The Mayaguez Incident

(May, 1975)

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The Mayaguez Incident

(May, 1975)

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NAME OF CONFLICT: The Mayaguez Incident




The United States


The Khmer Rouge (communist guerrillas in Cambodia)


BEGAN: May 12, 1975

ENDED: May 15, 1975

TYPE(S) OF CONFLICT: Inter-State, guerrilla



The Second Indochina War

*Though the Second Indochina War (known in the U.S. as the Vietnam War), ended on April 30, 1975 with the fall of Saigon to the Communists, the Mayaguez Incident is considered by the U.S. military to be a part of that larger conflict. The names of the American dead from the Mayaguez operation are engraved on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., with their names listed last, signifying that these casualties are considered the last combat deaths of the Vietnam War.



Third Indochina War
Vietnam-Cambodia War (1977-1992)

Sino-Vietnamese War (1979)

Sino-Vietnamese Border War (1979-1987)


Less than two weeks after the Communist conquest of South Vietnam, forces of the Communist Khmer Rouge in Cambodia attacked and seized an American merchant ship, the Mayaguez, and captured the crew. President Gerald Ford reacted by sending in the Marines to rescue the crew.

The Khmer Rouge released the crew, but not before inflicting casualties on the American force. A total of 41 Marines and Airmen died, with 50 wounded. See the links below for more detail on the actual combat operations.


 U.S.: 41 total dead and missing. 18 Marines and Airmen killed in action/missing in action. 23 Marines killed in a helicopter crash during the operation. 50 wounded.

Cambodia/Khmer Rouge: 60 killed (estimate)


The Mayaguez Incident


Capture and Release of SS Mayaguez--From the U.S. Merchant Marine website.

Photographs: Mayaguez Incident--Photos of President Gerald Ford in the White House during the Incident. From the Gerald R. Ford Presidential library.



SIU Flashback: Notable Events in the Union's History Captured in Cambodia: The Tale of the Mayaguez--Interesting account of the Mayaguez capture and rescue from the perspective of the civilian sailors aboard the Mayaguez.

Lance Corporal Andres "Andy" Garcia--Article on the recently recovered and identified remains of one of the Mayaguez casualties. Well worth reading!

Lance Corporal Joseph Hargrove-- Describes the Battle of Kho Tang Island and details the fact that three marines, including Hargrove, were left behind in Cambodia.

A Military Mission Gone Wrong:A New Look At The Mayaguez Incident--From CBS News

Minutes of White House meetings on the Mayaguez Incident. Click on a date (below) to see scanned images of the actual minutes of each meeting. From the Gerald R. Ford Presidential library.

May 12, 1975

May 13, 1975 (morning)

May 13, 1975 (evening)

May 14, 1975

May 15, 1975



Beauty and Darkness: Cambodia in Modern History-- Modern Cambodian history.


The Khmer Rouge Reign of Terror 

 Cambodia: Year Zero--An account from eyewitnesses as told to François Ponchaud is French Roman Catholic priest who lived and worked in Cambodia for many years.
Copyright © 1998-2010 Roger A. Lee and History Guy Media; Last Modified: 04.02.10

"The History Guy" is a Registered Trademark.

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Lee, R. "The History Guy: The Mayaguez Incident"


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