If he hadn’t wanted to avoid the Marine Corps so badly, retired Capt. Gary Michael ”Mike” Rose might never have been on the secret 1970 operation that earned him the military’s highest award for valor.
On Sept. 11, 1970, a few minutes into the helicopter ride from his southeastern Vietnam base, then-Spc. Rose knew that they weren’t in Vietnam anymore.
“You get on a helicopter and you fly for 45 minutes, an hour west — when you know by helicopter the border’s only five minutes away — you know you’re in Laos,” Rose told Army Times in an Aug. 28 phone interview. ”It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.”
What followed was Operation Tailwind, a four-day battle in support of the Royal Lao Army, creating a diversion aimed at North Vietnamese Army troops.
But Rose didn’t know that at the time, he said, because the mission was classified, and it would remain that way until the late ‘90s.
Most of what