Friday, April 28, 1972
Advisers Protest Orders To Quit Menaced Bases
All four U.S. advisers on fire bases 5 and 6 at the northern end of "Rocket Ridge" north of Kontum, wanted to remain with their South Vietnamese units when the order came to abandon the bases Tuesday.
Their requests were over-ruled by senior U.S. officers and they were ordered to pull out aboard helicopters sent for them. The South Vietnamese later evacuated the bases on foot.
At one fire base, the reports said, two advisors tried to wave off the helicopters coming in to pick them up. The aircraft landed anyway. When one of the advisers protested that he wanted to stay, he was forcibly pulled aboard by another officer.
"The advisers wanted to stay," reported Lt. Charles Vasquez, 24, Dana Point, Calif., one of the four who were ordered out from the two bases.
"We could provide tactical air support and coordinate helicopters to get the South Vietnamese out. If we couldn't get enough helicopters to get everyone out, we were planning to escape with the Vietnamese."
In Saigon, the U.S. command said there is no firm policy on pulling out advisers but that the decision is left to senior American commanders in their own areas to order the advisers out to keep them from becoming casualties. Military sources have said that the policy is to withdraw the Americans whenever a base becomes untenable.
Nine other American advisers were rescued by helicopter outside the South Vietnamese 22nd Division forward command post at Tan Canh after it was overrun Monday. Six were taken to nearby Dak To airfield and were later killed when another helicopter that had picked them up there was shot down.
Another adviser from Tan Canh and a South Vietnamese regimental commander were rescued by a helicopter the next day.
The four taken out from "Rocket Ridge," in addition to Vasquez, were Capt. John Peters, Columbus, Ohio; Lt. James Cloninger, Great Falls, S.C., who were at Fire Base 5, and Lt. Daryl Kunzler, whose home town is not available, who was with Vasquez at Fire Base 6.
"Advisers Protest Orders To Quit Menaced Bases", by PLEIKU, Vietnam (AP), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes on Friday, April 28, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
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