Norman Allen Doney

Born October 1928 in Warrenton, Oregon, the second son of Charles and Etta Doney, he grew up in Hammond, Oregon attending public school there. Hammond is located adjacent to Fort Stevens, on the mouth of the Columbia River in the N.W. corner of Oregon. He has been divorced, widowed, and currently married to the former Hazel Patricia (Patti) Sorensen. He has 4 sons (one deceased) and two daughters, all adults with families of their own.

In January 1946, Norman quit high school and joined the U.S. Navy. He spent most of his time in the Navy as an original member of The U.S.S. Valley Forge CV-45, put into commission in Philadelphia, PA in November 1946. Norman was discharged as a Seaman First Class in November 1947. He returned to high school and graduated in 1950 from Warrenton High school. He enrolled in College at the University of Oregon but dropped out and joined the National Guard. In March 1953, he joined the U.S. Army with basic infantry at Fort Ord, CA, then to Fort Leonard Wood, MO for combat engineer basic, from there to Fort Belvoir, VA for 14 weeks advanced training. He completed school in March '54 and received orders for the 70th Combat Engineer's located in Saalfelden, Austria. In 1955, the unit transferred to Salzburg, Germany.

Discharged upon his return to the States in June 1956, he stayed out for 89 days before re-enlisting, and joining the 5th Infantry Division at Fort Ord, CA where he trained recruits. The division was deactivated and he was sent to Camp Roberts, CA. where he requested airborne training, and was assigned to the 326th Combat Engineer Battalion, 101st ABN Div. in Camp Campbell, KY. He completed jump school in November '57. In April 1959, he was assigned to company A, 8th Engineer Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, in South Korea. In 1960, he returned stateside to the 307th Combat Engineers, 82nd ABN Div., Fort Bragg, NC. Early in 1961, he requested Special Forces Training and in March, was assigned to B Co, 7th SFGA at Fort Bragg, NC. The remainder of his military career was spent in the following Special Forces units: Operation "White Star" Laos. Nov.’61 - May ‘62; B Co. 8th SFGA, Panama Canal Zone. Dec.’62 - ‘65; Special Forces Training Group, Ft. Bragg, NC. Dec. ’65 - April ‘66; DET B-52, "PROJECT DELTA", 5th SFGA, Vietnam, July ‘67- July ‘67; C Co, 6th SFGA, Ft. Bragg, NC. April ’67 - July ‘67; DET B-52 "PROJECT DELTA" 5TH SFGA, Vietnam, July ’67-July ‘68; B Co, 6th SFGA, Ft. Bragg, NC Aug. ’68 - March ‘69; CCC, MACV SOG, Vietnam Mar. ’69 - Mar. ‘70; A Co, 8th SFGA, FT Gulick, Canal Zone, Mar ’70 - Jan. ‘71; SMAG, 5th SFGA, Vietnam, Feb ’71 - Jan. ‘72; D Co, 10th SFGA, Ft Devens, MA, Jan - ’72 - June ‘72; USA transfer point (3155) Ft. Bragg, NC. Retired 30 June ‘72. Norm was transferred to the retired reserve 1 July, 1972

MILITARY DECORATIONS AND AWARDS

1. Silver Star
2. Bronze Star six (6) for Valor, Achievement and Service.
3. Air Medal with one (1) Oak Leaf Cluster
4. Army Commendation Medal
5. Air Force Commendation Medal
6. Purple Heart
7. Good Conduct Medal
8. Combat Infantryman’s Badge
9. Master Parachutist Badge
10. Expert Rifle and Pistol Badge’s
11. Halo Qualified
12. Scuba Qualified
13. Eight (8) overseas combat bars
14. Five (5) service hash marks
15. Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/Silver Star (4)
16. Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/Bronze Star (2)
17. Vietnam Training Service Honor Medal Second Class
18. Vietnam Staff Service Medal
19. Vietnam Parachutist Badge
20. * Presidential Unit Citation (4)
21. * Valorous Unit Commendation
22. * Meritorious Unit Commendation
23. * Navy Unit Commendation
24. * Civic Action Honor Medal First Class
25. * Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm (2)

* = Unit Awards


SERVICE AND CAMPAIGN MEDALS

WWII Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal (Germany)
National Defense Service Medal W/1 OLC
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Vietnam Service Medal W/12 Campaign Stars
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Korean Defense Service Medal


Additional Awards/Recognition

1. American Legion

a. 8th Grade School Award
b. Beaver Boys State Attendance (1944)
c. Outstanding New Member Recruiter (1986-1987)
d. Clatsop Post #12 Legionnaire of the Year (1993-994)
e. Department of Oregon Legionnaire of the Year (1994)
f. Clatsop Post #12 Commander (1994-1995)
g. District #1 Commander (1999-2000)
h. Certificate of Appreciation "In recognition and sincere appreciation of outstanding service and assistance to the advancement of The American Legion, dedicated to God and Country while serving as Department National Security and Foreign Relations Commission Chairman."

2. Outstanding Performance Award (1993-1994)
By the Department of Oregon Veterans of Foreign Wars

3. Certificate of Appreciation
For being the outstanding district maintenance worker of the year, State Highway Maintenance Department, presented by Governor Victor Atiyeh, March 1986.

4. "ATTA BOY" awarded by Commanding General, Pope A.F.B., NC in 1976 for preventing a potential crash of a damaged C-123 A/C while a member of the base engineers.

5. "Recognition Certificate" For being the outstanding volunteer for Blood Services from the Clatsop County Chapter American Red Cross. (1996-1997)

6. "Expression/Certificate" of appreciation for dedication to the return of our POW/MIAs from The National Alliance of Families for America’s Missing Servicemen (1999) From Delores Apodaca Alfond, National Chairperson.


Other Accomplishments

1. Since 1990 has donated over 100 non-fiction military related books to three
local high schools and three city libraries.

2. Since 1992 has periodically purchased and placed floral sprays at the Vietnam War Memorial in Portland Oregon and the flag memorial in Warrenton, Oregon
on POW/MIA Day, X POW/MIA Day and Veteran’s Day.

3. Has purchased and donated many U.S. and POW/MIA Flags to local cities and organizations.

4. From 1985 through the late 1990’s published and mailed out over 500 copies a month of a POW/MIA newsletter at his own expense.

5. Since the late 1990’s has continued to publish a POW/MIA newsletter but no longer mails copies out of state.

6. Chaired the Astoria/Warrenton Community Red Cross Blood Drive for over ten years.

7. Chaired a committee which raised over $1,000 for the Astoria Column restoration.

8. Chaired a committee which raised funds to build the Warrenton city Fisherman’s Memorial Park


LIFE MEMBER OF THE FOLLOWING ORGANIZATIONS

1. Clatsop Post #12, Department of Oregon American Legion
2. Chapter 10580, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Warrenton, OR
3. Chapter 47 Special Forces Association, Forest Grove, OR
4. Military Order of the Purple Heart.
5. Disabled American Veterans.
6. Special Operations Association.
7. The Retired Enlisted Association
8. Veterans of the Vietnam War Inc.
9. The J.F.K. Special Warfare Special Forces Branch Museum Association.
10. The White Tops, an exclusive club made up of Past District Commanders, The American Legion, Department of Oregon.
 

DETACHMENT B-52, "PROJECT DELTA"

In April 1966, I was assigned to the 5th SFGA in Nha Trang, Vietnam and asked for assignment to PROJECT DELTA and RECON. At that time, COL. Warren was detachment CO and MAJ Luttrell was XO. MSG Wiley Grey was in charge of RECON.

Wiley had come to Vietnam from the 8th SFGA in Panama where we both had served. Wiley was a single man so he volunteered for combat duty in Vietnam. Shortly after Wiley left the 8th, the word was put out that everyone in the 8th would serve their full three years before leaving. Wiley had been the sole survivor of an all U.S. RECON team. One of those was Ronald Terry who had been on the same "A" team with me on operation "WHITE STAR" in Laos in 1961-’62.

My first RECON mission took place in Tay Ninh Province in May ’66. SFC Charlie Telfair was team leader. We had a very successful mission in that we called in air strikes on an estimated Battalion sized force located in the remains of a village named Bo Tuc. It was estimated there were 150 enemy KIAs. The recovery helicopter had one WIA plus the pilot got hit in the foot with an AK round which stuck in his boot but did not penetrate the foot itself. That chopper did not make it in and we had to evade over an hour before being picked up, and we got back into Tay Ninh just before dark.

Other memories of my first year in DELTA RECON were going in to recover SGT Eugene Moreau’s body after he and Varner’s team got shot up pretty bad. That was my first U.S. KIA recovery in Vietnam, but not my last. I remember the pinochle games between missions and the cold beers always on hand upon our return. Probably my most successful mission was when SFC Charlie Harper and I caught a large group of NVA and VC doing physical training the morning after insertion the night before. The main force was on the opposite side of a small river from us. There was another group of VC less than 100 yards from us. As the air strikes came in some of the VC ran by us, almost stepping on team members. A most welcome sight was SGT Joe Alderman who was on the recovery helicopter. Thirty two bullet holes were counted in the recovery chopper and anyone who has been in a helicopter which is being hit by ground fire will never forget the "plunk, plunk" of the hits it took. Fortunately no one was hit.

Our Air Force attachment personnel were always the best the USAF had. I still have photos of and remember when Lieutenants Flannagan and Simpson and A1/C Bishop received their Vietnamese Airborne Jump Wings.

The Project spent a lot of time in the Khe Sanh area during the winter of 1966. We lost one of our FAC’s plus a lot of other US from both the Rangers and RECON while there. I recall General Westmorland coming up for a visit and personally telling me that every man in RECON deserved a Bronze Star with V Device every time he stepped off the helicopter on a mission. Of course that never happened.

In April 1967 I returned to Fort Bragg, NC and was assigned to the 6th SFGA. The Army wanted to send me to language school in Monterey, CA, and I would not be able to take my family, so I volunteered for Vietnam again and returned to Project Delta in July 1967. I was assigned as operation Sergeant. The S-3 was Major Charles Allen; the assistant S-3 was future four Star General LT Shelton. When Doc Simpson transferred I took over the RECON section and LTC Allen took over the Project.

Memorable moments of my 2nd tour in PROJECT DELTA were when my eldest and youngest brothers joined me at 5th Group Headquarters for a photograph. My eldest, R.G. Doney was a U.S. Navy Commander, assigned to HQ MACV in Saigon and youngest was U.S. Army SP-5 John Paul Doney who was assigned to the 281st AHC and was LTC Allen’s crew chief on the C&C aircraft. John Paul was first assigned to the 4th INF. DIV. when he came into country but the CO of the 281st pulled a few strings and got him reassigned to Nha Trang. Having my eldest brother in MACV Headquarters helped the Project in many ways. One was when he got Nichols younger brother, who was in the Navy Riverine Force, a pass to come to Nha Trang.

Two mottos I have always had were "If you are to be at a certain place at a certain time, be there five minutes early or you’re late." The other was, and is, "There is always a better way." One thing that needed changing was that damned rope ladder attached to the helicopter. Men had fallen off them, and they had broken. We were at Phu Bai when I asked Nichols to go to the 1st Air CAV. DIV. with a couple of bottles of good whiskey and trade them for a couple of their aluminum rung and plastic coated steel cabled ladders. He accomplished his mission and Coalson, Spillane and I figured out ways to attach them to and recover them to a Huey. It was a great success and all were glad to replace the old rope ones. I did have a photo of a ladder having two of the cables being shot into but the ladder was still good with one cable intact. There is no doubt in my mind the changes saved many lives over time. One other major change was made to the McGuire Rig. A couple of men had fallen out of the rig after being extracted and before the chopper could land in a safe area and bring the men into the ship. We changed the hand loop into a "slip loop", so that the loop would slip tightly around the wrist and your body weight would keep you securely attached to the rope even if you passed out from loss of blood or whatever.

I have written a lot but I’ll never forget the improvements COL. Allen made in PROJECT DELTA‘S compound; like the clubs, green grass, operational tactics and planning, Hon Tre Island, the Nha Trang Beach, Australian floor shows, Frenchie’s lobsters and wine after missions, the Saigon Safe House, Tolbert making up songs during our garbage can cold beer sing-song fests and the brotherhood of all the men assigned and attached to PROJECT DELTA. Bless them all, the Air Force, the 281st AHC and all those other units that aided our project when we needed them. I still have the gold Rolex watch the RECON section gave me as a gift when I left in July 1968.

In March 1969, I joined the RECON section in Kontum with CCC, MACV SOG. They were still using the old rope ladders and I had the CO replace them with the ones we used in PROJECT DELTA. After that all the SOG units and other similar type units also changed. In June 1969, I took over the RECON section at CCC and started publishing a series of articles titled "Tips of The Trade/Lessons Learned", with the first series dated 10 July 1969. I wrote and published 12 series, the last being published 20 February 1970. I published three (3) more sections to my "Tips" titled: "Planning & Tips Concerning "RON" Techniques", dated 21 February 1970; "RECON Team P.O.W. Snatch Techniques & Tips," dated 22 February ’70; "Break-out From Encirclement", dated 23 February ’70 and a final summary, dated 24 February ’70. As word got out as to what I was doing and what I had written up, requests for copies came in from many units in Vietnam, including from the U.S. Marine Corps. I do not recall exactly when Joe Alderman, who was back in PROJECT DELTA, asked me to send him copies of my "Tips", but I did until I went back to the states in March 1970. Joe drafted up a set of TIPS which were approved and published 15 August 1970, Subject: Detachment B-52 (PROJECT DELTA) Reconnaissance Tips of the Trade." When my commander at CCC, COL Fred Abt went back to the states he told me that he used my "Tips of the Trade" as his bible when teaching ROTC troops. In 1989 and early 1990 "Paladin Press", in Boulder, CO, started publishing copies of the pamphlet "PROJECT DELTA, SPECIAL FORCES VIETNAM RECON MANUAL". I bought a copy and contacted "Paladin Press" and asked them how they could do that. A Mr. Jon Ford informed me that they do it all the time. They just slap a cover on a manual and offer it to the public for sale. I still have copies of all three publications of TIPS.

After my tour of duty with CCC, MACV SOG, I asked to return to Panama and the 8th SFGA. My tour in Panama ended in January 1971 when I once again volunteered for duty in Vietnam.

This time my assignment was to the SPECIAL MISSION ADVISORY GROUP (SMAG). Two important things happened on this tour of duty. I had the honor of being given the position of representing the Team Sergeant of the last "A" team in Vietnam when on 24 February 1971 LTG McCaffery made the final review of the 5th SFGA as we exchanged our berets for baseball type soft caps and the 5th Group colors came down and were flown to the states. The other major event was on 24 May 1971 I was promoted to Sergeant Major E-9.

In February 1972 I left Vietnam and after a short leave I reported for duty with D-Co. 10th SFGA at Fort Devens, Mass. For the U.S.A. and Special Forces, the war in Vietnam was about over. My family was in Fayetteville, NC, my boys were in school and it was time to think about retirement. I put in my request and requested my retirement be at Fort Bragg, NC. In June I reported to the U.S.A. transfer point (3155) at Fort Bragg and on 30 June 1972 I retired, no parade, no "thank you’s", no "have a cup of coffee, Sergeant Major", I drove home, picked up my family, went to a local photo studio, had our family portrait taken and that was it. The next day I was transferred to the retired reserve. Years later I was promoted to Command Sergeant Major.

I went back to Vietnam one more time. That was in late 1989 when I went to Hanoi on the POW/MIA issue. I was inadvertently told our men were still in Laos. I reported what I was told and by whom, but as usual, nothing changed. I am still trying to this day to get POW/MIAs home.

My memory is not so good anymore, my hearing is going and my eyes are not as good, so if we meet at a reunion, or on the street and I don’t recognize you, have a little understanding and tell me who you are and when and where we met. Those were some of the best and most important times in our lives. We needed each other then and now, and if you think about it for a while you will understand why.

Norm Doney's Photo Collection
 

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