Page 149

[Image 1: Department of Defense
Photo (USMC) A150969 This aerial photo of Saigon and the Newport Pier shows
why planners considered using the river as a means of evacuating the South
Vietnamese capital. The lightning-quick success of the NVA encirclement made
this option unusable by the last week of April 1975.]

Page 149(The Bitter End)

riverfront. It featured four deep-water berths and a number of ramps and landings
for assorted tugs and smaller craft. Parking lots provided nine CH-53 landing
spots. Newport was envisioned as a large-scale evacuation site accommodating
up to 100,000 evacuees by waterborne means. At a minimum, one battalion would
be needed to secure the pier. In addition to special security force detachments
to search and screen the evacuees and provide security for the ships, an undetermined
number of rifle platoons would be needed to accompany the evacuation ships
on the perilous ride down the Saigon River to the South China Sea. Insertion
of the landing force could be by helicopter or by ships using the Saigon River.
Extraction was equally flexible, thereby making this option viable until the
last possible moment.

DAO/Air America Complex-Situated adjacent to Tan Son Nhut Air Base, this complex was considered the primary site should evacuation become necessary. With a little preparation, numerous landing zones could be made available in the DAO Compound, the Annex, and across the highway on the Air America apron. At least two infantry battalions would be needed to secure this area, and if the scope of the operation were broadened to include security for fixed-wing evacuation flights out of Tan Son Nhut, then as many as three battalions would be required. The DAO Compound was divided into roughly two separate areas, one called the Alamo and the other the Annex. The Alamo housed the main headquarters and the Evacuation Command Center. The Annex consisted primarily of the Exchange, the bowling alley, a swimming pool, and a gymnasium.

Can Tho-The concept for this region involved a movement up the Bassac River
to Can Tho, about 50 miles southwest of Saigon, to evacuate as many as 2,000
people. To support this plan, the MAB was prepared to insert secu-

Page 149(The Bitter End)