2017-10-11, Les Smith, "Operation Dragon Rouge: Rescue in the Congo"

President Lya waited until exactly 10 minutes past noon to loudly ring the bell and call the meeting to order.  President Elect Kristi gave the invocation which was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.  Patty distributed the song: “Hey Good Lookin’” by Hank Williams written in 1951.  Patty played the piano and Fran led the singing.  Considering their collective talent, the Rotarians and their guests did a remarkably good job.  Our two visiting Rotarians from Ohio were introduced as were guests of Rotarians and the Oñate high school student guest.  The introductions were followed by a lively “meet and greet” which halted only after a number of rings of the bell. 

There was no mystery greeter; however, there were many Happy Dollars:  James Monroe Scott was happy that his wife of 67 years is doing much, much better; Ana was happy that Richelle had a joke for us. It was sick!! Sherry has a new grand baby; Mary Ellen enjoyed the song and going to “Honky Tonks” as a youngster; Jim Parks was missing his badge as noted by the Sergeant-at-arms.  Jim was willing to pay the fine and then some as he is able to walk much better this week; John Hernandez was “just mighty glad to be here!”  Several members of Steve’s family have houses in Napa, CA.  So far, they have escaped the fires in the area.  Earl’s father-in-law is also in northern California.  Up to now, his retirement facility has also been spared.  Mel hosted former Rotarian Jodie as a guest and is happy that she was able to join us.  James Monroe Scott was also happy that Jim Parks is walking much better; Gary Aschbacher let us know that his wife and fellow Rotarian, Theresa is doing much better and is preparing for a vacation in New York;  Charlotte Brockway and Daniel Payne both had happy dollars.  President Lya told us of Jay’s adventure that led to a very, very small scratch on her brand new car.  She was happy that Steve Loman’s shop is fixing it and paid a fine.  Rotarians insisted that Jay pay a fine also, which he did!  President Lya announced the Board of Directors’ meeting tomorrow (October 12) at noon at the Game on Espina.  All Rotarians are invited to attend.

The Program

Today’s program was: “Operation Dragon Rouge: Rescue in the Congo,” presented by this month’s program coordinator Les Smith.  The fascinating program was from his service days in the mid-1960’s.  Judge Smith and his unit were tasked with C-130 air transport rescue missions when the United States intervened militarily in the “Congo crisis” in late 1964. The Belgian Congo (what is now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)) was a Belgian colony in Central Africa between 1908 and 1960.  The country is about 1/3 the size of the United States. 

The country gained independence from Belgium 30 June 1960, but was ill prepared to operate as an independent nation.  Militants calling themselves the "Simbas" (lions) rose up in the east of the country.  They were held at bay somewhat by the notorious mercenary leader “Mad” Mike Hoare and his troops.  The Simbas seized Stanleyville, Paulis and Bunis and other eastern territory in an attempt to set up their own “state.”  In Stanleyville, numerous hostages were taken and held.  The November, 1964 C-130 rescue mission delivered Belgian troops to recover the hostages.  About two dozen hostages were killed; however, the mission was generally successful.  The Simbas were defeated and collapsed soon after.  This interesting story is presented from the viewpoint of “Mad” Mike Hoare in his 1967 book “Congo Mercenary.” 

After the presentation, there were a number of questions.  Jay gave more information regarding “Mad” Mike.  The government of the Seychelles Islands (President Lya’s home country) was overthrown in June 1977.  Members of the ousted government hired “Mad Mike” and his troops to re-take the Seychelles.  They failed!  This story is also told from Mike Hoare’s point of view in his 1986 book: “The Seychelles Affair.”

After the Program

Patty announced that raffle tickets and contributions to the can raised $130 for our Club’s “Clothe a CHILD” project.  An anonymous donation of $1000 was also received for the project.  President Lya had the ticket and drew a Jack.  She drew a $10 Starbucks gift card from the mystery basket.  The current pot stays at $500 and the next one will continue to grow.  President Lya concluded the meeting by leading us in reciting the 4-Way Test.

<prior week   following week>

Guests of Rotarians



John Davis

Bobby Rankin

Jodie Brdecko

Mel Parish

Visiting Rotarians


Home Club

Dan Jones

Marietta, Ohio

Teresa Griffith

Marietta, Ohio

Student Guests



Ben Curnutt




Date Club




Submitted by Jay JordanJay Jordan