Monday, August 11, 2008

The last battle of Vietnam has not been won yet

The last battle of Vietnam has not been won yet. Not while we still have Vietnam Veterans who are not being taken care of. They are still fighting the battles they should not have had to fight, because they have had to fight us simply because they fought for us.

Intelligence. shortly after the fall of Cambodia (17 April 1975)
reported the existence of 18-20 people on the island at that time. IPAC
disseminated this information by an intelligence spot report (SPOTREP) on
13 May.
estimated the maximum of one Khmer Communist company (90-100 men) reinforced
with a heavy weapons squad to be on the island; however, this repbrt
apparently did not reach the Marine GSF comander prior to the assault on the
island, although it did reach the transporting helicopter commander and others.
According to Major J.B. .Hendricks, Operations Officer of the Second Battalion
of the Ninth Marine Regiment (2/9), from which the Koh Tang Island assault
force was drawn,; their briefings informed them ' I . . . that there were 20-30
Khmer Rouge irregulars on the island , possibly reinforced by whatever naval
support personnel that were there associated with the gunboats sighted in the
area." A DIA appraisal which appeared i n the JCS a f t e r action report on the
incident estimated approximately 150-200 Khmer Communists on the island a t the
onset of the operation; however, there was no indication that this specific '
appraisal was generally available prior t o the assault.2

Begin a simultaneous two-phase assault a t sunrise
15 May local time (approximately 23002 14 May 1975).
m Using eight USAF CHIHH-53 helicopters, execute a
combat assault on Koh Tang Island, with 175 Marines in the
i n i t i a l wave, subsequent buildup t o a total of 625 Marines
on the island, and rescue members of the SS MAYAGUEZ t h a t
may be found there. ........................................................................
e Using three USAF helicopters, insert 48 Marines,
12 USN/f+SC personnel, and explosive ordnance team and a
Cambodian linguist on the USS HOLT, close with the
SS MAYAGUEZ, and board and secure her.
e Close a ir support and area coverage against a l l
Cambodian small craft would be provided by USAF and USN
tacticalair . Naval gunfire support would be available,
and 8-52 strikes or Naval tacticalair would be directed
against poss i 61 e reinforcing main 1 and Cambodian targets .

The MAYAGUEZ/Koh Tang Island Operation
The operation began with the first insertion of Marines on Koh Tang
Island a t about 22552 14 May (0555G 15 May) and the landing of t.he boarding ..............................................................................
, I .
party on the USS HAROLD E. HOLT a t about 23052 14 May (0605G 15 May).
Although the USS HOLT met no opposition, and the boarding party was i n complete
control of the MAYAGUE2 within about two hours (01282 15 May), the Marine GSF
and transporting
Their ordeal lasted about 14 hours ( l a s t Marines extracted a t about 13102
15 Nay).
within about 4 hours (03082 15 May) after the initial assault on the island ;
however, because of the strong enemy opposition encountered on the island,
reinforcements were required to stabilize the situation and successfully
USAF helicopters met fierce opposition from the beginning.
The MAYAGUEZ crew had been identified as safe aboard the USS WILSON
extract the Marine5 . 1
. During the initial insertion of Marines on Koh Tang Island, concern
for the safety of the IdAYAGUEZ crew, believed to be on the island, precluded
landing zone preparation by a i r strikes or naval gunfire. Even after confirmation
of the crew's recovery, fast A-7 Forward Air Controllers (FACs) were
unable to pinpoint locations of friendly units and suppress enemy fire because
of the confines of , and confusing situation on, the battlefield .
until 09302 15 May that two OV-10 "Nail" slow FACs, with loitering ability ,
were on station to pinpoint friendly positions for effective close air support.
Also, it was not until 07352 15 May that the first helicopter was able to
recover to the CORAL SEA rather than return to U-Tapao (helicopters used were
a mix of HH-53 a i r- refuelable "Jolly Green," and CH-53 non-air-refuelable
"Knife" aircraft ) .2

In summary, the Koh Tang Island phase of the MAYAGUEZ operation
involved the insertion of 231 Marines and subsequent evacuation of 227 (there
were three missing i n action and one killed i n action l e f t on the island) i n
the face of severe enemy fire. A total of 15 USMC, USAF, and USN personnel
were killed in action, 49 wounded in action, and 3 Marines missing in action.
Participating USAF helicopters incurred three combat losses, four were
severely damaged, and six received minor damage. 3
& As a result of the experience gained from executing the Koh Tang
Island phase of the MAYAGUEZ operation, CINCPAC made the following additional
observations relative to the means available to support the assault:4

To the Rescue
Monday, Nov. 03, 1975 By EDWIN WARNER

224 pages. Norton. $7.95.

For some it was the proper reaction. For others it was overreaction. Six months later, the adventure of the Mayaguez remains one of the murkiest "rescues" in American naval history. This fresh, immediate account by Roy Rowan, TIME Hong Kong bureau chief, is not likely to alter many opinions, but it manages to put the event in lucid perspective.

The 40 crewmen of the Mayaguez did not seem destined for heroism. They were the sort of obscure seadogs found aboard any patched and battered merchant ship. In Rowan's nimble sketch, even the 62-year-old captain, Charles Miller, is not a born leader. Instead, he seems a canny, experienced old salt—the sort whose grace emerges only under pressure. Indeed, when the sailors considered an attempt to overpower their captors, it was Miller who counseled prudence and avoided bloodshed.

There was an air of unreality to much of the episode. The Cambodians giggled and cavorted and had a habit of carelessly leaving their weapons about. They gnawed at apples and oranges but balked at drinking Kool-Aid until Miller downed some to show that it was not poison. Nevertheless, the men on the Mayaguez feared that they might be beheaded or shot—or, at a minimum, held hostage for years like the crew of the Pueblo, captured by the North Koreans. The greatest immediate danger came from American airmen who were bombing and strafing Cambodian gunboats in an effort to prevent the crew from being taken to the mainland. Unfortunately, the crew had been transferred to one of those boats. Some were wounded by shrapnel in the attacks; all of them were gassed.

Back in Washington, President Ford was determined to take firm enough action to save the crew and to discourage similar captures. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was anxious to prove, after the Saigon evacuation, that the U.S. had not lost its will to fight. Thus the White House ordered the Marines to recover the Mayaguez and attack Koh Tang, one of the islands in the area. Sterner measures were rejected.

As the world acknowledges, the show of force worked. But the operation proved costly: 18 Marines were killed in action; 23 airmen died in a helicopter crash on their way to the combat zone. The author seems to beg some of the larger questions raised by the rescue: Would the Cambodians have released their prisoners if the U.S. had demonstrated less power? How serious were the Cambodians about holding their captives?

Still, no journalist has treated the four days of the Mayaguez with such attention to personal and military detail. His facts, speedily and scrupulously assembled, make a strong, if arguable case for the American response. To Rowan, amid all the ambivalent U.S. op erations overseas, the recovery of the Mayaguez now appears to be an odd but valid entry in the saga of victory at sea.,9171,913654,00.html

Believe it or not, there are still some people who say that Vietnam ended in 1973. After all, that's what they've been told but this is the truth. This was the last battle for the US forces and it has been forgotten.

"18 Marines were killed in action; 23 airmen died in a helicopter crash" in this one operation."

Think of that. Now think of those who survived it all and witnessed it all. You'd think that if they had any problem after, like with PTSD, they would have been treated for their wound, but they weren't.

I don't know how many of the veterans from this operation are still alive or what state they are in. I do know about one of them and he's been told that he is not even a Vietnam Veteran. This came from the VA itself who consider him a Vietnam Era veteran. Try proving a claim with that in their head. They try getting help with counseling with this in the mind set of people who are unwilling to learn anything about history.

We made a lot of mistakes after Vietnam and this was one of them. The way we treated the Vietnam veterans with the lack of care was deplorable and what makes it worse is that today's veterans wouldn't stand a chance with having their own PTSD wounds being taken care of today if it had not been for the Vietnam veterans coming back and fighting for them. PTSD is not a new wound. It's as old as time but has just been receiving a lot of different titles. As bad as it is for the new veterans with the overloaded system and failures across the nation, it would have been a lot worse had they come home and did nothing to fight for all veterans. So why is it we're not still fighting for them?

We read about the veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan as we try make sure the government takes care of them but we fail to fully appreciate those who came before them still suffering in silence and abandoned by ambivalence. The media and blogs all focusing on the devastating suffering of the newer veterans but ignoring other veterans. Agent Orange still claims their lives. Depleted Uranium still claims their lives and along with PTSD, they continue to suffer for their service to this nation. We have failed and lost, two words the politicians never want to use, but nonetheless, we failed because we have not taken care of all of them. Do we continue to fail them or do we finally take a stand and make this right? Do we take care of the new veterans and forget about the others or do we take care of all of them? The choice is ours to make but they are the ones who will either have to pay for our decisions or rejoice for finally being taken care of by this nation they served.

Senior Chaplain Kathie Costos
"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation." - George Washington

No comments:

Post a Comment

If it is not helpful, do not be hurtful. Spam removed so do not try putting up free ad.