Recently back in episode 816 of this podcast we talked about the event that led to the beginning of the War in Vietnam. The starting point for massive American involvement in that war can be pinned to OPLAN 34 that was cooked up back in January of 1964. That bright idea kicked off a chain of events that led to a military force of more than 500,000 serving in country and eventually to a black monument in Washington DC with the names of 58,000 + fallen heroes engraved upon it’s descending walls.
Some writers say the Vietnam War started and ended with a lie. It is agreed by many historians the last battle of the war was fought on Koh Tang Island off the coast of Cambodia. It occurred after the Khmer Rouge seized the Mayaguez, a US cargo ship. The Communists took the crew hostage and put them under arrest on shore. President Ford decided to send in the Marines from Okinawa to rescue the ship and its crew and thus began the last battle of the Vietnam War even though it was fought on an island off the coast of Cambodia.
Sadly the wars ends as it started, with a lie. A story from Newsweek.com titled: The Truth About the Lost Marines of the Vietnam War’s Last Battle that was submitted by Matthew M. Burke describes in detail about three Marines who participated in the action, Joseph Hargrove, Gary Hall and Danny Marshall, were left behind due to fog of war and were never recovered. Eventually they were declared KIA and joined the dozen or so Marines killed on the island as they fought for a captured ship and crew that had already been safely recovered by American forces.
It is a shame that Marines had to die on a “fool’s errand,” but it hurts even more when we discover the government apparently covered up its failure to get those three remaining brave Marines out of the battle. Their crime was they were providing cover fire as their fellow Marines got on the last helicopter that left without them.
Their story on the podcast will grip your heart.