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Valor on Koh Tang and the Recapture of the SS Mayaguez
  • ISBN/SKU: 9781591149743
  • Binding: Hardcover & eBook
  • Era: 20th Century
  • Number of Pages: 256
  • Subject: History
  • Date Available: June 2011
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Full Description:

A hastily conceived joint operation to recover the American container ship, Mayaguez, and her crew that had been seized by the Khmer Rouge off the Cambodian coast in 1975 was plagued by inaccurate intelligence and a micro-managed command structure that extended to the Oval Office. This book focuses on the 200 Marines, fresh out of boot camp, sent in to rescue a crew that wasn't there. Briefed to expect minimal resistance on Koh Tang Island, instead they found approximately 250 heavily armed Khmer Rouge combat veterans.  An intense battle ensued and as a result of that 14 hour battle, four Air Crosses and a Navy Cross were awarded, 41 U.S. servicemen lost their lives and three Marines were left behind. In the valor demonstrated by these young Marines on Koh Tang, however, the United States regained a small bit of luster to a reputation tarnished by its withdrawal from Cambodia and Vietnam.

James E. Wise Jr., a former naval aviator and intelligence officer, and Scott Baron, a U.S. Army veteran, are coauthors of Dangerous Games, The Navy Cross, and The Silver Star.

Praise for The 14-Hour War

“An excellent, well-edited and mostly first-person account of yet another White House-directed military catastrophe…Another brave and valuable effort from the Naval Institute Press.”


“An excellent, well-edited and mostly first person account of yet another White House directed military catastrophe. Another brave and valuable effort from the Naval Institute Press.”

Baird Maritime, Australia

“Wise and Baron’s writing style is factual and straightforward, which makes the book easy to read. In the end, it is a cautionary tale about ‘come as you are warfare.’ Because of its personal recollections, I recommend the book to those readers interested in the Mayaguez incident.”

Military Review, January-February 2013

“Wise and Baron’s operational history juxtaposes well with those of Wetterhahn and other scholars (including this reviewer) who address different aspects of the Mayaguez seizure in more detail. An excellent sset to a maritime or military history course, the book would also be useful in a class about the Vietnam War.”

The Northern Mariner, April 2012

“A fascinating, if worrying read.”

Warship 2012

“…Wise and Baron skillfully interweave personal accounts and official records to tell a riveting, heroic, and yet tragic story of the “14-hour war” that has been forgotten by most Americans. Ill-fated as this battle was, American valor and self-sacrifice abounded, and the authors pay appropriate respect to those who fought. This is an invaluable book for anyone interested in the Vietnam War, the Ford presidency, or American military history.”

The Journal of America’s Military Past, Spring/Summer 2012

“The action is told logically and concisely, with complete maps that dovetail perfectly with the narrative. Separating the reminiscences prevents their interfering with the flow of the larger story and vice versa, allowing the reader to experience each without losing the thread of either. Simply put, this book has no flaws: this is how history should be written.”

Modern War, September-October 2012

“Well written…”

Sea History, Spring 2012

“A tough, knotty book handled with care and authority by two astute historians, this carefully reconstructed account of a brutal brief combat well serves to demonstrate how a badly bruised military establishment skillfully managed to polish its tarnished image at a low point in American history.”

Sea Power, March 2012

"What makes the authors' account really come to life is the recollections from individuals who participated in the operation, especially from Em Son, the Khmer Rouge officer who led the enemy force on Koh Tang."

Military Heritage, December 2011

“[Wise and Baron]  tell their story well, using many long, first-person recollections of those who took part in the fighting on Koh Tang Island.”

VVA Veteran, October 27, 2011,

“The heart of this book is the first-person accounts from a range of participants in the action, which was marked by intelligence failures and micromanagement.”

Seapower, November 2011

“[A] welcome contribution to military history shelves.”

The Midwest Book Review, July 2011

“Known as the ‘Last Battle of the Vietnam War,’ the ill-advised assault on tiny Koh Tang Island was hastily planned, poorly executed, and resulted in the deaths of 41 American servicemen. The last names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial are from this almost-forgotten operation. For the first time, authors Baron and Wise concisely and accurately relate the events of that bloody day from the perspective of the actual veterans who fought it. If not for the heroic efforts of the young Marines thrust into this ill-advised rescue operation and the extraordinary gallantry of the Air Force crews who rescued them, there would be many more names on ‘The Wall.’”

—Daniel J. Hoffman, 2nd Lieutenant, USMC, president of Koh Tang Mayaquez Veterans Organization

“Wise and Baron do an outstanding job of telling the story from the point of view of the actual Marine, Air Force, and Navy men who were there. . . . They tell the story like it was. They do not pull punches in taking the words and memories from the men and eloquently put it all together. The personal accounts of the men add value, insight, and a memorial for those who served, fought, and died during the recovery of the SS Mayaguez and the battle of Koh Tang. It shows the real human cost of war. This book will be a great historical resource because of its honesty, and it will be used as a reference work for case studies in leadership and ethics in combat. Well done. The book is excellent.”

—Lt. Cdr. Thomas K. Noble Jr., USN (Ret.), awarded the Bronze Star for his actions in recovering Marines from Koh Tang

James E. Wise, Jr., Captain, U.S. Navy (Ret.) became a naval aviator after graduation from Northwestern University in 1953. He served as ship's Intelligence Officer onboard the aircraft carrier USS America (CVA-66) during the 1967 Six Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors--and later in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War. He subsequently commanded various naval intelligence units. Since retirement from the Navy, Captain Wise has held several senior executive posts in private sector companies. Known for his strong ties to actors in Hollywood, Mr. Wise has written and co-authored more than a dozen books, many of them featuring stories of movie actors who served in the armed forces. They include the Naval Institute Press titles Stars in Blue, Stars in the Corps, and International Stars at War.

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Events and Conferences

Meet the Author & Book Signings
16-20 May, "37th Koh Tang/Mayaguez Veterans Organization Reunion," Camden Hotel & Conference... Read More
Meet the Author & Book Signings
16-20 May, "37th Koh Tang/Mayaguez Veterans Organization Reunion," Camden Hotel & Conference... Read More
Live Radio Interview
2:00pm Pacific, w/host Rod Utech, POW/MIA Radio, co/ The American Freedom Network / http://www.... Read More
Live Radio Interview
2:00pm Pacific, w/host Rod Utech, POW/MIA Radio, co/ The American Freedom Network / http://www.... Read More
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