As commanding and revelatory as the recent best-sellers Flags of Our Fathers and Black Hawk Down, this new volume on the Vietnam War ranges from an obscure Cambodian island in Southeast Asia to the Oval Office of the White House as it chronicles one of the most overlooked incidents and heartbreaking episodes in America's costliest foreign conflict. On May 12, 1975, barely two weeks after U.S. helicopters lifted off the roof of the American embassy in Saigon, the S.S. Mayaguez was seized by Cambodian forces. Four days later, President Gerald Ford ordered a raid to free the ship, even though American diplomacy had already successfully negotiated its release. The U.S. Marine strike force took flight. The ensuing battle, the last of the war, took fourteen hours and the lives of forty-one Americans, including three soldiers who were unwittingly left behind when the U.S. choppers flew off. Vietnam veteran Ralph Wetterhahn has spent more than five years investigating what happened that day in the Cambodian jungle: how the abandonment of the three men who guarded the flank of the vulnerable Marine position occurred; why they were left to their tragic fate; and how -- from unprecedented interviews with the Khmer Rouge captors -- they met their grisly deaths. His spellbinding account redeems to our national memory these three entirely forgotten young Marines and their brave deeds under fire.
History, Americas, Native-American,