Son Tay Raid
Blue Boy Element
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The Raid, Blueboy Element is the first in a series of original art by Michael
Nikiporenko depicting the heroism of a special kind of soldier that fought
for the United States in Vietnam as well as in other places of turmoil
around the globe. The art was created with the intent to honor special
warfare forces throughout America's history and to raise money for the
John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Museum in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The first print in this new series depicts one of the most courageous and extraordinary events of the Vietnam War, the Son Tay Raid. Fifty-six special forces soldiers under the command of Colonel Bull Simmons penetrated to within twenty-three nautical miles of Hanoi in an attempt to rescue up to seventy-five American prisoners from the Son Tay prison complex on November 20, 1970. This daring rescue attempt was perhaps the single most brilliantly planned and selflessly executed action of the entire war. For certain, the Son Tay Raid comprised a most heroic twenty-five minutes worthy of note in the annals of history.
The planning and meticulous attention to detail carried out to prepare the raiding force for the Son Tay mission was a model of leadership, audacity, and courage that demonstrated to the world what a highly trained force of special warriors could accomplish in the face of overwhelming odds. Operating at night in an area that contained over 236,000 defending enemy soldiers and the most concentrated surface-to-air missile defenses ever seen in the history of war, the Son Tay raiders carried out their mission without losing a man. Their heroic action is in no way diminished by the fact that the prisoners they were to rescue had been moved prior to the night of the raid.
As a direct result of the Son Tay Raid, the North Vietnamese Government began to change the way in which they treated American prisoners. Fearing more raids of a similar nature, they were forced to close all of their isolated POW camps and consolidate prisoners into two major facilities, ending for many what had amounted to years of isolation and torture. Treatment of the prisoners began to improve, and the resulting rise in prisoner morale undoubtedly resulted in the saving of many American lives.
In Michael Nikiporenko's depiction of The Raid, Blueboy Element, the most difficult task in the Son Tay Raid has been accomplished. An HH-3 Air Force Helicopter, Blueboy, has crash landed into an incredibly tight space bound by high trees and walls within the designated prison compound. The raiders are deploying from Blueboy while their leader, the legendary Captain Dick Meadows, instructs prisoners to lie down on the floor out of the line of fire. The night is clear with a quarter moon, and the sky is completely illuminated by the parachute deployed flares from Air Force C130 aircraft. The raid has begun in earnest.
It should be noted that before Captain Meadows exited Blueboy, Colonel Bull Simmons' assault force landed at a nearby compound known as "the school". The approximately five minutes that this force was on the ground resulted in the elimination of between one and two hundred heavily armed enemy soldiers that posed the most immediate threat to the raiders. The third element of the mission known as the security force under Lieutenant Colonel Dick Sydnor, had neutralized the enemy guards at the prison in what can only be described as a result of flawless contingency planning.
It is easy to understand why The Raid, Blueboy Element was chosen to be the first in a series of copyrighted art intended to tell the American people the history of special warfare and to honor the memory of those who served their country during times of war, as well as those who are serving their country in the military today. It is the hope of M&M Art Ltd. that none of the sacrifices or often unsung heroism of the many soldiers in the United States who protect our rights and freedoms in times of war and peace go unappreciated.
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