We Should "Never Forget" Operation Just Cause
Tuesday, December 20 2011 @ 11:16 am EST
Contributed by: Don Winner
Editor's Comment: I wish in Panama the people here would finally get around to blaming Noriega for the invasion. Noriega was given ample opportunities to step down in the months leading up to the Just Cause invasion. If he had gotten on a plane and left the country in the middle of the night, the end result would have been the same, a return to civilian rule and democracy in Panama. However because of his stubbornness and willingness to sacrifice the lives of others for his selfish ends, many people died unnecessarily. Even this article says the object of the invasion was to "capture one man" when that is not the truth. I love the idea that Panamanians should "never forget" the invasion. However it would be nice if the Panamanian media would "spin" the history a little more towards the truth, and less towards blaming the United States for everything that happened. And as far as the destruction by fire of the neighborhood of El Chorrillo - I saw with my own eyes video of neighborhood residents passing burning material from one house to another to spread the flames. At that time El Chorrillo was a slum of mostly wooden shacks. Some people apparently saw the invasion and fire as an opportunity to maybe get something better, but that would only happen if their current little wooden slum shack was burned to the ground. There's no doubt the fire was started due to the invasion and the fighting around the Commandancia, and there's also no doubt the flames were spread by the Panamanians themselves. The primary objectives of Operation Just Cause were;
- Safeguarding the lives of U.S. citizens in Panama. In his statement, Bush claimed that Noriega had declared that a state of war existed between the United States and Panama and that he also threatened the lives of the approximately 35,000 US citizens living there. There had been numerous clashes between U.S. and Panamanian forces; one US Marine had been killed a few days earlier and several incidents of harassment of US citizens had taken place.
- Defending democracy and human rights in Panama. In 1988 the Panamanian people voted and elected Guillermo Endara as their president. Noriega simply annulled the results of that election and remained in power. The invasion did, in fact, restore democracy to Panama and ended the 21 year military dictatorship.
- Combating drug trafficking. Panama had become a center for drug money laundering and a transit point for drug trafficking to the United States and Europe. And what's worse, the drugs were being trafficked by none other than Manual Antonio Noriega himself. De facto military dictator, and a country being run by a drug trafficker, money launderer, and murderer. Yeah, time to put a stop to that crap.
- Protecting the integrity of the Torrijos–Carter Treaties. Members of Congress and others in the U.S. political establishment claimed that Noriega threatened the neutrality of the Panama Canal and that the United States had the right under the treaties to intervene militarily to protect the Panama canal. Prior to the invasion Noriega had declared war on the United States. He was clearly a threat to the Panama Canal as well.
The following is a list of names of U.S. service members who were killed in Panama while participating in the U.S. military operation "Just Cause" in December 1989. Another 325 military personnel were wounded in action;
- Staff Sgt. Larry Barnard - 3/75th Rangers Hallstead, Pa.
- Pfc. Roy D. Brown Jr. - 3/75th Rangers Buena Park, Calif.
- Pvt. Vance T. Coats - 82nd Airborne Division Great Falls, Mont.
- Spec. Jerry S. Daves - 82nd Airborne. Division North Carolina
- Sgt. Michael A. Deblois - 82nd Airborne Division Dubach, La.
- Pfc. Martin D. Denson - 82nd Airborne Division Abilene, Texas
- Pfc. William D. Gibbs - 7th Infantry Division. Marina, Calif.
- Spec. Phillip S. Lear - 2/75th Rangers Westminster, S.C.
- Spec. Alejandro Manriquelozano* - 82nd Airborne Division Lauderhill, Fla.
- Pfc. James W. Markwell - 1/75th Rangers Cincinnati, Ohio
- Cpl. Ivan M. Perez - 5th Infantry Division Pawtucket, R.I.
- Pfc. John M. Price - 2/75th Rangers Conover, Wis.
- Pfc. Scott L. Roth - 89th Military Police Brigade Killeen, Texas
- Pvt. Kenneth D. Scott - 5th Infantry Division Princeton, W.Va.
- 1st Lt. John R. Hunter - 160th Aviation Victor, Montana
- CWO2 Wilson B. Owens - 160th Aviation Myrtle Beach, S.C.
- CWO2 Andrew P. Porter - 7th Infantry Division Saint Clair, Mich.
- Pvt. James A. Taber Jr. - 82nd Airborne Division Montrose, Colo.
- Lt. j.g. John Connors - Special Warfare Group Arlington, Maine
- BM1 Chris Tilghman - Special Warfare Group Kailua, Hawaii
- ENC Donald McFaul - Special Warfare Group Deschutes, Ore.
- TM2 Issac G. Rodriguez III - Special Warfare Group Missouri City, Texas
- Cpl. Garreth C. Isaak - 2nd Marine Division Greenville, S.C.