Cover image for One day too long : top secret site 85 and the bombing of North Vietnam
One day too long : top secret site 85 and the bombing of North Vietnam
Castle, Timothy N. (Timothy Neil)
Publication Information:
New York : Columbia University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiv, 371 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS559.73.L28 C37 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



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.

Author Notes

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).

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Castle's study of a long-buried episode of the Vietnam War is an almost perfect example of investigative history not falling over into "gotcha" journalism. In 1967, the U.S. Air Force covertly and illegally established a radar station in Laos to support strategic bombing of North Vietnam by tactical aircraft. Site 85 enjoyed only limited success, and in 1968, after the air force ignored warnings of a hostile buildup in the area, it was overrun and most of the personnel were killed or became missing in action. After bungling the covert operation, the air force conducted an equally malign cover-up of the fate of the missing men, denying satisfactory resolution to the survivors for many years. The sheer density of facts Castle presents may overwhelm the casual reader and those with not much knowledge of the Vietnam War, but serious students of covert operations and the military in general will devour this significant contribution to Vietnam War historiography. --Roland Green

Library Journal Review

Castle, who served two tours of duty in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, teaches national security studies at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama and is a frequent MIA investigator for the Department of Defense. His book concerns the deployment of a radar site (code-named "Heavy Green") in the supposedly neutral country of Laos. In theory, the site was to provide round-the-clock bombing capability to planes attacking North Vietnam. In fact, the site had hardly been operational before the North Vietnam forces knew of it and took steps to eliminate it. It thus became "bait" to lure the enemy forces where they could be attackedÄalbeit in a neutral country. The men who volunteered to man the site gave up their military commissions, becoming employees of a private military contractor, and were exposed to great dangerÄall for a mission that could not even be acknowledged. Castle does an excellent job of telling the stories of the doomed radar personnel, using interviews with their widows and with surviving servicemen. This is a story that has waited 30 years to be told. Recommended for public and academic libraries.ÄMark E. Ellis, Albany State Univ., GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In late 1967, the US military, with presidential approval, secretly placed a radar system atop a mountain in northeastern Laos, near the border with North Vietnam. The radar system violated the Geneva Accords (1962), which guaranteed Laotian neutrality. In March 1968, North Vietnamese forces assaulted the mountain, capturing or killing 12 Air Force technicians who posed as civilians. The US ambassador in Laos immediately ordered the bombing of the radar site to prevent the North Vietnamese from capturing valuable equipment and to cover up the illegal activity. Castle, a Vietnam veteran and expert on the US war in Laos, has written an authoritative account of this incident. He alleges that the US military has, over the past 30 years, broken faith with the servicemen and their families, concealing from families the true nature of the mission and its disastrous conclusion. And military officials declined to investigate thoroughly whether some of the missing servicemen initially survived the North Vietnamese assault. Castle demands that the US not normalize relations with Vietnam or Laos until there is a full accounting of the missing. Although useful history, this study lacks dispassionate analysis. Recommended. All levels. S. G. Rabe University of Texas at Dallas

Table of Contents

Traditional Chinese Medicine: An Orientation Yin-Yangand the Five Elements
The Zang-FuSystem
The Channel System Etiology
The Cause of Disease Pathogenesis
The Course of Disease Methods of Examination Diagnosis
The Differentiation of Symptom-Complexes