In his July book review about the My Lai murders David Zabecki stated that author Howard Jones [My Lai: Vietnam, 1968 and the Descent Into Darkness] made factual errors on peripheral points pertaining to his story—specifically that U.S. Marines finally regained control of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon during the Tet Offensive, when in fact soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division deserve the credit. Well, let’s give credit where credit is really due: MPs from the 716th Military Police Battalion, along with Marines from the Security Guard, defended and secured the grounds from enemy forces before the 101st landed on the embassy roof. It is true the paratroopers worked their way downstairs, checking each room for VC, but the battle was already won by then. Four U.S. Army MPs and one U.S. Marine Security Guard were killed defending the embassy. Let’s give those brave men the credit they deserve.
Former Spc. 4
716th MP Battalion
The May 2017 issue was very good and most interesting, especially the article on the Congo [“What We Learned From U.N. Peacekeepers in the Congo,” by David T. Zabecki], since I have some knowledge of the subject. I was a navigator in the U.S. Air Force 63rd Troop Carrier Wing, and our squadron was on a six-month temporary duty assignment to Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, in 1960 and again in 1961, and we made many trips to and from the Congo, carrying both personnel and cargo in our Douglas C-124 Globemaster II aircraft.
Most trips were to France to pick up cargo/passengers, then to Wheelus Air Base, Tripoli, Libya, where we’d spend the night. Then we would fly south to Kano, Nigeria, to refuel and on to Léopoldville (present-day Kinshasa), the Congo. Another route took us to Cairo, Egypt, south through the Sudan and on to the Congo.
Usually on return to Europe we would have a planeload of Belgian citizens leaving the Congo. These included whole families, sometimes with their pet dogs, cats and parrots (the Air Force did not normally allow animals aboard, but an exception was made here).
One crew had an Arab nation’s military unit as passengers to the Congo. When airborne the soldiers were preparing to cook lunch for themselves using a live dog they planned to butcher and cook over an open wood fire on the floor of the plane. Needless to say this did not happen. But from then on the crew kept a watchful eye on this group of soldiers.
The 63rd Wing flew to just about everywhere in the world, and I am proud to have been part of it.
Lost at Sea
I was amazed by your news item [“Salvors Obliterate Pacific War Wrecks”] in the May edition regarding the World War II shipwrecks that have been removed from the Java Sea. That these wrecks, which must total far more than the 25 tons you report, could have been salvaged at a depth of 200-plus feet without anyone being the wiser is almost beyond comprehension.
Editor responds: It is beyond comprehension—as is the fact we dropped three zeroes from the total reported tonnage. The scavengers made off with some 25,000 tons of scrap metal from the five known ships. Assume a salvage value in the tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, and their motivation becomes clear, if not their morality for disturbing war graves.
[Re. “Napoléon’s Egyptian Riddle,” May:] Great article by James W. Shosenberg. If instead of taking a left in the Mediterranean, Napoléon and his Army of the Orient had made a right and headed to Ireland—like Brig. Gen. Jean-Joseph-Amable Humbert did in 1798, landing in County Mayo and linking up with the Irish—Napoléon would have made short work of Lord Lieutenant Charles Cornwallis and his Redcoats. It would have panicked England, and Europe would be a lot different today.
Toms River, N.J.
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