Medals Considered for 1975 ‘Mayaguez Incident’

A draft law approved Friday by the lower chamber of the US legislature would award the Vietnam Service Medal to US military personnel who participated in the assault on Cambodia’s Koh Tang island, resulting from the Maya­guez Incident 33 years ago this month.

The provision is part of a draft law approving $531 billion in defense spending for the 2009 fiscal year, which is due to be considered today by the US Senate Armed Forces Committee.

Following the May 12, 1975 capture of the 39-man SS Mayaguez, a US container ship, US Marines and Air Force began a rescue operation during which 41 service personnel died after the ship’s crew had already been released unharmed by their Khmer Rouge captors.

The three-day event marked the last combat operation by US forces in Southeast Asia.

In a statement on his Web site Friday, Congressman Geoff Davis, a Republican from the state of Ken­tucky, said he had added the provision after learning that Marine Private First Class Gary Lee Hall was ineligible for the award.

Hall was one of three Marines mistakenly marooned on Koh Tang island after hours of fierce battle between the US troops and hardened Khmer Rouge forces stationed on the island.

Hall was later captured and executed by the Khmer Rouge.

   (Additional reporting by Eang Mengleng)

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