Published: 17 January 2008
Air & S pace Power Journal-Spring 2008
Unfortunately, all three assumptions turned out to be false. As Dr. Castle meticulously documents, the site quickly turned from focusing on Hanoi to directing its efforts toward the enemy troops massing in the valleys below the mountaintop site. He also shows, in stark detail, that both Air Force leadership and the US ambassador to Laos bungled the evacuation, holding fast to the belief that evacuation was unnecessary even after the attack began. (In their defense, even the men at Site 85 didn’t seem too concerned by the initial mortar attack launched by the Vietnamese and Pathet Lao.) Finally, Dr. Castle writes of the ultimately unsuccessful attempts by the Air Force to deliberately misrepresent the truth of what happened at Site 85 to the families of the 11 men still missing and unaccounted for to this day.
The decisions made by our leadership often favor larger goals at the expense of individuals. Military members make sacrifices freely, understanding that they serve at the behest of their commanders. But when the Air Force can show no greater gain to balance out the loss of the individual, we must ask why any sacrifice is warranted.
Gen Ronald R. Fogleman, former Air Force chief of staff, notes in a dust-jacket blurb that the loss of Site 85 “should be a subject for mandatory study in our professional military education system.” He is correct, and the more junior the officer reading One Day Too Long, the better. By instilling in our ranks a sense of shock over the problems that Dr. Castle squarely faces, hopefully this book can prevent such a tragedy from happening again.
Mr. Glenn Leinbach
The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.