September 1994, Members of the 75th Ranger Regiment, Special Forces, SEALs and the aviators of Task Force 160th steam towards Haiti aboard the USS America. The mission was to restore democracy in the impoverished nation of Haiti following a military coup. General Cedras had deposed the democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide back in 1991. Now the hammer of US Special Operations were on their way to fix this overdue problem. As a member of 2/75 Ranger, I had loaded the USS America in Norfolk, VA under the cover of darkness and out of the medias prying cameras. The three day trip to Port-au-Prince, Haiti involved target memorization, contingencies, emergency planning, etc.
Ammunition was distributed, medics were packing morphine and explosives were prepped. Within view of Haiti, our assault forces assembled next to our respective aircraft. Some with the rotors already turning. Just minutes away from kicking off this party, the Captain of the ship came over the loudspeaker to announce a “stand down” order. Apparently, a contingent of diplomats including former president Jimmy Carter and Colin Powell convinced General Cedras to avoid the potential bloodshed and step down. As a Ranger that had been training for two years leading up to this operation, the “stand down” order was a big disappointment.
We would ultimately make landfall, seize a police headquarters and conduct several operations into the population. After a week or so, we were relocated to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, involved in a Panamanian prison riot and finally returned home. Thus ending our Haitian Vacation. For the Special Forces prospective on Uphold Democracy, take a look at this SOFREP article.