The last casualties of the final battle of the Vietnam War were 3 Marines left behind on Cambodia’s Koh Tang Island.

In his new book When the Center Held, Donald Rumsfeld calls the “successful handling” of the Mayaguez Incident, the last battle of the Vietnam War, “a turning point” for President Gerald Ford because it forced him “to demonstrate his command at a time of international crisis.” Not all share this rosy and revisionist view of the disastrous and unnecessary search and rescue operation that left 41 American servicemen dead.

Foremost among the skeptics is Mayaguez survivor and decorated Marine Scout Sniper Fofo Tuitele whose conspicuous and overlooked heroism during the battle is now the subject of a congressional investigation. “We lost 41 and saved 40. What kind of trade is that?  That’s what bothers me still,” said Tuitele. “It didn’t have to happen like that. It all sounded good on paper, but it was a disaster.”

Rumsfeld goes on to make a Freudian slip and erroneously claim that only three Americans died during the operation (41 American servicemen died). Is he referring to the three Marines — Joseph Hargrove, Gary Hall, and Danny Marshall — who were left behind and survived for days before they were captured and killed?

To read more visit The Diplomat.

by Capt Jerry Coffee, USN (Ret) [a Vietnam POW] 

(h/t Tailspin Tales)

One night during a bombing raid on Hanoi, I peeked out of my cell and watched a flight of four F-105s during their bombing run.

As they pulled up, it was obvious that lead was badly hit. Trailing smoke, he broke from the formation and I watched the damaged bird until it disappeared from sight. I presumed the worst. As I lay there in my cell reflecting on the image, I composed a toast to the unfortunate pilot and all the others who had gone before him.

Jerry Coffee

On New Year's Eve 1968, Captain Tom Storey and I were in the Stardust section of Hoa Lo (wa-low) Prison. I whispered the toast under the door to Tom. Tom was enthralled, and despite the risk of terrible punishment, insisted that I repeat it several more times until he had it committed to memory. He then promised me that when the time came, and we were again free men, he would give the toast at the first Dining-In he attended.

Tom Storey

For you civilians, a Dining-In is a dreary formal affair with drinks, dinner, and forced joviality and comradeship where officers get to dress up like the head waiters in "The Merry Widow" -- that's the American version; I've heard that the Brits, who created the damn things, have a rollicking good time.

Tom's first assignment following release in 1973 was to the U.S. Air ForceAcademy. During that same year the Academy hosted the Annual Conference for General Officers and Those Associated Dining-In. The jovial clinking of glasses accompanied all the traditional speeches and toasts. Then it was Tom's turn. Remembering his promise so many years earlier, he proposed Jerry's "One More Roll." When he was finished there was total silence.

We toast our hearty comrades who have fallen from the sky, and were gently caught by Gods own hands to be with him on high.
To dwell among the soaring clouds they have known so well before, from victory roll to tail chase at heavens very door.
And as we fly among them there, we're sure to hear their plea: Take care, my friend, watch your six, and do one more roll for me.

A toast to all our comrades -- POWs, missing in action, living or dead, whatever their duty, whatever their war, whatever their uniform.

One of the darkest days in Special Forces history occurred on a summer morning in 1968 in Vietnam. In the early hours of Aug. 23, the Da Nang MACVSOG camp known as FOB4 was attacked by approximately 167 soldiers from the combined units of the 22nd VC Sapper Battalion and members from the 23rd NVA Regiment operating in the local area. They managed to infiltrate from the seaside (East) and from the Village side (South) at the base of Marble Mountain. They met at the Vietnamese mess hall to receive their final instructions from the cook, who was a VC colonel. 

By design or luck, RT-Rattler was on top of Marble Mountain. At the same time, SFCs Cecil Ames and Larry Trimble were monitoring the observation post. At approximately 0215, an enemy recoilless rifle destroyed the adjoining Marine outpost known as Little Marble. That was the signal for the attack.

In groups of twos, the enemy roamed at will throughout the camp, throwing satchel charges and grenades into the various barracks, killing many Americans as they slept. They succeeded in blowing up the senior NCO barracks, various recon hooches, and the old TOC causing the first of many American casualties. An attempt to blow up the new concrete TOC was prevented by a lone communications sergeant. The main supply depot was blown up when the fire reached the LP canisters. Now, it was raining 82mm mortar fire from an unknown position. Confusion, chaos, and the unseen enemy ruled the first part of the night. A group of VC/NVA attempted to blow up the motor pool but were stopped in their tracks by a Filipino civilian and motor pool sergeant...

To read more visit SOFMAG.

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