Republished from Dec 20th 2009;
I was in Vermont teaching ROTC during Operation Just Cause. When I went to bed on December 19th, I’d heard the news that a large number of transport aircraft had just left Fort Bragg, and I never thought they were headed to Panama. The following morning I woke my Panamanian wife to tell her we were at war. One of my cadets had a brother in the 82d and called to ask what was going on – like I’d know.
My brother-in-law was a sergeant in the Panama National Guard (which was actually the federal troops under Noriega) – he decided not to go to work that day and reported in when Noriega was finally taken in to custody. He retired from the Panama Defense Force three years ago. My nephew is a corporal in the PDF’s Traffic Police.
My mother-in-law had gone to school with Noriega and 12 years earlier, when he was a lieutenant colonel, had asked him to help get me released from the local jail (named Carcel Modelo) when I was jailed on some trumped-up kidnapping charges. He didn’t help, and I was released after two weeks with no charges brought against me.
So we go back every year, and I’ve never noticed any animosity towards Americans. Of course, it helps that they have the highest standard of living in Central America, much of it because of American tourists and the willingness we have to spend a lot of money there (they still use the dollar, but they call it a Balboa). They’re generally glad that Noriega is gone, some of them miss the Americans, but they’re doing well enough on their own.
A salute to the fallen of Just Cause;
Staff Sgt. Larry Barnard 3/75th Rangers Hallstead, Pa.
Pfc. Roy D. Brown Jr. 3/75th Rangers Buena Park, Calif.
Pvt. Vance T. Coats
82nd Airborne DivisionC 1/508th Abn 193rd Great Falls, Mont.
Spec. Jerry S. Daves 82nd Airborne. Division Hope Mills,N.C.
Sgt. Michael A. Deblois
82nd Airborne DivisionC 1/508th Abn 193rd Dubach, La.
Pfc. Martin D. Denson 82nd Airborne Division Abilene,Texas
Pfc. William D. Gibbs 7th Infantry Division. Marina, Calif.
Spec. Phillip S. Lear 2/75th Rangers Westminster, S.C.
Spec. Alejandro Manriquelozano* 82nd Airborne Division Lauderhill, Fla.
Pfc. James W. Markwell 1/75th Rangers Cincinnati, Ohio
Cpl. Ivan M. Perez 5th Infantry Division Pawtucket, R.I.
Pfc. John M. Price 2/75th Rangers Conover, Wis.
Pfc. Scott L. Roth 89th Military Police Brigade Killeen, Texas
Pvt. Kenneth D. Scott 5th Infantry Division Princeton, W.Va.
1st Lt. John R. Hunter 160th Aviation Victor, Montana
CWO2 Wilson B. Owens 160th Aviation Myrtle Beach,S.C.
CWO2 Andrew P. Porter 7th Infantry Division Saint Clair, Mich.
Pvt. James A. Taber Jr. 82nd Airborne Division Montrose, Colo.
Lt. jg John Connors Special Warfare Group Arlington, Maine
BM1 Chris Tilghman Special Warfare Group Kailua, Hawaii ENC
Donald McFaul Special Warfare Group Deschutes,Ore.
TM2 Issac G. Rodriguez III Special Warfare Group Missouri City,Texas
Cpl. Garreth C. Isaak 2nd Marine Division home town unknown.
Another of our “wars of imperialism” in which we didn’t occupy or annex the country. When will we learn to get it right?