I had wanted to run recon with MACVSOG since I first heard about the super top secret organization. During my first tour (Aug. 67 - Aug. 68), I had ‘privileged guest’ status at the C&C North safe house in DaNang, House 22. While still on my A-team in Tien Phuoc, I requested to be reassigned to C&C North. Instead I was given a great job as the C-1 S-5 NCO.
When I returned to Nam in August of 1969, I, again, requested assignment to CCN. Due to prior Nam combat experience and having been awarded a few baubles, my assignment was a lock. When I got to CCN, I requested a recon assignment, but my skills were needed elsewhere with a promise of a future in recon. After 6 months as the Intel. Sgt. For MLT-2 in Quang Tri, and further months working in the TOC at Marble Mountain, I was given a slot to 1-0 School and assigned as the 1-1 of RT Michigan.
My 1-0 remains a mystery man. I remember him as SFC James Horton. My first mission with him was his last mission in country. He DEROSed almost immediately after our extraction. Recently, I have made contact with other members of RT Michigan around this time and no one remembers him being on Michigan. None-the-less, he was my only 1-0 and for only one mission.
I have no memories leading up to the op. I have no idea where we were or why we were there. I retain the sense that James did not really want to be there. Getting short did that to a man.
Here’s what I do remember.
We inserted with two Huey slicks. James went in first with three (3) of our Bru and I was to follow with the rest of the indig. As my ship was making its approach, James came up on the radio saying they had been hit and I was asked weather I wanted to continue in or abort my insert. My first thought, of course, was, “When am I going to get a better chance to visit exotic Laos.” I opted to insert.
I remember the LZ was on a high prominence, small, with lots of yellowish rocks and clay. Although I had walked into combat before, and even though I had gotten off slicks probably hundreds of times, getting off that chopper in Laos was WEIRD. The first thing I noticed was the absence of sound. It was sort of like a parachute jump. Except for the constant daytime buzz of insects, all was quiet. ALL was quiet.
James told me he had taken fire as soon as their slick left. He called for an extraction based upon our insert be compromised. Slick #2 came in and out went the 1-1 with James following with his half of the team. Our return must have been as uneventful as the mission.
To this day, I wonder if James (or whoever he was) had really taken fire or just did not really want that last op. Ironically, I faced that same decision a few months later when it was my turn to run an op with less than two (2) weeks left to survive the war.
The biggest part of this is that with one insert and 10 minutes on the ground, I inherited the team, becoming its 1-0. Any SOGer will agree this was most unusual. Most men ran many missions as 1-1 or 1-2 before being considered for the exalted position. Some men never made the leap.
We would have looked like this getting off the slick.
Except we would not have been wearing steel pots, we would have been carrying 90 pounds of gear (versus the 45 pounds of the average infantryman), and there would have been only one round eye and three indig for company.
A Short Story
My First Mission with RT Michigan