Military History | How To Make War | Wars Around the World Rules of Use How to Behave on an Internet Forum
Commandos and Special Operations Discussion Board
   Return to Topic Page
Subject: Son Tay controversy
longrifle    6/16/2006 1:27:43 PM
I just re-read a couple of chapeters in "At the Hurricane's Eye" by Greg Walker. Walker is retired SF and spent time in South America with 7th SFG(A)in the 1980's. Walker seems to think that BG Blackburn and Col. Simons may have known, or strongly suspected, that the prisoners had been moved. The insinuation is that they launched anyway for the purpose of assaulting the secondary school in order to kill Chinese advisors. The Chinese advisors may have been training counter recon teams that were hitting the SOG CCN teams hard in Laos. So the "accidental landing" of Simons element at the secondary school may have been no accident at all. This sounds a little far fetched to me, but people see conspiracy theories where they want to see them. Why not just call in an airstrike on the secondary school? Has anyone read or heard about this from another source? Regardless, It was widely reported that "The Bull" killed someone at the secondary school with his personal .357 at point blank range. I wonder if Col. Simons used hollow points?
Quote    Reply

Show Only Poster Name and Title     Newest to Oldest
Horsesoldier    RE:Son Tay controversy   6/16/2006 4:05:54 PM
There was a history channel program a while back where some of the people interviewed were pushing the same idea, that they knew the prison was empty prior to launching. Walker may have been one of the guys they interviewed, I don't recall (the only guy I remember by name was Hollywood writer/director/producer John Milius, though I was never clear on why he was involved). One of the claims is that this explains why one of the helos hit the wrong compound, but I don't actually buy it because . . . a) you'd have to be an idiot to put troops on the ground just outside Hanoi and train them up for the wrong target (I suppose it is possible that all the raiders -- aircrews and SF guys etc -- might have been sworn to secrecy on the mission). Hitting the wrong target should have resulted in the guys on the ground getting smacked down but violence of action, individual skill, and superior equipment (first combat use of red-dot sights if I'm not mistaken) carried the day. b) If all you wanted to do was kill a bunch of Chinese advisors I don't really understand why you'd put boots on the ground when you could put B-52s overhead. c) if they wanted to kill the Chinese advisors, and knew the prison was empty, why not arrange for the entire raid to "accidentally" hit the wrong compound? I think this one is more the realm of conspiracy than reality. I could certainly be wrong, but it does not quite add up as a double super secret mission or whatever.
Quote    Reply

longrifle    RE:Son Tay controversy   6/16/2006 10:25:37 PM
I'm not really buying it either. But Walker's book does claim that CCN sent a recon team into North Vietnam while Simons raid force was staging in Thailand. The team supposedly confirmed that the Chinese advisors at the secondary school stacked arms in the center of the compound each night. So only the few men on guard were at the ready when Simons element landed outside the secondary school. Incredible luck or something more? But Simons had A1's on standby and ordered them to strike all targets when the raid force withdrew. If the object was really to kill advisors then it seems like they would have just made the airstrike to begin with. I think what makes the theory of an intentional assault on the secondary school credible, with some people, is Simons' prior knowledge that it was essentially an unarmed camp before his helo "accidently" landed there. I doubt we can ever know for sure.
Quote    Reply

ArtyEngineer    RE:Son Tay controversy   6/17/2006 4:09:33 AM
There was a show on the military channel a few days ago about "Raids" which dealt with teh Son Tay operation, and the German Op to rescue Mussolini. It mentioned that there was "Contraversy" over exactly how and why the chopper landed so close to the compound with foreign advisors, considering how every other aspect of teh op went "exactly" to plan. Did not elaborate on this though.
Quote    Reply

Ehran    RE:Son Tay controversy   6/17/2006 7:18:44 AM
could it be they were hoping to grab up an advisor or two to show off on the tv?
Quote    Reply

Horsesoldier    RE:Son Tay controversy   6/17/2006 10:32:08 AM
I think if they wanted to do a prisoner snatch for PR purposes they could have -- they were sufficiently in control of the advisor compound that someone swiped a Chinese issue web belt as a souvenir (eventually presented to Ross Perot, just to keep things extra surreal). Barring some significant declassification of information in the future, I'd agree with Longrifle that it is not ever going to be something that emphatically puts the rumors to bed. If Hollywood ever does a treatment, I'm pretty sure that angle will feature prominently (I'm kind of surprised it has not been done yet, actually -- it seems to perfectly lend itself to movie format, except perhaps that it is not completely in line with the Hollywood narrative of the US "Vietnam experience" and such.) A cool footnote -- Simons was on the Cabantuan raid in WW2 as a young lieutenant, if I am not mistaken. Son Tay was definitely not his first rodeo.
Quote    Reply

Lawman    RE:Son Tay controversy   6/17/2006 11:18:20 AM
Not to go too off topic, I agree, if Hollywood did a movie about it, they would have to paint it in one of two ways: - The operation was a disaster, with US troops betrayed by superiors, misguided etc... the usual Hollywood nonsense or - Hanoi Jane was really the hero of the day, saving all the Americans, and protecting the Vietnamese from 'unnecessary suffering' at the hands of the US troops. Ahh well, gives you so much confidence in the liberal media!
Quote    Reply

longrifle    Cabanatuan raid-H.S.   6/17/2006 12:21:32 PM
>>A cool footnote -- Simons was on the Cabantuan raid in WW2 as a young lieutenant, if I am not mistaken. Son Tay was definitely not his first rodeo.<< Close, but no cigar. Simons commnaded B Company, 6th Ranger Battalion. The raid was executed by C Co. and part of F Co., supplemented by some Alamo Scouts and Filipino Guerillas. Although he wasn't on the Cabanatuan raid, you are correct about Son Tay not being his first rodeo. Simons had done plenty of other things.
Quote    Reply