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U.S. Marines in Vietnam an Expanding War 1966

U.S. Marines in Vietnam an Expanding War 1966

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Published by Bob Andrepont
United States Marine Corps history of Marines in Vietnam in 1966
United States Marine Corps history of Marines in Vietnam in 1966

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Published by: Bob Andrepont on Feb 05, 2011
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The composition of the MACV staff reflected the
predominance of U.S. Army forces in Vietnam.
Despite the fact that over two-thirds of the nearly
3,000 members of the joint MACV staff were Army

personnel, General Westmoreland maintaineda
reputation of impartiality in dealing with the U.S.
component commands in Vietnam. Brigadier

General WilliamK. Jones, the senior Marine on the
MACV staff, observed that the Army officers who
filled key staff positions took pains to ascertain the
viewpoints of other services and "tried to developa
teamwork that was necessary to run the command."'
Brigadier General Jones had arrived in December
1965 for the express purpose of organizing the
MACV Combat Operations Center. According to
Jones, who had held a similar billet as Chief of the
General Operations Division in the office of the

Joint Chiefs of Staff during 1961-62, "It was a brand

new proposition in which I was given plenty of

leeway by both General Rosson and General DePuy
to set up the overall operation."2*
The MACV Combat Operations Center eventually

developed into a smaller version of the National

Military Command Center in Washington, perform-

ing the same nerve-center function for

Westmoreland as the latter did for the Joint Chiefs.
The operations center had direct radio and teletype
connections with Admiral Sharp's headquarters in
Honolulu and the National Military Command

*General Jones had earned the Navy Cross and Silver Star in
World War II. His assignment prior to his arrival in Vietnamwas
Commanding General, Force Troops, FMFPac. Major General
WilliamB. Rosson, USA, was the MACV Chief of Staff while Ma-
jor General WilliamE. DePuy was the MACV J-3. The latter was
relieved by Major General John C. Tillson III in March 1966.

Marine Corps Photo A187971

LtGen Walt; Commanding General,III MAF(left),
and BGen Jonas M. Platt,III MAFChief of Staff
(right), pin on the "stars" of newly promoted BGen
John R. Chaisson, theIII MAFoperations officer. As
a general officer, Chaisson relieved BGen William
K. Jones as Director of theMACVCombat Opera-
tions Center.

Center. General Jones remained in command of the
center until November 1966, when he was relieved
by Marine Brigadier General John R. Chaisson, just
promoted to his new rank after completing his tour
as III MAF's G-3.*

The number of Marines on the staff at MACV
Headquarters in Saigon grew fromless than 80 in
December 1965 to 185 by the end of 1966. In addi-
tion to Generals Jones and Chaisson, Colonel Francis

F. "Fox" Parry, Lieutenant Colonel Paul B.

*Colonel Francis F. Parry, who was Jones' deputy, recalled that
before General DePuy departed, he insisted that the operations
center have an Army deputy as well as a Marine. Parry recom-
mended to Generals Jones and Tillson "that the two deputies
divide up their duties with the Marine having responsibility for ac-
tivity in I Corps, II Corps, and air and naval matters; the Army
taking III Corps, IV Corps, and Special Forces operations both in
and out of country. This retained a Marine hand directly involved
in those areas of most interest to us." Parry Comments.

307

308

AN EXPANDING WAR

Haigwood, and Lieutenant Colonel Heman J. Red-

field III served in the Combat Operations Center.

Other Marines were scattered throughout the MACV
staff. Administratively, the Marines in Saigon were
carried on the rolls of Headquarters Marine Corps in
Washington. General Jones later commented thata
separate administrative subunit in Saigon should
have been established for these Marines declaring
"having to go clear to [HQMC]... didn't make any
damned sense at all. "3
The Marine Security Detachment at the American
Embassy, which was charged with protecting other
U.S. civilian buildings as well as the Embassy, also
increased in number during the year because of the
proliferation of U.S. Government agencies in the

South Vietnamese capital. Reflecting the augmented
size and larger security responsibility of the detach-
ment, 1st Lieutenant Phillip E. Tucker assumed
command in April fromGunnery Sergeant Jerry N.
Lorelli. By the end of 1966, the detachment had
reached a strength of 68 Marines.

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