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Profile: Jim Cathey


Positions that Jim Cathey has held:

  • US Air Force




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Jim Cathey actively participated in the following events:


September 11, 1970-September 14, 1970      US Military

       In Laos, a 16-member US Special Forces “Studies and Observations Group” (SOG) and about 140 Montagnard tribesmen are dropped sixty miles from the South Vietnamese border and several miles away from its targeted village. They are told that the objective of the mission, code-named “Operation Tailwind,” is to eliminate a village where VietCong, Russians, and American defectors are believed to be moving freely. The troops are instructed to kill anyone they encounter, combatant or otherwise, including American defectors who pose a special threat to the US because of the sensitive knowledge they possess. [Sources: Robert Van Buskirk, Unnamed SOG Recon team commando [1], Jay Graves, Jim Cathey, Mike Hagen, Thomas Moorer] Another possible objective of the mission is to divert enemy attention from Operation Gauntlet, an offensive operation to regain control of territory in Laos. [Department of Defense, 7/21/1998] The SOG and Montagnards are all equipped with M-17 gas masks for the mission. [Sources: Unnamed SOG Recon team commando [2], Craig Schmidt, Robert Van Buskirk] For three days, the team fights its way to the targeted village. On the third night, they camp on the outskirts of the village while it is “prepped” by Air Force A-1s. The next morning, the unit raids the village. The battle ends quickly, in about 10 minutes, because of the previous night's bombing and because most of the people are not combat personnel, but belong to a transportation unit. [Sources: Mike Hagen] When they enter the village, they find more than one hundred bodies. Some are combatants, but many are also women and children. [CNN, 7/2/1999 Sources: Robert Van Buskirk, Eugene McCarley, Mike Hagen, Jimmy Lucas] One member of the SOG sees Montagnard soldiers shove grenades down the throats of women and at least three children. [Sources: Robert Van Buskirk] The soldiers report seeing between 10 and 20 Caucasians among the dead and speculate that they were American defectors, though the Pentagon insists they were Russians. Platoon leader Robert Van Buskirk later tells CNN that he killed two American defectors during the attack when he dropped a white phosphorus grenade into a tunnel where the two had fled. [Sources: Jim Cathey, Mike Hagen, Robert Van Buskirk] Rescue helicopters are then called in and the troops head to a rice paddy and put on their gas masks. As the helicopters prepares to land, it drops gas canisters (CBU-14), probably sarin nerve gas, to incapacitate a swarm of enemy fighters who are coming down a hill towards the landing zone. The enemy fighters immediately drop and go into convulsions when the gas is deployed. [Sources: Unnamed pilot [4], Unnamed pilot [3], John Snipes, Unnamed pilot [1], Mike Sheperd, Unnamed pilot [2], Unnamed SOG Recon team commando [2], Craig Schmidt, Mike Hagen, Robert Van Buskirk] As the rescue choppers are taking off, SOG members and Montagnards are vomiting and have mucous running uncontrollably from their noses. [Oliver and Smith, 1999; CNN, 6/7/1998; CNN, 6/14/1998; Time Magazine, 6/15/1998; CNN, 7/2/1999 Sources: Mike Hagen, Unnamed pilot [3], Unnamed pilot [4], Unnamed SOG Recon team commando [2], Unnamed pilot [2], Unnamed pilot [1], Mike Sheperd, John Snipes, Robert Van Buskirk]
People and organizations involved: Craig Schmidt, Jimmy Lucas, Jim Cathey, Mike Sheperd, Jim Cathey, Mike Hagen, Robert Van Buskirk, Eugene McCarley, John Snipes

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