For one brief moment, the United States once again acted like a great power, In mid-May, decisive and direct military action successfully recovered the U.S. merchant ship Mayaguez with its 39 crewmen from Cambodian hands, The incident was distinguished by its brevity. The Khmer Rouge government of Cambodia seized the American vessel on Monday, May 12; by Thursday, May 15, the U.S. had the ship back. After diplomatic overtures to the People's Republic of China and a request for United Nations intervention had failed, 200 American marines, with the help of air cover, physically retook the pirated Mayaguez in Koh Tang harbor, Soon afterward, a Cambodian fishing boat, flying white flags, turned over the captured crewmen. In the course of the fighting, nearly a fourth of Cambodia's known navy - three Khmer Rouge gunboats - were sunk. The swift use of American power, in contrast to the protracted military operations of the Vietnam war, drew a mixed world reaction.
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