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Code-Name Bright Light: The Untold Story of U.S. POW Rescue Efforts During the Vietnam War Mass Market Paperback – December 1, 1998

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Code-Name Bright Light: The Untold Story of U.S. POW Rescue Efforts During the Vietnam War + An Enormous Crime: The Definitive Account of American POWs Abandoned in Southeast Asia
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Dell (December 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440226503
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440226505
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,134,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

At the end of Code-Name Bright Light, former Army captain George J. Veith reports the surprising results of a straw poll he took of former military personnel involved in the effort to liberate American POWs. More than half think that when the United States evacuated Vietnam in 1973, Yanks were left behind enemy lines. Veith is no conspiracy freak. He believes strongly that the military made a sincere effort to rescue captured troops, and argues his case well, yet he also reveals a troubled operation that did not liberate a single soldier due to a combination of its own incompetence and clever Viet Cong tactics. This important chapter of the Vietnam War has been largely ignored until the late 1990s, partly because so many relevant documents took that long to be declassified. Veith makes a genuine contribution to the historical understanding of the conflict, one that ought to engage those still wondering about men whose fates remain unknown. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Popular and academic works on U.S. prisoners of war continue to play a central role in Vietnam War literature and historiography. But even as the number of such titles proliferate, the quality of the research and the political bias of the writers have long been issues. Although a definitive scholarly volume awaits the opening of Vietnam's archives, Veith's research in the U.S. records places his study on American rescue attempts in the forefront of the discussion. The author, a specialist on POWs/MIAs, presents a tightly written, challenging essay on the ill-starred rescue efforts of the Joint Personnel Recovery Center and associated units in Vietnam and Laos. The catalog of bureaucratic inertia, interservice rivalries, and incredible bad luck combined to frustrate the numerous missions of American and Vietnamese special forces. An arresting and dramatic story supported by exceptional research, this is an essential purchase for Vietnam War collections in academic and public libraries.?John R. Vallely, Siena Coll. Lib, Loudonville, N.Y.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

People often ask me how I got involved in writing about Vietnam, since I did not serve there. Here is the short answer to that question.
I am a former Armor officer, having served in tank units in Germany and the U.S. I've always been interested in military history, and in particular, historical mysteries. My initial foray into Vietnam was investigating the POW/MIA issue, a natural fit on both counts. One can't understand the POW/MIA issue without learning about the war, which led me to dive deeper into the conflict.
I also always wanted to write, and years ago, I found some documents at the Army's Carlisle Barracks on the Joint Personnel Recovery Center (JPRC), the military's top-secret unit to recover American prisoners during the Vietnam War. Realizing that no one had ever written about these guys, I made ten trips to Carlisle going through all their Vietnam materials. Eventually I located about 80% of the JPRC weekly and monthly reports, and I was off! That research led to "Code-Name Bright Light," my first book.
My second book, "Leave No Man Behind," is the memoirs of my friend Bill Bell, who led the USG's POW/MIA field investigation teams after the war. It was published in 2004.
In April 2001, my friend and translator, Merle Pribbenow, and I visited MG Le Minh Dao, the last commander of the ARVN 18th Division. We interviewed him about the battle of Xuan Loc, which took place in April 1975. His unit stood their ground in some very heavy combat, and our article on the battle was published in January 2004 in the "Journal of Military History." Dao was so pleased with our efforts that he begged me turn the paper into a book on the final two years of the war. He emphatically told me that the RVNAF had fought well, and they were not the corrupt cowards so often portrayed in the American media. Thus began a ten-year journey of research and writing that finally culminated in "Black April."
I hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to your comments.

Customer Reviews

Truly and amazing book it describes how Col.
Geoffrey P. I.
Every American should read this text after An Enormous Crime..
John Pat Bourassa
This is a must read for any student of the Viet Nam War.
Charles L. Byler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Kyle Tolle on May 12, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Code Name Bright Light is a fascinating and highly revealing look into rescue operations in Vietnam performed under the auspices of the Joint Personnel Recovery Center (JPRC) during the longest war ever fought by the United States.

In a six year period, more than 125 rescue operations would be launched to recover U.S. prisoners of war. Attempts to retrieve U.S. servicemen would also be tried by ransoms and prisoner exchanges. The latter methods were minimally successful at best due to the dismal cooperation from the North Vietnamese government and their unwillingness to recognize humanitarian overtures. The actual rescue attempts themselves were outstanding examples of bravery, courage, and audacity in the most harrowing of situation but were also mired in endless problems.

Rescue teams would suffer the indignity of inter-service rivalries and competition, mediocre intelligence information, numerous bureaucratic breakdowns, compromised missions, and bad luck in many cases. Much of this would lead to slow response times to initiate raids on POW compounds which in turn produced many near misses when trying to extricate POW's. On countless occasions, rescue personnel would assault POW camps only to find that prisoners and camp cadre had relocated to new areas only hours before. Although some missions conducted were successful, they would also be bittersweet at the same time. The JPRC teams, during their tenure in Vietnam, were able to rescue hundreds of South Vietnamese POW's but were unsuccessful in ever freeing any living Americans held in confinement.

Leaving no stone unturned, geographically speaking, George J.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey A. Veyera VINE VOICE on July 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Ethicists have debated since time immemorial the question: how many lives is one life worth? Rather than a simple mathematical problem (1=1), this is the question which dogged the men tasked with rescuing U.S. prisoners of war during the Vietnam conflict.
There has been the nasty suspicion lingering for years that the U.S. government decided that the math didn't quite work out and so left our POWs in Southeast Asia to meet their fates alone. Congressional hearings have been held, various recovery missions have been launched, and a cottage industry in conspiracy theory has sprung up in the decades since Operation Homecoming in 1973.
George Veith blows the lid off much of the secrecy surrounding U.S. efforts to recover POWs in Vietnam and thus evaporates much of the conspiracy theories with "Codename: Bright Light." Despite assertions to the contrary, U.S. special forces made substantial and repeated efforts to free POWs during the war. The main obstacles to repatriation were: the constant relocation of prisoners, the intransigence of the North Vietnamese and their American supporters, the failure of intelligence on POW matters, bureaucratic snafus, and the extremely difficult terrain and climate which made escape a dicey proposition at best. As a result, the Bright Light operation failed to rescue a single American POW during its entire course.
Despite these failures, the men supporting Bright Light gave their all to bring our men home and had a substantive impact upon repatriation. Yet most of the surviving members of these teams believe to this day that men were left behind---specifically, those captured in Laos, none of whom returned at Homecoming.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By mannr@hq.hqusareur.army.mil on December 3, 1998
Format: Hardcover
During my military career, the year I spent in JPRC-SOG was my proudest. This book by Jay Veith explains our memories, frustrations and efforts to assist in a small way our countrymen and their families. We worked in a classified and constrained environment, but we had the total support from the chief of SOG (COL Sadler), the SOG staff and the recon teams. It is a great book telling about a great job-I would do it again without hesitation!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mcgivern Owen L on July 28, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
"Code Name Bright Light" is an extremely well-researched and documented story about the efforts (failures! ) of the United States to rescue its' POWs during the Vietnam War. Just count the footnotes in each chapter! There can be no doubt that the story you will read is authentic. And that is a problem because most Americans will be saddened to learn that the blame cannot be heaped upon a cruel and intransigent enemy but with our own political. military and especially diplomatic leaders. Inter-service rivalry, intra-service rivalry, poor planning and just plain Vietnam-style bad luck all played a large part in the story. But there is so simple "sin-loi" here. Ambassador to Laos William Sullivan and Ambassador to South Vietnam Bunker wholeheartedly emphasized politics over POW rescues. One must ask even now whose side was Mr. Sullivan on? And where was the Johnson White House? Where was Robert McNamara? All very disturbing. There are many better "Vietnam" books but for those interested in the POW story, this is the Bible. I have read 4 other books on POWs, including Ms. Stephenson's "Kiss the Boys Goodbye" and seen the tape "We Can Keep You Forever", but "Code Name Bright Light" tells it all the best. A serious, disturbing but excellent job!
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