Download PDF by Earl H. Tilford: Search and rescue in Southeast Asia, 1961-1975

By Earl H. Tilford

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As soon as the wreckage of the missing plane was found, the commander of Detachment 3 marshalled whatever forces he could for the rescue effort. As noted earlier, the Army and the Marines had agreed to make their helicopters available whenever they were not needed elsewhere. Usually, American forces were used for these rescue at39 SEARCH AND RESCUE tempts, but if they were unavailable, the search and rescue commander had to rely on the Vietnamese. Once the rescue force was on the way, the Detachment 3 commander would then fly to the crash area by chopper.

Gen. Glen W. Martin, Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations at PACAF. 66 Squabbling between CINCPAC and MACV, however, delayed arrival of these helicopters through April. Two issues formed the basis for conten­ tion. First, Air Force involvement in Southeast Asia was semicovert. Search and rescue forces would underline American participation in secret opera­ tions like Farm Gate and the controversial Ranch Hand defoliation pro­ gram. Additionally, to keep these operations covert, strict manpower ceilings were imposed on the Air Force.

Major Saunders flew up to Udorn to make final ar­ rangements and to greet the men. Unfortunately, he failed to obtain the necessary support items such as JP-4 fuel, bedding and rations for the men at either Udorn or Nakhon Phanom. Consequently, when the rescue unit reached Udorn on June 17 and began unloading and assembling their chop­ pers, Saunders discovered there were no facilities to accommodate the men for that night. Saunders had the men flown to Nakhon Phanom for the night, where he assumed there were suitable facilities.

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Search and rescue in Southeast Asia, 1961-1975 by Earl H. Tilford


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