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Author Topic: Operation Tailwind  (Read 4358 times)

Online Charles Collins

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Operation Tailwind
« on: January 27, 2023, 12:04:18 PM »
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I just finished reading a superb book by Barry Pencek titled “Operation Tailwind: Memoirs of a Secret Battle in a Secret War.” I think it is indirectly relevant to the JFK assassination because JFK was president during a part of this war, some believe that JFK was killed because of it, JFK is mentioned several times in this book, and, importantly, this book chronicles the fiasco of CNN’s “Valley of Death” special which attempted to portray this battle as something it wasn’t. CNN and Time soon retracted their stories and this book details how they got it wrong. I think there are lessons to be learned, regarding how accomplished and respected journalists managed to make their mistakes, which can be used in our assessments of the JFK assassination.


https://www.amazon.com/Operation-Tailwind-Memoirs-Secret-Battle/dp/B0BF9NBBFK/ref=nodl_?dplnkId=45fc47ca-2bde-4f05-926e-3d05c66022dc


A couple of reviews:

“I spent a year in MACV-SOG running top secret missions out of Da Nang, Vietnam into other Southeast Asian countries. Barry’s unit supported us on these missions and saved our lives on a regular basis. I was back in the U.S. when Operation Tailwind took place. Barry is an incredible pilot, has a unique sense of humor and way of capturing the culture of his squadron (using their words) and its heroic pilots flying insane missions to support MACV-SOG. If you have been in combat, you will immediately understand what Barry is describing. If you haven’t you will still feel the adrenaline rush of the missions. He tells it as he experienced it. You will not be able to turn the pages fast enough, especially when you get into the second part of the book, the actual operation. Expertly told.  The last part of the book is a clinic on how to investigate shoddy journalism. Barry lays CNN and the so-called journalists open. There were many opportunities along the way for CNN to pull the story, but they failed to do so until it became a disaster for them. Barry was there. He flew the missions. He had an intimate knowledge of what really happened. Read this book for it’s entertainment value, it’s educational value and to see how the media can become more focused on ratings than the truth. I appreciate the service of Barry Pencek, all the men who participated in Operation Tailwind, and the men and women who served in Vietnam. You are all American heroes. Thank you and welcome home!”  Lt. Col Henry (Dick) Thompson, Pd.D.  U.S. Army Special Forces (Ret), and author of Dead Man Walking: A MACV-SOG One-Zero's Personal Journal


“For eight years MACV SOG ran top secret operations deep into enemy territory. Records were destroyed and witnesses gagged for decades. In preserving SOG history, you have to talk to people who were there, like Barry Pencek, who flew life-saving combat air support for the team on the ground. Operation Tailwind is a personal account of the author’s life and war, told with clarity and a wry humor. It brings together first-hand accounts of survivors to deliver the most accurate account on record of this daring mission. It also perfectly dissects the travesty of exploitation journalism that sought to re-frame heroic deeds as murderous war-crimes.   “The soldiers and airmen who served honourably in South-east Asia, who came home to shouts of “baby-killer,” deserve a better deal. In today’s rotten culture of media infotainment, conspiracy theories and stolen valor, preserving and documenting the truth is vital. Vietnam veterans’ stories, and especially this story, need to be heard, and preserved for generations to come.”  Rob Graham  CEO Savage Game Design, creator of Arma 3: S.O.G. Prairie Fire

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Operation Tailwind
« on: January 27, 2023, 12:04:18 PM »


Online Charles Collins

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Re: Operation Tailwind
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2023, 01:38:15 PM »
A snip to officially make it relevant to JFK:


After the Bay of Pigs fiasco in Cuba, President Kennedy decided that covert operations in Vietnam should be turned over to the military. The president had soured on the CIA and was enamored by Special Forces but neither the Joint Chiefs of Staff nor the State Department were crazy about the military taking over the CIA role. Shortly before his death, Kennedy approved OPLAN-34A (Operations Plan-34A), and the top-secret Special Operations Group was formed to take over clandestine programs in South Vietnam and North Vietnam. Quickly realizing the name Special Operations Group did little to hide the covert nature of their business, it was changed to the more academic sounding Studies and Observations Group, known simply as SOG. Funding for SOG was hidden deep in the Navy’s budget and controlled from the Pentagon. OPLAN-34A included psychological warfare, agent infiltration into North Vietnam, and small raids along the coast of the Gulf of Tonkin. However, cross-border operations into Laos and Cambodia were not allowed. That was still CIA territory.[11] 

Online Charles Collins

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Re: Operation Tailwind
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2023, 01:13:00 PM »
Here’s another snip that seems to me to be “right on the money”:


On 10 August Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving President Lyndon Johnson a blank check “to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force,” to prosecute the conflict.[12]  But it was an election year, and LBJ was running against conservative Barry Goldwater who he painted as a war monger, so he did nothing. In October 1964 Johnson even said “… we are not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.” Five months later, having won the election, the Marines landed in Da Nang, and the war genie was out of the bottle.



LBJ was “toeing the JFK line” until he was “given his own mandate” on Election Day…
« Last Edit: January 28, 2023, 01:22:50 PM by Charles Collins »

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Re: Operation Tailwind
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2023, 01:13:00 PM »


Online Steve M. Galbraith

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Re: Operation Tailwind
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2023, 03:03:11 PM »
Here’s another snip that seems to me to be “right on the money”:


On 10 August Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving President Lyndon Johnson a blank check “to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force,” to prosecute the conflict.[12]  But it was an election year, and LBJ was running against conservative Barry Goldwater who he painted as a war monger, so he did nothing. In October 1964 Johnson even said “… we are not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.” Five months later, having won the election, the Marines landed in Da Nang, and the war genie was out of the bottle.



LBJ was “toeing the JFK line” until he was “given his own mandate” on Election Day…
He was also following JFK's policy until the situation changed so dramatically after Diem's overthrow that he no longer could do so. McNamara pointed out in his retrospective book on Vietnam that the Kennedy Administration had a contradictory policy. Once those contradictions emerged - the South could no longer defend itself, it needed outside help to prevent a situation that would threaten US security - then LBJ had to alter course. He could either send in troops or surrender the South to the North with all of the consequences. He really inherited an impossible situation, an impossible policy, from JFK. Maybe after his election he should have thrown it out; but he didn't. Or couldn't.

Here's McNamara's explanation:

« Last Edit: January 28, 2023, 03:56:36 PM by Steve M. Galbraith »

Online Charles Collins

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Re: Operation Tailwind
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2023, 03:59:23 PM »
He was also following JFK's policy until the situation changed so dramatically after Diem's overthrow that he no longer could do so. McNamara pointed out in his retrospective book on Vietnam that the Kennedy Administration had a contradictory policy. Once those contradictions emerged - the South could no longer defend itself using its own forces; it needed outside help - then LBJ had to alter course. He could either send in troops or surrender the South to the North with all of the consequences. He really inherited an impossible situation, an impossible policy, from JFK. Maybe after his election he should have thrown it out; but he didn't. Or couldn't.

Here's McNamara's explanation:





Steve, have you read James W. Douglass’ “JFK and the Unspeakable”? I received a copy of it for Christmas and have only read the first 25% or so of it. I do not agree with Douglass’ idea that JFK was killed because of it, but, so far, he makes a good case for JFK’s peace-making philosophy. Here’s an excerpt for example:

While Ellsberg was trying to figure out JFK’s odd stand, he had the opportunity to raise the question in a conversation with Robert Kennedy. As a U.S. senator in 1967, Kennedy had invited Ellsberg, a Pentagon analyst, to talk with him in his office about a mutual concern, the escalating war in Vietnam. Ellsberg had boldly seized the chance to question RFK about JFK’s decision making in 1961. Why, Ellsberg asked him, had President Kennedy rejected both ground troops and a formal commitment to victory in Vietnam, thereby “rejecting the urgent advice of everyone of his top military and civilian officials”? 78

Robert Kennedy answered that his brother was absolutely determined never to send ground combat units to Vietnam, because if he did, the U.S. would be in the same spot as the French—whites against Asians, in a war against nationalism and self-determination.

Ellsberg pressed the question: Was JFK willing to accept defeat rather than send troops?

RFK said that if the president reached the point where the only alternatives to defeat were sending ground troops or withdrawing, he intended to withdraw. “We would have handled it like Laos,” his brother said. 79

Ellsberg was even more intrigued. It was obvious to him that none of President Kennedy’s senior advisors had any such conviction about Indochina. Ellsberg kept pushing for more of an explanation for Kennedy’s stand.

“What made him so smart? He asked John Kennedy’s brother.

Writing more than thirty years after this conversation, Ellsberg could still feel the shock he had experienced from RFK’s response:

“Whap! His hand slapped down on the desk. I jumped in my chair. ‘Because we were there!’ He slammed the desktop again. His face contorted in anger and pain. ‘We were there, in 1951. We saw what was happening to the French. We saw it. My brother was determined, determined never to let that happen to us.’ “ 80

John Kennedy had been there. He had seen it with Robert, when the French troops were doing it. A friend on the spot, Edmund Guillion, had underlined the futility of American combat troops replacing the French. Ellsberg wrote that he believed what Robert Kennedy said, “that his brother was strongly convinced that he should never send ground troops to Indochina and that he was prepared to accept a ‘Laotian solution’ if necessary to avoid that.” 81



I have a copy of one of Ellsberg’s books on the way to me now to try to confirm some of the footnotes in Douglass’ book.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2023, 04:02:51 PM by Charles Collins »

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Re: Operation Tailwind
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2023, 03:59:23 PM »


Online Charles Collins

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Re: Operation Tailwind
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2023, 01:33:46 PM »
Another snip from “Operation Tailwind” by Barry Pencek that I think applies to those of us who try to understand the enormous amount of information that is involved in the JFK assassination case:


Daniel Levitin is a famed psychologist and New York Times bestselling author of A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age. He says the first thing anyone needs to do when considering information or data is to check that it passes a “plausibility test.” Does it make sense?





Online Charles Collins

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Re: Operation Tailwind
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2023, 02:58:43 PM »


Steve, have you read James W. Douglass’ “JFK and the Unspeakable”? I received a copy of it for Christmas and have only read the first 25% or so of it. I do not agree with Douglass’ idea that JFK was killed because of it, but, so far, he makes a good case for JFK’s peace-making philosophy. Here’s an excerpt for example:

While Ellsberg was trying to figure out JFK’s odd stand, he had the opportunity to raise the question in a conversation with Robert Kennedy. As a U.S. senator in 1967, Kennedy had invited Ellsberg, a Pentagon analyst, to talk with him in his office about a mutual concern, the escalating war in Vietnam. Ellsberg had boldly seized the chance to question RFK about JFK’s decision making in 1961. Why, Ellsberg asked him, had President Kennedy rejected both ground troops and a formal commitment to victory in Vietnam, thereby “rejecting the urgent advice of everyone of his top military and civilian officials”? 78

Robert Kennedy answered that his brother was absolutely determined never to send ground combat units to Vietnam, because if he did, the U.S. would be in the same spot as the French—whites against Asians, in a war against nationalism and self-determination.

Ellsberg pressed the question: Was JFK willing to accept defeat rather than send troops?

RFK said that if the president reached the point where the only alternatives to defeat were sending ground troops or withdrawing, he intended to withdraw. “We would have handled it like Laos,” his brother said. 79

Ellsberg was even more intrigued. It was obvious to him that none of President Kennedy’s senior advisors had any such conviction about Indochina. Ellsberg kept pushing for more of an explanation for Kennedy’s stand.

“What made him so smart? He asked John Kennedy’s brother.

Writing more than thirty years after this conversation, Ellsberg could still feel the shock he had experienced from RFK’s response:

“Whap! His hand slapped down on the desk. I jumped in my chair. ‘Because we were there!’ He slammed the desktop again. His face contorted in anger and pain. ‘We were there, in 1951. We saw what was happening to the French. We saw it. My brother was determined, determined never to let that happen to us.’ “ 80

John Kennedy had been there. He had seen it with Robert, when the French troops were doing it. A friend on the spot, Edmund Guillion, had underlined the futility of American combat troops replacing the French. Ellsberg wrote that he believed what Robert Kennedy said, “that his brother was strongly convinced that he should never send ground troops to Indochina and that he was prepared to accept a ‘Laotian solution’ if necessary to avoid that.” 81



I have a copy of one of Ellsberg’s books on the way to me now to try to confirm some of the footnotes in Douglass’ book.



My signed copy of Daniel Ellsberg’s “Secrets - A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers” arrived. I checked out the footnotes in the above snip from “JFK and the Unspeakable” by James Douglass. And I found that Daniel Ellsberg does write those things. However, James Douglass conveniently leaves out any mention of what Ellsberg says in the following two paragraphs (which are located right along with the other information).

. I pressed him [RFK] for more. In late 1964 and early 1965 it looked to the same advisers as if U.S. ground combat involvement were now essential to avoid defeat in the short run. Yet at that point it would have been even harder politically to get out or to accept defeat than in 1961. What would Kennedy have done if he had lived?

Bobby answered carefully, in a way that made what he said more credible: “Nobody can say for sure what my brother would actually have done, in the actual circumstances of 1964 or ‘65. I can’t say that, and even he couldn’t have said that in ‘61. Maybe things would have gone just the same as they did. But I do know what he intended. All I can say is that he was absolutely determined not to send ground units.”



As we can see, biased authors of books tend to only include information which tends to promote their ideas. They omit the information which they do not want the reader to see. I remember reading the above quote by RFK, but I didn’t remember that the source was Daniel Ellsberg. I am looking forward to reading Ellsberg’s book so that I can see what he has to say in it’s entirety…

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Re: Operation Tailwind
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2023, 02:58:43 PM »


Online Charles Collins

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Re: Operation Tailwind
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2023, 08:28:28 PM »
A couple more snips from “Operation Tailwind” by Barry Pencek that I think provide valuable lessons for us who are interested in the JFK assassination:

The broadcast affected everyone at CNN. On 10 July, Ted Turner spoke to the Television Critics Association in Pasadena. “His voice cracking with emotion, the CNN founder recalled his father’s suicide and the messy breakup of his own first two marriages – and said nothing matched the remorse he felt over the “Valley of Death” fiasco.”[83]



The bottom line was that the CNN fiasco “has helped drive the press’s credibility to what may be a record low.” Newsweek conducted a poll and asked: “In competition for ratings and profits, have the news media gone too far in the direction of entertainment and away from reporting?” Seventy-six percent of respondents said: Yes.