I suppose, I should be forgiven. It did happen before I was born, and considering the ultimate futility of the main American mission objective, I suppose it doesn’t come up much. And yet… it is an amazing story.
Having fallen behind a bit on my Osprey reading lately, I found a couple hours this weekend to sit down and really absorb this RAID title that has been on my personal hit-list since that initial publishing meeting. Written by Clayton Chun, a former Air Force officer and teacher at the US Army War College, RAID 24: The Last Boarding Party didn’t disappoint.
Basically as the action really heats up in this raid, you’ve got a small fleet of helicopters attempting to deliver Marines to a small island, while being raked with small arms and rocket fire. Some crash, some abort the missions, others try again and again, before finally unloading their marines, though not always where they originally attended. Unfortunately, as the political scene behind the battle changes, those same helicopters have to go back in the next day and try to extract those marines, still under fire.
The whole mission reminded me of the film Black Hawk Down, but on an even larger scale.
It is a gripping story, a heroic story, and a sad story. It is the story of the fate of the last men to have their names added to the Vietnam Memorial. I enjoyed it thoroughly and even feel a little wiser for having read it.