An Open Letter to the American People

An Open Letter to the American People

I am a veteran.  I proudly served this country .   Veterans that survived the
trials that  the Vietnam-Era had given us are now faced with a new challenge.

We ask for no money, we ask for no pity, all we ask for is your support to
obtain the truth.

Those of us that were assigned to, or in support of the US Army Special
Forces, the Green Berets,  on "Operation Tailwind", now stand accused of one
of the most despicable acts that could be committed in any war - Killing
innocent civilians and searching out  American deserters to kill them as well.

I speak of the CNN broadcast of June 7, 1998 , their premier of Newstand, a
"news documentary".   The story was called "Valley of Death", and it told a
tale of using Sarin Nerve gas. The story also told a tale most sinister - that
American Special Forces assigned to the  Special Observations Group or SOG for
short, were infiltrated into Laos in a TOP SECRET operation  known as "
Tailwind" to kill American defectors.

Unfortunately, the shows producers didn't present the true facts; and, in
fact, ignored the factual testimony of the majority of the servicemen that
conducted the operation.

CNN retracted the story one month after it was aired, claiming that they did
not have the facts to support the story. They did not admit that the entire
story was a big lie, only that they could not prove it ("the facts are
unsubstantiated, but the producers feel they were telling the truth" - duh!).

They also haven't  apologized to the American people for slandering our great
Nation, only to those directly associated with the operation, and even that
was qualified - the story was clearly unsubstantiated by the facts they had in
hand.  In fact,  there were no facts that should have allowed the story to air
in the first place.   All the bells and whistles were screaming, but CNN
ignored them - they had a blockbuster story for their premier of Newstand.

The stain on our countries honor and its servicemen now  remains.  What is
required  is  a full admission from CNN that includes the words that the "Show
was a pure fabrication". In addition a follow up presentation ,of unlimited
time is needed  to present the true documented and first hand accounting  of
the actual Tailwind Operation .

We are not Rambos or Jean Claude Van Dam, we are highly trained and motivated
men that willingly went into the service of our Country.   Most are triple
volunteers; the service; Airborne training; and, Special Forces training.

Our Special Forces training taught us how to work in small training groups,
with people from many foreign lands.  We learned their history, customs, and
religions.  Our primary mission was to help them protect themselves. We
provided them with medicine and our team medics held clinics to care for the
people, inoculate against tropical diseases, and teach them hygiene.  We built
houses, electrified hamlets, installed water supplies, and taught them new
farming techniques.  We also taught them to defend themselves, armed them, and
fought  alongside when raiding parties came to enforce their will on these

In time, the regular Army realized that we could perform special missions
because of this training.   That is the reason why so many of the Special
Observations Group (SOG) personnel were Special Forces qualified.

Where is our President, the "Commander-In-Chief ", on this flagrant violation
of Freedom of Speech?   As I recall, one is not allowed to lie or distort the

What about the report promised by the Department of Defense (DOD)?
(It finally came the week of 17 Jul 98 and refuted the CNN "story" as patently

Most of the information on SOG and "Operation Tailwind" is now  declassified
and readily available on the Internet.  I personally found the Command History
of SOG for the period of the operation, September 1970, in less than one hour,
once I started searching  in earnest for Key words such as "national archives,
tailwind, SOG, etc.

Ted Turner apologized profusely during a dinner in LA., saying it was the
worst feeling he had since his Atlanta Braves lost the World Series to the
Yankees.  Why did he not come out and say that the show was full of lies?
Was he gagged by his own lawyers for fear of retaliation by the "Other media
outlets" and lawsuits from those so greviously slandered?  Is CNN now trying
to buy off these brave men so that the truth will never be know?

Reports in our net say they are!  Please feel free to go to our SF Teamhouse, or to see the "other side of
the story".  Yes, retired vets have gained a foothold in cyberspace!

What about the reputation of our Nation - who will defend it against the many
foes that take pleasure in seeing us on the receiving end of  the CNN nerve
gas story.  Those that have actually used it will use this story against us in
future weapons negotiations.



Is this an election year?   Or is it that all of them are on vacation?

Please consider these questions, then write your Congressman or Woman to
petition a hearing to redress a growing slander on this Nation and its
military.  The consequences of not bringing CNN to the "Bar" will be an
erosion of the freedoms that past servicemen and women have freely given their
blood and often paid the ultimate sacrifice.

I don't know about you, but I love my country , was willing to die for it, and
am not ashamed to show it in public.  Can you say the same?

As one of our more famous Vietnam-Era presidents, John F. Kennedy said during
his inaugural speech, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you
can do for your country."

Does anyone still care - I sincerely hope so!

Never again should the veterans of this country allow this to happen.

Thank you, and as we say in Special Forces, De Oppresso Libre
(Free from Oppression)

Walter F. Emerson
CPT, USAR ( honorably discharged -1979)

4255 Brendan Lane
North Olmsted, Ohio 44070
(440) 979-1111

Proudly Served in the following units; 1967- 1975:

539th Engr Det, 1st Special Forces Group (ABN), 1st Special Forces; Okinawa et
2nd Engr Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division; DMZ, South Korea
Co D, 19th SFG (ABN), 1st SF; Rhode Island Army National Guard (RIANG)
Co C, 20th SFG (ABN), 1st SF; RIANG