EXPENDABLE ELITE by Lt. Col. Dan Marvin
This is the Vietnam War memoir of a U.S. Lt. Col. Green Beret. As a memoir, it is quite competently, if not remarkably written. It is also impeccably edited, and this reader would guess that this superior level of editing would probably be attributable to Kris Millegan and his feisty Trine Day Publishing Company in whom this reader holds much esteem. The account is dialogue driven with the dialogue far exceeding the narrative in word count, and of course nobody is ever going to remember 290-some-odd pages of exact conversations between multiple officers, soldiers, and CIA spooks that happened 50-some-odd years ago, so the reader is going to have to suspend that little twinge of initial disbelief that’s going to come up at the sight of this–at least this reader did. Indeed, I do wish this story had been told with much more narrative and much less dialogue, for I think that is one major difference separating the competent memoirs from the remarkable.
Many excellent photographs are provided herein which corroborate the author’s account. Further, the author seems to be a man of high integrity, and, I admit it, this reader can’t help but appreciate when he relates that, some years after the Vietnam War, in the cab of a U-Haul truck with his young daughter by his side, he became a KJB-reading believer in Jesus Christ.
This memoir is indeed most remarkable overall for the sole reason of “Operation Snuff Crown.” That is the name of a top secret mission that was supposed to have happened but never was completed. Several months before the U.S. to this day admits that U.S. forces were fighting in Cambodia, the author was already fighting in Cambodia, and he was then supposed to have led a group of other Green Berets and native Vietnamese soldiers on an extremely dangerous secret mission into Cambodia in order to assassinate one Prince Sihanouk. The author was being “asked” by the C.I.A. to carry out the mission. But it was June of 1966 of the war, and the author and the soldiers around him–both American and Vietnamese–all knew the preposterous truth that the U.S. government was knowingly, illogically, allowing the enemy to maintain bases of sanctuary and aid directly across the Cambodian border. So a young “Dangerous” Dan Marvin evidently stood up to the manipulative C.I.A. liason and demanded that the U.S. government first permit the removal of the enemy bases of sanctuary in Cambodia before he and his forces would carry out the near-suicidal assassination mission. Naturally, the C.I.A. did not take too kindly to the young Green Beret’s temerity, so they did not fulfill any requests, and so the assassination of Prince Sihanouk was memory-holed and never carried out; and then Marvin’s career quickly began to suffer as a result, while many loyal South Vietnamese troops suffered horrendously when the C.I.A. petulantly and treacherously abandoned them; finally, many years later, Daniel Marvin’s battles were to begin again in earnest, only they would be legal battles this time.
The account provides a rare, first-hand insight into how the C.I.A. duplicitously operates upon modern U.S. and allied soldiers in time of combat. In the author’s own words, the C.I.A. “uses” such brave, loyal, young men and then throws them out like “used condoms.”
Yes, that about sums it up nicely.
Rating: Δ Δ Δ Δ