Cambodian Incursions
Toan Thang "Total Victory" Operations
and U.S. POWs

Appendix for Parts I, II & III

© 2001, 2002, 2003

No Duplication or Distribution allowed without expressed permission!

Playing "Our Nation's Heroes" - J. Cutright

Document URL: http://northwestvets.com/spurs/appendix.htm



Parts I & II Footnotes:


(1) The Rescue of BAT-21, pgs. 83, 84 & 85, Darrel D. Whitcomb, Naval Institute Press, 1998

Chapter 9 -- "Bright Light"

"Lt. Col. Andy Anderson's organization, the Joint Personnel Recovery Center (JPRC) was attached to the J-2 Intelligence Division of MACV as of 15 March 1972. It acted as the staff agency and joint coordinating authority within MACV for post-SAR [Search and Rescue] personnel-recovery operations. In this capacity, Lieutenant Colonel Anderson and his people had been closely watching the developments at Cam Lo. His organization was also involved in the rescue business and, until March [1972] had been the cover organization for the Recovery Studies and Observations Group (MACSOG).

"The commander of MACSOG reported directly to the commander of MACV, General Abrams, and exercised operational command over the U.S. forces assigned or attached to MACSOG. His forces were active throughout the theater in a variety of air, sea, and land operations. Teams searched enemy base areas, monitored traffic along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and occasionally snatched prisoners or hunted down Viet Cong leaders. The teams could also be used to recover captured or downed friendly personnel. The operative element for these missions was the Recovery Studies Division, which ran numerous programs to locate and recover lost personnel. It constantly monitored intelligence for any information on friendly sightings. It ran an active reward program and dropped million of leaflets all over Southeast Asia soliciting such data on lost friendlies. It also published a list of escape-and-evasion code letters for aircrews to use if they were shot down and evading enemy capture. If downed and unable to communicate by radio, the crewmembers would craft the evasion letter so that it could be clearly seen from the air. SAR forces would then respond. The letters would be changed monthly or as necessary to prevent being compromised by the enemy.

"When warranted, the Recover Studies Division could order team operations to search for and recover downed or lost personnel. But they were not meant as competitor for the Air Force's rescue forces. They were designed to be used if the more conventional means failed. When MACSOG-80 teams operated, the missions were code-named Bright Light. During the war, MACSOG ran numerous such missions. One narrative in particular illustrates the kind of effort put forth and, unfortunately, the frustrations felt in these operations.

"On 24 March 1971, 1st Lt. Jack Butcher of the 20th TASS, call sign Covey 231, took off in an OV-10 from Da Nang. While searching for trucks along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, he was shot down by a 37 mm antiaircraft gun. Wounded in the ejection, he was treated by a North Vietnamese medical team in preparation for movement to North Vietnam. When he was strong enough, two guards were assigned to begin taking him north. Butcher watched the guards closely. A week later he saw an opportunity and escaped. All he had was the hat, pajamas, and tennis shoes he was wearing.

"A few days later the JPRC received intelligence that First Lieutenant Butcher had escaped and was loose near Tchepone in central Laos. They immediately ordered photo and visual reconnaissance of the area. Butcher tried to move away from people, but the trail area was heavily populated. Moving to higher ground, he found a machete and a canteen. He used the blade to cut enough bushes to fashion a large letter N, which was the correct escape-and-evasion code letter for the previous month.

"But it took a few days for the bushes to discolor enough to be noticed. After a three-day wait, Butcher was weak from lack of food and water. He realized that he had to move. So he left a message with his service number and an arrow to indicate the direction that he was going, and he set off. He was still near Tchepone in central Laos.

"Nearing a village, he found a pineapple grove and took five. He ate three immediately and put the other two into a backpack that he had made. Then he attempted to follow a trail to the west. Unfortunately he stumbled into a camouflaged village and was recaptured. On that same day, in an open area on the side of a hill, JPRC spotted the escape-and-evasion code letter. An escape-and-evasion kit was dropped on the site by aircraft but was not picked up. Two Bright Light teams were inserted but could not make contact. Enemy forces quickly detected their presence and began to pursue and attack them, and the teams had to be extracted under heavy fire. Air search was resumed and confirmed that First Lieutenant Butcher had been recaptured. He was eventually moved to Hanoi and released two years later.

"The near miss with Butcher was indicative of the frustrations felt by the JPRC troops. Overall during the war, the results of JPRC were a mixed bag. The leaflet drops, reward programs, and intelligence and team operations led to the recovery of 492 Vietnamese prisoners and 101 U.S. remains. But through March 1972, despite the best of efforts, JPRC had not successfully recovered any live Americans. There had not yet been a fully successful Bright Light operation.

"By 1972 MACSOG's operations were being curtailed. Units were being withdrawn or deactivated, as the U.S. Congress had directed that no American personnel could be engaged in ground operations in Laos or Cambodia after 8 February 1971, except for the purpose of recovering downed American aircrew members. Therefore, what non-SAR operations were still being run were all within South Vietnam. In fact, MACSOG had been ordered to cease operations on 31 March and deactivate on 30 April 1972. Most remaining personnel were being transferred to Strategic Technical Directorate Advisory Team (STDAT) 158 to work directly with the Vietnamese as they picked up these missions."

(2) The following are excerpts from "The Ten Thousand Day War" leading to the 1970 Incursion.

"Nixon in his memoirs says that a month later, 22 April, he sent Kissinger a memo stating that 'a bold move in Cambodia' was needed to support Lon Nol. Two days later Kissinger summoned Winston Lord and others of his staff to discuss American 'options'. Lord, who says, 'Kissinger wanted to share and debate with his closest aides major policy decisions, so that the popular image of Kissinger as a man who doesn't like to hear dissent is not true.' ...." [Please notice this was on 22 Apr 70 -- 7 days prior to the ARVN thrust.]

"....With forty-eight hours remaining, Nixon began preparing his public explanation. Secretary of State William Rogers had softened the ground with an opportune address to the American Society of International Law two days earlier, stating 40,000 North Vietnamese 'now occupy Cambodia.' Though Rogers unequivocally opposed a US invasion, he did not resign. However, his law society speech perhaps contained an oblique criticism of Nixon for historians. While referring to the North Vietnamese he said a 'more explicit and unprovoked violation' of the United Nations charter 'could hardly be imagined.' Defense Secretary Laird still thought there might be time to dissuade the President from deploying US troops. But Nixon was adamant: the Cambodian move would show Hanoi that America was not a crippled giant. Laird now attempted to stop the President from saying in his public explanation THAT THE PRIMARY OBJECTIVE WAS TO ATTACK COSVN, THE NORTH VIETNAMESE REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS, WHICH IN FACT HAD NO FIXED LOCATION.

"Says Laird, 'Right up to the time he gave that speech, I was pleading to have that taken out because COSVN was never a single unit of a single headquarters. In that type of guerrilla warfare it moved all the time, so again the American people were misled by not having a real understanding of what it was about. But the speech was made. COSVN WAS LISTED AS A MAJOR MILTARY TARGET.' ..."

And later "The Ten Thousand Day War" also reports:

"...'He [Nixon] called me in' , says Ehrlichman, 'and said, "Look, for the next ten days or so I'm going to be totally unable to deal with any domestic problems." He said, "Now, for your private information, we're going to do an invasion of Cambodia. I want you to understand what's going on...."

"....I didn't see him again for a long time because he was involved very much in the day to day command of the Cambodian operation."

And from the book, Incursion...

    "It is interesting to note that in one of the planning guidance given to the Cav by either generals Abrams or Davison was the order given to find and seize COSVN headquarters. It was always assumed in the Cav that COSVN was located somewhere across the border. Radio intercept triangulations could fix the transmitter sites with some precision, but this did not necessarily mean that General Tran Van Tra was sitting in a bunker directly under the antennas. During the planning sequence, the Cav figured it was probably headed into the general vicinity of the COSVN base, and if its assaults turned over a major headquarters, that would be icing on the cake. The pulse of infantrymen throughout Vietnam always quickened when a sweep turned up a VC or NVA headquarters area, but experienced commanders knew that over-running regimental or higher headquarters was rare.

    "Nearly all intelligence analysts agreed that, based on prisoner interrogations and rallier reports, COSVN consisted of a number of separate sections deliberately kept apart geographically and operationally for security, as much to keep their own people from knowing too much as to preclude damaging air raids."

(3) "Facts on File" - May 14 to May 20 1970:

"Capture of part of COSVN, the Communists' Central Office for South Vietnam was reported May 17 by Lt. Gen. Michael S. Davison, commander of American Forces in Cambodia. He said sections of the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong base headquarters had been uncovered between May 11 and 13, four to five miles north of Memot, [Mimot] about 10 miles inside Cambodia. Davison said the find include parts of the COSVN 'post office' and of the base's finance, economy, education and training sections."

(4) In the raid on Son Tay in North Vietnam, it too was found empty of POWs. Some report that our POWs were moved from that facility only days before the raid on Son Tay, others months prior to the raid due to regional flooding.

(5) This prison camp in Cambodia might also indicate a "second tier" prison system did truly exist. The vast majority of American POWs who were released during Operation Homecoming were kept in prison camps within North Vietnam.


Part III Footnotes:


(1) This describes the Fish Hook area often discussed in Parts I & II.

(2) For more on Mr.Sullivan, see The USAF CHECO Report, and the bio on Evelyn Anderson & Beatrice Kosin.

(3) Excerpts from Harper's magazine, Feb 2001 - The Case Against Henry Kissinger, Part 1: The Making of a War Criminal by Christopher Hitchens.

Of considerable interest, Hitchens connects Kissinger with oversight of U.S. covert ops no later than 1969, and that Kissinger had established lines of communication with North Vietnam dating back to the mid 60's:


pg. 40


In these pages, I've found it essential to allude frequently to the "40 Committee," the semi-clandestine body of which Henry Kissinger was the chairman between 1969 and 1976. One does not need to picture some giant, octopus-like organization at the center of the web of conspiracy; however it is important to know that there was a committee that maintained ultimate supervision over United States covert actions overseas (and possibly, at home) during this period.

The CIA was originally set up by President Harry Truman at the beginning of the Cold War. In the first Eisenhower Administration, it was felt necessary to establish a monitoring or watch-dog body to oversee covert operations. This panel was known as the Special Group, and somtimes also referred to as the 54/12 Group, after the number of the National Security Council directive that set it up. By the time of President Johnson it was called the 303 Committee, and during the Nixon and Ford administrations it was called the 40 Committee. Some believe that these changes of name reflect the numbers of later NSC directives; others, the successive room numbers in the handsome Old Executive Office Building, now annexed to the neighboring White House, in which it met. In fact, NSC Memorandum 40 was named after the room in which the committee met. No mystery there.

If any fantastic rumors shroud the work of the committee, this may be the outcome of the absurd cult of secrecy that at one point surrounded it. At Senate hearings in 1973, Senator Stuart Symington was questioned by William Colby, then director of central intelligence, about the origins and evolution of the supervisory group:

SYMINGTON: Very well. What is the latest committee of this character?

COLBY: 40 Committee

SYMINGTON: Who is the chairman?

COLBY: Well, again, I would prefer to go into executive session on the description of the 40 Committee, Mr. Chairman.

SYMINGTON: As to who is the chairman, you would prefer and executive session?

COLBY: The chairman--all right, Mr. Chairman--Dr. Kissinger is the chairman, as the assistant to the president for national security affairs.

Kissinger held this position ex officio, in other words. His colleagues at the time were Air Force General George Brown, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; William P. Clements Jr., the deputy secretary of defense; Joseph Sisco, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, and the director of central intelligence, William Colby.

With slight variations, those holding these positions have been the permanent members of the 40 Committee that, as President Ford phrased it in a rare public reference by a president to the group's existence, "reviews every covert operation undertaken by our government." An important variation was added by President Nixon, who appointed his former campaign manager and attorney general, John Mitchell, to sit on the committee, the only attorney general to have done so. The founding charter of the CIA prohibits it from taking any part in domestic operations: in January 1975, Attorney General Mitchell was convicted of numerous counts of perjury, obstruction, and conspiracy to cover up the Watergate burglary, which was carried out in part by former CIA operatives. He became the first attorney general to serve time in prison.

We have met Mr. Mitchell in concert with Mr. Kissinger, before. The usefulness of this note, I hope and believe, is that it supplies a thread that will be found in this narrative. Whenever any major U.S. covert undertaking occurred, between the years of 1969 and 1976, Henry Kissinger may be at least presumed to have had direct knowledge of, and responsibility for, it. If he claims that he did not, then he is claiming not to have been doing a job to which he clung with great bureaucratic tenacity. And whether or not he cares to accept the responsibility, the accountability is inescapably, his.

pg. 42

Even while compelled to concentrate on brute realities, one must never lose sight of that element of surreal that surrounds Henry Kissinger. Paying a visit to Vietnam in the middle 1960s, when many technocratic opportunists were still convinced that the war was worth fighting and could be won, the young Henry reserved judgment on the first point but developed considerable private doubts on the second. He had gone so far as to involve himself with an initiative that extended to direct personal contact with Hanoi. He became friendly with two Frenchmen who had a direct line to the Communist leadership in North Vietnam's capital. Raymond Aubrac, a French civil servant who was a friend of Ho Chi Minh, and Herbert Marcovich, a French microbiologist, began a series of trips to North Vietnam. On their return they briefed Kissinger in Paris. He in his turn parlayed their information into high-level conversations in Washington, relaying the actual or potential negotiating positions of Pham Van Dong and other Communist statesmen to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara.

This weightless mid-position, which ultimately helped to enable his double act in 1968, allowed Kissinger to ventriloquize Governor Rockefeller and to propose, by indirect means, a future detente with America's chief rivals. In his first major address as a candidate for the Republican nomination in 1968, Rockefeller spoke ringingly of how "in a subtle triangle with Communist China and the Soviet Union, we can ultimately improve our relations with each--as we test the will for peace of both."

pg. 50 & 51 -- In his White House Years Kissinger claims that he usurped the customary chain of command whereby commanders in the field receive, or believe they receive, their orders from the president and then the secretary of defense. He boasts the he, together with Halderman, Alexander Haig, and Colonel Ray Sitton, evolved 'both a military and diplomatic schedule' for the secret bombing of Cambodia. On board Air Force One, which was on the tarmac at Brussels airport on February 24, 1969, he writes, 'we worked out the guidelines for bombing the enemy's sanctuaries.' A few weeks later, Halderman Diaries for March 17 record:

Historic day, K[issinger]'s "Operation Breakfast" finally came off at 2:00 PM our time. K[issinger] really excited, as was P[resident].

The next day's entry:

K[issinger]'s "Operation Breakfast" a great success. He came beaming in with report, very productive.

It only got better. On April 22, 1970, Halderman reports that Nixon, following Kissinger into a National Security Council meeting on Cambodia, "turned back to me with a big smile and said, 'K[issinger]'s really having fun today, he's playing Bismarck.' "

The above is a insult to the Iron Chancellor. When Kissinger was finally exposed in Congress and the press for conducting unauthorized bombings, he weakly pleaded that the raids were not all that secret, really, because Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia had known of them. He had to be reminded that a foreign princeling cannot give permission to an American bureaucrat to violate the United States Consititution. Nor, for that matter, can he give permission to an American bureaucrat to slaughter large numbers of his "own" civilians. It's difficult to imagine Bismarck cowering behind such a contemptible excuse. (Prince Sihanouk, it is worth remembering, later became an abject puppet of the Khmer Rouge.)

Colonel Sitton, the reigning expert on B-52 tactics at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, began to notice that by late 1969 his own office was being regularly overruled in the matter of selecting targets. "Not only was Henry carefully screening the raids," said Sitton, "he was reading the raw intelligence" and fiddling with the mission patterns and bombing runs. In other departments of Washington insiderdom, it was also noticed that Kissinger was becoming a Stakhanovite committeeman. Aside from the crucial 40 Committee, which planned and oversaw all foreign covert actions, he chaired the Washington Special Action Group (WSAG), which dealt with breaking crises; the Verification Panel, concerned with arms control; the Vietnam Special Studies Group, which oversaw the day-to-day conduct of the war; and the Defense Program Review Committee, which supervised the budget of the Defense Department.

It is therefore impossible for him to claim that he was unaware of the consequences of the bombings of Cambodia and Laos; he knew more about them, and in more intimate detail, than any other individual. Nor was he imprisoned in a culture of obedience that gave him no alternative, or nor rival arguments. Several senior members of his own staff, most notably Anthony Lake and Roger Morris, resigned over the invasion of Cambodia, and more than two hundred State Department employees signed a protest addressed to Secretary of State William Rogers. Indeed, both Rogers and Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird were opposed to the secret bombing policy, as Kissinger himself records with disgust in his memoirs.

Hitchens On the Cambodia Bombings:

pg. 51 & 52

Having done what he could to bring the Laotian nightmare to the attention of those whose constitutional job it was to supervise such questions, [independent investigator] Branfman went back to Thailand and from there to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Having gained access to a pilot's radio, he tape-recorded the conversations between pilots on bombing missions over the Cambodian interior. On no occasion did they run any checks designed to reassure themselves and others that they were not bombing civilian targets. It had been definitely asserted, by named U.S. government spokesmen, that such checks were run. Branfman handed tapes to Sydney Schanberg, whose New York Times report on them was printed just before the Senate met to prohibit further blitzing of Cambodia (the very resolution that was flouted by Kissinger the following month).

From there Branfman went back to Thailand and traveled north to Nakhorn Phanom, the new headquarters of the U.S. Seventh Air Force. Here, a war room code-named Blue Chip served as the command and control center of the bombing campaign. Branfman was able to pose as a new recruit just up from Saigon and ultimately gained access to the war room itself. Consoles and maps and screens plotted the progress of the bombardment. In coversation with the "bombing officer" on duty, he asked if pilots ever made contact before dropping their enormous loads of ordinance. Oh yes, he was assured, they did. Were they worried about hitting the innocent? Oh, no--merely concerned about the whereabouts of CIA "ground teams" infiltrated into the area. Branfman's report on this, which was carried by Jack Anderson's syndicated column, was uncontroverted by an official denial.


Side Discussions


Did You Know?

Anthony Lake, Laurence Lynn, Roger Morris & William Watts resigned prior to the '70 incursion in their opposition to 'escalating the war.'



Lt. Gen Do Cao Tri

Lt. Gen Do Cao Tri was the ARVN commander of Military Region III Forces, and led many large ARVN sweeps into Cambodia, both prior to, during and after the '70 Cambodian Incursion that A Troop, 3/17th Air Cav supported above. As also reported above, Lt. Gen. Tri also led a raid on a POW camp in '71 near Mimot which reportedly held Americans. None were reportedly found.

It would appear either Lt. Gen. Tri was a victim of bad intelligence - since few of his operations could be considered successful but were, in fact, often a disaster - or perhaps he was being used as a pawn by others who may have been leaking upcoming military operations?

Curiously, Lt. Gen. Do Cao Tri was reportedly killed in a helicopter crash on 22 Feb '71. His death seems to be somewhat a "mystery" as we read the following press report:

    Feb 22 --" Lt. Gen. Du Cao Tri commander of military region around Saigon, is killed in helicopter crash in Tayninh Province. Correspondent F. Sully also dies in crash."

    Feb 24 -- "U.S. Command searches in vain for cause of helicopter crash that killed 10 persons, including Du Cao Tri and Sully. Nguyen Van Thieu names Lt. Gen. Nguyen Van Minh as acting commander of Military Region III, which Du Cao Tri had commanded."

    March 2 -- "...some Americans advisers hold Do Cao Tri's fondness for publicity led him and Sully to their deaths in helicopter crash; no one has been able to determine much about S. Vietnamese operations in Cambodia since Do Cao Tri's death."

At this point, finding it rather strange that the U.S. Command couldn't seem to find a cause of the crash, we looked for what "Facts On File" (FOF) reported. FOF states the following on pg. 122, Feb 18 - Feb 24, 1971 edition:

    2 allied generals killed. Two generals involved in the fighting in Cambodia - Cambodian Brig. Gen. Neak Sam and the commander of South Vietnamese forces in Cambodia, Lt. Gen. Do Cao Tri - were killed Feb. 12 and 23.

    Neak Sam was killed with 14 other government [Cambodian forces] soldiers in a clash with Communist troops 65 miles south of Pnompenh. Twenty-seven Communists were slain in the engagement. Neak Sam was the first Cambodian general killed in the Cambodia fighting.

    Gen. Tri and nine other persons died when their helicopter crashed shortly after taking off from Tayninh, South Vietnam for Kompong Cham, Cambodia. Also killed was Francois Sully, 43, Newsweek magazine correspondent. Tri also had been commander of Military Region III, the zone around Saigon.

We would like to point out however, further research following the purported death of Lt. Gen. Tri indicates press coverage concerning Cambodia were limited. From FOF, May 13 - May 19, 1971 (during the same time frame of Dan's A Trip Through the 'Gates of Hell'...) we find the following report:

    Press briefings dropped - A U.S. military official in Saigon announced May 16 [1971] the cancellation by American officers of press briefings on South Vietnamese military activities in Cambodia. Maj. George E. Martin explained that the decision was made following complaints of inaccurate press accounts of the Cambodian operations. The complaints were made by Lt. Gen. Nguyen Van Minh, commander of South Vietnamese forces in Cambodia.

Feedback from Maj. Martin - Email 1 Nov 2001:

"In your article you stated [above] I stopped the breifings on the goings on in Cambodia. Here is the straight story.

"The 2nd Field Force invited all news media once a month to Plantation for a G2-G3 briefing. These were actually a recap of the activities since the last briefing. All new news was given in Saigon. General Davision told me he wanted to stop these briefings and to do it any time I wanted to. After one of the briefings two French correspondences over heard some talk that the General who replaced Gen Tri was afraid of the press and bylined it Plantation. Plantation had never been used before and the new general read the article and got up set and did several briefing and did well.

"Well one night I got a phone call from Saigon and a correspondent wanted some info and I told him I would not give it to him (did not the answer anyway) and he should call the Operation Center. He said he had and they turned him down. He then stated that if he was at our monthly briefing he would get his answer and I said; 'And we are going to stop the monthly briefings.' He hung up and the next day the big article about 'Saigon Cuts Off Cambodian News.' The correspondent was Craig R. Witney and in the New York Times 17 May 1971. We never briefed current actions at our briefings. The article caused quite a stir and General Davision got a copy of the article and when he returned it to me it said Maj Martin 'Don't Worry.' My 15 mins of fame."

George E. Martin

Lt. Gen Tri.Gif
Lt. Gen Do Cao Tri in Sullivan's Slick? - 1971
Dan Sutherland Photo

[Comment: It seems very strange that a chopper carrying a high-level ARVN general could crash "shortly after taking off" in this area, and that the U.S. Command "searched in vain" for reasons the chopper crashed. One might think such a high-level general would have gunship support. If anyone has more information on the purported death of Lt. Gen. Do Cao Tri it would be most appreciated.

According to a reliable source who worked close and still works close with the Vietnamese, Gen. Tri was considered a hero in ARVN's eyes, possibly the highest recommendation that a commander can receive. This same source believes Gen. Tri's helicopter crashed due to engine failure, related to possibly a dirty compressor.

To add even more mystery to Gen. Tri's death, in the book The 25-Year War: America's Military Role in Vietnam by General Bruce Palmer, Jr. - A four-star General and Gen. Westmoreland's Army deputy in Vietnam, Palmer reports:

    "The performance of III Corps ARVN troops under the inspiring leadership of Lieutenant General Do Cao Tri was especially encouraging, but this promising commander was killed the following year [1971] in a helicopter crash inside Cambodia."] -- Webmaster emphasis.

But from an article entitled "Two Fighting Generals" from The Vietnam Experience -- South Vietnam on Trial we read the following concerning the death of Gen. Tri.:

    "Despite controversy over his private life, Tri's renown as the South Vietnam's best field commander continued to grow after the [1970] Cambodian incursion. Under his direction, ARVN troops repeatedly performed well in their cross-border raids into Cambodia. When the ARVN incursion into enemy strongholds in Laos in 1971 began to flounder, President Thieu turned to Tri, calling him to Saigon, Thieu ordered him to assume command of the Laotian operation. His new orders in hand, Tri boarded his helicopter. Shortly after leaving Bien Hoa, his helicopter lost power and plummeted to the ground, killing Tri and the other passengers." -- Webmaster emphasis.

Earlier in this same article it states:

    "Gen. Tri had the personality to achieve the near-impossible. Having survived three assassination attempts, a mid-1960s exile at the instigation of Nguyen Cao Ky, and a barrage of corruption charges, Tri thrived on adversity."


    "His flamboyant style of command, however, irritated many of his fellow ARVN generals. They cited Tri's actions during the battle for the Chup rubber plantation in Cambodia - Tri had nonchalantly taken a dip in the plantation pool in the midst of fierce fighting - as evidence that Tri cared more for his own heroics than for sound military judgment. His extravagant lifestyle and growing wealth fueled jealousies and raised suspicions in Saigon. Called 'flagrantly corrupt' by two South Vietnamese senators, Tri was accused of being a partner in a money-smuggling ring even as Saigon still buzzed with news of his victories in Cambodia."

During our research, another interesting report by FOF, April 15 - 21, 1971 was found. FOF reports:

    Ky Charges Saigon Corruption. South Vietnamese Vice President Nguyen Cao Ky April 19 assailed the leadership of President Nguyen Van Thieu and accused the Saigon government of corruption. Ky made the statement a day after he had announced that there was a "good possibility" that he might run for the presidency against Thieu in national elections scheduled in October.

    Speaking in Saigon, Ky said: "The people have lost all faith in the government. South Vietnam is like a sinking boat with a deceptively good coat of paint, and the man who steers the boat [Thieu] is an unfaithful, disloyal, dishonest fellow." He said corruption in government was an "incurable disease." The only way to eliminate it and achieve social justice in the country was to make sure that "the president and especially his wife, the vice president and his wife, cannot be bought."

    The vice president scoffed at a military parade and celebration held in Hue April 17 marking the "southern Laos victory" and attended by Thieu [see below]. Ky indicated he did not believe the Laos operation was a victory.

    Ky said South Vietnam must "find ways to stop the fighting...let's not talk about a military solution to the war." He pointed out that he did not advocate that Saigon should "end the war unilaterally. I mean that we should be strong militarily, economically and socially, so as to work toward a political solution."

    In his remarks April 18, Ky had said Vietnamization would be a long-term process, that it would take his country 15-20 years before it was capable of defending itself. However, he termed the current pace of American troop withdrawals as "reasonable." Ky complained that American aircraft supplied to South Vietnam were obsolete and were no match for North Vietnam's MiG-21s.

    Ky assailed U.S. war critic Sen. George McGovern (D, S.D.), who had sought information about charges that Ky was involved in opium smuggling. "The day he comes here I will kick him out personally," Ky said.




1970: Kent State killings.

Protesting President Richard Nixon's decision to invade Cambodia, students at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, staged a noontime rally on May 4. The National Guard was called out to control the protest but fired into the crowd of 1,000, killing four students and wounding 11 others. Coupled with the killings of two African American students at Jackson State College in Mississippi on May 14, the Kent State shootings set off campus demonstrations throughout the country. More than 450 colleges closed down because of student strikes, and more than 80 percent of the nation's campuses experienced protests of some kind.

Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia
Copyright © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


In April 1970 Nixon ordered U.S. troops into Cambodia. He argued that this was necessary to protect the security of American units then in the process of withdrawing from Vietnam, but he also wanted to buy security for the Saigon regime. When Nixon announced the invasion, U.S. college campuses erupted in protest, and one-third of them shut down due to student walkouts. At Kent State University in Ohio four students were killed by panicky national guardsmen who had been called up to prevent rioting. Two days later, two students were killed at Jackson State College in Mississippi. Congress proceeded to repeal the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Congress also passed the Cooper-Church Amendment, which specifically forbade the use of U.S. [ground] troops outside South Vietnam. The measure did not expressly forbid bombing, however, so Nixon continued the air strikes on Cambodia until 1973.

Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2002. © 1993-2001 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


Special Collections & Archives, May 4 Collection Home Page -- [Kent State University]




Facts from the book Incursion, by J.D. Coleman,
St. Martin's Paperbacks, 1991



      Enemy -- 11,369
      Allies -- 976 (338 U.S.)


      Allies -- 4,534 (1,525 U.S.)

    Missing or Captured:

      Enemy (prisoners or ralliers) -- 2,328
      Allies--48 (13 U.S.)

Materiel Captured:

    Individual weapons: 22,892
    Crew-served weapons: 2,509
    Small-arms ammunition: 16,762,167 rounds
    Antiaircraft ammunition: 199,552 rounds
    Mortar ammunition: 68,593 rounds
    Rockets, B-40 and B-41: 43,160
    Recoiless rifle ammo: 29,185 rounds
    Hand grenades: 62,022
    Explosives: 83,000 pounds
    Rockets, 107-mm and 122-mm: 2,123
    Vehicles, all types: 435
    Pharamaceutical products: 110,800 pounds
    Rice: 14,046,000 pounds

Quote from the book Incursion,
by J.D. Coleman, St. Martin's Paperbacks, 1991

"For it's accomplishments in Cambodia, the division [1st Cav and all attached] was recommended for its second Presidential Unit Citation. The first award was for the historic Pleiku Campaign. That the division received the first award was due as much to untiring lobbying efforts in the Pentagon by the division's former commander, Lieutenant General Harry Kinnard, and some of his close associates, as it was the division's combat record. Sadly, with Casey's death, there was no champion for the division this time around.

"It is problematical though, whether the division would have been recognized had Casey lived. The mood in Melvin Laird's Pentagon, while it didn't reflect American society in general, was nonetheless decidedly unreceptive to making a big deal out of an operation that was so controversial. The division instead settled for quietly accepting a Valorous Unit Citation--not too shabby an award, since it represented a unit equivalent of the Silver Star.

"Casey went to his death [he later perished in a helicopter crash] convinced the 1st Cav's operations had bought the Allies valuable time. That, perhaps, was the greatest value of the incursion--it bought some time. Kissinger said the invasion bought fifteen months. Sir Robert Thompson, who defeated a communist insurgency in Malaysia and who had been very critical of the American command's conduct of the war, said his analysis of the Cambodian incursion persuaded him that the allies had set the NVA offensive timetable back 'at least a year, probably eighteen months and possibly two years.'

"On April 1, 1972, three North Vietnamese divisions staging out of their rebuilt bases in Cambodia made an all-out assault on the northern Binh Long Province town of Loc Ninh, quickly overrunning it. Nearly all the Americans had gone home by then and the defense of III Corps was up to the ARVN. The Cambodian incursion had bought the Thieu government twenty-three months.

"That time was squandered, and how, is another story entirely." ...... J. D. Coleman




CIA Reports Red Spy Ring

5/98 -- Update: FOF reports Oct 15 - 21, 1970:

    CIA Reports Red Spy Ring. A U.S. Central Intelligence Agency study reported by the New York Times Oct 19 [1970] that more than 30,000 Communist agents had infiltrated various branches of the South Vietnamese government, foreshadowing a possible resurgence of Communist strength in the country.

    The CIA report had been submitted to President Nixon and other Administration officials in May, but White House officials Oct 18 questioned it. They contended the report exaggerated the extent of the Communist infiltration and termed its analysis "overly pessimistic." Other officials claimed the report was "essentially a one-man product" that "did not represent the formal position of the CIA." They said the study had been carried out on "a narrow basis" and did not involve other branches of the American intelligence services. They later conceded to the Times reporter, Neil Sheehan, that raw data for the CIA study had been drawn from all intelligence agencies and the analysis was coordinated with them.

    Among the principal finding of the CIA report:

    The Communist agents, most of them natives of the southern part of divided Vietnam, had made their way into the South Vietnamese armed forces, the police force and the government intelligence organization charged with ferreting out Viet Cong and North Vietnamese spies. [Comment: Phoenix Program?] The infiltrators included an aide to President Nguyen Van Thieu, a former province chief and high officials of police and military intelligence (all of whom were unidentified).

    The Communist espionage force was divided into three parts that received its orders from Hanoi through the Central Office for South Vietnam, the Communist command for the South. [COSVN] One group of 20,000 full-time operatives was under the authority of the Military Proselyting Section. Its main function was to undermine the morale and effectiveness of the South Vietnamese armed forces and police by attempting to recruit other soldiers to the Communist cause and by fomenting agitation within units. Another group of about 7,000 agents was run by the Viet Cong Military Intelligence Section. This unit conducted espionage among the police, armed forces and the civilian administration in an effort to manipulate government policy. The third group totaling 3,000 were members of the Viet Cong security service whose chief purpose was to keep the Communists informed of how much the government knew of their operations and to prevent any government infiltration of the Communist espionage ring. This force reportedly had penetrated the intelligence services of the police and the army, the military security service and Saigon's own Central Intelligence Office.

    In its analysis, the CIA said the battlefield setbacks suffered by the Communists in 1969 had prompted them to shift from military strategy to an offensive of political subversion in anticipation of a reduction in the American troop presence in South Vietnam. Citing the strength of the Communist espionage force, the CIA said it had become virtually impossible to destroy and could not exist without the tacit complicity of the majority of South Vietnamese soldiers and police.




Fact or Fiction?

Unfortunately, often times seaching for answers only raises many more questions. One especially interesting question raised in the recent book, Spite House, (which has received wide-spread criticism) raises the issue of clandestine "hit" teams which crossed into Cambodia to assassinate U.S. personnel. I also have my own doubts about sections in Monika-Jensen Stevenson's second book on U.S. POWs. But the haunting question remains. Did the U.S. knowingly kill American POWs?

It is one thing if U.S. personnel were killed because our former enemy was using them as human shields to protect their strategic locations. But it is another issue if we intentionally eliminated our own as perhaps appears in the chapter entitled; "Limited Assignments of Assassination" in Spite House

What remains unclear after reading Spite House is if those purportedly "hit" inside Cambodia in 1973 were POWs (that seemed unlikely since those reportedly targeted were in excellent health and physical condition) or were perhaps clandestine forces (U.S. or Soviet?) being eliminated by a second layer of clandestine forces? One can only speculate but the question remains. Below is an outline of the chapter. Is it the truth or a line of bull? I can't say, but I offer the following outline for our viewers' consideration only. It might also be of benefit in my opinion if Bruce Womack's story received more careful scrutiny from various committees on the Hill. My efforts to encourage POW/MIA organizations to interrogate Womack further apparently has fallen on deaf ears. But I feel his claims need to be investigated further. I would also like to point out while the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIAs is closed, they still have the authority to investigate the POW issue further. Perhaps if sworn testimony was taken from Bruce Womack and copies of his financial accounts from the time (with his permission) were entered into the public record it would be of additional value.

As it now stands Bruce Womack's story, without documentation, is basically just that - a story - but certainly worthy of consideration in this discussion and have provided it FYI. However I have personal reservations about Womack's story which include:

1) He reports his weapon was only given to him just prior to his assignment. It is my understanding that such specialized weapons are made for each individual "shooter."

2) His report of money being transferred to his personal accounts seems to be rather strange for a "covert" operation. In fact, it seems almost ludicrous in my humble opinion.

Regardless, here is his story to paraphrase:

"Limited Assignments of Assassination"
[Chapter Outline]

    1) Bruce Womack - USMC - states he was recruited following basic, to attend the Army Military Police School at Fort Gordon, Georgia for specialized weapons training.

    2) Following his graduation, Womack was sent to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and assigned to the motor pool as a driver.

    3) In March 1973, following the Peace Accords being signed and during the return of American POWs, Womack says he and two others were assigned to a quarters near the shooting range where he underwent six weeks of day and night training under "the relentless eyes of reputedly the best marksman-instructors in the service.".

    4) Womack was given new orders to report ot the Marine Air Station at Kanehoe, Hawaii. Orders reportedly given to him by a full colonel. He reports he was told "that chances are good he would not make it back..." The assignment was supposed to be for 90 days.

    5) Upon his arrival in Hawaii, E-4 Womack reports he was reimbursed for more than $1,200.00. "It was the first of many substantial payments that he carefully arranged to be deposited in an account with Pulaski Federal Saving in Arkansas..."

    6) He was shortly moved to Okinawa where he purportedly received orders, "...for ninety days of temporary duty in Vietnam. He was told to let his parents know that he would not be able to communicate with them until the ninety days were over."

    7) Upon his arrival in Vietnam at Bien Hoa, he was moved immediately to a base "just outside Tay Ninh." He reports he was a group of 50 to 60 men kept in a compound that looked "like a prison camp."

    8) He became one of a team consisting of five men. Each team could not have contact with other teams.

    9) They were given a dossier on the individual target. This included "birth marks and scars so that positive identification beyond dog tags could be made."

    10) Womack reports that when he refused to eliminate fellow Americans, he was told by Marine Captain Rodriguez, "These men are vermin." "They are like dogs with rabies. They need to be taken out." When Womack still refused, the book quotes Capt. Rodriguez as telling Womack, "It's either you do that, or you'll wish you'd never been born. With one pull of this little finger, you're gone."

    11) The reportedly customized .308 Winchester sniper rifle was only given to him at a drop point and ordered to return it to the armory at the base camp upon his immediate return. Cleaning and maintenance of the weapon would be conducted by the armory personnel. Womack also reports that only a small number of "customized rounds" were issued for each mission. The 'drop man' was always dressed in civilian clothes. Womack suspected the missions were conducted inside of Cambodia but not certain. He believed they were inside Cambodia since the team was always "...dressed in black pajamas and dyed hair and skin." And most curiously considering the area involved, the enemy never seemed to intefere with these purported missions.

    12) The team was given 72 hrs. to perform their mission and return to the drop-off point. The team used triangulated fire positions but only one was designated as the shooter. Positive i.d. had to be made by the team following the "hit." Womack claims each team was given between $12,000 to $20,000 dollars per target. The team was debriefed, separately, after each assassination, and reportedly were often grilled by those conducting the interrogations.

    13) Womack reports the compound was resupplied weekly by a helicopter whose pilot dressed in civilian clothes and a baseball cap. The teams were never allowed to go to the village located within seven miles. He reports a communication hut with "highly specialized and expensive equipment run by men who were not military." And Spite House chillingly reported despite this compound being clearly surrounded by the enemy, "they never once bugged us."

    14) Spite House reports in 1975 when the U.S. was evacuting Saigon and Womack was stationed in Hawaii, "He was ordered back to Vietnam on the basis of a convenience of the government order. Womack was at the end of his tour. He already had his checkout papers. He refused." Womack reports his service record of Vietnam is missing from his personnel jacket.

    15) Spite House reports that all of Womack's 'targets' were Caucasian, usually the teams spent one day observing the target prior to the 'hit,' most of the targets lived in hidden lean-tos and appeared "...well versed in the art of foraging for jungle food."

    16) Most chillingly as reported in Spite House is the following:

      "What really bothered [Col. Tom C.] McKenney was the curious concentration of so many deserter-traitors in what was no more than a fifty-mile perimeter near the Vietnamese-Cambodian border, almost as if they had been herded into a slaughter yard. Never, during his tour in 1968-69, when he had made it a point to look at all the intelligence, did he see evidence that placed Garwood or other deserters in Cambodia. Nor had McKenney ever heard of John Sexton, the American prisoner who was set free by the North Vietnamese along the Cambodia border in 1971. So it did not occur to him, as it did to Sexton at the end of the war, that the communists might set free prisoners they had never acknowledged having. Sexton knew his fellow prisoners never showed up at the Hanoi Hilton or came home. He often wondered if the enemy, now that the war was over, would release them in the same casual manner they had released him, along the Cambodian border, where, unbeknowst to him, Bruce Womack completed his ninety-day tour."




The "Church Amendment"

On July 1, 1973 Congress passed a law forbidding the use of any funds for combat in, over, or off the shores of Cambodia, Laos, North Vietnam, and South Vietnam as of August 15, 1973. In effect all military aid and support for Southeast Asia from the U.S. was forbidden. It was then only a question of time before the North invaded South Vietnam. After years of military involvment in Southeast Asia at the cost of billions of U.S. dollars and over 58,200 American soldiers, the war in Vietnam was over for the U.S. But the cost to the people of Cambodia and South Vietnam would only continue to climb...



Below I offer hyperlinks to other sites of interest related to this issue. These sites raise serious allegations neither proven or disproven that require further investigation and which have not been investigated by myself.



Other external sites of interest:

Bio on Lao CIA Station Chief Ted Shackley

Rogue CIA -- Operation Cherry

POWs and the Drug Connection

POW Rescue Attempted and Authorized

The Son Tay Raid

All about Boris Solomatin, interview by Pete Earley

Official U.S. State Dept. Feature Story on Doug Ramsey



A Bright Shining Lie - John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam, Neil Sheehan,
©1988, Vintage Books, ISBN 0-679-72414-I

After the War Was Over, Neil Sheehan,
©1992, Vintage Books (A division of Random House, Inc.), ISBN 0-679-74507-6 (ppk).

"Air Support Cambodian Invasion" -- USAF CHECO Report -- Courtesy of USAF FAC pilot.

Dictionary of the Vietnam War -- Edited by James S. Olson, Peter Bedrick Books, New York
© 1987 by James S. Olson -- ISBN 0-87226-238-3

Incursion, J.D. Coleman, ©1991, St. Martin's Press,
ISBN 0-312-05877-2

Inside the VC and the NVA - The Real Story of North Vietnam's Armed Forces,
Michael Lee Lanning and Dan Cragg, ©1992, Ballantine Books, ISBN 0-449-90716-3

Moscow Bound - Policy, Politics and the POW/MIA Dilemma, John "M.G." Brown,
©1991, 1992, 1993, Veteran Press

Nam: The Vietnam Experience 1965-75, Tim Page & John Pimlott, ©1988,
Arbis Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-600-563-111

The Rescue of BAT 21, Darrel D. Whitcomb, & copy;1998, Naval Institute Press,
ISBN 1-55750-946-8

The Ten Thousand Day War - Vietnam: 1945-1975, Michael Maclear, ©1981,
St. Martin's Press.

Spite House - The Last Secret of the War In Vietnam, Monika Jensen-Stevenson,
©1997, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. ISBN 0-393-04041-0

To Hanoi and Back - The U.S. Air Force and North Vietnam, 1966-1973, Wayne Thompson, Smithsonian Institution Press, ISBN 1-56098-877-0

A Viet Cong Memoir - An Inside Account of the Vietnam War and its Aftermath, Truong Nhu Tang, David Chanoff & Doan Van Toai, ©1985, Vintage Books & Random House, ISBN 0-394-74309-1

We Were Soldiers Once...And Young, Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (Ret) and Joseph L. Galloway, HarperPerennial, ISBN 0-060097576-8

Why Didn't You Get Me Out? - A POW's Nightmare in Vietnam, Frank Anton with Tommy Denton, © 1997, St. Martin's Paperbacks, ISBN 0-312-97488-4