BOOK REVIEW by Ray Calafell
TIGER FORCE - A True Story of Men and War
by Michael Sallah and Mitch Weiss
I decided to read this book because the advance publicity claimed that the authors, “Pulitzer Prize winners for investigative reporting,” had “uncovered” a story of murder, rape and mayhem in Vietnam that had been “quietly buried” by the powers-that-were. Since the Pulitzer Prize is now handed out to leftists, I thought I should read it in order to prepare myself for answering questions from the Tampa cocktail party-circuit crowd that claims to know so much about a soldier’s experiences in Vietnam and who always take the time to criticize our service at every opportunity. It also piqued my interest when the accolades for the book (right there on the back cover) came from such luminaries of the left (I now call them luciferians) as Seymour Hersh and the authors’ cited authority on war crimes came from the “Winter Soldier Investigation.” Yep, you read it correctly, these two Pulitzer winners got my attention right quick when citing that fraud perpetrated on America . . . but I am getting ahead of myself, so let me begin the analysis so I can give you the diagnosis.
The book details alleged war crimes by a unit founded by now-deceased Colonel David Hackworth when he was with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. Hackworth was not in command at the time that these alleged crimes took place, but the insinuation by the authors is that his fingerprints were somehow all over the unit’s tactics. The same goes for General William Westmoreland. The men that the authors claim performed these atrocities are all, you guessed it, dead. Do you see a pattern here? No wonder the Pulitzer committee saw great journalistic merit in this reporting . . . there is not a living person who can stand up and challenge the authors’ allegations, so therefore, the claims must be true. Since I am also a stickler for a book that cites research sources for its accuracy, I immediately went to the back of the book to check them out. I was not surprised to see that the authors cite nothing of honest value . . . merely make sweeping generalizations without reference to a specific chapter/verse/line. However, they do cite the Winter Soldier Investigation (which we all know was staged political theater of the worst kind). Sorry, but this is not scholarly research and anyone claiming to base their blanket statements on such “research” is a fraud. Getting further into the book, certain glaring mis-statements continue to lead me to suspect that this book is to the Vietnam infantry what Dan Brown’s tome was to the Catholic Church - a pack of lies. For instance, referring to the weapon carried by one of the men whose words are quoted throughout the book, the authors call it a “carbine .15." You remember those, don’t you? Of course, I’m sure he refers to a CAR-15 (as we referred to them). Such careless editing, tsk, tsk, for a Pulitzer winning, hard-hitting, investigative book. Yeah, right. Another little point of contention is the authors’ statement that the men of Tiger Force wore tiger stripe uniforms “without the American flag on the shoulder.” Excuse me? What flag did we ever sew on our uniforms in Vietnam? Continuing on my hair-splitting mission, they refer to a fire mission fired by “50mm gunships.” What? Another good one is the observation by one of the characters arriving in Chu Lai and observing B-52s landing and taking off at the airfield. Sorry, but unless I am missing something here, I recall the airfield at Chu Lai being something like 3,200 feet long and I believe that the take-off roll for a B-52 is something in the range of 7,200 feet. For Pulitzer Prize winners, it seems to me that these two guys are a little short in the research department. There are more faux-facts, but why focus on these items when the simplest observation is that this book is written as if the authors were privy to conversations among the participants. Oops! All of the participants are dead, so where, oh where, did Messrs. Sallah and Weiss obtain this stirring, blood-curdling, Pulitzer Prize-winning dialogue? They claim use of the extensive CID files that resulted in no charges ever being filed, so I suspect they made it up, just like they have made up these tales of daily war crimes and atrocities. At this point I suppose I should give a little more background of the story in the event you, dear reader, wish to waste $25.95 in order to read how really evil we were in the infantry.
The story focuses on Tiger Force, the recon platoon for 1/327 during the first operation of Task Force Oregon, consisting of the 101st Airborne, the 196th LIB and a battalion from the 25th Infantry Division, in the area of operations from Quang Ngai to Danang. The unit was ostensibly created to provide reconnaissance for the 101st as well as to be the lead element in any contact with the enemy. Quoting Hackworth, the authors state the unit was to “out-guerrilla the guerrilla.” Where potential fact begins to distance itself from fiction starts within the first few pages of the book with the authors showing their ignorance of anything military and specifically anything of the Vietnam military as they go on to claim that the 1/327 recon platoon was a Special Force, like the Green Berets. Sorry, boys, but you just messed in your own mess kits by making that particular statement. They also go to great lengths to explain to the reader the evils of the “free-fire zones” as if engaging the enemy we faced in that particular time and place was like conducting a law-enforcement arrest today. These two young punks have no idea . . . no idea, of what our enemy was like, or how they exploited our desires to avoid innocent loss of life. Yet, there they sit in judgment of men that they never met, in situations that they will never experience. I have lost all interest in objectively reviewing this piece of garbage that the leftists among us will now point to as further “proof” of the criminality of the Vietnam War and of all of us who participated in it, who lost friends as a result of it, and who continue to have to educate this uneducable public that surrounds us as to the noble cause we pursued and the treachery that doomed us at home. That treachery spills from the pages of this false witness of a book and tarnishes us all with a taint that will forever follow us . . . to our graves.
Ray Calafell (05/25/06)
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