A rescue mission in Colombia

South of the equator, a unit of the Colombian military executed perfectly a rescue mission that freed three Americans, Ingrid Betancourt and 11 Colombian soldiers and police officers.

To be honest, it’s exhilarating. I think that’s ok… Of course, I’d imagine there will be a book on this. I’ll read it. And someone will make a movie. I’ll watch it.

In some ways, that’s the point of this post. When we see the movie or read the book, we’ll appreciate the drama more. We’ll see the waiting families and understand the effort that went into the rescue. We’ll also appreciate the fact that each of the Colombian operatives was a real person putting their life on the line. Hell, in a movie they’ll become honest-to-god characters. But there’s no need to see a movie for all that to hit home, you’ve just put yourself in the shoes of the various parties involved.

Years of planning, training and subterfuge collided with years of worrying, waiting and hoping yesterday, and I hope that mean something to you.

The rescue mission made front pages across the country, so I won’t say it’s been downplayed. But I doubt we’ll ever appreciate everything that went on to get to this point like we should. The reaction, I’ll wager, will go like this: “Oh look, honey, that Ingrid Betancourt lady and some other hostages were rescued yesterday. That’s good.”

For the families though, this is the end of years of waiting and wondering.

Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell, employees of a Northrop Grumman Corp. subsidiary who worked as Defense Department contractors, were captured when their antidrug surveillance plane went down in FARC-held territory in 2003. At the time a fourth American, Thomas Janis, was found shot to death.

Put yourself in their families’ place. You haven’t seen your husband/wife/son/brother/etc. in five years, and you know their captors already killed one of their number. Five years. Every day they’ve been waking up and going to sleep knowing their loved ones were held in a foreign jungle. This has been the story of their life for these five years, I’d imagine. Now, thanks to a beautifully planned and perfectly executed raid, the hostages have been freed.

This wasn’t some brute force mission either. The Colombian military posed as members of the guerillas (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC). Dressed in Che Guevera shirts (what a nice touch), they met the rebels, played the parts of compatriots, tied the hostages and forced them onto a couple of unmarked helicopters. Only when they were in the air, did the tell them they were Colombian operatives.

The planning, intelligence and resources that must have gone into this operation, and the perfect success it was… It’s exhilarating.

Published in: on July 3, 2008 at 2:24 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Wow, that is impressive. Five years must have been excruciating on both ends. I hope they write a book or make a movie, too.

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