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Muckety this! George Patton’s North African campaign to Israel’s Entebbe Raid

By Rita Hall

June 3, 2008 at 11:13am

How is Major-General George S. Patton’s African mission connected to Israel’s rescue of almost 100 hostages in Uganda more than 30 years later?

In 1943, Patton led the Western Task Force of the U.S. Army in the successful fight against the German army in North Africa. Patton subsequently headed the U.S. Seventh Army in Sicily and the U.S. Third Army in France, both in winning campaigns. He was succeeded as commander of the Third Army by decorated colonel (and later general) Lucien Truscott Jr. in 1945.

After graduating from the family alma mater, West Point, Truscott’s grandson, Lucian Truscott IV, a freewheeling writer and novelist, became a correspondent for the Village Voice. In 1974 the younger Truscott was dispatched to Israel to cover the aftermath of the Yom Kippur war. His contact and host was AP reporter Jonathan Broder, later of The Chicago Tribune and Salon.

Not long after, Broder went to Uganda to interview African strongman Idi Amin on a freelance magazine assignment. The unreliable dictator was four days late, leaving the reporter cooling his heels at Entebbe Airport in Uganda. But the wait proved invaluable. Broder became a source about the airport for the Israeli Defense Forces several months later, as they planned the Entebbe Raid – the rescue of almost 100 mostly Jewish or Israeli airplane passengers whose Tel Aviv-Athens-Paris flight had been hijacked to Uganda by Palestinians in late June 1976.

The surprise mission began on the night of July 3 and continued into the morning of July 4. During a 35-minute battle, 20 Ugandan soldiers and all seven hijackers died along with three hostages.

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