In the fall of 1970, a company-size unit of Special Forces and indigenous Montagnard fighters undertook a mission into Laos to draw the North Vietnamese away from a CIA mission. They returned with what was reportedly the largest trove of intelligence documents of the Vietnam War and paved the way for the CIA mission to take their objective, losing three Montagnards and no Americans.
Almost three decades later, CNN turned its lens on this mission, twisting the truth of the Special Forces’ heroism in a salacious piece that alleged the Soldiers were war criminals, targeting civilians and American defectors with sarin nerve gas. When the law offices of James R. Moriarty were called to help, he not only represented three of the veterans who had been defamed but also financed a documentary to tell the story of Operation Tailwind from the Special Forces’ point of view. (The story got new life in 2013, when the creators of The Newsroom used Tailwind as the loose basis for a storyline about a fictional Operation Genoa.)
The combined media and litigation campaign corrected the public record and ultimately led to fitting recognition for combat medic Gary M. Rose, who saved dozens of lives during the four-day operation even though he was wounded himself. Retired Capt. Rose received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest combat award, in a ceremony with President Trump in 2017.
Moriarty works on an ad-hoc volunteer team that aims to ensure Vietnam veterans like Rose are recognized. Due to the amount of time that has passed, special Congressional legislation to advance their nomination packets is required.