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John Gargus

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Colonel John Gargus, USAF (ret.) “retired in 1983 from a twenty-seven-year career in the U.S. Air Force. Having flown with various Special Operations units in Vietnam, Europe, and the United States, he has accrued more than 6,100 flight hours, including 381 combat hours in Southeast Asia.”  He is an inductee into the Air Commando Hall of Fame. Colonel John Gargus is the author of The Son Tay Raid: American POWs in Vietnam Were Not Forgotten.


According to the book description of The Son Tay Raid: American POWs in Vietnam Were Not Forgotten, “In May 1970, aerial photographs revealed what U.S. military intelligence believed was a POW camp near the town of Son Tay, twenty-three miles west of North Vietnam's capital city. When American officials decided the prisoners were attempting to send signals, they set in motion a daring plan to rescue the more than sixty airmen thought to be held captive.


On November 20, a joint group of volunteers from Army Green Berets and Air Force Special Operations Forces perfectly executed the raid, only to find the prisoners' quarters empty; the POWs had been moved to a different location. Initially, the Son Tay raid was a devastating disappointment to the men who risked their lives to carry it out. Many vocal critics labeled it as a spectacular failure of our nation's intelligence network. However, subsequent events proved that the audacity of the rescue attempt stunned the North Vietnamese, who implemented immediate changes in the treatment of their captives. They consolidated all Americans from their incarceration in camps to a single downtown Hanoi location where prisoners could take better care of each other. The operation also restored the prisoners' faith that their nation had not forgotten them.

The Son Tay Raid: American POWs in Vietnam Were Not Forgotten (Texas A&M University Military History Series)
John Gargus  More Info

John Gargus not only participated in the planning phase of the Son Tay rescue, but also flew as a lead navigator for the strike force. In the last few years, he has immersed himself in relevant documents that have been declassified. He has also conducted extensive interviews with others involved in the secret mission. The Son Tay Raid incorporates this wealth of unpublished material--air operations planning and training, ground preparation, interviews, and even North Vietnamese perspectives--with Gargus's own experience. No previous account of this top-secret action has given so many details or such insight into both the execution and results of Son Tay. This book will be an invaluable addition to the history and historiography of the Vietnam War.”

One reader of The Son Tay Raid: American POWs in Vietnam Were Not Forgotten said, “I met Col John Gargus at a Son Tay Symposium and his book is an incredible description of a multi-level and complicated rescue of dozens of Vietnam POWs! The level of detail described by Col Gargus make the reader feel as if they were participating in the raid themselves! Despite the detail, which can get technical, the book is still easy to read. This is not a story written by someone who researched the raid. This is a story written by someone who was there! The heros described in this book defined what it means to be an Airman before the Airman's Creed was developed!”

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