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A Very Short War: The Mayaguez and the Battle of Koh Tang [Texas A & M University Military History] Hardcover – December, 1995

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Texas A&M University Press; 1st edition (December 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0890966656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0890966655
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,717,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As an AF Lt., I flew in the Mayaguez operation the day before the assault. My perspective from the back seat of an F-4 wasn't as immediate as the Jolly and Knife pilots who experienced it up close and personal. My friend Terry Ohlemeier was Knife 22, and his piece of the war was a lot hairier than mine. I took several history courses from Mr. Guilmartin when he was an instructor at the Air Force Academy. He was an excellent teacher, and I was glad to see that his research and source materials are equal his considerable teaching abilities. This book provides a glimpse into how national security planners dealt with this incident as America's Vietnam involvement was ending. Veterans will appreciate the roll call of the major players and events, others will appreciate a definitive account of a very short (and generally overlooked) "war."
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Format: Hardcover
Guilmartin has written an excellent book that accurately describes what happened at Koh Tang Island. As a pilot that was there, I find the book to be a straight forward account of both the good and the bad. He has taken time to research the battle from both the Air Force and the Marine point of view. Using interviews from people who were there, sorting out the contradictions and fog of war. His insights into helicopter operations and the overuse of command and control should be required reading for all military officers. Guilmartin can be counted on for accuracy in all of his writings. Highly recommended for all students of military history.
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Format: Hardcover
As a former marine who was part of the assault on the island, I learned alot of information I never knew at the time. It was a very humbling experience to find out how close I came to death during the intense fire fight after the landing. This is a very good book for future operation planners to read to ensure that they schedule the proper equipment and have up to date intelligence before a combat operation like this is executed.
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Format: Hardcover
A very detailed and fascinating first hand account of the action on Tang Island, this work should be read along with Ralph Wetterhahn's "The Last Battle." Though both accounts are spell-binding, I still cannot really fathom why everyone sailed away after the battle when it became known that three young Marines had been inadvertently left behind on the island during the nighttime withdrawal under fire. Something ugly happened here, not yet fully explained.

2014 Update -- Investigations in 2014 by the Vietnamese press show that 513 Vietnamese civilians captured by Khmer Rouge naval forces on islands near Phu Quoc in early May 1975 were taken to Tang Island were they were eventually killed. Documentary evidence of Chinese advisors having been posted on the island was also discovered. A 2009 memoir by PAVN General Pham Van Tra details PAVN action, which he commanded, that re-took the islands and captured 800 KR naval personnel in the process. A separate memoir by a former Vietnamese ambassador to Phnom Penh details late 1975 negotiations between Nguyen Van Linh (Muoi Cuc) and Nuon Chea for an exchange of the 513 civilians for the KR prisoners taken by Vietnam. Vietnam returned the captured Khmer Rouge soldiers, but the Khmer Rouge failed to keep their end of the deal, and the 513 died on Koh Tang.
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Format: Hardcover
If you have a copy of this book, hang on to it. It is not likely to go back into print anytime soon, and used copies are becoming both scarce and expensive. My own copy is tattered and dog-eared--a testament to how much I referred to it in writing my novel of the same incident.

Besides the all-too-appropriate title, one of the things you'll like about this book is Guilmartin's collection of time/date-sensitive maps that do an exceptional job bringing a complex operation into sharp focus.

A few words about the author, John Guilmartin. He is a been-there-and-done-it kinda guy. An Air Force Academy grad, he flew HH-53s with the Jolly Green Giants. He is also a fine scholar, having taught at the university level since retiring from the Air Force. He now graces the halls of West Point's history department where I hope his students are paying strict attention. 'Much to learn, they have!'

--Ejner Fulsang, author of "A Knavish Piece of Work," Aarhus Publishing
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