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  • McClaine Bauer

Vietnam: The Son Tay Raid

*Cover photo courtesy of defense.gov


Executive Summary:

On 21 November 1970, the U.S. military attempted to rescue approximately 60 Americans from the Son Tay POW camp in North Vietnam. Located just 23 miles west of Hanoi, U.S. forces were vulnerable to enemy reinforcements, antiaircraft artillery, and closely based MIG interceptor aircraft.² The Navy and Air Force launched separate diversions to draw attention away from ground forces and their delivery aircraft as they raided the compound. Ultimately, no POWs were found, but the joint execution of the operation was praiseworthy. In the court of public opinion, the IC was blamed for sending troops into a compound that had been empty for several months. However, it was senior defense leaders and raid planners who made the decision to continue with the operation despite receiving last-minute intelligence questioning the assumption that Son Tay was still an active POW camp.


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