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One Day Too Long: Top Secret Site 85 and the Bombing of North Vietnam 0th Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231103169
ISBN-10: 0231103166
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From October 1967 to March 1968, the United States operated a top-secret radar system in Laos near that country's border with North Vietnam. This was a provocative move: Laos was a neutral country. Yet the air force desperately needed all-weather bombing capability in the region, and so the Pentagon decided to take a chance. When Communist troops learned of Site 85, they hit it hard. The result: "The largest single ground combat loss of U.S. Air Force personnel in the history of the Vietnam War."

The public still does not know what happened to nine of the men posted at Site 85. They may have been killed or captured, or perhaps fell victim to "some atrocity" perpetrated by the Communists. The military establishment isn't talking, and neither are knowledgeable sources in Laos and Vietnam. One Day Too Long combines scholarship, journalism, and detective work to learn all that can be known. Apparently there is plenty to hide. "It was criminal to leave the technicians and the other Americans and their security forces stranded [at Site 85]," writes Castle. Yet one conclusion is certain, he says: there is "an unseemly pattern of U.S. government duplicity" surrounding this forgotten incident. --John J. Miller

From Library Journal

Castle, who served two tours of duty in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, teaches national security studies at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama and is a frequent MIA investigator for the Department of Defense. His book concerns the deployment of a radar site (code-named "Heavy Green") in the supposedly neutral country of Laos. In theory, the site was to provide round-the-clock bombing capability to planes attacking North Vietnam. In fact, the site had hardly been operational before the North Vietnam forces knew of it and took steps to eliminate it. It thus became "bait" to lure the enemy forces where they could be attackedAalbeit in a neutral country. The men who volunteered to man the site gave up their military commissions, becoming employees of a private military contractor, and were exposed to great dangerAall for a mission that could not even be acknowledged. Castle does an excellent job of telling the stories of the doomed radar personnel, using interviews with their widows and with surviving servicemen. This is a story that has waited 30 years to be told. Recommended for public and academic libraries.AMark E. Ellis, Albany State Univ., GA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 371 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (March 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231103166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231103169
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,503,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. C. Carrad on June 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a extraordinarily powerful, interesting and well written book. It covers the entire history (1965-date) of an obscure (to some) chapter in America's war in Southeast Asia -- the loss of Lima Site 85 in Laos to communist attack. The whole history is fascinating -- from the decision to set up this site, to what it (briefly) did, the decisions from the squad level all the way up to the US Embassy in Vientiane and the President in Washington about its mission, operation and defense, to the current efforts to get the truth out of the Lao and Vietnamese governments about MIAs. The author has the background to write this fascinating history and writes compellingly. He's not afraid, where appropriate, to use blunt language like "shameful toadying" and "fraud". I've been a sceptic in the past of some of the distrust of the US government shown by POW/MIA families and partisans, but this book opened my eyes. Phou Pha Thi should have been better defended or abandoned earlier. A great account of (mostly) good intentions and (too often) flawed execution. The author writes convincingly of 1960's combat and 1990's political maneuvering. The treatment of COL Clayton, the commander of the site when it was overrun, by the current "investigators" was particularly revealing and chilling. I was a US Army Signal Corps officer during the Vietnam war and know all too well what it's like to have to be visible on a mountaintop to perform your mission and the need for good defense. I've spent the last 4 years as a civilian in Cambodia. So I have some parallels with the authors' experiences. A great book no matter what your view on the war.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As one of the pilots of Jolly Green 67 I simply want to thank Dr. Castle for his comprehensive and historical accurate account of the events at Lima Site 85. This is a story that begged to be told; Dr. Castle pulls no punches, providing a riveting and revealing account. His work was a key factor in the eventual recognition of the heroic efforts of Sgt. Etchberger at the Enlisted Hertiage Hall, Maxwell AFB Annex (formally Gunter AFS), Montgomery AL. A great read.
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Format: Hardcover
Congratulations to Dr. Castle for this fine book. A meticulously researched historical work of the finest order that reads like a Tom Clancy action novel. A bombshell that exposes one of the most egregious and hitherto publicly undisclosed tragedies of the Vietnam War. In March 1968 an NVA sapper team avoided detection and attacked a top-secret radar bombing facility (code name Jolly Green) which was manned by sixteen "civilianized" Air Force technicians. The site, LS 85, was located on a mountain top in Laos less than twenty-five miles from the North Vietnam border. The attack caught the technicians off guard and resulted in the loss of the site to the communist forces. Two of those dedicated volunteers manning the site were confirmed killed, five were rescued alive (one died on the evacuation flight) and the remaining nine have never been accounted for and their status remains unknown. This incident holds the distinction of being the largest single loss of Air Force ground personnel during the entire Vietnam War. Why did the Air Force continue to operate this site in the face of considerable evidence the site would soon fall under bombardment and attack by large NVA forces gathering in the area? Was it incompetence or was the site considered so essential to the North Vietnam bombing effort that the loss of the men was an acceptable risk? Dr. Castle looks at these questions in detail. One Day Too Long chronicles the history of Site 85 from its initial concept of operations through the tragic consequence of this miscalculation. But the story does not stop there. It also relates the stoic efforts by one widow to find answers to questions about her husbands death at this site the government was unwilling to provide. This book should be mandatory reading for all future military leaders.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Meticulously researched and profusely documented, Dr. Castle has set the standard for all other books on this subject. His skill as a renowned researcher, academic, and archivist has produced the best Vietnam era book written on the subject of POW/MIA's. If you want to know why we have never recovered a living MIA from SE Asia, and never will, read Chapter 14 and the conclusion chapter to understand why. This book exposes the myth of "The Highest National Priority", and shows how the US Government has mismanaged the issue for years. This book took a lot of courage for someone of Dr. Castle's stature and position to write, because it is going to upset a lot of important people with the truth.
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Format: Hardcover
I served as a Senior Director in the Tactical Air Control Center-North Sector, Monkey Mountain, Da Nang, RVN. We provided a direct support function regarding Frag Orders, BDA and other matters to LS 85 SKYSPOT ops. I began working with Col Clayton and a few members of the Commando Club crew on our secure voice link in late 1967, and that continued until the last hours during the firefight. Dr. Castle's book is riveting. The facts are laid out in a way that any reader can understand what happened and why. Col Clayton and I still communicate and we still seek some answers. Most of us agree that the policy for POWs in Laos was brutally simple: take no prisoners, so those who did not return were executed on the spot and disposed of over the cliff. Some very few artifact remains verify this. After LS 85, as 1968 evolved, it appears the North Vietnamese changed their policy and practice and took prisoners. In any case, Dr Castle has been able to penetrate the veil of secrecy that is essential to extant covert operations and transform confusion into a first class historical record. I personally think the U.S. Senate is a shameless producer of false and inadequate reports when it comes to POW/MIA matters. Read all you can and come to your own decisions.
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