THE ROLE OF THE ARMY MEDICAL SERVICE IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC CRISIS OF 1965
After the 82d Airborne Division headquarters at Fort Bragg, N.C., was alerted on 26 April 1965 that a combat force might be deployed to the Dominican Republic (map 1), a brigade combat team consisting of two battalions and support units began to prepare for an airdrop near the eastern approach to Santo Domingo.1 Preparations proceeded rapidly until word came on 29 April that the force was to move out. That evening some 1,750 troops were airborne and preparing to jump when word came that the aircraft could be landed at San Isidro (Dominican Air Force Base) instead (map 2). The first planes landed at 0200 on 30 April and began to disgorge the brigade combat team and tons of cargo which had been rigged for airdrop.
Although there were few lights on the airfield and the cargo had to be unloaded with muscle power, the operation went smoothly. The combat team was on the ground within an hour, and support craft landed thereafter either at San Isidro or were re-diverted to Ramey Air Force Base in Puerto Rico.2 The last aircraft landed at San Isidro with equipment for combat troops approximately 14 hours after the initial landing.
Map 1.-- The Dominican Republic
Map2.-- Santo Domingo Area
After landing at San Isidro, the Army troops struck westward toward Santo Domingo and the Duarte bridge, the entrance into the principal city area. The main highway and bridge were taken and the troops were in a defensive position after the first day.
Meanwhile, the Marines who had landed earlier had entered the city from the other direction and secured real estate in a western portion of the city. Their sector included the Hotel Embajador, which was used as an assembly point in the evacuation of foreign nationals.
On 1 May an Army patrol3 moved through the city to establish contact with the Marines. They met some resistance, lost two killed and five wounded. During the early hours of 3 May, three infantry battalions4 had little trouble in securing a path through the city and linking up with the Marines (map 3). The operation took a little more than an hour. Next day the 82d troopers began widening this zone. Then for the next several days, the Army generally maintained its position, suffering casualties from snipers.
Meanwhile, President Johnson had ordered substantial increases in the U.S. troop commitment, and by the end of the first week of May much of the 82d Airborne Division and support elements were on the island. Army involvement in fighting was almost totally confined to Santo Domingo.
The brigade-size force of Marines was withdrawn early in June and replaced by troops supplied by other members of the Organization of American States. In July, the total number of outside troops in the Dominican Republic was reduced to about twelve thousand but of these more than ten thousand were from the United States. At the end of the year, U.S. troops on the island numbered fewer than six thousand.
The Commander in Chief, Atlantic, was responsible for all U.S. military operations in the Dominican Republic and initially exercised operational command through the Commander, Joint Task Force 122 (who normally commanded the Second Fleet). Within a few days--on 1 May--LTG Bruce
Map 3.-- The Santo Domingo Corridor
Palmer, Jr., Commanding General, XVIII Airborne Corps, arrived in Santo Domingo and assumed command of U.S. forces ashore, although remaining under CJTF 122's operational command. Less than a week later he became joint commander of all U.S. military components in the area and was placed directly under Commander in Chief, Atlantic.
The command, USFORDOMREP (U.S. Forces, Dominican Republic), was established on 7 May with LTG Palmer in command, and JTF 122 was disestablished.5 MG Robert H. York commanded the 82d Airborne Division in DOMREP until August when BG John R. Deane, Jr., took over the reduced force there.
On 23 May the U.S. peacekeeping mission on the island became subordinate to the Organization of American States when the Inter-American Peace Force was created. General of the Army Hugo Panasco Alvim of Brazil took command and LTG Palmer became his deputy.