Just Cause Anniversary

| December 20, 2012 | 12 Comments

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?

Category: Historical

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  1. Poetrooper says:

    An interesting side note to this operation. A month or so after it was over, I was on a Delta flight going somewhere when the flight attendant handed me a Newsweek. In the “Periscope” feature section I was amazed to find a recounting of the rescue of a CIA spy from Noriega’s prison just as the operation was launching. The spy was Kurt Muse who was an old friend from college days at Texas El Paso. In fact, I had taken Kurt and his wife to dinner a few years earlier when I was in Panama on business.

    What was ironic was that within our group of married students who lived in an El Paso apartment complex back in the late 60’s, we were constantly teasing Kurt about being a government spy because he was the only conservative among us at the time.

    Little did we know…

  2. Chip@NASA says:

    I feel old. Has it been that long? 23 years? And here we are at the end of the world.
    How time flies.

  3. RET1SG says:

    Coates and Deblois were assigned to C 1/508th Abn 193rd Inf Bde Ft Kobbe Panama

  4. dnice says:

    Thank you for honoring the Fallen.

    I think our actions in Central/South America often get overlooked in regards to our past experience/lessons learned and applying them to today’s conflicts. More often Bosnia, Phillipines, or Somolia is cited but not Panama, El Salvador or Colombia.

  5. HMA says:

    I was in Bamberg. Germany at the time of the invasion. Many of the Just Cause vets later showed up in my unit. When I reported to the B 6/8 Field Artillery, 7th ID (light) Ft. Ord, in Sept. 91that unit was filled with Panama vets. Interesting to note is they were a Cohort unit. I used the hear some great stories from those fellas. Best unit I ever served in.
    Kindest Regards;

  6. charles w says:

    I was there. 511th MP Co Ft. Drum NY. We were at Ft Clayton.

  7. Ex-PH2 says:

    ‘When will we learn to get it right?’

    Maybe….oh, I don’t know. Maybe no one in DC knows how any more.

  8. Just Plain Jason says:

    In 1995 when I went down there with my NG unit one of the guys in my unit was a Veteran of Operation Just Cause. One day we had some time to go do some sight seeing and tour Panama City, we drove by this building still full of bullet holes he said he did that. I still don’t know if he was bullshitting me or not.

  9. Rindvieh says:

    I was FIST NCO for A 4/17 Inf at Ft. Espinar on the Atlantic side. We secured Espinar (Gulick) then went to Coco Solo then about the 23rd into Colon. ALL stores were completely looted except the Free trade zone. We ended up at the Washington hotel for about a week and patroled a sector along the docks. Then we went to Gatun at the midpoint of the canal did some guard duty and a lot of swimming.

  10. Rindvieh says:

    That would be Gamboa at the canal midpoint

  11. M.Crissinger says:

    I was at the same location that Pfc Scott Roth was KIA. It was in front of the Diablo Heights subdivision- in fornt of Albrook. When my company re-deployed back to Panama, a few of us went there and pid our respects to a fellow platoon member. He was only 19 at the time. Too bad that most people dont even remember that operation any more. I will never forget.

  12. johnalbertrivera@gmail.com says:

    Anyone interested in making a vets homesite and maybe a reunion? Email me, if we get enough lets make it happen! I’d like to do a vacation/tour to where we jumped etcetera, but that’s in the future. What do you all think?

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