OMAHA -- Milan Bish, the highest ranking U.S. diplomat in the Caribbean area that includes Grenada, said he recommended the invasion of the tiny island to President Reagan because it was 'in a lot of danger.'
Bish, U.S. ambassador to Barbados and other tiny islands, said, 'I knew people would be killed.'
'But if we played a passive role it would be difficult not to share the responsibility,' Bish said. 'I think it absolutely saved thousands of lives.'
Bish, a Grand Island businessman and veteran Reagan supporter, commented in an interview published in Sunday's editions of The Omaha World-Herald.
Bish said after completing his report to the State Department Oct. 23, he dashed off a special cable urging Reagan to proceed with the invasion.
'There was no question in my mind that they were in a lot of danger,' Bish said. 'Our east Caribbean friends had asked us to come and stop the carnage and the spread of communism,' he told Reagan.
Bish said he spent a sleepless night before the Oct. 25 invasion. At 3 a.m., he said he heard planes overhead. 'My stomach turned a couple of times. I never want to go through that again.'
On Oct. 24, Bish said he waited for the invasion decision and was uncertain which way it would be made. An emergency cable telling of the decision was 45 minutes later than expected.
Following his Oct. 30 visit to Grenada, Bish said given the presence of arms and Cubans he was even more convinced the invasion was correct.
'After the request for help from those nations -- if we had deserted them, we might as well have left the eastern Caribbean.
Bish said in retrospect it probably was a mistake not to allow a pool of reporters to go into Grenada with the American troops. He speculated the invasion was planned on such short notice little thought was given to dealing with the press.