Time flies is an understatement guys…
All these vivid memories occurred over 50 years ago.
The rescue of the largest number of US hostages in history took place in November 1964. This increasingly obscure, unremembered, unrecognized action occurred in the Congo in “Stanleyville” (now known as Kisangani) about 1300 miles from the mouth of the Congo River. There were the known American victims and many others in jeopardy who were mostly missionaries. Untold numbers of Congolese were massacred. These atrocities and the increasing probability of more… and worse, forced the West, specifically the Americans and the Belgians, to respond.
I was a lone Navy SEAL dispatched to the Congo to organize a navy on Lake Tanganyika, to recruit mercenary personnel, train them to be sailors and formulate and manage the operations. The mission was to interdict the weapons and supplies flowing across the Lake to the Simba Rebels and Che’ Guevara and his thugs in Castro’s first attempt to export their revolution.
Che’, for some unfathomable reason is now an icon of revolt, resistance, disenchantment, and whatever. In truth he was the Devil’s own vainglorious, murderous thug.
The interdiction operation was a success and we almost killed Che’ when he and his gang fled. Che’ then moved on to his just reward in Bolivia, where he was even more ignorant in his assessment of the population and their willingness to follow his grandiose, meaningless zealotry.
When we held the rescue commemoration on the 50th anniversary, hostages that were saved as children came to Miami, from all around the world. The event made the Miami newspaper, but there was no national media coverage. Wow! That was a shocker to me.
Unfortunately, all this will now be forgotten, only to be rediscovered some day by historians, and even the honest ones will not tell it accurately or with the emotions and sensitivities that were so much a part of it all.
J.H. CLASS 29 ST-2