Category Archives: SF History and Lore

Special Forces Losses in Southeast Asia Three Weeks: 13 Mar-2 Apr, 1957-75

Here’s another installment of our list of SF casualties, on the way to assisting the USA to the Silver Medal in the Southeast Asian War Games. We haven’t done this in a while so there are three weeks at once to start catching up.

The next couple of paragraphs, before the tables, are the boilerplate that goes with this series of posts.

The list was a life’s work for retired Special Forces Command Sergeant Major Reginald Manning. Reg was beloved for his sharp mind and sense of humor; among other tours he survived one at what was probably the most-bombarded SF A-Camp in the Republic of Vietnam, Katum. (“Ka-BOOM” to its inmates).

There is a key to some of the mysterious abbreviations and codes, after the list.

May God have mercy on their souls, and long may America honor their sacrifices and hold their names high in memory.

After the lists you will find a key to the status codes for the Causes of Death or Missing in Action, and also a decoder for some of the common abbreviations.

In addition, we have some individual comments, that are inserted before the weeks to which they apply.

For the week of 12-19 Mar, no SF soldier was lost on 15 or 19 Mar. Note particularly the loss of Captain William Craig due to a dropped Swedish K. (SF term for the Carl Gustav M45B submachine gun, a favorite for “stylin’ and profilin'” for the crowd, but, like all open-bolt submachine guns, hazardous).

Year

Mo.

Day

Rank

First

Last

Unit

Code

Nation, Location, Circumstances

1966

03

13

E-6 SSG

James E.

Hughes

05B4S

KIA

SVN; A-302, Mike Force, Phuoc Long Prov., YT132368, 8km north of A-312, Xom Cat, Opn Silver City

1966

03

13

O-3 CPT

Edward D.

Pierce

9301

KIA, fixed wing shotdown

SVN; B-31, 519MI, near Xuan Loc; shot down in an L-19

1968

03

13

E-5 SGT

J. Athan

Theodore

11F4S

KIA

SVN; A-238, Buon Blech, Pleiku Prov.

1969

03

13

E-8 MSG

Willis F.

House

11F5S

KIA

SVN; B-55, An Giang Prov., on Hill 92 at Nui Coto, NCOIC of the flamethrower platoon

1969

03

14

O-2 1LT

James L.

Ripanti

31542

KIA

Laos; CCC, RT New Hampshire, in Juliet 9, SSW of Leghorn Radio Relay Site

1966

03

16

E-7 SFC

William H.

Hubbard

71B4S

DNH, accidental homicide

SVN; B-31, Xuan Loc, shot by friendlies while reentering the perimeter

1967

03

16

E-8 MSG

Kenneth R.

Chadwick

11F5S

KIA, DOW

SVN; Advisors, MACV Team 77 at Trung Hoa Ranger Tng Ctr, was w/ SF in Laos at Thakhet in ’61-’62

1969

03

16

O-2 1LT

Francis E.

Sievers, Jr.

31542

KIA

SVN; 2 MSFC, A-201, at A-244, Ben Het, Kontum Prov.

1969

03

16

E-8 MSG

Robert G.

Daniel

11F5S

KIA, DOW, WIA 03/03/1969, DSC

SVN; 2 MSFC, B-20, Kontum Prov., at A-244, Ben Het, YB871242 1 km S of Ben Het

1969

03

16

O-4 MAJ

Marvin L.

Foster

unk

DNH, BNR, recovered ’00; ID’d ’05

SVN; Command Liaison Det, YC936965, aboard U-21A 66-18007, crashed during approach to Hue-Phu Bai

1966

03

17

O-3 CPT

William H.

Craig, Jr.

9007

DNH, accidental self destruction

SVN; CCN, FOB1, Kham Duc, Swedish K fired when dropped

1969

03

17

E-6 SSG

Benedict M.

Davan

11F4C

KIA, DSC

SVN; 5 MSFC, A-504, 521 MSF Co, at Nui Coto, Chau Doc Prov.

1970

03

17

O-3 CPT

James M.

Gribbin

31542

KIA, DOW

SVN; 2 MSFC, A-204, near A-244, Ben Het, Kontum Prov.

1971

03

17

O-5 LTC

Bryan J.

Sutton

31542

DNH, helicopter crash

SVN; w/ 101st, Quang Tri Prov., w/ SF in Laos in ’61 & w/ A1/232 in ’63; on OH-58 #68-16884

1971

03

17

O-4 MAJ

Ronald O.

Scharnberg

31542

DNH, helicopter crash

SVN; w/ 101st, Quang Tri Prov., was first Cdr of B-40 in 1967 as a CPT, on OH-58 #68-16884

1969

03

18

E-7 SFC

Margarito

Fernandez, Jr.

11F4S

KIA, DOW

Cam; CCS, w/ RT??, XT441912, during BDA 11km due East of A-322, Katum; w/ B. Murphy

1969

03

18

E-5 SP5

Barry D.

Murphy

12B4S

KIA, BNR

Cam; CCS, w/ RT??, XT441912, during BDA 11km due East of A-322, Katum; w/ M. Fernandez

In the week of 20-26 Mar, somebody died on every date… and along with the usual combat losses, there’s two aircraft shootdowns, one taking the lives of a whole recon team (RT Pennsylvania). Destroyed RTs were usually reconstituted with new personnel.

Year

Mo.

Day

Rank

First

Last

Unit

Code

Nation, Location, Circumstances

1968

03

20

O-1 2LT

Franklin E.

Speight

31542

KIA

SVN; w/ C Co, 503rd/173rd, Kontum Prov.; mult frag wounds

1969

03

20

E-7 SFC

Ricardo G.

Davis

91B4S

MIA-PFD

Laos; CCN, RT Copperhead, YC409110, 59k west of A-105, Kham Duc

1966

03

21

E-4 SP4

John F.

Scull, Jr.

unk

KIA

SVN; 5 SFG, Signal Co., at A-233, Buon Ea Yang, Darlac Prov.

1967

03

21

E-7 SFC

Charles E.

Hosking, Jr.

11B4S

KIA MOH

SVN; A-302, Mike Force, Phuoc Long Prov., on BLACKJACK 32

1967

03

22

E-7 SFC

Allen H.

Archer

11F4S

KIA

SVN; B-52, “RT 2”, BS779188, Binh Dinh Prov.

1968

03

22

E-7 SFC

Estevan

Torres

11F4S

KIA, DOW

SVN; B-50, FOB2, Binh Dinh Prov.

1968

03

22

E-7 SFC

Linwood D.

Martin

05B4S

KIA, DSC

SVN; B-50, ST Delaware, FOB2, Binh Dinh Prov.

1968

03

22

E-4 SP4

John C.

Wells

11B4S

DNH

SVN; HHC, FOB3, Binh Dinh Prov., got run over

1969

03

22

E-7 SFC

Richard F.

Salazar

05B4S

KIA

SVN; A-333, Chi Linh, Binh Long Prov.

1963

03

23

O-3 CPT

Lavester L.

Williams

31542

DNH, DWM, drowned

SVN; A5/5, An Long, Kien Phong Prov., WS409854; hit on head by passing VN boat while SCUBAing

1964

03

23

E-7 SFC

Thomas L.

Lewis

11F4S

DNH, accidental self destruction

SVN; A1/334B, Bu Prang (old), Quang Duc Prov., YU520545

1967

03

23

E-8 MSG

Paul A.

Conroy, Jr.

11F5S

DNH, accidental self destruction

SVN; CCN, FOB1, RT Maine, at Kham Duc, WP grenade accident during training

1965

03

24

O-3 CPT

David J. W.

Widder

32162

KIA

SVN; B1/410, at A-106, Ba To, shot on board Caribou during approach to A-106, Ba To

1967

03

24

E-7 SFC

Roger C.

Hallberg

11B4S

KIA, DWM

SVN; A-302, Mike Force, Phuoc Long Prov., YU100305, 3km NE of A-341, Bu Dop

1967

03

24

O-4 MAJ

Jack Thomas

Stewart

31542

MIA-PFD, DSC

SVN; A-302, Mike Force, Phuoc Long Prov., YU100305, 3km NE of A-341, Bu Dop

1968

03

24

O-2 1LT

Michael A.

Merkel

17860

KIA, DOW

SVN; 7th PsyOps Gp, attached to MACV Tm 21, Pleiku Prov.

1969

03

24

E-7 SFC

William M.

Bryant

11F4S

KIA MOH

SVN; 3 MSFC, B-36, A-362, Long Khanh Prov., Opn Centurian V at Rang Rang

1969

03

24

E-5 SGT

John M.

Greene

05B4S

KIA, DOW

SVN; 5 MSFC, A-503, 512 MSF Co, at Nui Coto, Chau Doc Prov.

1970

03

24

O-2 1LT

Jerry L.

Pool

31542

MIA-PFD (remains ID’ed 06/2001)

Cam; CCC, RT Pennslyvania, YB484003 38k SSW of Leghorn, Ratanakiri Prov., on UH-1H #68-15262

1970

03

24

E-7 SFC

John A.

Boronski

unk

KIA, BNR (remains ID’ed 06/2001)

Cam; CCC, RT Pennsylvania, YB484003 38k SSW of Leghorn, Ratanakiri Prov., on UH-1H #68-15262

1970

03

24

E-6 SSG

Gary A.

Harned

05B4S

MIA-PFD (remains ID’ed 06/2001)

Cam; CCC, RT Pennsylvania, YB484003 38k SSW of Leghorn, Ratanakiri Prov., on UH-1H #68-15262

1967

03

25

O-3 CPT

Richard E.

Legate

31542

KIA

Laos; CCC, FOB2, Nung Company Commander

1967

03

25

E-5 SGT

Albert C.

Files, Jr.

91B4S

KIA, fixed wing shotdown

SVN; A-243, Plateau Gi, Kontum Prov., aboard O-1E #56-2509, shot down during takeoff from A-243

1968

03

25

E-6 SSG

Balfour O.

Lytton, Jr.

05B4S

KIA, DOW, DSC

SVN; 2 MSFC, B-20, Darlac Prov., near Ban Me Thout, vic BR248245 on Opn BATH

1969

03

25

E-7 SFC

Joseph C.

Haga

12B4C

KIA

SVN; 3 MSFC, B-36, A-361, Long Khanh Prov., at Rang Rang on Opn CENTURIAN V

1967

03

26

E-5 SP5

Raymond B.

Guarino

12B2S

KIA, DWM

SVN; A-235, Nhon Co, Quang Duc Prov., w/ SFC G.D. Hoskins

1967

03

26

E-7 SFC

Gomer D.

Hoskins, Jr.

11B4S

KIA, DWM

SVN; A-235, Nhon Co, Quang Duc Prov., w/ SP5 Guarino

1969

03

26

O-2 1LT

Robert E.

Sheridan

31542

KIA

Laos; CCC, Hatchet Force, Co B; small arms fire

For the week of 3/27-4/2, no SF soldier was lost on 29 or 31 March, or 1 April. In addition, a SOG veteran has informed the community that “the remains of Alan Boyer, line 6, were returned to CONUS and were formally buried at Arlington 6/12/16, with his sister Judi and several SOA/SFA brethren, LTG John Mulholland and many SF men from 5th SFG in attendance.” While Boyer’s teammate George Brown was recovered in 2002, the remains of their other teammate on RT Asp, Charles Huston, have not yet been recovered and/or identified.

Year

Mo.

Day

Rank

First

Last

Unit

Code

Nation, Location, Circumstances

1966

03

27

E-7 SFC

Alden B.

Willey

11C4S

KIA

SVN; A-222, Dong Tre, Phu Yen Prov.

1968

03

27

E-7 SFC

Johnny C.

Calhoun

05B4S

KIA, DWM, DSC

Laos; CCN, FOB3, YC422918, 5k South of Ta Bat

1968

03

27

O-3 CPT

Mac W.

Speaks

31542

KIA

SVN; A-102, Tien Phuoc, Quang Tin Prov.

1968

03

28

E-8 MSG

George R.

Brown

11F5S

MIA-PFD (Recovered 02/2000)

Laos; CCN, FOB4, RT Asp, XD434574 40k WNW of Khe Sanh, w/ Boyer & Huston

1968

03

28

E-6 SSG

Charles G.

Huston

05B4S

MIA-PFD

Laos; CCN, FOB4, RT Asp, XD434574 40k WNW of Khe Sanh, w/ G. R. Brown & Boyer

1968

03

28

E-6 SSG

Alan L.

Boyer

05B4S

MIA-PFD

(Recovered 03/2016)

Laos; CCN, FOB4, RT Asp, XD434574 40k WNW of Khe Sanh, w/ G. R. Brown & Huston

1968

03

30

E-5 SGT

John F.

Link

12B4S

KIA, DOW, WIA 29 March, DSC

SVN; B-52, 91st Ranger Bn Advisor, vic YD554037 18k NE of A Luoi on Opn Samurai IV

1967

04

2

E-5 SGT

William P.

Martin

91B4S

KIA

SVN; A-241, Polei Kleng, Kontum Prov.

1968

04

2

E-5 SP5

Ingo J. R.

Wiskow

12B4S

KIA

SVN; B-36, A-362, Rapid Fire VIII, Phuoc Long Prov., YU322138, 14km ENE of Song Be

1970

04

2

E-7 SFC

Donald G.

Armstrong

11F4S

KIA

Laos; CCC, FORD DRUM during a low-level photo mission; aircraft managed to return to base


SVN SF KIA Status Codes:

BNR – Body Not Recovered. (Known to be dead, but his body was left behind).
DOW – Died of Wounds. (At some time subsequent to the wounding, days/weeks/months).
DNH – Died Non-Hostile. (Accident, disease. There’s a couple suicides among them).
DWM – Died While Missing. (Usually implies body recovered at a different time during the war).
KIA – Killed In Action.
MIA – Missing In Action.
PFD – Presumptive Finding of Death. (This was an administrative close-out of all remaining MIAs during the Carter Administration).

Common Abbreviations

A-XXX (digits). SF A-team and its associated A-camp and area.
AATTV – Australian Army Training Team Vietnam. Their soldiers integrated with SF in VN.
BSM, SS, DSC, MOH: Awards (Bronze Star, Silver Star, Distinguished Service Cross, Medal of Honor).
CCC, CCN, CCS. Command and Control (Center, North and South). Covernames for the three command and support elements of the Special Operations Group cross-border war.
MGF – Mobile Guerrilla Force, indigenous personnel led directly by US.
MSFC – Mobile Strike Force Command, indigenous personnel led directly by US. Aka Mike Force.

We’ll cheerfully answer most other questions to the best of our ability in the comments. Note that (1) it’s Reg’s list, and we can’t ask him any more, and (2) it was Reg’s war, not ours, and all our information about SF in the Vietnam war is second hand from old leaders and teammates, or completely out of secondary sources.

What’s Happening in SF Arms Today

There are a number of things going on right now, some of which may be trends.

More and Heavier Weapons

When we joined SF, while there was plenty of access to weapons that were heavier/more specialized / foreign, what an ODA carried was 12 M16A1 rifles (if we were fortunate enough to have 12 guys and zero empty slots, which happened… let’s just say, rarely). Soon, they gave us two M203s so we didn’t have to keep bumming M79s that Big Green wanted to get rid of.

Since then, the trend has been to push more and heavier weapons down to team level, giving the team increasing mission-driven options.

Background

By the start of Afghanistan, we had SOPMOD I M4A1s, two of them w/203s per ODA, 7.62mm (M24) and 12.7mm (M82A1) sniper rifles, and had just gotten M249 SAWs. We borrowed everything else or bought it out of theater-specific money: AT weapons, a full suite of suppressors, etc. (Suppressors were part of SOPMOD I but ours got stuck in the pipeline and we got 2/team after deployment).

We had claymores and toe-poppers, and in 2003 had to turn them in because some drone in the foreign service had made an unwise promise to the ghost of the least consequential Briton in history, with the possible exception of Boy George, to wit, Princess Diana.

Demolitions have become more urban-centric lately. Your average SF demo man can rig a door to blow in two seconds flat, but send him into a forest to blow down trees for an abatis, and you’ll see him sneaking peeks at reference material.

With the evolution of the war, the weapons evolved rapidly with many more versions of precision rifle appearing, the Mk17 SCAR with several barrel lengths, and variants on the M4 / Mk18. We finally got M240s, M2HBs and Mk 19s of our own, rather than borrowed from Big Green. And bigger weapons yet began to ride our vehicles, notably M134 Miniguns and some SOF-specific weapons.

Where We Are Now

The basic weapon remains the M4A1 with several different uppers available.

Changes since Your Humble Blogger retired include free-floated rails systems, much better general issue 5.56 ammunition negating the need for Mk 262 77-grain, HK grenade launchers partly replacing the Mk 19 (the HK’s a much better weapon), and Mk 44 (currently Mod 3) replacing earlier iterations of Miniguns.

Pistols are a special purchase of the Glock 19, Gen 3, with the MOS slide and the Docter optic as previously used atop some SOF ACOGS. Not all teams in all groups mount the optic, but if the loggies have done their job, they have them available.

For what it’s worth, the Dillon-made Miniguns are preferred over the original GE ones because they’re easier to handle — which is relative; it’s a very difficult and intensive weapon to maintain. “The way that GE attaches the backplate, it feels like it’s trying to rotate in your hands” said one guy who attended a maintenance school which was “nowhere near enough time” on the miniguns. The M134 nomenclature is still used, but only when the gun is mounted for aerial use (for instance, as a helo door gun). This is operator-level maintenance disassembly of a Mk 44, NSN 1005-01-576-3284:

Haven’t seen that many parts since BAR days! Note the armorer’s breakfast of champions: Starbucks, Krispy Kremes, Gatling Gun.

Contrary to normal Hollywood practice, the Mk44 is not an individual weapon for a muscle-bound refugee from WWE, but a vehicular weapon. If it has an Achilles’s Heel, it’s the electrical system. The Navy specified paper fuses, and it’s not easily to tell when a fuse is blown… the first thing an SF armorer or 18B needs to do is replace the fuses with similar value ones from the vehicle maintenance shop. Because it’s a 24v system, it adapts readily to military vehicular or aircraft electrical systems, but is harder to install in nonstandard vehicles. (It can be, and has been, done, but it’s a pain in the neck). The weapon system, complete, draws 2,500 watts of power.

After juice problems, the next most common reason for a Mk 44 going silent is ammunition exhaustion. It burns a lot of rounds at a rate of about 3,000 / min cyclic. (The rate is selectable but that’s the standards). It’s often installed in a Mk49 CROWS, which is relatively trouble-free compared to the gun itself, but can also be fired by a double spade grip on the backplate, and that’s one of the more common ways for SF to use it. Found on YouTube, SF at the range:

Basic load is a multiple of 3,000 round ready canisters. (The Vietnam-era 1,000 round cans seem to be obsolete). The cans need to be changed before you shoot up the last rounds in the approximately 14-foot long (~4m) flexible feed chute, or reload will be a slow and exacting experience, and if you are under fire your teammates will call you hurtful names.

Even as the SCAR has fallen out of a favored position as the doorkicker-gun-par-excellence, there’s word that Big Green is buying a quantity of them, and they are being relabeled the CAR because the S in SOF Combat Assault Rifle no longer applies.

SF and all ARSOF loves it when Big Green buys something that we pioneered, because it means we can get more with regular Title 10 appropriated funds and not use our MFP 11 SOF money for that. Sure, it’s all the same tax blood coming from the same taxpayer turnips, but the finite pool of SOF money has to buy everything from TF 160’s next space age flying thing to improved foreign-language training classes. As you can imagine, the fly guys and the language instructors (not to mention futuristic communications and ISR-device users) get bent out of shape when we “misuse” what they know is “their” money merely for stuff to kill the enemy with, which they point out that we can do perfectly well with two sticks of wood and 18″ of twine. So when we get guns that are shared with the big Army, it’s better for everybody: we think it often gets them better guns (they sure liked lightweight 7.62mm machine guns), and we know it gives us more cash to spend on our other priorities that are less in-demand among the general purpose forces (who have their own track record of killing the enemy, after all).

Where We’re Going

That’s anybody’s guess. Wider issue of the .300 BLK upper has been a matter of controversy inside SF — some are strong for it, some oppose it. The guys that have it have been dealing deadly execution with it. But SOCOM has reportedly solicited offers for 25 thousand .300 BLK PDW/CQC kits: with a side-folding stock and a 10-inch .300 BLK upper.

There’s no real interest in piston uppers or 416s. Fanboy stuff for the civilian tacticool community, really. Nobody’s shown us a data-driven test that documents any significant improvement. (Remember, the 416 was bought by SOF ~15-20 years ago to solve a short barrel reliability problem that’s now well-licked in DI weapons).

Magazines are prosaic but they’ve come many miles. We’ve gone from having only a couple of decent magazine choices to a great quantity of types of solid, reliable, consistent-feeding magazines. The days that you had to run steel HK mags because the issue mags sucked so bad are long behind us; even the issue mags don’t suck. The HKs are still good, but why pay the dollar and weight premium? Magpuls are good, too — the Marines are standardizing on them — and they’re not the only good polymer option.

There’s also no real interest in a reversion to 7.62 in any of the current platforms as a standard, baseline weapon. Afghanistan and Iraq/Syria are a bit unusual in offering lots of long-range engagements. Unless their predeployment training dropped the ball (which some units have managed to do), our riflemen across the board are far more lethal than the enemy anywhere inside the 800m envelope. The enemy still deploys (apart from MGs and snipers) weapons that are outranged by our rifles, mostly 7.62 x 39 weapons with short-radius open sights; the AK platform fails to exploit the accuracy potential of its cartridges.

With the war continuing, we may not see major fielding but we’re going to see lots of improved developments. We are currently in a place where some of the last decade’s developments need to be digested and promulgated. We’re not sure where the soldier of 2117 will be fighting, but the odds are pretty good he will be fighting with a weapon that launches metallic projectiles from the shoulder and weighs about 6 to 10 pounds. As has been the case since about 1617.

Chief of Staff on the Future: Smaller Units, Smarter Soldiers?

General Mark Milley spoke recently at a conference on what the Army of the Future might look like.

Urban warfare is the next battlefield frontier, and the Army will have to rethink both its command structure and soldiers themselves in order to adapt, the service’s top general said Tuesday.

This is nothing new. We’ve been saying for 30+ years that an increasing urbanized world means changes for both the traditional culture of fight-em-in-the-wilderness, and the special operations culture of sneak-by-when-they’re-not-looking. For special ops, it probably means more clandestine operations and tradecraft. (Something to learn from Russian use of SOF in the war to undermine Ukrainian independence, here).

However, it’s encouraging to see a general, the guys we pay to think big, indulging in some big-picture thinking. All the rest of the Army is off the clock when they’re thinking big, not that it stops us.

The Army isn’t going to an all-special operations model, but there’s some inspiration the conventional Army can take from that culture, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said at the Future of War Conference in Washington, D.C.

“I think you’ll have smaller organizations, in 10 years and beyond,” he said.

That might look like company- or battalion-sized operational units, he added, but it wouldn’t mean doing away with brigades and divisions.

There’s a limit to how much span of control one individual has, whether he’s directing men or directing drones.

“The fighting element will probably end up having to be much smaller,” he said. “Think of special operations — that may be a preview of how larger armies operate in the future.”

One future factor that seems to be not overly considered is the increased lethality of fires. The same sorts of reasons that once militated against massing in the Pentomic Division days of battlefield nukes now apply to anyone fighting a conventional military. The artillery fires of the 21st Century are not like anything we’ve seen before, and while we developed much of the technology, we haven’t developed doctrine to support it, and we haven’t fielded it in quantity.

Meanwhile, regional and near-peer powers retain and make technical progress in non-nuclear WMD.

The future will also bring more unmanned capabilities and, as a result, possibly a lower risk for loss of life.

“We’ve lost a lot of soldiers in the past 15 years who were driving convoys, from point A to point B, and were attacked by [improvised explosive devices], and they were delivering food or ammunition,” Milley said. “Think about, if you could, a logistics convoy delivering the required supplies to a forward unit, but there’s no drivers in the convoy.”

And this also moves your war into the electronic and cyber domain, where the US military has not displayed world-class aptitude.

That technology already exists with driverless cars created by Google and others. It will take some time to make something that can negotiate rough battlefield terrain, Milley said, but it will happen.

Of course, lefties dread and fear the Army, which goes back to their ancestral memories of pogroms in the night, or worse, a draft notice to be evaded.

To those on that end of things, any change in the military brings us further down the slippery slope to overt Francoism, and means that Doctor Strangelove will be immersing us in nuclear Armageddon just for the sheer atavistic joy of hearing the bang.

Then the question becomes whether that lowers the bar for risk when deciding to go to war, said Anne-Marie Slaughter, president of the New America think tank and moderator of the session with Milley.

via Milley: Future conflicts will require smaller Army units, more mature soldiers.

Then, there’s this:

Soldiers will have to be highly trained in discriminating fire, able to quickly and effectively tell who is a combatant and who is a bystander. Leader development will be key, Milley added, and lessons could come, again, from the special operations community.

“We’re probably going to have to have more mature, more seasoned leaders at lower levels than perhaps the organization design calls for now,” he said.

For example, special operations companies are led by majors instead of captains, as they are in the conventional Army. But special operations also often has the benefit of older, more experienced soldiers rather than brand new, 19-year-old privates.

“Our leaders at the pointy end of the spear are going to have to have very, very high degrees of ethical skill and resilience to be able to deal with incredibly intense issues in ground combat,” Milley said.

So the next task, over the following 10 to 15 years, Milley said, is figuring out how to recruit and quickly train the type of people who can take that special operations-style expertise and bring it to the regular Army.

SOF Maturity for General Purpose Forces?

Hard to do. And not because GPF guys are bad (after all, who’s the recruiting pool for most SOF?) But because there is no royal road to maturity, and no short course to combat and tactical judgment.

Basically, you can’t make privates into SF or SEAL type guys in the time you have for training a private. Truth be told, it takes ten years to make a versatile, well-rounded SF guy. You get some good work out of him during those ten years of seasoning, sure, but it takes that long just to be exposed to a significant percentage of the mission sets that come with the job. (We’d guess something similar applies over in the Teams — a 3-year or 5-year Frogman is a pretty good asset in most missions, but he’s still learning more than he’s teaching. But that’s just a guess; we don’t pretend to grasp SEAL culture or to speak for our web-footed friends).

You can make privates into Rangers in about double the time it takes to make them nugget infantrymen, but (1) you need a wide recruiting base and (2) you absolutely need attrition in your pipeline.  You can’t make everybody SF-like (and we’re aware of the important limitations on what the Chief was saying) for the same reason all the kids can’t be above average. Indeed, the stuff the Chief was carving out from SOF that he wants to see in the regular forces — the maturity, the low level leadership — are just the things that take longest to inculcate.

But there will be a Future Army, and it will be Different

There’s a line from an Al Stewart song (a song about smuggling guns, actually):

In the village where I grew up nothing is the same
But still, you never see the change from day to day

When we cynically dismiss Big Think conferences and the brainstorming of senior generals and their horse-holders, we forget that, even though we never see the change from day to day, the Army that holds your retirement parade isn’t the Army you were sworn into a generation earlier. Otherwise we’d still be this Army:

…or this Army:

US Army Tank Destroyer patch, never official but very widespread.

 

And we think you’ll agree that, for better or for worse, we’re not that Army any more.

Everything we take for granted today, such as attack and utility helicopters, anti-tank missiles, and satellite communications, was once somebody’s crackpot idea that caught the imagination of some general and took off.

CQB: Attitude Beats TTPs

There’s nobody quite as good at CQB/CQC/good-ole-doorkickin’ as the unit known as Delta. Not anybody, not worldwide. The SF teams that are best at CQB are the ones that train to be an interim stopgap, available to theater combatant commanders if Delta’s too far out or too overcommitted for a given tasking.

Delta’s skills came from its origin as a Hostage Rescue / Personnel Recovery unit, and it now has nearly four decades of institutional memory (some of which cycles back around as contract advisors so that old TTPs don’t get lost) to bring skills back up when real-world missions sometimes take off a little bit of the CQB edge.

In a wide-ranging post at the paywalled site SOFREP, fortunately reposted at the unwalled site The Arms Guide, former Delta operator George E. Hand IV discusses how the most important building block of CQB is, absolutely, the guts to actually do it.

Close Quarters Combat (CQC) is to the effect about 75% (maybe higher) testicles, and then 25% technique. I don’t like to over complicate things, especially CQB…. It is the very nature of the degree of difficulty inherent in ‘the act’ of CQB that bids its techniques to remain very simple, lest the mind become incapable of holding the process at all.

… if you can find a person that will take an AR and run into a small room of completely unknown contents, expected deadly threat, then you already have ~75% of what you need to create a successful CQB operator. All that remains, is to teach and train your operator the very few principles, and the very simple techniques, for room combat.

….

You are ~75% ‘there’ once you have that individual who will storm blindly into a deadly room. Now, it can’t be a person who just says they will do it. It has to be a person that in fact WILL do it, and WILL do it over and over.

See, no matter how high-speed low-drag you are, the enemy gets the proverbial vote, too.

There is a constant that exists, though you may disagree ferociously, it remains nonetheless: “no amount of high-speed training and bravado will ever trump the thug behind the door, pointing his AR at the door, and with finger on trigger.” ….

That’s right, the Chuck Yeager of CQB has a bullet waiting for him; all he has to do is wait long enough, however long that is. I have known a team of Delta men who lost their junior and senior team mates to the same goat-poker in the same small room in Iraq.

Both were head wounds from the same rag-head firing blindly over the top of a covered position. For the senior brother, that room was supposed to be the last room, of the last attack, of the last day, of the last overseas deployment he was ever supposed to make. The wait was over.

via Nobody goes into a room like Delta Force: A CQB attitude primer | The Arms Guide.

That “senior brother” is MSG Bob Horrigan, whose picture (courtesy Hand) graces this post. The new guy was MSG Mike McNulty, whose image is also at the link.

Hand’s entire post is worth reading, studying, and even contemplating. Do you go in, when going in could well get you shot by some “rag-head goat-poker”? (For police, substitute “brain-dead gangbanger” or “booze-drenched wife beater”). Real life for guys in these jobs is a daily reenactment of Kipling’s Arithmetic on the Frontier.

No proposition Euclid wrote
No formulae the text-books know,
Will turn the bullet from your coat,
Or ward the tulwar’s downward blow.
Strike hard who cares – shoot straight who can
The odds are on the cheaper man.

(Background on the poem. Of all the things I read before going to Afghanistan, Kipling was the best preparation. The Yusufzais he mentions are today still a Pathan (Pushtun) tribal group, frequently in opposition; the Afridis are still dominant in the Khyber Pass area, and some of them still affect green turbans. Only the weapons have improved).

If you have the attitude, and are willing to go into the Valley of the Shadow because you’re not going to be in there with them, instead those poor throgs are going to be in there with you, what are the simple tactics he has in mind?

(Caveat. Your Humble Blogger has never served in Delta. He had a short CQB/HR course called SOT many years ago, the short course which ultimately evolved, in two paths, into SFAUC and SFARTAETC).

Preparation

You need to have the basics first:

  1. Physical fitness. If you’re not ready to sprint up five flights of stairs you’re definitely not ready to train on this. Bear in mind that actual combat is much more physically exhausting and draining than any quantity of combat training. That may because fear dumps stress hormones that either induce or simulate fatigue. Perhaps there’s some other reason; it’s enough to know that the phenomenon is real.
  2. Marksmanship. This comprises hits on target but also shoot/no-shoot decision-making, malf clearing and primary-secondary transition. In our limited experience, almost no civilian shooters apart from practical-shooting competitors are ready to train on this stuff.
  3. Teamwork. It’s best to train a team that’s already tight. If not, no prob, the training process will tighten you.
  4. Decision Making under Stress. This is vital, because the one thing that you can plan on is your plan going to that which is brown and stinketh.

Process

The military stresses doing complex events (“eating the elephant”) by breaking them down into components (“bite-sized chunks.”) The process we use is lots of rehearsals in which risk and speed are gradually increased. One level is absolutely mastered before reaching for the risk or speed dial. (There are guys who go to SFAUC and are still carrying a blue-barrel Simunitions weapon in the live-fire phase. They’re still learning, but they’re not picking it up at the speed of the other guys. They’ll have to catch up and live fire to graduate).

Numerous rehearsals and practices are done in buildings of previously unknown configurations. A culmination exercise is full-speed, live-fire, breaching doors into an unknown situation. It can be done with dummies playing the hostiles and some hostages, and live people playing some no-shoot targets. (George has a story about this at the link. Not unusual to have a Unit commander or luminary like the late Dick Meadows in the hostage chair on a live-fire; at least once before Desert One, they put a very nervous Secretary of the Army in the chair).

The term the Army uses for this phased training process is widely adaptable to learning or teaching anything:

  1. Crawl
  2. Walk
  3. Run

Most civilian students, trainers and schools go from zero-to-sixty way too fast. To learn effectively, don’t crawl until the training schedule says walk, crawl until you’re ready.

Training should be 10% platform instruction and 90% hands-on. This is a craft, and you’re apprenticing, you’re not studying for an exam.

Tactics on Target

The most important thing you get from all these drills is an instinctive understanding of where the other guys are and where you are at all times, and where you’re personally responsible for the enemy.

Divide the sectors by the clock (degrees are too precise) and have one man responsible for a sector. Don’t shoot outside your sector unless the guy covering that sector is down. Staying on your sector is vital for safety! You should not only own the sector between your left and right limits, but also the vertical aspect of that sector, from beneath you, at your feet, through the horizontal plane to overhead.

Shoot/No-Shoot is vital and the only right way to do it is look at the hands and general gestalt of the individual to assess a threat. Weapon in hand? Nail ’em. Empty hands? Wait and keep assessing. (In this day of suicide vests, any attempt to close with you should probably be treated as a suicide bomb attempt).

If you have the personnel, the shooters do not deal with neutrals or friendlies on the X. There’s a following team that handles them, for several reasons including the shooters being keyed up to a fare-thee-well at the moment of entry.

You can’t learn CQB from a book, or a lecture, or some assclown on YouTube who never suited up and took a door. You have to physically practice, and practice, and practice. Ideally, under the beady eye of someone with a lot of doors in his past, and a skill at setting targets that borders on malicious mischief. (MSG Paul Poole, rest in peace, you old goat).

But first, absolutely first, you need guys with the guts to try. George is absolutely right about that. There is much other good stuff in his post, including a funny history of the term “operator” in the Army. (If you didn’t attend the Operators’ Training Course, it’s not you. Sorry ’bout that). You know what we’re going to say now, right? Damn straight. Read The Whole Thing™.

A Nice Story about a Non-Crazed Vet

Lieutenant Denny Drewry, “garrison” uniform, Vietnam 1968

Denzil “Denny” Drewry is an old friend and former head of our Special Forces Association chapter (Chapter LIV), who by blindest happenstance lives a few streets over from where Your Humble Blogger was raised.

Like many SF vets, his SF service was just one period in a long life of selfless service.

To our surprise, he was profiled in the Worcester, Massachusetts Telegram & Gazette with the sort of respect that newspapers these days seem to find only for dead vets in their obituaries… so we’re grateful to George Barnes of the Telegram & Gazette for doing such a warm and detailed profile of a deserving SF soldier. (It’s apparently part of a series on local vets that Barnes has been working on. Don’t tell the Pulitzer judges we praised his writing, they’ll retaliate).

Mr. Drewry enlisted in the Army in 1966, about a year after the Tonkin Gulf Resolution allowed President Lyndon Johnson to wage war in Vietnam. He joined with two things in mind: to serve in the Green Berets and to fight in Vietnam.

“Every paper I signed, I put “Green Berets – Vietnam, Green Berets – Vietnam, Green Berets – Vietnam,” he said.

Denny, field uniform, Camp A-102, 1968

At the University of Arkansas he was in the Reserve Officers Training Corps, but still had nearly two years of extensive training before he was qualified to serve in the Green Berets. He attended basic training, advanced infantry training, airborne school and six months of officer-candidate school, graduating as a newly minted second lieutenant. The final step was Special Forces Qualifying School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Vietnam, by the time he got there in August 1968, was at its height. The North Vietnamese and Viet Cong had launched the Tet Offensive in January of that year, which proved to be the largest military campaign of the war. Promoted to lieutenant, he worked first in intelligence and then was assigned to a Special Forces A team at Camp A-102 in the Tien Phouoc in Quang Tin province. The camp was one of a series of Special Forces camps set up to interfere with infiltration of enemy troops and weapons from the north. Located near the Laos and North Vietnam borders, the camp was in direct conflict with the North Vietnamese Army.

When he went to war, Mr. Drewry said, he was brimming with confidence, but admitted being frightened the first time he was shot at. He soon got over that as he gained experience. It was never easy at A-102. During one attack, close air support from Navy and Marine pilots saved the day, stopping the North Vietnamese in their tracks.

“We almost got overrun,” Mr. Drewry said. “It was bad weather and we couldn’t get choppers in to reinforce us. We can thank the Navy and Marine Corps pilots for saving us.”

Mr. Drewry’s luck ran out in March 1969, when he was wounded in the leg during an attack. He and a medic he was working with were evacuated to a hospital. Seven months after he arrived in Vietnam, he was headed home. When he recovered, Mr. Drewry continued to serve with the Green Berets for a total of 12 years. He said he would have stayed in longer, but the pain in his injured leg during parachute jumps convinced him it was time to retire.

via Those Who Serve: Green Beret from Westboro says service helped shape a full life.

Denny today. Worcester Telegram photo

He went on, as Barnes records, to some distinction in civilian life, too. He held important jobs in private and in public life. And he remains engaged at an age when most Americans are long since retired.

Denny is the kind of a guy you want for a neighbor, whether it’s on his quiet street in Westboro, Massachusetts, or in a noisy gunfight with altogether too many NVA. (Although he’s probably glad the gunfights are over).

Like his military service, what Denny has done as a civilian is not the sort of thing that gets statues of a guy erected. It’s just the sort of Norman Rockwell stuff, like being a town selectman, that holds the country together.

That’s all. But that’s enough, isn’t it?

Anti-Military Congressmen Undermine Medical Training

Then-PV2 Ron Westervelt, 12th SFG(A), in team live tissue training, March 1967.

The Washington word for “galactically stupid idea” is bipartisan, and before us we have a bipartisan bill to undermine military medical training. This is because these two partisans who are apparently bi (NTTAWWT… oh, who are we kidding, everything is wrong with that, it’s just not any of our business) … anyway, these two bi partisans value the opinions of their friends in PETA (the overt wing of the ALF terrorist group) more than they value the lives of soldiers. Which is not surprising, because they’re Congressmen, not a caste one normally associates with concern for les races oprimées. Such as, say, grunts.

Live Tissue Training, with which we have firsthand experience, is irreplaceable and necessary — as long as DC bums like these two soldier-haters keep sending our people into harm’s way. Want an example? Special Forces medics last year drew on skills learned in LTT in a heroic effort to save two SF troopers gravely wounded by a Jordanian Air Force gate guard. Despite what autopsy determined later to be the irrecoverably mortal nature of the wounds, they kept one man alive for the hours it took to fixed-wing evacuate him to King Hussein hospital, where he unfortunately expired. Elsewhere, that skill saves real, precious lives. We’ve seen it, live in full five-sense surround. (The smells stay with you).

Back to our “let-em-OJT-that-med-$#!+” Congressmen:

Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., and Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., introduced a bill on Tuesday that would require the military to use only “human-based methods” to train service members to treat injuries sustained on the battlefield and end the use of “live tissue training,” in which troops stab or shoot pigs and goats to simulate the treatment of combat trauma, by Oct. 1, 2020.

Representative Hank Johnson’s military service was… uh, he doesn’t appear to have had any. He’s a lawyer, and a second (at least) generation payroll patriot; his father was a high-ranking bureaucrat and he grew up in DC. Representative Tom Marino? Another lawyer with no military service. He was in the chronological sweet spot for the Vietnam Era draft (H.S. grad, 1970), but somehow didn’t manage to wriggle into a uniform — he wriggled out of service, instead.

Johnson told the Washington Examiner he intends to raise the issue during debate on the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act and hopes to use the must-pass bill as a vehicle to ban live-tissue training. He said simulators offer better combat training than live animals, are more humane and are ultimately more cost-effective.

“It may cost more for a simulator than for a live animal in terms of initial outlay, but you can only use that animal once, you can use the simulator repeatedly. So over the course of time, it’s better,” he said.

Before you give too much credence to what Johnson says, bear in mind he’s the brain-dead moron who didn’t want to add any more Marines in Guam, because too many Leathernecks might make the island capsize and sink. (And yeah, he’s a lawyer. We bet you’re glad this dimbulb isn’t your lawyer. Or maybe he was, and that’s why your ex got sole custody of the kids and dog, or you’re reading this in the Halfway House library after completing all your hard time).

The military already has transitioned many of its medical training courses to use human-based simulators, which advocates say are realistic and better prepare troops to handle combat injuries since the simulators have the same anatomy as a human.

“Advocates” — nameless “advocates,” like nameless “experts,” are a technique used by a dishonest journalist to inject his or her opinion into the story. The only “advocates” who say that are the tofu-burning weirdos and cat hoarders of PETA, and the snake-oil salesmen who sell these simulators.

You can write this down: if you ever have to do a cutdown on a bleeder for real, or even just treat for tension pneumothorax, you’d rather it wasn’t your first time doing it except on a computer screen.

But for some training, the military continues to use live goats and pigs that are anesthetized, injured, treated and then euthanized.

The Defense Department is not onboard with completely ending its use of animals in combat trauma medical training – at least not yet. Lt. Col. Roger Cabiness, a department spokesman, said the military is “actively working to refine, reduce, and, when appropriate, replace the use of live animals in medical education and training.”

This reporter, Jacqueline Klimas, like Johnson and Marino, literally values the animals expended in LTT — 8,500 pigs and goats per annum — more than a similar number of human souls. At least when the souls are those of soldiers.

What a despicable, dysfunctional, amoral human being!

Perhaps she could find some way to mortally wound herself, so that her local EMS can practice on her, and spare the live of one endangered caprine.

Or maybe we can replace goat lab with something that doesn’t take a precious life, like, say, journalist lab.

After all, if it saves just one goat, it’s worth it, right?

via The military kills 8,500 pigs and goats every year for medical training. A new bill would end that | Washington Examiner.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Radix Press

Steve Sherman’s Radix Press is a narrow publisher indeed: most of what it publishes is lists and databases, but they all relate to Special Forces in Vietnam (where Steve himself served). Along with many Who’s Who books (for instance, Who’s Who in MAC-V SOG, known to SF vets and wannabe busters as “the yellow book”), he also publishes data on CDs, a set of reprints of Special Forces Vietnam’s in-house magazine, The Green Beret, which was published and printed on Okinawa and flown to Vietnam from 1966-1970, and a website full of SF Vietnam information.

Discussions in the comments recently brought this site up to mind; we may even have used it as a W4 before, but if so, it’s about due again.

The name of the website is memorable enough: SpecialForcesBooks.com. Along with the listing-type stuff, which is admittedly most interesting to other SF vets and specialized historians, there are books of after-action reports. Many of these documents can’t be found online or in libraries.

Steve’s lists of who’s who in each camp are largely on the site in the Work in Progress pages. Even the Army doesn’t have these listings; when SOCOM historians want to talk to the guys at a particular A-Camp, they check with Steve. His data is not 100% accurate, but it is based on copies of orders that he has seen with his own eyes, so it’s as good as data gets.

The website has some downsides. It’s hard to navigate, and looks like something from the 1990s, because it is from the 1990s (and even includes some time-capsule early HTML faux pas, such as scrolling text).

But one thing you can do very easily: search for Vietnam SF soldiers by name. You can find some of their specific assignments (because these are based on official orders, and SF guys had better than average luck and skill at getting orders changed, or getting more congenial orders issued, there’s a few percent error rate). Here we search for the late Sergeant Major Reg Manning:

And we see his Vietnam rank, specialty, and assignments. Easy! (And if you follow the links, you may see his assignment dates).

 

Special Forces Losses in Southeast Asia This Week, 6-12 Mar, 1957-75

Here’s another installment of our list of SF casualties, on the way to assisting the USA to the Silver Medal in the Southeast Asian War Games. The next couple of paragraphs, before the table, are the boilerplate that goes with this series of posts.

The list was a life’s work for retired Special Forces Command Sergeant Major Reginald Manning. Reg was beloved for his sharp mind and sense of humor; among other tours he survived one at what was probably the most-bombarded SF A-Camp in the Republic of Vietnam, Katum. (“Ka-BOOM” to its inmates). As a medic, some of Reg’s duties in the camp were not a joking matter, and that’s all we’re going to say about that.

There is a key to some of the mysterious abbreviations and codes, after the list.

May God have mercy on their souls, and long may America honor their sacrifices and hold their names high in memory.

Here is the key to the status codes for the Causes of Death or Missing in Action, and also a decoder for some of the common abbreviations:

Year

Mo.

Day

Rank

First

Last

Unit

Code

Nation, Location, Circumstances

1967

03

6

E-5 SGT

Howard B.

Carpenter

05B4S

KIA, BNR

Laos; B-50, FOB2, YD180036, Operation DAWES, 21k WNW of A Luoi

1967

03

6

E-4 SP4

Burt C.

Small, Jr

11B4S

MIA-PFD, died in captivity

SVN; A-108, Minh Long, Quang Ngai Prov., BS533587 8k north of camp

1967

03

6

E-6 SSG

Michael F.

Stearns

12B4S

KIA

SVN; A-108, Minh Long, Quang Ngai Prov., BS533587 8k north of camp, w/ Sanchez looking for SP4 Small

1967

03

6

E-8 MSG

Thomas J.

Sanchez

11F5S

KIA, DSC

SVN; A-108, Minh Long, Quang Ngai Prov., BS533587 8k north of camp, w/ Stearns looking for SP4 Small

1968

03

6

O-5 LTC

Robert

Lopez

31542

KIA, BNR (recovered 10/07/94)

SVN; CCN, FOB1, Phu Bai, YC456958, in CH-46 shootdown 4 km NE of Ta Bat, FOB C.O.

1969

03

6

O-3 CPT

John T.

McDonnell

31542

MIA-PFD, BNR, helicopter crash

SVN; w/ 77th Arty (ARA)/101st in AH1G #67-15845; ZC177968: had 2 prev tours w/ SF; one w/ A-321

1970

03

6

E-5 SGT

Walter B.

Foote

05B4S

KIA

SVN; A-413, Binh Thanh Thon, Kien Tuong Prov., w/ MSG W. D. Stephens

1970

03

6

E-8 MSG

Willie D.

Stephens

11F5S

KIA

SVN; A-413, Binh Thanh Thon, Kien Tuong Prov., w/ SGT Foote

1970

03

6

W-4 CW4

George E.

Railey

631A7

DNH, vehicle crash

SVN; C-2, ??where??, Pleiku Prov., jeep accident??

1970

03

6

E-7 SFC

James W.

Finzel

11B4S

DNH, drowned

SVN; CCN, RT Moccasin, drowned while at the beach at CCN

1968

03

7

E-5 SP5

Little J.

Jackson

91B4S

KIA, DOW

SVN; B-52, 5th Ranger Co. Advisor, YD558043 19k NE of A Luoi, Thua Thien Prov., Opn Samurai IV

1968

03

8

E-4 SP4

John M.

Tomkins

91B4S

KIA, DOW (WIA on 2/25/68)

SVN; A-109, Thoung Duc, Quang Nam Prov., convoy returning from Da Nang, w/ Beals

1969

03

8

E-6 SSG

James E.

Janka

11B4S

KIA

SVN; 1 MSFC, B-16, 11th MSF Co, Nung Company XO, at A-102, Tien Phuoc, Quang Tin Prov.

1969

03

8

O-4 MAJ

Peter L.

Gorvad

31542

KIA

SVN; w/ 1st Cav, Bn Cdr at LZ Grant northeast of Saigon

1966

03

9

E-7 SFC

Raymond

Allen

11C4S

KIA, DWM

SVN; 5 MSFC, A-503, at A-102, A Shau, Thua Thien Prov.

1966

03

9

E-6 SSG

Billie A.

Hall

91B4S

KIA, DSC

SVN; 5 MSFC, A-503, at A-102, A Shau, Thua Thien Prov., inside the perimeter

1966

03

9

E-5 SP5

Phillip T.

Stahl

91B2S

KIA, DWM, DSC

SVN; A-102, A Shau, Thua Thien Prov.

1967

03

9

E-8 MSG

Frank C.

Huff

11B4S

KIA, war accident

SVN; 2 MSFC, A-219, on BlackJack 23; 1st Platoon Leader; BR552875; bomb from friendly aircraft

1968

03

9

E-7 SFC

Dale R.

Karpenske

97D4P

DNH, accidental self destruction

SVN; 441MI, 1st SFG, OP-35, Bien Hoa Prov.

1969

03

9

E-6 SSG

Tim L.

Walters

11F4S

KIA, DWM (recovered 02/16/99)

Laos; CCN, Ops-32, XD524658, shotdown aboard O-2A 67-21425 40k NW west of A-101 (old) Lang Vei

1971

03

9

E-7 SFC

Merle E.

Loobey

11F40

KIA

SVN; Advisors, Kien Giang Prov

1966

03

10

E-5 SGT

James L.

Taylor

11B4S

KIA, DWM, BNR

SVN; 5 MSFC, A-503, at A-102, A Shau, Thua Thien Prov., YC485845, WIA in camp and died during E&E

1966

03

10

E-5 SGT

Owen F.

McCann

05B4S

KIA, DWM

SVN; A-102, A Shau, Thua Thien Prov.

1968

03

10

E-5 SGT

Warren C.

Lane

11B4S

KIA

SVN; w/ 11th LIB, Quang Ngai Prov.

1969

03

10

E-5 SGT

Allan D.

Mortensen

91B4S

KIA

SVN; 3 MSFC, B-36, Long Khanh Prov., CENTURIAN VI??

1970

03

10

E-4 SP4

Stephen A.

Spiers

91B4S

KIA, DOW

SVN; B-52, Recondo Plt, Phuoc Long Prov., Opn Sabre & Spurs, YT318768 13k SSE of A-344, Bunard

1968

03

12

E-7 SFC

Estel D.

Spakes

05B4S

KIA

SVN; A-109, Thoung Duc, Quang Nam Prov., his CIDG patrol was overrun


SVN SF KIA Status Codes:

BNR – Body Not Recovered. (Known to be dead, but his body was left behind).
DOW – Died of Wounds. (At some time subsequent to the wounding, days/weeks/months).
DNH – Died Non-Hostile. (Accident, disease. There’s a couple suicides among them).
DWM – Died While Missing. (Usually implies body recovered at a different time during the war).
KIA – Killed In Action.
MIA – Missing In Action.
PFD – Presumptive Finding of Death. (This was an administrative close-out of all remaining MIAs during the Carter Administration).

Common Abbreviations

A-XXX (digits). SF A-team and its associated A-camp and area.
AATTV – Australian Army Training Team Vietnam. Their soldiers integrated with SF in VN.
BSM, SS, DSC, MOH: Awards (Bronze Star, Silver Star, Distinguished Service Cross, Medal of Honor).
CCC, CCN, CCS. Command and Control (Center, North and South). Covernames for the three command and support elements of the Special Operations Group cross-border war.
MGF – Mobile Guerrilla Force, indigenous personnel led directly by US.
MSFC – Mobile Strike Force Command, indigenous personnel led directly by US. Aka Mike Force.

We’ll cheerfully answer most other questions to the best of our ability in the comments. Note that (1) it’s Reg’s list, and we can’t ask him any more, and (2) it was Reg’s war, not ours, and all our information about SF in the Vietnam war is second hand from old leaders and teammates, or completely out of secondary sources.

An SF Brother Comes Home

Here is a video of one of the enoute Dignified Transfers of the remains of Special Forces Warrant Officer Shawn Thomas of 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg. WO1 Thomas fell not in combat with an armed enemy, but in a motor vehicle accident in Niger, Africa, during a routine joint combined training/exercise deployment. That doesn’t make him any less dead, nor does it alter the grief of his wife, his friends and teammates, and, even, the crew and passengers of the plane that transported his remains.

We in the SF community are grateful to the aircrew, airline, and especially the passengers who showed such great respect, despite being inconvenienced.

Freedom isn’t free. In our eight or nine years of peacetime active duty, our Special Forces group lost men to electrocution, parachute mishaps, a Fulton STAR mishap, a skiing mishap, and even to entanglement in brush while crossing a stream swollen with snowmelt runoff. And, yes, motor vehicle accidents.  After going into the Reserves and Guard, we we less connected to the other battalions and companies in our Group, but we’d get word of fatal and serious accidents from time to time.

You can’t train for combat without some risky activities. And you can’t conduct risky activity indefinitely without rolling snake eyes some time.

In cases like this, where fallen service members are transported on commercial aircraft, it’s customary for the cockpit crew to hold the doors on the aircraft (with the exception of allowing an escort to debark) to allow the casket to be transferred with suitable dignity. As you can see in the video, the pallbearers — often from the decedent’s unit, and sometimes volunteers — and the mortuary personnel have a procedure for this and execute it with the maximum dignity to the memory of the fallen man, and the minimum inconvenience to other travelers.

Very occasionally, someone gets mouthy or disrespectful on the plane. You can’t eliminate a certain percentage of humanity being jerks. But it doesn’t happen much, because, after all, they’re already segregated — most of Hollywood and Congress flies by private jet.

Wednesday Thursday Weapons Website of the Week: Burr Smith

This is not Burr Smith’s (full name, Robert Burr Smith) Facebook Page — he didn’t live to see Facebook, or personal computers for that matter — but it is a tribute page to Smith, an Army Airborne, Special Forces and unconventional warfare legend, set up by his son. Hey, how many guns can you ID from this grainy picture? (Four are easy, we’ll list ’em after the jump).

Smith was a member of the famous E Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, jumping into Normandy on the night of 5/6 June 1944, and that’s not even where he became legendary.

Sorry for the day late and brevity, but… well, sorry not sorry. Go to the page. Learn about this guy. There are a few books about the secret war in Laos that will help you understand a guy who began there with White Star and was there on and off for about as long as an American was welcome.

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