In recent months Books in Brief has run reviews of two new books about the Magayguez Incident: The 24-Hour War by James E. Wise, Jr. and Scott Baron, and The Mayaquez Incident by Robert J. Mahoney. Now comes The Last Boarding Party: The USMC and the SS Mayaguez, 1975 (Osprey, 80 pp., $18.95, paper) by Clayton K.S. Chun, an instructor at the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania.
As is the case with other Osprey books, this is a concise account of a military engagement that includes many photographs, maps, charts, and illustrations. Chun provides a clearly written narrative that goes over the details of the combined air, naval, and Marine operations that took placer after the Khmer Rouge seized the S.S. Mayaguez , an American merchant ship, and its crew in international waters on May 12, 1975. He concludes that the operation, which was not without significant mishaps, was a success.
American military forces, Chun says, “demonstrated their ability to conduct a rapid-response mission. Adaptive, creative leadership, along with valor, turned a potential disaster at Koh Tang [Island] into a successful evacuation. All services involved showed an ability to work out problems in spite of conflicting directives caused by higher officials unaware of the full situation.”
The mission “proved a success, ” Chun says, “but the loss of personnel and equipment was costly.”