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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > Vietnam War

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Vietnam War The Battle for Vietnam. .

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  #1  
Old 23 Jul 08, 20:51
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Radio Research - And Other SIGINT in Vietnam


The Crazy Cats



The 1st Radio Research Company (Aviation) was an Army Security Agency airborne signals intelligence unit deployed to the Naval Air Station at Cam Ranh Bay in June 1967. There was a good reason why an Army aviation unit was "on station" with the Navy. They were flying a total of six converted P-2 Neptune aircraft - largely retired by the Navy after operation since 1945 - and only an NAS could provide the spare parts necessary to support operations. The ASA configuration was designated RP-2E and was the largest aircraft in the Army fleet at the time. Ground and air crews were trained at various NAS locations across the US, with SIGINT specialists obtained from the primary ASA training facility at Ft Devens, MA.

Originally promoted by Gen Westmoreland for electronic countermeasure (jamming) missions, the primary use was for HF and VHF COMINT collection. Missions were flown all over Vietnam, with particular emphasis over the Ho Chi Minh trail. Crazy Cat (later designated CEFLIEN LION) became ASA's most prolific airborne collector in Vietnam.

When the Crazy Cat company was stood down in 1972, it had accumulated 40,000 hours of accident free flying (although on Easter Sunday, 14 April 1969, enemy 37mm antiaircraft gunners scored a hit on an RP-2E, causing extensive damage to the aircraft). By war's end, a total of 900 officers and men had worn the Crazy Cat patch.



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  #2  
Old 23 Jul 08, 22:43
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Great Info RR
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Old 25 Jul 08, 20:22
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The Crazy Cats


Stand-Down


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Old 26 Jul 08, 19:09
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TET 68 in Dalat

by Warren "Skip" Galinski, 2nd Platoon, 101st RRC - TDY at Dalat

The night that Tet started we were just finishing up a Monitor Mission and we were due to fly out of Dalat the next day. We were staying in downtown Dalat at the Modern Hotel. I remember we had a lot of beer left over and we were making a good attempt at getting rid of it. The Hotel was in a little valley and the center of town was above most of the building. If you walked out onto the flat roof you could look out at the main part of town. I know there was a large movie theater, a bunch of restaurants and a market. There was a large concrete set of steps that ran from the base of the hotel up toward the theater. That evening the Vietnamese were doing a lot of celebrating by shooting off fireworks everywhere.

I remember someone shaking me awake in the middle of the night. They were all excited that we were being mortared. I sat up in bed and was trying to tell them that they were crazy, nobody ever did any fighting in Dalat. This was a resort town for both sides. Just after saying that, a round went off just outside the hotel and I new it was not fire crackers. I quickly got out of bed and we went up onto the roof to check it out. On hind site that was not the smartest move because the roof was lighted and we were easy targets for anyone in the area. For a few minutes we watched the airport (a few miles away) being shelled, and it was quite a light show. I believe a mortar round went off in the market that made us realize we should not be on this roof. The rest of the night's activities are lost to my memory, including who was there on that mission. I do know for a fact that Dick Spinner was one of the members but I don't remember who else was there.

Well as morning arrived we soon realized that there were a lot of NVA troops all around the hotel. It appeared they just drove in and took over the town. They had to know we were in the hotel because our truck was parked out side in plain sight. We discovered that we were not the only Americans in the hotel, and to our delight found out a couple of Majors with a radio had booked rooms and were there with us. We were in their room while they were talking to MACV HQ. Word was spreading fast that something big had happened and we were not the only place under attack. MACV wanted us to watch the enemy and keep them posted as to what was going on in the center of the city. Since the enemy was not showing any interest in trying to take us on we were asked not to start a firefight. So we did what we did a lot of in the Army, we sat around and waited and watched.

It was during this time period that we witnessed the enemy troops shooting at civilians in the street. I remember this poor kid riding his bike up the main street that ran parallel to our hotel and straight toward the Movie Theater. At this time the movie theater was filled with NVA troops and I believe was one of their main strong points in the city. As the boy rode his bike toward the theater, the NVA troops yelled at him and he stopped his bike and got off. There was some conversation between the troops and the boy. He than left his bike in the middle of the street and walked to the side and sat down on the concrete steps out of the line of fire. He stayed there for awhile but must have worried about his bike being in the middle of the street. He got up and walked back to his bike, picked it up, and was about to wheel it to the side of the road when the NVA yelled at him to stop. Instead of leaving his bike and going back where he was safe, he instead sat down next to his bike. For some reason he did not want to leave his bike, and this cost him his life. He was not sitting there but a few minutes when one of the bastards in the Movie Theater fired one shot and killed this kid for no reason.

It was a short time after the boy's death that a group of 4 ARVN white mice drove up the same street toward the movie theatre. They acted like they did not know the city had just been taken over by the NVA. I remember we had one of our guys watching the street and he tried to warn them of the danger on top of the hill. They just waved at him and continued up the street. They came along side the body of the dead boy and stopped to look out at him. I was watching from my window and I just knew they were in a world of trouble. All of a sudden the jeep with the 4 Vietnamese cops in it just blew up. At first I did not know what happened, but soon realized they had just been hit with an RPG round. I thought to myself, there is no way anyone survived that blast, but I was wrong. From out of the smoke came 3 guys running like hell straight back down the street in the direction they came from. Needless to say, the NVA opened up on the 3 men with automatic weapons and I witnessed bullets striking the pavement all around the 3 runners.

To this day I don't know how they managed to avoid all the lead that was hitting around them, but they did. They never stopped running until they were out of sight. It seems the driver of the jeep took all the blast from the RPG. As the smoke cleared from around the jeep you could see that the shell had folded the jeep like an accordion. The driver of the jeep was not killed immediately. He laid in that tangled mess for a long long time and just screamed. I was hoping the NVA would at least put the poor guy out of his misery, but the bastards just let him scream until he finally died. I know a lot of us in that hotel were getting real mad and frustrated because we were under orders not to shoot.

As the morning went on we were told by MACV that they were going to launch a counter attack with a force of ARVNs and some armored scout vehicles. The armored scouts had twin 30 caliber machine guns mounted on a revolving turret. We informed MACV that the NVA in the Movie Theater were armed with RPG launchers. MACV informed us that when the attack started it would be up to us to pin down the gooks in the Movie Theater so they could not use the RPG’s against the scouts. Before the attack started, one of the majors assigned each of us a target to kill when he gave the order. I was given the job to shoot a NVA soldier who was standing next to a building about 150 yds away from me. I was stationed in a bathroom and was looking out a small window. I remember we had to wait for what seemed like forever before the order to fire came.

Being in the ASA meant we did not do a lot of shooting with our weapons. I for one could not remember the last time I even fired my weapon, and I had been in county for over a year and half. Well the order came and I fired my first shot at a real live person. Not surprising, I missed. I hit the wall of the building he was standing next to. I only missed by a few inches but that gave him time to bring his rifle up and point it in my direction. My next shot did not miss, and I was relieved that he did not get a shot off. I remember looking around for other targets after my man went down, but could not find anyone still standing. A minute ago the streets where full of NVA and now nobody was around. I was pumped up and looking for something to shoot at when I saw a NVA soldier lying down on some steps leading to the local market. At first I thought he was dead but took a shot at him anyway. My bullet hit the cement steps right next to his head and he immediately set up. I believe a lot of us in the hotel saw this guy sit straight up, and a bunch of us fired about the same time. This was the first time I ever saw what a bullet from an M-14 could do if it hit someone in the head. I had trouble sleeping for a long time after tet. I kept picturing someone shooting me in the head. Not good

We did a lot more shooting that day, and we killed a lot of NVA when they tried to escape the attacking ARVN. When the shooting was over and we were being evacuated from the hotel, there was a funny moment. The owner of the hotel had put a chain with a padlock around the two main glass doors. An Arvn soldier ran up the steps and tried once to open the two glass doors. The owner of the hotel was waving at him to wait until he unlocked the chain. The Arvn did not want to wait and instead used the butt of his rifle to shatter the doors. I thought it was funny at the time, but I'm sure the hotel owner did not see the humor in it.

I'm sorry I was so long winded, but even after 35 years something's are hard to forget, while other memories are long gone. The one memory that anyone who ever worked in the Dalat area will remember are the PINE TREEs.

"Skip" Galinski was awarded the Army Commendation Medal with V and Dick Spinner earned the Bronze Star Medal with V for their actions during Tet, 1968.
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Old 07 Sep 08, 19:57
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ASA Southeast Asia Tactical Training Course


Although soldiers of the Army Security Agency were primarily trained in the various specialities of signals intelligence (SIGINT), those selected for Vietnam and other locations in Southeast Asia were required to go through a week-long Tactical Training Course (TTC) after completing their Advanced Individual Training. The course was devised by Medal of Honor winner Col Lewis Millett and was intended to prepare ASA troops for the eventualities they might face, even as technical intelligence specialists, in a war zone. It was rumored that funds intended for hiring civilian KPs for the Ft Devens mess halls were diverted to the wartime training requirement! Located adjacent to Ft Devens in the woods of Massachusetts, the training center's climate and terrain hardly resembled the Vietnam tropical environment. During the winter months, it would feature snow and cold (I went through the course in August, so at least there was heat to contend with). Still, the classes in booby traps, truck driving, weapons handling, and VC tactics were to the point and kept up to date by ASA Vietnam returnees. In exercises, a group of ASA soldiers of Asian and Pacific descent, chiefly Hawaiians, were used to simulate VC. They called themselves the "Menehunes", after the mythological Hawaiian "little people" - sort of Pacific leprechauns. They wore VC black pajama and conical hat uniforms and took their role very seriously (seriously enough for some of them to be cast as extras, portraying VC, in the film The Green Berets). Graduation consisted of an overnight Escape and Evasion exercise. The object was to find an escape route that ran throughout the training area without getting caught by the "VC", beginning with hasty departure from an attack overrunning the "friendly Vietnamese" village that was part of the training facility. There was a genuine incentive to avoid capture, as serious efforts were made to get prisoners to reveal their ASA mission and sign a confession of war crimes. These efforts included not only interrogation and humiliation (getting undressed in front of a "VC nurse"), but actual torture using field generators and electrodes run into boots and the infamous "Apache pole" (more on the latter below). The screams of fellow trainees, heard at night at some distance, were very powerful in keeping the escapee focused on "survival".

The following provide a glimpse of life at TTC the year before I went through. Photo credit: Richard Jaslovsky.



"Friendly" Vietnamese ville (they had added more fortifying features by the time I arrived, including a guard tower and more substantial fence)



Hapless ASA trainees make their attempt at shelter



Weapons training (they had dropped bazookas and grenade launchers by the time I arrived - must have decided they were too dangerous in ASA hands!)



Pup tents against the winter cold


The following are three accounts of the Escape and Evasion exercise, including my own:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The week at Tactical Training was frigid, as the temperature would remain below freezing most of the time. Every morning we would wake up with the water in our canteens frozen. Most of the mornings the Instructors would wake us with artillery simulators and machine gun fire.

We would go on extended over night maneuvers escorting truck convoys, which were attacked by the aggressor forces. We would do daytime patrols that were once again attacked. Near the end of it all we were captured by the enemy, tortured, escaped and had to find our way to the "friendly farmer" without being recaptured, as the enemy was patrolling the area, and talk our way to freedom. With this accomplished we were finished with the week in "Frozen Hell."

Rich Jaslovsky

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, TTC was an actual learning experience! I learned and applied the following on E&E night: 1) Go alone. While everybody else was pairing up with buddies to supposedly increase their chances, I elected to reduce my visibility and audibility by one-half. 2) Ignore all the rules about how you were supposed to proceed through the course. Forget that. This is WAR, right? What good is it to be in the "top 10%" if you can't out-think your "enemy"?

I remember lying motionless, covering the luminescent dial of my watch, while the Menehune VC were searching for escapees from the attack on the ville, standing about 10 feet from me in thick underbrush. I then made a course straight for the main road on the western perimeter of the TTC training area, continued south on that (jumping into the weeds with any approaching vehicle) to the railroad bridge. I moved rather spritely then, when I heard a train whistle in the distance (!), crossed the river, navigated up the other side and crossed the hanging bridge to the final checkpoint. The only checkpoint other than that that I hit was the Farmer's House (can't remember if it was outbound or inbound). I wasn't caught and "survived" by avoiding contact and the predictable course of action. Sort of an ASA LRRP! Hardly . . . but the course did teach you to think under threat, not just act. Good lessons.

-- RR


-------------------------------------------------------------------------

You are probably right about going alone. I went the buddies thing like they suggested and we got caught by some troopies playing the aggressor. After a little confrontation that I had with one of the guards taking us to the POW compound my buddy took off running with his weapon strapped behind his back I was not so lucky got to go play games with the Menahunes. I made it through most of their little torture games until they put me on that Apache Pole locked my legs together and knocked me off. You could have probably heard me in Ayre and then they started to stomp on my feet to hear me scream again man were they sadistic bastards. They told me if I would sign their paper stop stepping on my feet. I told them to bring the friggin pen. After they untangled my legs and I told them I couldn't move them they changed their attitude. It was probably 10 minutes before I could move them. Once I was able to move I went to the hooch and was shown the escape tunnel by a P.O.W made it out. I looked around found a club about 2" thick and about 4' long and then I just walked the road to the check point. I got stopped by some agressors who said I was captured but I explained to them what I would do with my club if they didn't get out of my way. After that I went through the rest of it had to take some lip from the guy at the farm house and had to go talk with a Major the next day. He asked me what happened and why I signed the paper and he listened as I explained everything. The he said usually people who sign the paper have to take the course over but with my case I wouldn't have to. It seems that at the time that I took the course I was on profile for a back injury and I shouldn't been sent to it in the first place. I'm glad I went through it because I learned some things from it. It might have been a better experience if it wasn't for the cold and snow.

Keith Flowers


-------------------------------------------------------------------------

-- RR
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Old 01 Nov 08, 18:32
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547th Signal Troop


(Photo: Citydesk175)


547 Signal Troop in Vietnam

Army Aviation and Electronic Intelligence


Australian Army Aviation's association with the Australian Army Signal Corps goes back a long way. In Vietnam, starting in 1967 through to the end of our involvement in 1972, 161 Recce Flight flew thousands of sorties for 547 Sig Troop, gathering vital Elint on enemy movements. At first 547's information was treated by Task Force HQ with some skepticism, however after the crucial battle of Long Tan, in August 1966, 547 Signals Troop demonstrated its "radio research" was a rich source of very accurate intelligence information. Before long the Task Force Commander confided that he would never make a decision for a deployment or action without taking into consideration the intel gathered by 547. Since Vietnam many of these activities have remained classified, including their operations with Army Aviation - the "shoosh" missions, initially flown by the Cessna 180 with the "spare" wheel.

FULL ARTICLE, with maps and pictures.

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Crazy Cats





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Loved This Posting!

RR- GREAT POSTING

As you know, in my past life with USAFSS/NSA this brought a tear to my eye - DAMN why couldn't I have gotten this type of "CRAZY CAT" duty in Vietnam rather than an INFANTRY PLATOON LEADER! DAMN!

When I left the USAFSS/NSA outfit I was debriefed and told I couldn't talk about the chit we did for 20yrs. DAMN again - Couldn't believe they made me an Inf Plt Ldr in a COMBAT ZONE just a few short years later (6 to be exact).

P.S. BOONIE - why is it that every time and try and give some POINTS for a posting it tells me SORRY - I gotta spread it around????? Hell! I do try and spread it around - most the time its between three or four different folks though??? (You, MS, D1, MEDEVAC, RR and a couple of others....) again!

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Quote:
Originally Posted by KEN JENSEN View Post
P.S. BOONIE - why is it that every time and try and give some POINTS for a posting it tells me SORRY - I gotta spread it around????? Hell! I do try and spread it around - most the time its between three or four different folks though??? (You, MS, D1, MEDEVAC, RR and a couple of others....) again!
You have to give rep to ten (I think, maybe less)) different persons before being able to rep the same person again to prevent abuse of the system.
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Usafss/nas

RR - Think I may have sent you these privately - getting old - can't remember - anyway here they are again - I'm bottom row, 2nd on left! Not Vietnam related but sorta fits with this thread and my little USAF Fighters over Russia posting???





COULDN'T RESIST POSTING THIS ONE IF IT GOES THRU!
MY ALASKA ROOM ABOUT 1 yr later - AGE 18 - ASSIGNED 6981st RGM (2 yrs in wonderful Alaska)




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Quote:
Originally Posted by KEN JENSEN View Post
RR - Think I may have sent you these privately - getting old - can't remember - anyway here they are again - I'm bottom row, 2nd on left! Not Vietnam related but sorta fits with this thread and my little USAF Fighters over Russia posting???
Yeah, these are familiar --but, hey, Ken, one can never have too much SIGINT history! Your class photo shows just what a SERIOUS business we were in (especially alongside the locker pic ). Since many folks never realized the long reach of "gentlemen reading other gentlemen's mail" (Sec of State Henry Stimson, 1929), it is good to expand the reach of the discussion. So, before we get moderated, I will throw in --


My US Army Security Agency Europe NCO Supervisory Class, Frankfurt a/M, 1969.

You are one of a select few holders of a Top Secret Crypto clearance who later found themselves in combat roles. There were others, 'though - some of whom will be featured on this thread in the future.

-- RR
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Old 03 Nov 08, 08:29
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I used "Green Hornet" reports to confirm my HUMINT reports.
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Old 03 Nov 08, 17:40
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You took 4 beers to get a buzz? That would make me pray all night to the porcalen god.
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Old 10 Nov 08, 20:54
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403rd Radio Research Special Operations Detachment (Airborne)



Although not generally known, one of the Direct Support Units of the Army Security Agency (Radio Research) in Vietnam was actually Special Forces qualified. These men made up the 403rd RR SOD (Abn) and arrived from Ft Bragg in September 1966 with a complement of 51 as a part of the restructuring of intelligence capabilities of the 5th Special Forces Group. Although subordinate to the 509th Radio Research Group in Saigon, the 403rd headquarters was collocated in Nha Trang with 5th Special Forces HQ and its personnel were ultimately deployed across some 85 different locations in support of what would ultimately number 3500 5th SF personnel. Obtaining linguist augmentees from the 330th RR Co and maintaining liaison with other Radio Research Collection Management Authorities, the 403rd provided mission-by-mission support to Special Forces units and played a much larger role than their small numbers might indicate.

The men of the 403rd were not only trained in SIGINT technical specialties, they also served as members of the Special Forces, performing duties as needed, based on operational conditions. The following is an account of how three men of the 403rd participated in the defense of Duc Lap in August 1968. This was originally printed in the official magazine of the Army Security Agency, The Hallmark:


403rd SOD: The Battle of Duc Lap

Duc Lap, Camp A-239, is a remote Special Forces camp located about 42 miles southwest of Ban Me Thuot, three miles from the Cambodian border. it is of critical importance because it sits aside a main enemy infiltration route.In addition to the three men of the 403rd SOD, the camp is occupied by a 12-man Special Forces detachment, a similar South Vietnamese Special Forces group, and 350 Montagnard tribesmen and their dependents.

Late one night last August the enemy decided they were going to take Duc Lap. They opened up on the camp with a barrage of heavy mortar, rocket, and small arms fire. The three men of the 403rd SOD manned their defensive positions.

SSG Hall and SGT Alward returned the fire with their 81mm mortar and continued firing until the barrel overheated. They quickly cooled the barrel with cold water and their hands and then fired again. This procedure was repeated throughout that long night. In the meantime, SP5 Childs, although earlier wounded by enemy mortar fire, began to guide the Montagnard dependents into the safety of the bunkers to encourage the men of the tribe to remain on the perimeter defense.

As daybreak arrived U.S. tactical aircraft began to pound the enemy positions. Bad weather conditions shrouded the targets, yet Air Force pilots flew dangerously low to give as much help as possible. During one strafing, an F-100 Super Sabre was shot down. The pilot ejected from the plane safely but parachuted down perilously close to enemy-controlled territory. SSG Hall, SGT Alward, and SP5 Childs joined other Special Forces soldiers to fight their way to the downed pilot. Through a rain of sniper fire, the pilot was escorted to the relative safety of the camp.

A chronological account of what followed is not possible. For the next three days and two nights, the defenders of Duc Lap faced incessant fire and repeated human wave of assaults.

Duc Lap is situated on two small hills. After repeated assaults, the enemy gained control of the north hill and most of the saddle between the two hills. At one time they were within 50 meters of the operations bunker on the south hill.

During one fierce assault on the perimeter of the camp, the Montagnard defenders drifted away from their positions. SP5 Childs rallied them back to the perimeter and led a 10-man force into the enemy held portion of the camp in an attempt to drive the enemy from the bunkers. SP5 Childs and a Vietnamese medic waded into hostile territory destroying enemy bunkers with hand grenades as they went. As the two continued their sweep, the Montagnards, who had been providing protective fire, were forced from their positions.

This left SP5 Childs and the medic alone in the face of an assaulting enemy squad. The young green beret single-handedly confronted the entire enemy squad and at a distance of five meters killed them with his M-16. The two men retreated up the hill but once on top noticed some enemy B-40 rockets and launchers abandoned on the side of the hill. Both men then went back down the hill and destroyed the rockets and launchers.

After the rockets were destroyed, the enemy resumed their fire. As the two allies went up the hill the medic was hit and fell less than half-way to the top. SP5 Childs made it to the top of the hill before he realized the medic had been wounded. Immediately, he descended the slope a third time. As SP5 Childs remarked later, "I couldn't lift him, I was just too beat to carry him and my equipment back up the hill." Instead, he returned to the top of the hill, stripped off all his equipment and descended once more carrying only his pistol, but now was repulsed by heavy enemy rifle fire. Two Vietnamese then volunteered to assist in the medic's rescue. As the two descended, SP5 Childs covered them with smoke grenades and a rain of .30 cal. machine-gun fire. The wounded medic was finally dragged to the relative safety of the perimeter.

As the fighting reached a fever pitch on the third day, a fresh group of Montagnard tribesmen fought their way into the camp to relieve the besieged Americans, South Vietnamese, and Montagnards. At the cost of half their force, the Montagnards helped recapture the North Hill and Duc Lap was held. When the fighting was over, nine U.S. and South Vietnamese Special Forces were wounded and more than 150 Montagnards were dead or wounded. The toll on the enemy was worse. More than 800 were killed during the three-day battle.

In addition to the Silver Star Medals, SSG Hall and SP5 Childs were awarded Purple Hearts for their actions. All three of the men were awarded Bronze Star Medals for Valor for their heroic actions. SP5 Childs had only five days left in country at the time of the battle.

The battle of Duc Lap is only one of many participated in by the men of the 403rd Special Operations Detachment. During the past two years this distinguished unit has received a host of awards and decorations for heroism in combat. Twenty-one of these 403rd SOD Green Berets have received the Purple Heart. One man gave his life.

The battle of Duc Lap, a place that few have ever heard of and even fewer will remember, graphically demonstrates that Radio Research soldiers have those characteristics vital to success in conflict - discipline and courage under fire.

SSG Danny Hall, SGT James Alward and SP5 Donald Childs, green berets of the 403rd SOD, personify the best of the U.S. Army.




SP5 Donald Childs receives the Silver Star for his part in the defense of Duc Lap. Also decorated are SSG Danny Hall and SGT James Alward.
(Photo: The Most Secret War, Army Signals Intelligence in Vietam)


-- RR
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Old 11 Nov 08, 01:30
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