Over forty-some years there has been much debate about the origin of the "Rose Garden" name. The stories vary on pretty much the same theme: 'someone' (officer, etc.) arrived at Nam Phong, asked 'someone else' (PVT, PFC, etc.) where they were, and that 'someone else' said:

"Welcome to the Rose Garden"

I'm sure this happened more than once!  But of course, nobody knows for sure who, exactly, asked the question, and certainly nobody knows who it was that answered the question. But perhaps the bigger question is, why did that someone come up with the name for Nam Phong?

Yes, most know that country western singer Lynn Anderson covered Billy Joe Royal's 1967 song "I never Promised You A Rose Garden" in Oct. of 1970 that topped the charts. Soon thereafter the US Marine Corps started a recruiting campaign "We Don't Promise You A Rose Garden".


So we know the basis, but who, really, first applied it to Nam Phong? Finally, someone stepped forward and personally took the blame. As in most things notable, it was an accidental combination of innocent interactions, involving a General and two young officers.  One of the culprits, Capt. Peter Love, RIO from VMFA-232, tells it in his own words..

You might remember that in 1971 the Marine Corp started a recruitment campaign with the tagline "The Marines Are looking for a Few Good Men". The Campaign consisted of TV and Radio adds as well as several different Posters. One of the posters pictured a Drill Instructor standing nose to nose with a recruit. The caption on the poster was: "WE DON'T PROMISE YOU A ROSE GARDEN" The phrase of course came from the popular song that Lynn Anderson recorded.

For whatever reason that poster always amused me more than the others and stuck in my mind.

After we had been in DaNang for about 6 weeks, we started to hear all sorts of crazy rumors about how long we were going to stay and what our next move was. There was even one rumor that they were going to reopen Marble Mountain which had been a helicopter base, install a SATS Strip and operate from it.

Late one afternoon toward the end of May, I walked into the 232 ready room having just gotten back from a mission, and spotted Capt Barry Jankiewicz who was the squadron S4. Barry and I had been in VMFA-451 together in Beaufort and were good friends. Barry looked a little down so I asked him what was going on. He look at me and said, "Pete, you won't believe where we are going." He then told me about Nam Phong. As the Squadron S4 Barry had been assigned to a small task force team that would plan and execute the move. Earlier that day he and the rest of the team had flown to Nam Phong.The team was headed up by the 1MAW Deputy Commander BGen O'Donnell.

Barry told me that currently the whole property consisted of a 10,000 ft concrete runway and 5 metal buildings. He stated the place was extremely hot, very humid, and we were going to be living in the top lofts of the buildings until the SeaBees could build out the rest of the base. Barry stated until that happens our living conditions were going to be miserable.

For some reason I immediately thought of that recruiting poster and quipped something to the effect: "Well, this must be the Rose Garden they didn't promise us". Berry smiled, and even laughed. Barry then said "I bet General O'Donnell would get a laugh. I'm going to share your remark with him when we meet tomorrow morning."

Later the next day when I saw Berry he related that General O'Donnell loved the remark and thought it was so appropriate that after thinking for a few seconds said we're going to name the mission, "Operation Rose Garden."

As they say, the rest is history.

And yes, this is absolutely a true story or as we would have said back in the day, "This ain't no Bull Shit."

Pete "Coach" Love

 Capt. Love flew nearly 200 combat missions in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, from DaNang RVN and Nam Phong, Thailand.

-= Post Script =-

In late 2003, a group of Task Force Delta Marines decided to hold our first "Reunion" in Angel Fire N.M. and invited Lynn Anderson, never thinking she would actually attend. 
Lynn knew nothing about "The Rose Garden",
and was astounded and thrilled. 
Lynn not only attended, she hosted the 3 day reunion over the Memorial weekend 2004 
"for her Marines", received a jacket from us
and autographed USMC recruiting posters
for all Task Force Delta attendees.