Like the Vietnam War, the Mayaguez Incident is often recalled only for its mistakes and not for the lessons of duty and honor exemplified in the conduct of the men who fought it. This gripping account of the battle for Koh Tang, and the unwitting abandonment of three American marines on her shores, redeems the glory of all who fought to free the captured crew of the Mayaguez-and resolves the fate of the men we left behind. As Wetterhahn shows, in the fog of a hard battle gone wrong, they held high a lantern of courage and faith that illuminated the way home with honor.
Journalist and Vietnam veteran Ralph Wetterhahn has investigated the events surrounding the Mayaguez Incident for six years. Repeated visits to the fated island and tenacious research of the historical record have revealed to him what the Pentagon -- lest Ford's "victory" be tarnished -- would not then disclose: When the last American helicopter flew off the island, three marines still bravely guarding the flank of the American position were left behind. They became the Private Ryans of the Vietnam War, except that no one ever saved them.
For more information on the Mayaguez Incident and the Koh Tang battle visit the website , whose administrators kindly permitted me to use their photographs in this article.