One Day Too Long

Top Secret Site 85 and the Bombing of North Vietnam

Timothy N. Castle

Columbia University Press

One Day Too Long

Pub Date: May 2000

ISBN: 9780231103176

368 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $36.00£30.00

Pub Date: February 1999

ISBN: 9780231103169

368 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $105.00£88.00

One Day Too Long

Top Secret Site 85 and the Bombing of North Vietnam

Timothy N. Castle

Columbia University Press

One of the Vietnam War's most closely guarded secrets—a highly classified U.S. radar base in the mountains of neutral Laos—led to the disappearance of a small group of elite military personnel, a loss never fully acknowledged by the American government. Now, thirty years later, one book recounts the harrowing story—and offers some measure of closure on this decades-old mystery.

Because of the covert nature of the mission at Lima Site 85—providing bombing instructions to U.S. Air Force tactical aircraft from the "safe harbor" of a nation that was supposedly neutral—the wives of the eleven servicemen were warned in no uncertain terms never to discuss the truth about their husbands. But one wife, Ann Holland, refused to remain silent. Timothy Castle draws on her personal records and recollections as well as upon a wealth of interviews with surviving servicemen and recently declassified information to tell the full story.

The result is a tale worthy of Tom Clancy but told by a scholar with meticulous attention to historical accuracy. More than just an account of government deception, One Day Too Long is the story of the courageous men who agreed to put their lives in danger to perform a critical mission in which they could not be officially acknowledged. Indeed the personnel at Site 85 agreed to be "sheep-dipped"—removed from their military status and technically placed in the employ of a civilian company.

Castle reveals how the program, code-named "Heavy Green," was conceived and approved at the highest levels of the U.S. government. In spine tingling detail, he describes the selection of the men and the construction and operation of the radar facility on a mile-high cliff in neutral Laos, even as the North Vietnamese Army began encircling the mountain. He chronicles the communist air attack on Site 85, the only such aerial bombing of the entire Vietnam War.

A saga of courage, cover-up, and intrigue One Day Too Long tells how, in a shocking betrayal of trust, for thirty years the U.S. government has sought to hide the facts and now seeks to acquiesce to perfidious Vietnamese explanations for the disappearance of eleven good men.
Castle's suspenseful writing style and dogged tenacity penetrate the decades-long US government efforts to hide this shameful event. This authoritative account is also a refreshing departure from the all-too-common practice of describing dubious adventures without documenting sources. Colonel Michael E. Haas, Military Review
Informative, exciting, and sympathetic. Chris Pastilelis, Houston Chronicle
An excellent work that will surely provoke discussion and debate. Many historians will welcome the research into this previously little known area of the Vietnam War. Others will appreciate the author's exposure of what he claims to be government cover-up. Finally, no one will be able to resist the compelling description of a widow who takes on the callous bureaucracy to discover the truth behind her husband's disappearance in Laos The Journal of Military History
Part of the fascination of Castle's book comes from the odyssey he and the families [of the missing men] took inside the ludicrous world of top-secret military information. Steve Weinberg, The Seattle Times
A combination of history, analysis, investigative journalism, and personal crusade focusing on the fate of nine U.S. Air Force personnel missing in action in Laos. The VVA Veteran
An almost perfect example of investigative history not falling over into 'gotcha' journalism. Roland Green, A. L. A. Booklist
An invaluable book about one important incident in the secret war in Laos in 1968 that appears at a most opportune time. Anthony Day, Los Angeles Times
1. Sustained Reprisal
2. "I Wonder If It Is Worth It''
3. Heavy Green
4. "Commando Club''
5. Sowing the Wind, Reaping the Whirlwind
6. Folly at Nam Bac
7. The Heights of Abraham
8. Imminent Threat
9. "Everything to Defeat the U.S. Aggressors.''
10. "One Day Too Long''
11. Deniability
12. Oath of Secrecy
13. An End and a Beginning
14. "The Highest National Priority''
15. Return to the Mountain
16. Hanoi
17. Conclusions

About the Author

Timothy N. Castle served two tours in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, flying over Laos from Nakhon Phanom Air Force Base on thirty-eight combat support missions. Since 1990, he has traveled to Laos frequently as a researcher and senior Department of Defense POW/MIA investigator for Laos, and as a consultant for NBC News. He is senior researcher at the CIA Center for the Study of Intelligence. He is also the author of At War in the Shadow of Vietnam (Columbia).