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.”