|LIMA 85 WAS ON A LAOTIAN MOUNTAINTOP|
Don't think for a moment that the
military has only recently used civilian contractors to help do its dirty work -- and sometimes in highly irregular ways. U.S.
Years ago, I became familiar with the case of Herbert Arthur Kirk, a master sergeant and radar specialist who was quietly mustered out of the Air Force during the Vietnam War
Kirk traded in his Air Force blues for civilian mufti as an employee of Lockheed. He had made the switch so that he could supervise Lima 85, a secret radar station on a mountainside in
that helped guide B-52 bombers to targets in Laos and Vietnam . The station was overrun by guerrillas and Kirk and the 10 men he supervised were killed, or according to an alternate story captured by later died in captivity. Cambodia
A small setback for the Pentagon, as opposed to the huge embarrassment that the White House would have faced had it been revealed that an Air Force NCO was running a secret combat installation in a country with which the U.S. was not at war.
Kirk’s family, which was merely told that he had died in
, smelled a rat and enlisted the help of their congressman, who after years finally got the Air Force to admit what they had put Kirk up to. As a result, the family got the compensation it deserved, as well as some closure. Southeast Asia
In addition, Kirk’s name was appropriately if belatedly added to the wall at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in
, Washington D.C.