On November 20-21, 1970, a joint
force composed of USAF Special Operations and rescue
personnel and U.S. Army Special Forces, supported
by U.S. Navy Carrier Task Force 77, made a daring
raid on the Son Tay prison camp located less than
30 miles from Hanoi, North Vietnam. The objective
was to rescue as many as 100 U.S. captives thought
to be held there. The assault troops, in six ARRS
helicopters accompanied by two C-130 aircraft, flew
400 miles to Son Tay from bases in Thailand. U.S.
Navy pilots made a diversionary raid while 116 USAF
and Navy aircraft from seven air bases and three
aircraft carriers flew refueling, surface-to-air
missile suppression, fighter cover, close air support,
early warning, communications support and reconnaissance
missions. Although no prisoners were found in camp,
the raid was a brillant success in transporting,
landing and recovering an assault force of 92 USAF
and 56 Army personnel without the loss of a single
man. Although no prisoners were rescued, the raid
focused world attention on the plight of the prisoners
of war (POWs), raised their morale and resulted
in improved living conditions for all U.S. prisoners
of the North Vietnamese. The men of the Joint Task
Force earned the admiration of their countymen for
risking their lives in an attempt to bring freedom
Son Tay Raid Bibliography
POW camp 23 miles west of Hanoi, 21 NOV 1970
Brandli, Hank, "Weather Satellite Photos and
the Vietnam War," NAVAL
HISTORY, VOL.5, No1, Spring 1991. p.66-68.
Buckler, Terry, "Operation Kingpin: POW Rescue
Attempt," VIETNAM. p. 22, June 1997. Interview
with Ranger, Son Tay Raider.
Donohue, Fredric M. "Mission of Mercy,"
Research rpt, AIR U, FEB 1972, 10 p. UG635.3U5p5460,
Gabriel, Richard A. Military Incompetence: Why
the American Military Doesnt Win. NY: Hill &
Wang, 1985, 208 p. UA23.177G227. See Chapter 2.
Harris. Richard. "Raid at Son Tay." Amer
Hist Illus. 25 (Mar-Apr 1990): pp.58-67.
Hemmingway, AL, VFW Magazine, Nov 1995. "Daring
Raid at Son Tay."
Kelly, Peter A. "Raids and National Command:
Mutually Exclusive!" MIL REV 60
(Apr 1980-): pp.19-26. Per.
Kennedy, William V. INTELLIGENCE WARFARE,
Crescent Books, 1987 p. 62,63,66.
New York Times, (24 Nov 1970): pp.1,12,14
Also see Pub index 1970-71.
Schemmer, Benjamin F. THE RAID. NY: Harper
and Row, 1976. 326p. DS552.3S6S34. Also AVON Books
Tonkin Gulf: Task Force 77 p. 195ff. Most Complete
Stevaux, Craig, "The Weather War...," VIETNAM,
dec 1997. P.31-36.
US NAVY SHIPS known present:
Carriers: Oriskany, Hancock, Ranger, Kitty Hawk,
Cruisers: Chicago CG 11, Jouett DLG 29, Wainwright
Destroyers: Stoddert DDG 22, Lloyd Thomas DD 764,
Perkins DD 877, Agerholm DD 826. perhaps others. compiled
from DLG 28 records.
Compiled by Don Raby firstname.lastname@example.org.
He is interested in learning more from Naval personnel
who were present with TF-77 on this date. Contact
the Wainwright Veteran Association: