300. Message From the Commander in Chief, Pacific (Gayler) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff 1

Mayaguez sitrep 001. A. JCS 140645Z May 75, B. JCS 142142Z May 75, C. JCS 142203Z May 75.2

Ref (A) directed preparations be made for, (1) seizing the Mayaguez, (2) occupying Koh Tang Island, (3) conducting B52 strikes on Kompong Som and Ream and, (4) sinking all Cambodian small craft in target areas. Operations to begin sunrise 15 May. Ref (B) authorized execution of operations (1), (2), and (4) only and requested sitrep every six hours commencing first strike. Ref (C) authorized execution cyclic air strike operations from Coral Sea vs targets in Kompong Som complex.
Repossession of the Mayaguez. Marine GSF, Engineering and MSC personnel were transported by helicopter from Utapao to the USS Holt, then via the Holt to the Mayaguez. Riot control agents were used in anticipation of meeting hostile resistance, but none was encountered. The ship had been deserted in operating condition, and was immediately secured.
Recovery of the Mayaguez crew. At approximately 0240Z a small craft was reported approaching Koh Tang Island from Kompong Som. The boat was intercepted by the USS Wilson and on closure it was observed to be displaying numerous white flags. Aboard were all the crew of the Mayaguez plus five Thai fishermen who had been held captive by the Cambodians since 5 March. The small boat belonged to the Thais, who were given food, water and fuel to return to Thailand. Mayaguez crewmembers were in excellent condition and are now back on their own ship.
Air strikes vs Kompong Som complex. Final reports not yet received. Preliminary reports, however indicate 17 (one seven) aircraft of various types destroyed, a hangar damaged and craters in the runway at Ream airbase. Warehouses were struck in the port area and marshalling yard. Barracks areas were destroyed at the Ream Naval Base. The POL storage area 3 miles north of the port was also struck but no secondary fires or explosions were observed. JCS 150455Z3 directed immediate [Page 1039] cessation of all offensive operations, accordingly further strikes were diverted to support the extraction of the GSF from Koh Tang Island.
Koh Tang Island. Landings on the island were made under heavy hostile fire. Of the five helicopters that went in on the first wave, three were lost. One made a forced landing on the Thai mainland, just west of the Cambodian border, one returned to Utapao with casualties. On the second wave, two were damaged. Exact numbers of casualties are unknown at present. Extraction of the 182 men that were put ashore is now the objective. The missions of recapturing the Mayaguez and recovering the ship’s crew have been accomplished.4 Extraction will be initiated soon. Further details will be provided in final sitrep.
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC East Asian and Pacific Affairs Staff Files, 1973–1976, Box 28, Department of Defense, CINCPAC (3). Secret; Noforn; Limdis. This situation report is as of 0600Z, May 15.
  2. Reference telegrams are ibid.
  3. Dated May 15; ibid.
  4. On May 15 at 12:27 a.m., President Ford addressed the nation on television and radio to report that the Mayaguez and its crew had been successfully recovered. He also sent letters to the Speaker of the House and President Pro Tempore of the Senate reporting on the U.S. actions. See Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Gerald R. Ford, 1975, Book I, pp. 668–670.