While “my” stories in the military will be more of a personal nature, I also want to cover the war itself as well as Panama as a nation.
The Enemy Within: Casting out Panama’s Demon is a book I bought in the PX shortly after the invasion, so, as far as the historical nature is concerned, from a military perspective anyway, we’re probably going to be better served by the Internet or by books of history. But I’ll let the author explain himself on that. I’ll be using it a great deal for photos and Panama’s history, which is interesting and colorful. I have many personal photos from the war, not taken by me, but by an E-7 I worked a couple of days with. He was Panamanian and oversaw the refugee camp. He took a great many photos and shared copies with some of us.
Suffice it to say … this could be a long one. And though it is nothing like our troops are dealing with now, there was still loss and as any good troop can tell you, it’s still sacrifice. To serve is to sacrifice. And it definitely has its benefits.
I wouldn’t trade my military experience for much of anything.
Well, on with it then.
With the exception of our own, there is no flag upon which the United States looks with such pride and favor as the flag of Panama, for the United States feels that by prompt recognition it was largely instrumental in establishing the sovereignty that flag represents, and that in a measure there devolves upon it the pleasurable duty of protecting that banner, should it be assailed by foes from without or within.
Charles Edward Magoon,
Canal Zone Governar and U.S.
Minister in Panama, 1905
This book is a work of journalism, not scholarship. It is intended as a record and a souvenir of the most traumatic event in the history of the relatively young nation of Panama. Apart from recounting the story of the attack and the events leading up to that fateful day, December 20, 1989 when the United States threw the crushing weight of its armed forces into the Republic in a fierce assault on the army of General Manuel Antonio Noriega, the book is a brief history of the republic with specific reference to the role that the U.S.A. has always played.
There will be many other books by authors far more competent to make judgments about the invasion of Panama. The information available about the attack itself is scarce. The U.S. Southern Command had no version of its activities available at the time of going to press. Perhaps it will feel itself accountable in due course and de-classify its after-action reports sufficiently for the public to have a record. On the Panamanian side, the Panama Defense Forces cannot speak, for they had ceased to exist by dawn of Day One of the invasion. Its ex-members, all but a reported 400 of whom survived, do not give a very coherent account. Civilians stayed in their homes and watched what network television could show them of the war.
The photographs have been selected from thousands submitted by amateurs and professionals in Panama and from international picture agencies representing the work of foreign photo-journalists who covered the war and its aftermath.
About the invasion of their sovereign territory, no Panamanian feels happy but most feel that it was the lesser of two evils—ridding Panama of a tyrant and a despotic regime was a job that had to be done and apparently could not be done by Panamanians alone. One of the intentions of this book is to show the Panamanian struggle which the Americans finished off.
Jones, Kenneth J. The Enemy Within: Casting out Panama’s Demon. Copyright © 1990 Focus Publications (Int.), in the Republic of Panama.