VICTORY POINT: Operations Red Wings and Whalers—the Marine Corps’ Battle for Freedom in Afghanistan.
“Victory Point” is the account of 2d Battalion, Third Marine Regiment, Third Marine Division during Operations Red Wings and Whalers in the summer of 2005, where the Marines ultimately annihilated a ruthless Taliban- and al-Qaida-linked insurgency cell led by a man named Ahmad Shah.
In Operation Red Wings, the battalion command decided to utilize U.S. Navy SEALs for the opening phases of the mission. However, the four-man Navy special operations surveillance and reconnaissance team became bogged down in a hellish ambush, where Shah’s men killed all but one. The Red Wings operation was further plagued with disaster when one of Shah’s men shot down an Army Special Operations Aviation Regiment MH-47D Chinook sent in to rescue the four, killing all on board.
Ed Darack has done an excellent job of recollecting all the details of the operations including minute-by-minute retelling of the ambushes and ensuing firefights. He enables the reader to appreciate the intensity of the situation as well as the rugged and unforgiving geography of Afghanistan.
In late June 2005, the media outlets reported the tragic story of 19 U.S. military soldiers and Marines who died at the hands of Ahmad Shah’s thugs as well as the lone survivor who was rescued in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan. The gripping events of Operation Red Wings marked the beginning of a critical, although widely misreported, chapter in the global war on terrorism.
Ed Darack in “Victory Point” reveals the complete and untold story of Operation Red Wings and the follow-up mission, Operation Whalers. It is the story not of a mission gone wrong, but of a complex and difficult campaign that finally saw the destruction of Ahmad Shah and his ragtag band of cohorts. Darack has pieced the complete story together from the fog of war in the joint task force headquarters to the sounds of the rocket-propelled grenades striking at the elements of the battalion. Darack also points out the persistent problems of coordination between special operations forces and the Marine task force.
Thanks to the valor of the 2/3 leathernecks, Afghanistan was able to hold free elections that year. Things may have changed in Afghanistan since then, but the story of valor is an inspiring, true account of heroes, courage and esprit de corps.
“Victory Point” is a must-read for anyone desiring insight into Operations Red Wings and Whaler.