The Son Tay Raid. Help us tell their story!

“We are going to rescue 70 American prisoners of war, maybe more, from a camp called Son Tay. This is something American prisoners have a right to expect from their fellow soldiers. The target is 23 miles west of Hanoi. “

-Colonel Arthur “Bull” Simons”


On November 21, 1970, U.S. Special Forces soldiers and U.S. Airforce airmen executed a swift and stunning raid of the Son Tay prison camp with zero American casualties. U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers are often called the silent professionals. They hold tight the details of their feats - what, where, and with whom they accomplished their missions. It falls to others to share their deeds.

Our ultimate goal is to honor the men of the Son Tay Raid, disdained by civilian peers as they returned from the humidity and horror of Vietnam. Our film, this storytelling effort, elevating the experience, the voice, and the humble courage of these 56 raiders and the countless other service members engaged in their protection and success across the air and seas of south Asia - this is the way we say, "Thank you for your service."

All funds raised will be used to pay team member wages, including our tireless editor and cameramen. 

We would be honored to have you be a part of this storytelling effort to honor these incredible, quiet, heroes.


The Son Tay Raid’s greatness lies in the fact that it brought together the separate branches for a greater purpose: to fulfill the pledge of “no man left behind.” Operation Kingpin lasted for just 27 heart-stopping minutes. 61 American prisoners of war were being held at the Son Tay Prison Camp just outside of Hanoi. For months, the combined services task force gathered intelligence, made plans for rescuing the prisoners and trained meticulously for every contingency.

The Raiders were 23 miles from Hanoi, within 5 miles of 112,000 N.V.A. regulars, and flying into the teeth of the most heavily defended airspace in the world. Simultaneously, three Navy carriers executed the largest night carrier operation of the entire Vietnam conflict in rolling seas to suppress the enemy air defenses.

 Not a single prisoner was found. Despite this, the raid stands as one of the most significant operations in modern military history. Rather than a glorified, romanticized vision of war, Operation Kingpin: 27 Minutes at Son Tay is the true story of the Raiders the way the Raiders want it told; a thoughtful, compelling first-person account of the planning and execution of a never before attempted rescue mission into the heart of the enemy territory.

Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, our ability to raise money in person to finish making the film has been severely hampered (obviously!) so we are reaching out to those who support both excellent storytelling, as well as our veteran community.

Currently, the film is in the rough cut editing stage. We've already interviewed the following Raiders.

John Gargus, Vladimir “Jake” Jakovenko, (also known as the real-life Rambo), James (Jim) McClam, Pat St Clair, Don Taapken, Frank Roe, Terry Buckler, Tyrone Adderly, Bill Guenon, and John Pletcher, as well as former POW Lee Ellis, and RADM (R) Larry Chambers, the first African American to achieve flag rank in the Navy. He was part of the Naval effort to use massive air raids to distract from the movement of the Raiders.

Our production team brings a distinctive combination of both experience and knowledge in filmmaking and the world of special operations.

More about them can be found on our website

Additional interviews are planned in Arizona and Florida and in other locales to visit raiders and experts. (COVID notwithstanding.) The final shoot will be at the Raiders' 50th-anniversary gathering (current date TBA due to COVID)  premiering the work in progress while the film’s final scene is recorded.

Donations

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  • Wes Worthing 
    • $60 
    • 13 hrs
  • Fred Flom 
    • $500 
    • 1 d
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 2 d
  • Sheila Hard 
    • $50 
    • 2 d
  • Michael Culver 
    • $25 
    • 3 d
See all

Fundraising team: Kingpin: 27 Minutes at Son Tay (4)

Molly Huggins 
Organizer
San Antonio, TX
John Stanfield 
Beneficiary
Daniel Smith 
Team member
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