Operation Golden Pheasant

Operation Golden Pheasant
Result US/Honduras victory
Withdrawal of Nicaraguan forces from Honduran territory
United States
Commanders and leaders

United States President Ronald Reagan
United States George Fisher

Honduras José Azcona del Hoyo

Nicaragua Humberto Ortega
Nicaragua Daniel Ortega
Units involved
United States 7th Infantry Division (Light)
United States 82nd Airborne Division
United States 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
United States 27th Infantry Regiment
United States 9th Infantry Regiment
Honduras Honduran Army
Nicaragua Sandinista Popular Army
United States 5,000
Honduras 12,000
Nicaragua 9,000
Casualties and losses
United States Unknown
Honduras 11 killed
Nicaragua 19 killed

Operation Golden Pheasant was an emergency deployment of U.S. troops to Honduras in 1988, in response to Nicaraguan attacks on Contra logistics in Honduras.


In early March, 1988, the Nicaraguan Sandinista government launched Operation Danto to overrun Contra rebel supply caches in the San Andrés de Bocay region, crossing into Honduran territory in their drive.[1]

The United States, under President Ronald Reagan, dispatched elements of the 7th Infantry Division (Light) Quick Reaction Force (QRF) on a no-notice deployment. This small force quickly landed at Palmerola Air Base (now known as Soto Cano Air Base) and moved quickly into position at a Honduran military base to facilitate the guarding of a local general. An international special operations unit led by Orlando Lentini worked along with the 7th Infantry Division and were on the ground several days when the 82nd Airborne elements arrived. The deployment evolved into a live-fire exercise, the light infantry soldiers, paratroopers and special operations unit deployed ready to fight, causing the Sandinistas to rapidly withdraw back across their border.[2]

The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment and Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment 82nd Airborne Division, were joined by soldiers from the 2nd Battalion 9th Infantry Regiment, 2d and 3d Battalions of the 27th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division (Light) QRF from Fort Ord, California.

On 17 March, 1st Battalion landed at Palmerola Airfield, a Honduran Air Force base that was the headquarters for the U.S. military presence in Honduras. The 2nd Battalion jumped onto the airfield that day, soldiers of the 27th Infantry Regiment (the "Wolfhounds") rappelled onto the airbase on 17 March 1988 and moved quickly up to the Nicaraguan border.

The units from the 82nd Airborne, the 504th began rigorous training exercises with orders to avoid the fighting on the border. Had those orders changed, the paratroopers and infantrymen were prepared to fight, but the invading Sandinista troops had already begun to withdraw. Within days, the Sandinista government negotiated a truce with Contra leaders, and by the end of March the 7th Infantry had returned to Fort Ord, California and the paratroopers of the 504th had returned to Fort Bragg.

Participating Units

United States Army Units

United States Marine Corps Units

United States Air Force Units


  1. Kagan, Robert (March 1, 1996). TWILIGHT STRUGGLE: American Power and Nicaragua, 1977-1990 Available from these sellers. (1st ed.). Free Press. p. 585. ISBN 978-0028740577.
  2. Miller, Marjorie. "1,000 Troops Ferried Close to Nicaragua : U.S. and Honduran Soldiers Deployed in Show of Muscle". articles.latimes.com. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2016-05-30.

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