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Top to bottom: An aerial surveillance photo showing two Khmer Rouge gunboats during the initial seizing of the SS Mayaguez; U. Marines from 1st Battalion, 4th Marines boarding the ship shortly after The Mayaguez incident took place between Democratic Kampuchea and the United States from May 12–15, 1975, less than a month after the Khmer Rouge took control of the capital Phnom Penh ousting the U. The names of the Americans killed, as well as those of three U. Marines who were left behind on the island of Koh Tang after the battle and were subsequently executed by the Khmer Rouge, are the last names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Miller ordered the engine room to slow down to maneuvering speed to avoid the machine-gun fire, the Khmer Rouge then fired a rocket-propelled grenade across the bow of the ship. It was the last official battle of the Vietnam War. The crisis began on the afternoon of May 12, 1975, as the American container ship SS Mayaguez, owned by Sea-Land Service Inc., passed nearby Poulo Wai island en route to Sattahip, Thailand, in waters claimed as 12 nautical miles of territorial waters by Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge fired across the bow of the Mayaguez and when Captain Charles T.Two F-4 Phantoms soon arrived over the Mayaguez and began firing their 20 mm cannon into the water in front of the ship.The F-4s were followed by A-7Ds and more F-111s which continued to fire into the sea in front of and behind the ship indicating that no further movement should be attempted.

The CH-53 was not air-refuelable, but had 650-gallon foamless tip tanks and two miniguns, although no tail gun.The merchant ship's crew, whose seizure at sea had prompted the U. attack, had been released in good health, unknown to the U. Captain Miller ordered the transmission of an SOS and then stopped the ship. Nevertheless, the Marines boarded and recaptured the ship anchored offshore a Cambodian island, finding it empty. did not recognize 12 nautical miles territorial waters claims at that time, recognizing only 3 nautical miles, and characterised the location as international sea lanes on the high seas.III Marine Amphibious Force (III MAF) assigned Task Force 79.9 with recovering the Mayaguez and designated D Company 1/4 Marines in the Philippines as the unit that would actually retake the Mayaguez, but General Burns wanted additional force and orders were sent to the 3d Marine Division on Okinawa.1st Battalion, 9th Marines (BLT 1/9) was then on alert as the primary "air contingency" reaction force, but most of BLT 1/9 were ending their tours of duty and were not subject to further extension of their tours except in the case of emergency.

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