Covert Warrior: Fighting the CIA's Secret War in Southeast Asia and China, 1965-1967

Warner Smith, Author
Warner Smith, Author Presidio Press $24.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-89141-597-8
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Mass Market Paperbound - 272 pages - 978-0-671-01430-8
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Shortly after his graduation from an unnamed Ivy League college in the early 1960s, Smith, who had joined the Naval ROTC, was called to duty. Ten months later, he arrived in Vietnam, as a member of FRAM-16, an elite, CIA-trained unit of 16 men. Lacking uniforms and insignia, the unit was assigned not to fight but to infiltrate enemy areas and gather information. After 20 months, 14 of the 16 had died, while another had been severely wounded by a Claymore mine. This account of Smith's Vietnam days is rich in suspense and adventure, replete with stories of secret intelligence missions that went unrecorded by reporters. Acknowledging that most of his missions were boring and resulted in little action, Smith concentrates on the most important and action-packed forays. On one mission in Cambodia to locate a suspected Vietcong supply line, he and his team instead stumbled across a POW camp; in a scene worthy of Stallone, they rescued the captive Americans. Against nearly unbelievable odds, Smith parachuted alone into southern China to spy on supply routes to North Vietnam in an effort to learn which country was sending SAM missiles to Hanoi. Other chapters chronicle the team's training, early missions and Smith's final mission, to destroy a Vietcong radio tower, which resulted in a back injury to him and the death of his partner. An emotional visit in 1990 to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.-which, Smith says, doesn't include any of his comrades' names-convinced the author to write his spine-tingling story and thus to heal the wounds of his 20 months of hell. (Nov.)
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