Leroy J. Manor - Raid On Son Tay

Raid On Son Tay

From August 8, 1970, to November 21, 1970, Manor served as Commander of a joint Army-Air Force task force whose mission was to rescue United States military personnel held as prisoners of war at Son Tay, North Vietnam. The preliminary planning phase of the operation was given the codename "Polar Circle", the organizational and training phase was named "Operation Ivory Coast", and the execution of the mission codenamed "Operation Kingpin".

The Joint Contingency Task Group was formed in June 1970 after American intelligence had identified Son Tay Prison, near Hanoi, as a prisoner of war detention camp. After five months of planning and rehearsals, the task force deployed to Thailand on November 18. Two nights later the task force flew into North Vietnam. The assault group, led by U.S. Army Capt. Dick Meadows, landed in the prison compound and killed about 50 NVA guards, but found the compound to be otherwise abandoned. Meanwhile, Colonel Arthur D. "Bull" Simons, deputy task force commander, had landed with the support group in an adjacent military school compound, which was teeming with Russian and Chinese soldiers. Simons and his team killed or repelled many of these soldiers, eliminating the principal threat to the assault group. The raiders executed the entire operation in 26 minutes, successfully faced an enemy force of approximately 350 men, and left with only 2 injuries.

Wording of the Distinguished Service Medal citation as presented by President Richard M. Nixon to Manor on 25 November 1970 for his planning of the raid on Son Tay:

“Brigadier General Leroy J. Manor, United States Air Force, distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious service to the United States in a duty of great responsibility while serving as the Commander of a Joint Task Force on 21 November 1970. General Manor commanded the humanitarian force whose mission was to search for and rescue United States military personnel held as prisoners of war deep within the territory of North Vietnam. He conceived a brilliant tactical plan, carefully selected and helped train the volunteers with the necessary expertise to carry it out. Over a period of three months, he repeatedly simulated each phase of the operation, thereby insuring its faultless execution. General Manor’s brilliant talents of command and supervision resulted in a superbly trained joint task force. The mission was daring in concept, and bold in execution. General Manor directed the operation from his command post with the highest degree of professionalism. Despite great hazard, the operation was conducted without the loss of a single American life. The singular efforts and outstanding achievement of General Manor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.”

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