'Keystone Robin' Marines ship out
DA NANG, Vietnam — As the USS Anchorage pulled out of Da Nang harbor Sunday evening with its load of Marines and supplies, it marked the end of the 7th Fleet's role in the Keystone Robin operation which has carried more than 1,600 Marines and 724,000 cubic feet of equipment out of Vietnam during the sixth increment of troop redeployment.
The 7th Fleet ships have saved the U.S. $15 million since June, 1969, by transporting nearly 30,000 Marines and 9 million cubic feet of supplies from Vietnam to sites in the western Pacific and the U.S., according to a fleet spokesman.
There are now only about 14,000 Marines remaining in Vietnam, including those in advisory and staff positions. In 1968, when Marine Corps strength was at its peak, there were about 87,000 Marines in I Military Region alone, the spokesman said.
The Da Nang pier swarmed with activity over the weekend as cranes, forklifts and trucks loaded more than 2,000 tons of crated equipment into the holds of huge amphibious transport ships.
The loading, coordinated among Navy, Marine and Army personnel, continued 24 hours a day as ships moved into the pier, loaded and left within 10 to 12 hours.
Marines boarding the ships were from the 1st Marine Div.
Pfc. Jim Costanzo, of the division's Hq. Bn., was leaving Da Nang after 11 months. As he stood beside his ship with his duffel bag propped on his shoulder, he said he has known for two weeks that he would be shipping home early.
"Haven't told my folks yet. I want to surprise them and then spend a month at home in Chicago just having a great time," he said happily.
During the cruise, the Marines will "keep busy" by attending military procedure classes, pulling guard duty, kitchen police, or just playing cards.