Operation Frequent Wind

It was 35 years ago today . . .

Operation Frequent Wind . . . as told by Chris Woods, Crew Chief of Swift 2-2.

“Gentlemen, start your engines.” The laconic command copied from the Indianapolis 500 auto races, echoed from the 1MC, the public-address system of the U.S.S. Hancock. Moments later, the Commanding Officer of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463, LtCol. Herbert Fix, lifted his CH-53A Sea Stallion off the deck of the aging carrier. When the other seven choppers in his squadron had left the deck, they fluttered off in a tight formation through blustery winds and dark, ominous rain clouds that hovered over the South China Sea. Operation “Frequent Wind,” the emergency evacuation of the last Americans in Saigon was under way.

The rescue operation had been delayed as long as possible-too long, in the view of many Pentagon officials. In recent weeks 44 U.S. Navel vessels, 6,000 Marines, 120 Air Force combat and tanker planes and 150 Navy planes had been moved into the area. Nevertheless, Secretary of State, Henry Kissenger and the U.S. ambassador in Saigon, Graham Martin, argued that the final withdrawal of the American community would probably set off a wave of panic in Saigon and hasten the fall of the South Vietnamese government.

During the preceding eight days, U.S. planes had evacuated almost 40,000 American and South Vietnamese refugees from Tan Son Nhut airbase near Saigon. By last week, the airlift was growing increasingly dangerous. Artillery shells and rockets closed Tan Son Nhut airport Monday morning, April 28, 1975. The next day, an U.S. C-130 transport was hit by a rocket on the runway and burst into flames as the crew escaped. A short time later, two Marine Corporals, Cpl. N. McMahon of Massachusetts and LCpl. D. Judge of Iowa, guarding the US defense attache’s compound at Tan Son Nhut, were killed by Communist artillery.

News of the destruction of the C-130 and the Marines’ deaths reached President Ford during a meeting with his energy and economic advisers. He scribbled a note to the deputy director of the National Security Council, LtGen. Brent Scowcroft: “We’d better have a NSC meeting at 7.”

Plainly, evacuation by commercial flights, by military airplanes or by sea was no longer feasible. The security advisers discussed whether conditions might permit a resumption of the military airlift. If not, they would have to go a fourth option, the riskiest of all: evacuation by Marine helicopters. Scarcely two hours after the meeting ended with no decision, Ford learned that two C-130s attempting to land at Tan Son Nhut had been waved off; the airport was blocked by thousands of panicky South Vietnamese, by then all of Ford’s advisers, including Martin agreed that it had to be “Option Four.” At 10:45 p.m., the President ordered Operation Frequent Wind to begin.

Kissinger telephoned Ford to report that a fleet of 81 helicopters was about to embark on its mission, then, at 1:08 a.m. Tuesday, he called again with the news that the evacuation had begun. In Saigon, the center of activity for much of the day was the landing at Tan Son Nhut airport, a tennis court near the defense attache’s compound. Landing two at a time, the helicopters unloaded their squads of Marines- 860 in all, who reinforced the 125 Marines already on the scene- and quickly picked up evacuees.

As the operation continued, many helicopters came under fire. Most evacuees sat in cold panic as their choppers took off. “For the next three minutes as we gained altitude,” reported TIME Correspondent William Stewart, “we held our breaths.” We knew the Communists had been using heat-seeking missiles, and we were prepared to be shot out of the sky. As I turned around to see who was aboard, Buu Vien, the South Vietnamese Interior Minister, smiled and gave a thumbs-up signal. “Forty minutes later we were aboard the U.S.S. Denver, a landing-platform dock, and safe.”

By nightfall, the mission had been completed at Tan Son Nhut, but the evacuation of the embassy was still to be accomplished. Sheets of rain were pelting the city, and visibility had dropped to barely a mile. Some choppers had to rely on flares fired by Marines within the embassy compound to find landing zones; others homed in on flashlights.

Through Tuesday night, the Vietnamese crowd grew uglier, hundreds tried to scale the ten-foot wall, despite the barbed wire strung on top of it. Marines had to use tear gas and rifle butts to hold back the surging mob. Some screamed, some pleaded to be taken along. Floor by floor, the Marines withdrew toward the roof of the embassy with looters right behind them. Abandoned offices were transformed into junkyards of smashed typewriters and ransacked file cabinets. Even the bronze plaque with the names of the five American servicemen who died in the embassy during the 1968 Tet offensive was torn from the lobby wall. Marines hurled tear-gas grenade into the elevator shaft; at time the air was so thick with tear gas that the helicopter crews on the roof were effected.

By that time, tempers were frayed in Washington as well as in Saigon. Martin had drawn up a list of 500 Vietnamese to be evacuated; he refused to leave until all were safely gone. His delay prompted one Administration official to quip, “Martin got all 600 of his 500 Vietnamese out.” Finally, at 5:00 p.m., Washington time- it was 5:00 a.m., in Saigon- Kissinger told the president that Martin was closing down the embassy and destroying its communications equipment. Minutes later, Lady Ace 09 landed on the embassy helo pad and Ambassador Martin boarded the helicopter as Major James Kean urged the CH-46 pilot Captain Berry, to please be sure someone comes for them. After lift off, Captain Berry broadcast the message; “Lade Ace Zero Nine, Tiger-Tiger-Tiger.”

As many as 130 South Vietnamese planes and helicopter, including F-5 fighter-bombers, transports and attack planes, were reported meanwhile to have reached the US run Utapao airbase in Thailand with about 2,000 soldiers and civilians; already some 1,000 Cambodian refugees were crowed into tents there. Alarmed, the Thai government announced that the refugees had to leave within 30 days and that it would return the planes to “the next government in South Vietnam.” Defense Secretary James Schlesinger firmly advised Bangkok that it should do no such thing; under aid agreements, the equipment cannot be transferred to a new government but must revert to U.S. possession.

By the end of the week, another seven or so South Vietnamese helicopters had landed or tried to land on the U.S. naval vessels. One South Vietnamese pilot set his chopper down on top of another whose blades were still turning. Others ditched their craft and had to be fished out of the water. An American search-and-rescue from the U.S.S. Hancock crashed at sea, and two of its crewmembers, Captain William C. Nystul and First Lieutenant Michael J. Shea were listed and missing, possible the last American fatalities of the war. The Crew Chief, Cpl. Steve Wills and the left gunner were rescued by another CH-46, Swift 0-7, during a zero visibility, night water landing to pick up the two wounded Marines.

“The last days of the evacuation were very hairy indeed,” Ford confesses afterward. “We were never sure whether we were going to have trouble with the mobs.” As Ford noted, the whole operation had gone better “than we had any right to expect.” According to the Defense Department, 1,373 Americans and 5,680 South Vietnamese- many more that the US had originally intended- had been removed. Another 32,000 desperate Vietnamese had managed to make their way by sampan, raft and rowboat to the US ships offshore, bringing to about 70,000 the number evacuated through the week.

For the next three hours the Marines wait, and grow more concerned as they discover no one responds to their radio signals. Finally, after they have resigned that they will not be rescued, and have voted to make an Alamo-like stand, the Marines hear the familiar sound of rotor blades slapping the humid air, a CH-46 Sea Knight, and two AH-1G Cobra escorts come in to view.

Dodging small arms fire and using riot control agents against people attempting to force their way to the rooftop, Major Kean and his 10 Marines boarded a HMM-164 CH-46 helicopter, Swift 2-2. After closing the ramp, Swift 2-2 (piloted by Captains Holden and Cook, and crewed by Sergeant Stan Hughes, left machine gunner and Sergeant Chris Woods, Crew Chief and right gunner) lifted into a hover and the pilots were overcome by CS gas had to set back down on the embassy helo pad. Regaining their composure, Captain Holden lifted the helo and departed the embassy rooftop. The last American helicopter to leave South Vietnam, Caption Holden radioed the last official message from Saigon: Swift 2-2 airborne with 11 passengers, ground security force onboard. Clearing antennas and church steeples, Swift 2-2 picked up the Saigon River and descended to tree top level and followed the river out to the awaiting American Forces. During the flight along the river, Sergeant Woods sighted approximately eight communist tanks, parked side-by-side, waiting until the eighth hour to enter the city. Checking his watch, Major Kean noted that it was two minutes until eight, only 23 hours since the NCOIC of Marine Security Guard, Manila, had called him to relay a message from his wife in Hong Kong that she was pregnant. Only 32 minutes later on that unforgettable day, 30 April 1975, the 11 Marines exited Swift 2-2 onto the deck of the U.S.S. Okinawa.

Disembarking, many on board the Okinawa, the consensus was why so much time had elapsed between the arrival of the Ambassador’s flight and Swift -2-2, well over two hours. Had someone forgotten these Marines were still at the Embassy? The answer is no. The intention was to remove the Ambassador while some security still remained at the Embassy, and then have other helicopters pick up the remaining Marines, but it appears that when Captain Berry’s aircraft transmitted “Tiger is out,” those helicopters still flying, including Captain Walters who was orbiting the Embassy at the time the Ambassador left, thought the mission was complete. This particular transmission had been the preplanned code to indicate when the Ambassador was on board a helicopter outbound to the task force. Having waited so long for his departure, this transmission caused some to conclude that he had departed as part of the last group to leave the Embassy. Captain Berry later explained that radio message ” Tiger-Tiger-Tiger” was the call to be made when the Ambassador was on board and on his was out of Saigon. It had absolutely nothing to do with the cessation of the operation. We had originally planned to bring the Ambassador out on the afternoon of the 29th.”

At this juncture, thinking the mission complete and the Ambassador safe, Captain Walters headed back to the USS Okinawa. Subsequent to his landing at approximately 0700, the command realized that Captain Walters did not have the remaining Marines on board. Due to a misunderstanding and miscommunication, they were still at the Embassy. General Carey immediately recycled the HMM-164 CH-46 “Swift 2-2”, but by this time due to the ships’ offshore movement, the time required to reach the Embassy exceeded 40 minutes. With two hours of fuel on board, the CH-46 did not have any room for error. Swift 2-2 landed on the USS Okinawa with two “LOW FUEL” lights, or 20 minutes of fuel remaining.

To the Marines waiting in Saigon, attempts by the South Vietnamese to reach the rooftop kept them busy and as a consequence, they did not notice the extended gap between the flights. Major Kean later stated that he and his Marine did not become alarmed because they knew that another CH-46 would arrive. “We never had a doubt that our fellow Marines would return and pick us up. They had been doing it all night long.”

See aslo:
OPERATION “FREQUENT WIND,” EVACUATION OF SAIGON, SOUTH VIETNAM
Operation Frequent Wind
Operation Frequent Wind
Operation FREQUENT WIND Photo Gallery
A Vietnam War Lesson
Fall of Saigon revisited
Fall of Saigon

/well, hopefully, as a country, we’ll never have to experience anything like that again

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Dead Cleric Walking

Feel free to shoot on sight if you happen to run across this traitorous bastard, it’s been authorized by a Presidential Finding.

U.S. targets American-born cleric in Yemen: officials

The Obama administration has authorized operations to capture or kill a U.S.-born Muslim cleric based in Yemen, who is described by a key lawmaker as Americas’s top terrorist threat, officials said on Tuesday.

The decision to add Anwar al-Awlaki, of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, to the target list followed a National Security Council review prompted by his status as a U.S. citizen.

Officials said Awlaki directly threatened the United States. “Awlaki is a proven threat,” said a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “He’s being targeted.”

Rep. Jane Harman, chairwoman of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, described Awlaki as “probably the person, the terrorist, who would be terrorist No. 1 in terms of threat against us.”

“He is very much in the sights of the Yemenis, with us helping them,” said Harman, who recently visited Yemen to meet with U.S. and Yemeni officials.

See also:
American-Born Cleric Added to Capture-or-Kill List, Called ‘Terrorist No. 1’
U.S. citizen Anwar Awlaki added to CIA target list
Reports: US OKs radical US-born cleric for death
U.S. Approves Targeted Killing of American Cleric
Report: White House Authorizes Killing of Radical Muslim Cleric
Killing of radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, authorised by US
American born Cleric added to U.S. wanted list
American Al-Qaeda Member Targeted By Two Nations
Awesome: Obama Orders Killing of American Traitor
Meet Al Qaeda’s Lifestyle Coach
Anwar al-Awlaki

With the Yemenis’ full cooperation, I don’t suspect this terrorist scumbag will be alive and/or on the loose too much longer.

/don’t run al-Awlaki, you’ll just die tired

Microsoft Cleans Up After Chinese Hack Of Google, Obama Turns The Other Cheek

Microsoft to release patch for IE hole on Thursday

Microsoft said on Wednesday that it will release on Thursday a patch to fix the latest hole in Internet Explorer that was used in the China-based attack on Google and for which an exploit has been released on the Internet since last week.

The company plans to release the patch as close to 10 a.m. PST on Thursday as possible and host a public Webcast at 1 p.m. PST, according to the security advisory.

Microsoft continues to see limited attacks and has only seen evidence of successful attacks against Internet Explorer 6, according to Jerry Bryant, senior security program manager at Microsoft.

“This is a standard cumulative update, accelerated from our regularly scheduled February release, for Internet Explorer with an aggregate severity rating of Critical,” he said in a statement.

“It addresses the vulnerability related to recent attacks against Google and a small subset of corporations, as well as several other vulnerabilities. Once applied, customers are protected against the known attacks that have been widely publicized,” Bryant said. “We recommend that customers install the update as soon as it is available. For customers using automatic updates, this update will automatically be applied once it is released.”

Vulnerable software is IE 6 on Microsoft Windows 2000 and IE 6, 7, and 8 on supported editions of Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft said.

So, while China continues its relentless, covert cyberwar against U.S. and other Western commercial, government, and military targets, stealing information and secrets and causing economic and national security damage to our computer networks, guess what the Obama administration has decided to do, against the advice of U.S. intelligence officials and experts?

China removed as top priority for spies

The White House National Security Council recently directed U.S. spy agencies to lower the priority placed on intelligence collection for China, amid opposition to the policy change from senior intelligence leaders who feared it would hamper efforts to obtain secrets about Beijing’s military and its cyber-attacks.

The downgrading of intelligence gathering on China was challenged by Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair and CIA Director Leon E. Panetta after it was first proposed in interagency memorandums in October, current and former intelligence officials said.

The decision downgrades China from “Priority 1” status, alongside Iran and North Korea, to “Priority 2,” which covers specific events such as the humanitarian crisis after the Haitian earthquake or tensions between India and Pakistan.

The National Security Council staff, in response, pressed ahead with the change and sought to assure Mr. Blair and other intelligence chiefs that the change would not affect the allocation of resources for spying on China or the urgency of focusing on Chinese spying targets, the officials told The Washington Times.

White House National Security Council officials declined to comment on the intelligence issue. Mike Birmingham, a spokesman for Mr. Blair, declined to comment. A CIA spokesman also declined to comment.

But administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the new policy is part of the Obama administration’s larger effort to develop a more cooperative relationship with Beijing.

See also:
Microsoft Security Bulletin Advance Notification for January 2010
New IE hole exploited in attacks on U.S. firms
Microsoft Scrambles to Patch Browser
Microsoft patching “Google hack” flaw in IE tomorrow
Microsoft Security Bulletin MS10-002 Coming Thursday for IE Zero-Day
Microsoft to issue “Google attack” browser patch
Microsoft to issue emergency IE patch Thursday
Microsoft will issue emergency IE patch on Thursday
China removed as top priority for spies
China no longer top priority for intelligence gathering: White House
‘China no longer top priority for intelligence gathering’
China: Still an Intelligence Priority

Relax, don’t worry, the country is in the very best of hands.

/Obama’s NSC, more than a dozen morons stuffed in a four passenger clown car

Bad News For Israel

After pandering to Jews to get elected to her New York Senate seat, Hillary, now Obama’s Secretary of State, is criticizing Israel in no uncertain terms.

Clinton warns Israel over delays in Gaza aid

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has relayed messages to Israel in the past week expressing anger at obstacles Israel is placing to the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. A leading political source in Jerusalem noted that senior Clinton aides have made it clear that the matter will be central to Clinton’s planned visit to Israel next Tuesday.

Ahead of Clinton’s visit, special U.S. envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is expected to issue a sharply worded protest on the same matter when he arrives here Thursday.

“Israel is not making enough effort to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza,” senior U.S. officials told Israeli counterparts last week, and reiterated Washington’s view by saying that “the U.S. expects Israel to meet its commitments on this matter.”

See also:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to pledge $900M in aid to Gaza on 1st visit to Mideast
Clinton Bashed By Some NYC Jewish Leaders
Jewish Leaders Blast Clinton Over Israel Criticism

Now, why would Israel possibly be concerned about aid moving into Gaza?

The money will be channeled through UN and other bodies and will not be distributed via the militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza

You see, the aid is being distributed by the U.N. there’s no way it could possibly end up in the hands of Hamas, right? What could possibly go wrong?

UNRWA suspends aid to Gaza after Hamas again seizes supplies

UNRWA informed the IDF on Friday it is suspending humanitarian aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip after Hamas stole supplies it had transferred to the Palestinian territory.

The seizure of 200 tons of supplies, included flour and other staples, took place on Thursday night. In response, UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency) officials informed the IDF’s Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration that it was suspending the deliveries until further notice.

See also:
Hamas steals blankets, food from U.N. warehouse
U.N. Accuses Hamas of Stealing Aid
Hamas confiscates U.N. Gaza aid
Hamas Stealing Food and Medicine Sent By International Donors
Hamas police accused of stealing aid

And what does Hamas do with the supplies they steal, the humanitarian aid intended for the displaced population of Gaza? Why, they sell the aid to buy more weapons to attack Israel with of course!

In Gaza, the criminal Hamas government has been caught red handed time and again stealing international aid – either selling it back to the people to fund their war crimes, or diverting it directly to their guerilla terrorist forces. And Hamas keeps firing rockets into Israeli towns using their own human shields every day. And the smuggling tunnels bring in more weapons all the time.

See also:
Fixing UNRWA: Repairing the UN’s Troubled System of Aid to Palestinian Refugees
UN Relief and Works Agency

So, why is the Obama administration criticizing and pressuring Israel to go against her own self interest and allow aid to pour into Gaza via the U.N. when the U.N. itself admits that it can’t keep the aid out of the hands of Hamas? Good question, bad news for Israel. But wait, there’s more.

Former US envoy to Kingdom named to top intelligence post

The appointment by the Obama administration of Charles “Chas” Freeman as chairman of the National Intelligence Council on Thursday caused a real brouhaha in Washington.

Freeman served as US ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Gulf War and has major expertise regarding China. His appointment brought praise from many but criticism from elements of the pro-Israeli community and pro-Israeli Congressmen.

Pro-Israeli publications are attacking his appointment as something close to betrayal — Why? He’s been called everything from “a Saudi puppet,” “Chas of Arabia” to being “linked to Saudi cash.”

The “link” goes back to 2007, when as president of the Washington-based Middle East Policy Council (MEPC) he accepted a $1 million donation from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal for the council.

Not only is he is being attacked for being pro-Saudi, but also for his calls for a more balanced US foreign policy between Israel and the Arab world.

Back in 2007, Freeman addressed the pro-Israeli Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs, and said: “Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians; it strives instead to pacify them.”

The primary reason America confronts a terrorism problem today, he continued, is “the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by an Israeli occupation that is about to mark its fortieth anniversary and shows no sign of ending.”

The Wrong Man For The Job

National Security: Imagine one of China’s and Saudi Arabia’s mouthpieces in America writing intelligence reports for the White House. Meet Chas Freeman, who will soon fill all three roles.

National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair has named Freeman to head his council of advisers, an influential post that, regrettably, does not require Senate confirmation.

As National Intelligence Council chairman, Freeman will serve as a key intelligence adviser to President Obama and will prepare his daily briefings and the all-important National Intelligence Estimate on foreign threats.

The job demands an uncompromising objectivity that Freeman can’t possibly deliver, given his conflicts of interest involving two nations potentially hostile to the U.S.

Freeman for years has showed an almost slavish zeal in defending Riyadh and Beijing from well-deserved criticism. This has undermined Israel and Taiwan, both key American allies.

See also:
Obama’s intelligence pick linked to Saudi Arabia
Freeman confirmed in intelligence job
Amb. Chas. W. Freeman, Jr.
Middle East Policy Council
National Intelligence Council

So why would Obama allow the appointment of someone so blatantly anti-Israel to advise him and prepare his daily intelligence briefings? Good question, bad news for Israel. But wait, there’s more.

Samantha Power Joining Obama Team

Samantha Power, who famously called Hillary Clinton a “monster,” is going to get a key spot on President Obama’s National Security Council team.

See also:
Samantha Power to the NSC
Samantha Power ’99 to join National Security Council
Samantha Power to join National Security Council team
Will Samantha Power have a role in giving aid to Hamas?
Appointment of Power angers some Jews
National Security Council

Of course calling Hillary Clinton a monster isn’t the only statement Samantha Power is famous for. She’s also famous for calling for the U.S. invasion of Israel.

Speaking truth to Power

Power made her most problematic statement in 2002, in an interview she gave at Berkeley. The interviewer asked her this question:

Let me give you a thought experiment here, and it is the following: without addressing the Palestine-Israel problem, let’s say you were an advisor to the President of the United States, how would you respond to current events there? Would you advise him to put a structure in place to monitor that situation, at least if one party or another [starts] looking like they might be moving toward genocide?

Power gave an astonishing answer:

What we don’t need is some kind of early warning mechanism there, what we need is a willingness to put something on the line in helping the situation. Putting something on the line might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import; it may more crucially mean sacrificing—or investing, I think, more than sacrificing—billions of dollars, not in servicing Israel’s military, but actually investing in the new state of Palestine, in investing the billions of dollars it would probably take, also, to support what will have to be a mammoth protection force, not of the old Rwanda kind, but a meaningful military presence. Because it seems to me at this stage (and this is true of actual genocides as well, and not just major human rights abuses, which were seen there), you have to go in as if you’re serious, you have to put something on the line.

Unfortunately, imposition of a solution on unwilling parties is dreadful. It’s a terrible thing to do, it’s fundamentally undemocratic. But, sadly, we don’t just have a democracy here either, we have a liberal democracy. There are certain sets of principles that guide our policy, or that are meant to, anyway. It’s essential that some set of principles becomes the benchmark, rather than a deference to [leaders] who are fundamentally politically destined to destroy the lives of their own people. And by that I mean what Tom Friedman has called “Sharafat” [Sharon-Arafat]. I do think in that sense, both political leaders have been dreadfully irresponsible. And, unfortunately, it does require external intervention…. Any intervention is going to come under fierce criticism. But we have to think about lesser evils, especially when the human stakes are becoming ever more pronounced.

Now why would Obama have someone who thinks about invading Israel as one of his closest foreign policy advisors? Good question, bad news for Israel.

/if you’re starting to get the picture that electing Barack Obama as President of the United States is bad news for Israel, you might just be onto something