Friday, September 26, 2014

Fullbore Friday

I was thinking this AM about a few things; those acts of valor that we never find out about for decades because of classification issues and bureaucratic inertia that keep them hidden for so long; lost causes fought well; and that spark in the best of men who give all they have for those they serve with.

In that light, a encore FbF that is well worth looking at again.

Eventually the truth always comes out.
Chief Master Sgt. Richard L. Etchberger, who was killed in action in 1968 in Laos, will posthumously be awarded the Medal of Honor on Sept. 21, the White House announced Friday.

Etchberger will be honored with the nation’s highest award for valor for his actions on March 11, 1968.

According to the announcement, Etchberger displayed “immeasurable courage and uncommon valor” when he deliberately exposed himself to enemy fire in order to place three surviving wounded comrades into rescue slings so they could be airlifted to safety. When it was his turn to be rescued, Etchberger was fatally wounded by enemy ground fire.
This all took place during the Battle of Lima Site 85.
An estimated 6-7 Battalions of PAVN/PL troops were assembled at the base of Site 85. General Vang Pao's troops were ineffective against this large enemy force, they were responsible for a 12 mile perimeter defense. During the enemy's advance on Phou Pha Thi, General Vang Pao's 700 troops could do nothing but harass the enemy. Site 85 even called in air support in its own defense, but it was not effective enough to deter the enemy's progress. To paraphrase Dr. Timothy Castle's outstanding book on this disaster, "One Day Too Long",... they waited "Two Days Too Long" to evacuate the personnel on Site 85.
This was the largest North Vietnamese offensive ever conducted in Laos. After seeing the radar image above, how could there have been any doubt that it was time to destroy the equipment and evacuate. The decision makers evidently did not have the whole story or 1) still considered Site 85 impregnable or 2) wanted to squeeze one more day of operations out of the Site. Considering the sizable enemy force assembled, helicopters should have been assigned and sitting on the ground at Site 85 for possible evacuation.
On March 11, 1968, the inevitable happened... three teams of PAVN commandos... under cover of darkness, scaled the cliffs of Phou Pha Thi. (There is also the theory that they came in through the South defensive gate because the CIA trained locals had abandoned it.) Against previously agreed upon terms, Major Richard Secord (now retired Major General Richard Secord and author of "Honored and Betrayed", Chapter 6 concerns Lima Site 85) provided M-16's, Grenades and a few hand weapons to the Site 85 personnel. The non-combat technicians were no match for the trained PAVN commandos.
More on the battle here and here.

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