Son Tay raid 1970 – Operation Ivory Coast to rescure US Prisioners of Viet Nam War
The Son Tay raid to rescue American prisoners of Viet Nam war was also known as Operation Ivory Coast was thoroughly researched and conducted by three US Special Forces with three helicopters on the night of 20 – 21 November 1970.
By 1970, US troops had established a list of more than 500 American POWs detained and imprisoned by the North Vietnamese. There are also others missing and also allegedly detained by the North Vietnamese. US soldiers were arrested and confessed in the media, which left the US government feeling lost and their relatives demanding US troops to rescue them. Anti-war protests are also ongoing and the United States wants to find a way out of the war, and if the United States can save the American prisoners of war, they can negotiate on the edge.
The Task Force of Son Tay Raid
In 1970, Lieutenant General LeRoy J. Manor was a US Airforce Special Forces based in Eglin AFB, FL who was responsible for training the troops and task forces for the missions. individually or in coordination with special forces units of the Army and Navy
General LeRoy J. Manor received an order from the US Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon at 8 am on August 8. He immediately received a flight to Washington with Colonel Arthur D. ” Bull ” Simons is head of the G-4 Staff of the 18th Army
The meeting took place at the Pentagon with Brigadier Don Blackburn in charge of Special Operations and Admiral Thomas Moorer – Chief of Staff. Very straightforward, Admiral Moorer asked General Manor whether he would be willing to undertake the rescue of American prisoners of war in North Vietnam. General Manor replied, “Always ready.” Moorer said Defense Secretary Melvin Laird had been ordered to prepare human resources, intelligence, training, etc. to carry out the task and give General Manor the command of the Campaign. Simons was the Deputy Commander and was allowed to report and receive orders directly from the US Joint Chiefs of Staff
General Manor was given priority in recruiting and establishing the Operations Group and planning the rescue work, and he recruited 26 people from various divisions, including excellent men such as Norman Frisbie, Larry Ropka, Ben Kraljev, Art Andraitu, Joe Cataldo, Dick Peshkin, Keith Grime, Warner Britton, William Norman, Richard Beyea, Max Newman and John Knops.
Regarding the unit, Gen. Manor selected from Army Special Forces soldiers and means of intrusion and rescue would be helicopters.
Colonel Simons and Dr. Joe Cataldo went to the US Special Forces training facility in Fort Bragg to recruit volunteer soldiers with stringent requirements on combat skills and combat experience in Southeast Asia. Team Captain will be Lieutenant Colonel “Bud” Sydnor. The excellent and the amphibious assault team will be led by Captain Dick Meadow
The Son Tay Raid will be carried out by a fleet of five HH-53 helicopters, one HH-3 helicopter, two MC-130 Combat Talon and five A-1 Skyraider
Planning and Training of Operation Ivory Coast
By the end of August, the organization and selection process had been completed, and the combat team was assembled at the Eglin area of Duke Field to train with the camp models simulated by the CIA-funded Shanxi prison camp. This is a valuable resource for Sydnor and Meadow’s combat teams
Ben Kraljev – A participant in the raid planners:
“Aircrew training began with night formation involving dissimilar aircraft. As the crews became comfortable with the phase, low level was introduced as well as objective area tactics which included helicopter landings and extractions; air-drops by the C-130s of flares, give fire support and drop napalm bomb; and suppress enemy fire, give close air support by the A-1s. During this training aircrews flew 1,054 hours without so much as scraping a wing tip or rotor blade – most of it at night with dissimilar aircraft in low level formation while blacked out – a true reflection of the superb skill of each and every aircrew. Training culminated with two five and one-half hour full profile missions flown for the benefit of JCS observers who pronounced the task force were in ready for the recue mission of Son Tay Raid .”