Ben Snowden was at the top of a hard craft, as a reconnaissance team leader — in the SF parlance of the day, a 1-0, pronounced “one-zero” — in the secretive reconnaissance project B-50, Project Omega. In 12 years in the Army, he’d made Master Sergeant, but he was still running recon in 1967. Why not? He was good at it.
Omega conducted reconnaissance in denied areas inside South Vietnam, but had no cross-border responsibilities, unlike SOG. (There’s a reason the line between the Greek projects and SOG blurs: later, in 1968, B-50 Omega and B-56 Sigma would merge to form one of SOGs FOBs).
Like many team leaders in 1967, he was a career soldier with previous tours in Vietnam. Before going to Omega, he’d spent some months at Dong Ba Thin, where a USSF B-team, B-51, did their best to train VNSF counterparts (known by the Vietnamese acronym LLDB, the native SF was not one of the war’s great successes — it was politicized and ineffective). In 65 and 66, he’d served as a demo man in Dong Tre in II Corps, a team which had several numbers including A5/433, A-231, and A-222.
Now, the Georgetown, Texas man will be honored with the nation’s third highest award for valor, the Silver Star. Snowden himself won’t be there; he lost his life in June, 1967.
[Snowden] was on his third tour of duty in the Vietnam War when he tried to rescue several soldiers under fire on a patrol in Laos.The helicopter that he was on had to hover about eight feet from the ground because tree stumps prevented it from landing.
Snowden, a member of the special forces who was 6 feet 6 inches tall, reached down to grab a soldier being lifted up by a commander.He never made contact. An enemy shot him several times in the chest with a machine gun, and Snowden died instantly. It was June 15, 1967.
His older brother and the local VFW are looking forward to the ceremony, and presumably will add his Silver Star to the shadow box already displayed at the VFW hall.
By all means, Read The Whole Thing™ — the Austin American’s reporter did a nice job, as did photographer Rodolfo Gonzalez, who also copied the photo of Snowden’s team, shown here.