Ave atque Vale, Charlie Aycock

charlie_aycockCharles Aycock was a man you never forgot. If you didn’t know him, it is our mission to, by the end of this short blog post, make you regret that you did not. He made that easy,

He was a rare officer to have served in all components of Army SF — Active, Reserve, and National Guard Special Forces assignments; SF special mission units; and as a Department of the Army civilian supporting Special Forces.

After graduating SFOC, his initial assignment was in the National Guard 20th Special Forces Group. Volunteering for active duty and Vietnam, he served in MACV-SOG as a Hatchet Force leader and later attached to the combined interagency Phoenix Program. He served also in a variety of military free fall jobs, including as a team leader on an MFF Special Atomic Demolition Munition team.

He might have gotten a Regular commission, but he didn’t get his college degree until 1981, and then by assembling credits from here and there to get a degree from the Regents’ External Degree Program (now Excelsior University) of the State of New York. He actually did graduate level work (at the Command and General Staff College) before having a college degree. That was still possible in his generation — if a man had the talent.

He also had some thankless assignments, but that’s just the ebb and flow of a soldier’s career.

When he was named Distinguished Member of the Regiment (SF’s version of the downmarket Hall of Fame that some other special operations units have) in 2009, it was unfortunately overshadowed by having MOH recipient Col. Ola Lee Mize in his DMOR cohort. Mize earned his Medal the hard way — in Korea, in front of a swarm of screaming Chinese, wielding an entrenching tool when the ammo ran out. Had the other man been anyone but Mize, Aycock would have received the bulk of the news coverage.

He’d have hated that, most probably.

Colonel Aycock shared our highest award, the Combat Infantryman Badge, but he also had a bunch of still higher awards that we do not, like the Legion of Merit, the Presidential Unit Citation (as a personal award, as member of the unit when it earned the ribbon), and Master Military Free Fall wings. He passed on to one final reward that we have not, yet, at approximately 9 AM on the morning of 24 October 2016.

He is survived by a substantial family, many of whom inherited his gene for selfless service. While new greats are always arising, Charles A. Aycock can never be exactly replaced.

Ave atque Vale. 

21 thoughts on “Ave atque Vale, Charlie Aycock

  1. DSM

    Well done good and faithful soldier, others will have the watch now, be at peace with your God.

  2. John M.

    He sounds like he was quite a fellow. Good leaders are rare and praiseworthy when found.

    “He served also in a variety of military free fall jobs, including as a team leader on an MFF Special Atomic Demolition Munition team.”

    What, pray, is a “Special Atomic Demolition Munition team”? (I assume here that I’m not asking you to pull a Hillary and air state secrets on the open Internet.)

    -John M.

    1. Hognose Post author

      AKA “the magic rucksack,” a nuclear device that was just barely man-portable. (-jumpable, etc.) Derived from artillery warhead technology.

      1. Trone Abeetin

        Yes, was a medic in a self propelled 155 arty battalion, in the early 80s, still had those shells then.

          1. Hognose Post author

            Actual nuclear warheads were subject to strict controls. There were, for example, specific military police units that did nothing but guard them, in their ammo depots, on through to forward ammo dumps, until signed over to artillery officers, whereupon the cannon cockers became responsible for them. There were numerous complicated protocols, including a two-man rule, in effect. From what we know of the Soviet program it was similar but even more tightly controlled, with KGB uniformed forces in place of the MPs. For instance, we allowed one of the two men with eyes on (and sometimes both of the two men) to be senior enlisted personnel, the Soviet scheme always required multiple officers.

            Under certain conditions, US-owned warheads were releasable to NATO allies. Even other NATO nuclear powers (Britain, France) did not have the range of warheads we did. Likewise, some Warsaw Pact units trained to deliver nuclear warheads, especially with tactical guided missiles like SCUD and SS-21. They would get these warheads from the USSR in the event of war, in which their units served essentially as auxiliaries to the Soviet Army.

        1. Hognose Post author

          I have a SADM training manual around here, but it’s marked FOUO. The device it describes and the simulator have some differences from the actual device, for security reasons. There are some very funny SADM stories out there, actually. No, nobody ever lost one (nor the training simulator). Given its weight, the temptation to lose it was strong!

  3. SPEMack

    The CIB is the only decoration worth a Damn or so I was taught according to my first Plt Sgt.

    I remembering reading of him in high school. The world is a lesser place with his passing.

  4. Hillbilly

    I remember reading about Colonel Aycock at some point, but am unsure as to when. I had unfortunately never heard of Colonel Mize.
    I did have the good fortune of meeting Colonel Howard a few months before his death.
    Men like these are exceedingly rare.

    1. Torres

      Nowadays, It appears that men like them are tossed out of the service. I’ve wondered how Bull Simons would have fared in today’s Army…

    2. Hillbilly

      They are living the latest chapters in their life right now. I have no doubt that there are some incredible stories that as of yet are untold except around the the team rooms and at team parties.

  5. Pathfinder

    Sind wir alt, das Herz bleibt jung,
    Schwelgen in Erinnerung.
    Trinket aus und schenket ein
    Und laßt uns Kameraden sein.

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