Determined to show off American military might in the wake of the crushing defeats of the Vietnam War, President Gerald Ford jumped at the chance to take on the Khmer Rouge in May 1975 when news broke of dozens of merchant sailors taken hostage. The rescue mission that ensued is one of the most overlooked chapters of American military history, and also one of the most tragic. Author Kevin Maurer provides an inside look at the terror and panic endured by the young U.S. servicemen who “went in blind against a superior enemy” for The Daily Beast. The seemingly straightforward mission to take down a few dozen rag-tag Khmer Rouge soldiers turned into a 14-hour battle against hordes of troops that would end with dozens of lives lost for the U.S. military—and they would later learn it was all for nothing. The 39 hostages they so valiantly fought to free had already been released, a fact which Ford seized upon at the time to declare that the mission had gone “perfectly,” even as young Marines died in droves on a Cambodian beach. Sign up for Beast Inside to access the Beast Files and read the second installment on how it all went down.
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