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Includes over 15 illustrations
This operation highlights the role that the small country of Laos played in the foreign policy calculations of the newly elected U.S. president, John F. Kennedy. Gravely concerned that the Laotian government was in danger of being overwhelmed by a growing Communist insurgency known as the Pathet Lao, President Kennedy took the bold step of deploying Marine Air Base Squadron-16 (MABS-16) to nearby Thailand for the purpose of supporting a collection of helicopters piloted by an organization called Air America. Hollywood later made a movie about Air America, and it is now widely known that it was linked to the Central Intelligence Agency. The Marines of MABS-16 received no such fanfare. Working behind the scenes in austere conditions, MABS-16 gave new meaning to the phrase “in any clime and place.” While Operation Millpond may seem like a small thing in comparison with much larger operations that were soon to be conducted by Marines in the Republic of South Vietnam, it nonetheless represents a clear beginning to a growing U.S. military commitment to the region as a whole, one that did not end until the last Marine left the roof of the American embassy in Saigon in 1975.