The United States Defence Secretary, Mr. Laird, yesterday (Monday 23 November) explained to a news?
LV Laird and others on rostrum
CU Laird speaks (SOF)
CU Colonel Simon speaks (SOF)
MV Press (NATURAL SOUND)
CU General Manor speaking (SOF)
CU Laird speaking (SOF)
SEQ. 2: LAIRD: "On Friday, November twentieth, shortly after two p.m. Eastern Standard Time, which was about two a.m. in North Vietnam, a small rescue team successfully landed by helicopter at a reported prisoner of war compound at Son Tay, approximately twenty nautical miles west of Hanoi. The operation was under the overall command of two distinguished officers, whom I would like to introduce to you at this time. They are Brigadier General Leroy J. Manor, United States Air Force, who was in overall command of the operation, and Colonel Arthur D. Simon, United States Army, who led the team in the search and rescue attempt. They arrived in Washington early this morning. Operating in darkness Colonel Simon and his men landed, entered and searched the compound where the prisoners of war reportedly were being held. Regrettably, the rescue team discovered that the camp had recently been vacated. No prisoners were located.
SEQ. 4: SIMON: "Our purpose was to get the helicopter in with the troops aboard it safely. We had no idea of bringing it out, it was a confined area. So there was no consideration to the safety of the helicopter so long as it did not damage the people aboard.
REPORTER: "What kind of a helicopter was it, Sir?"
SIMON: "I can't answer that."
REPORTER: "Did you land it in the prison, Sir?"
REPORTER: "Were you flying from an aircraft carrier?"
SIMON: "I can't answer that".
REPORTER: "Did you fire before you landed, Sir fire as you were coming in, or fire from the ground? Or fire only when you reached the ground?"
SIMON: "I think there was a slight amount of ground fire".
SEQ. 6: REPORTER: "General, how many men had you hoped to free by this mission?"
MANOR: "I can't answer the number that we....we had hoped that there would be a considerable number; a good percentage of those that we know the North Vietnamese hold."
REPORTER: "Did you have an alternate target that you might have missed?"
MANOR: "I can't answer that".
REPORTER: "General, is that the so-called 'Hanoi Hilton' you were after?"
MANOR: "I can't answer that"
SEQ. 8: LAIRD: "This is the first sort of mission conducted in North Vietnam on prisoners of war, in....during this war."
REPORTER: "Will there be more missions of this type, Sir?"
REPORTER: "Do you think that the enemy might retaliate against the American PoWs as a result of this mission?"
LAIRD: "I thought that question over very carefully and very thoroughly prior to the time I recommended the mission to the Commander in Chief, our President. One of the things that influenced me greatly was the recent report of prisoners of war dying in our prisoner of war compounds.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The United States Defence Secretary, Mr. Laird, yesterday (Monday 23 November) explained to a news conference in Washington the reasons for a commando-style raid on a prison camp in North Vietnam. Mr. Laird said the raid, conducted on November 20, was organised following reports of American prisoners of war dying in North Vietnamese prison camps.
The mission was under the joint command of Brigadier General Manor of the United States Air Force and Colonel Arthur Simon of the Army. They also attended the news conference to answer reporters' queries concerning the raid.
The troops landed by helicopter in the suspected prison camp only to find it had been vacated, and no prisoners were freed.