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Operation Golden Pheasant was a deployment of US paratroopers to Honduras in 1988 following an incursion of the Nicaraguan military to pursue Nicaraguan Contra forces seeking sanctuary in Honduras.

According to the wikipedia article, both US and Honduran forces did incur casualties, but the article does not give us a clear idea if these were non-battle casualties or the result of skirmishes between Nicaraguan and US-Honduran forces.

I guess part of the reason why there is a unclear picture of the type of casualties involved stems from the fact that the operation is still classified. If it is still classified, I guess this operation was more than just a "send in the paratroopers and watch the Nicaraguans quickly leave" scenario.

Can anyone here clarify?

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This citation from the VA records the testimony from a veteran who served in Operation Golden Pheasant. He stated that some units, at least, from the 82nd Airborne encountered and engaged Nicaraguan Sandinista soldiers. The applicant had reported seeing dead and wounded members of "death squads" in the course of his assignment. That would explain the Nicaraguan casualties:

The first stressor involves his participation in Operation Golden Pheasant. In pertinent part, he reported that he was assigned as a parachutist infantryman and radio operators for 1st/504th, 82nd Airborne, which was mobilized on short notice and deployed to Honduras in March 1988 for Operation Golden Pheasant, near the Nicaraguan border, where he testified and stated his unit encountered combat conditions. Specifically, he reported that he and his team conducted patrols into areas near the border, that he and his team encountered Nicaraguan Sandinista soldiers and were fired upon and that they fired back, killing a member of a death squad, and that he saw dead and wounded in the course of this assignment. He also stated and testified that a helicopter crashed, injuring the Battalion Commander and others on board. The Veteran reported he was to have been a passenger on the aircraft as the Battalion Commander's radio operator, but it took off without him and he was very stressed over this. The Veteran described in statements and sworn testimony that the deployment overall was a stressful experience due to the unknown circumstances the soldiers were facing, the proximity of the operation to the Nicaraguan border, the potential for combat, and the uncertainty of how long they might be deployed.


Although the Wikipedia article does not actually mention American casualties (it simply states "unknown"), the citation states that the Battalion Commander and others were injured in a helicopter crash, so we know the US did incur some casualties in the operation.

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    Indeed, para-drops are not risk-free operations, even if they are unopposed. – T.E.D. May 31 '17 at 23:58
  • @T.E.D. Why do you assume that the 82d was para-dropped into Honduras? 82d Airborne was part of the XVIIIth Airborne Corps and directly related to US Special Operations Command in the Joint Combatant Command Structure. (I had not heard that they were dropped in, but rather were deployed under the SOCOM and SOUTHCOM ... but it's been a few years since I studied that op and memory is foggy). – KorvinStarmast Jun 1 '17 at 16:24
  • @KorvinStarmast I'm not sure why you seem to take such ... offense? ... at T.E.D.'s word usage. The wiki article linked indicates units of the 82nd "jumped" and "rappelled". Is your issue with the exact term 'para-drop'? I would request you to explain your issue, for those readers who may not be familiar with Special Operations jargon. – CGCampbell Jun 2 '17 at 15:34
  • @CGCampbell no offense was taken, and you read something into the tone that was not there when I wrote it. I need to go and review some old notes about that op, because as I noted, memory is foggy. – KorvinStarmast Jun 2 '17 at 15:57
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I was in the 1 504 PIR , Cco. We went in first and airlando commando and moved out from Palmorola AFB. We moved toward the boarder. 2 504 PIR jumped in the following morning. At the same time 7 ID with all other attachments to this mission were arriving at the airbase or in country so to speak. The idea or missinn was to catch the enemy in a classic pincer movement. Why is it still classified , '' ONLY THE SHADOW KNOWS '' !

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    Interesting but I'm no wiser as to whether there was hostile contact between the two forces? – Steve Bird Jun 23 '19 at 16:05

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