it, and then transmit it to the appropriate commands. The breadth of the possible evacuation sites and their varied contingencies made this a requisite step. The potential evacuation sites included all of the following:
Newport Pier-This facility was situated adjacent to the Long Binh Bridge on the Saigon
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