This photo of conventional US Army troops and Delta Force operators was taken in Panama in 1989 during Operation Acid Gambit. It was made available to SOFREP and all of you by none other than legendary former Green Beret and Delta Force operator George Hand IV.

Acid Gambit

As the twilight fell over Panama City on December 20, 1989, a covert operation was unfolding that would etch its mark in the annals of military history. The sultry heat of the day was giving way to cooler, more bearable evenings. If you were lucky, you might even catch a breeze from time to time. Being the holiday season, the tropical palms were decorated with festive Christmas lights, a sight not all that unfamiliar if you hail from Florida.

AI rendering of Panama City in December of 1989. If you listen carefully enough, you can hear Van Halen playing somewhere in the background. Breathe deeply, and you note a hint of damp dog.

The mission had the trippy moniker of “Operation Acid Gambit,” and it was assigned to the warriors of Delta Force, America’s apex counter-terrorism unit. Their mission was to liberate one of their own, Kurt Muse, a CIA operative languishing in the squalid depths of Panama’s Carcel Modelo prison.

Every operation of this ilk requires a bulletproof plan, and Acid Gambit was no different. The team underwent exhaustive preparations, rehearsals, and mental conditioning to anticipate every possible scenario. As they descended from the inky skies onto the prison rooftop, they were met with fierce resistance from the Panamanian Defense Force (PDF). Yet, they were undeterred, for they were Delta. They lived for this shit.

Their first objective achieved, securing Muse, the team sought to execute a rapid extraction. Unfortunately, fate had other plans. Their helicopter, now a beacon for enemy fire, crash-landed several blocks away. What is it with Delta and crashed helicopters?  Stranded but far from helpless, they successfully evaded the pursuing enemy forces, protecting Muse until a second bird arrived.

So, against overwhelming odds and lacking the home turf advantage, Operation Acid Gambit was deemed a triumph. Not only did it showcase the extraordinary skill and courage of Delta Force, but it also underscored America’s unwavering commitment to its government agents, even when they find themselves in the direst of circumstances.

After nine months of incarceration, Kurt Muse was finally free, thanks to the heroes of Acid Gambit.