Donald Duncan

Born in Toronto in 1930, an American citizen, Donald Duncan, worked as an office clerk, lumberjack, foundry worker, and tree topper before being drafted into the U.S. Army in December 1954. Donald served in Germany and the United States as a squad leader and section chief in a self-propelled weapons unit and as a non-commissioned officer in operations and intelligence. In early 1961, he transferred to Special Forces, where his primary specialty continued to be operations and intelligence. However, he was cross trained in weapons, communications, and demolitions. Donald deployed to Vietnam in March of 1964 and was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group, and further assigned to Project Delta, Detachment B-52. He had four different jobs while in Vietnam which took him from the northern provinces south of the 17th parallel to the Ca Mau peninsula. He was decorated with the Two Bronze stars, the Air Medal, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star; and was recommended for the Silver Star, the Legion Of Merit and a battle field commission. But in 1965, as a Master Sergeant E-8, chose to resign from the Army. Donald returned to the states, wrote extensively about the war, to include the book, “The New Legions”, and became military editor of Ramparts. In 1967, he was married and living in Berkley with his wife.


The first assignment I had in Vietnam was with Headquarters, 5th Special Forces Group, as one of the three area specialists for III and IV Corps tactical areas. There were two captains and myself and we were responsible for the briefing of teams coming into the country and the briefing of teams going out of the country. We were the coordinators between the various camps in this area. We were also in charge of the briefings for visiting dignitaries. As part of this job it was our duty to go to the various camps, and in my case take part in patrols and combat actions, in order to evaluate the various companies. These were the CIDG and strike forces camps.

In the second assignment, I was operations and intelligence officer in a group called Project Delta. In fact, I helped form this project from scratch. This project was initiated originally for the specific purpose of infiltrating teams into Laos. Later on, the program was enlarged, and in addition to being an operations and intelligence specialist I became a team leader, actually going with the teams. These were eight-man teams, consisting usually of two Americans and six Vietnamese, essentially started out as an intelligence-gathering agency and later developed into something that was given the name ‘hunter-killer team’. In other words, you went out and you hunted information but you also got involved in commando-type raid tactics. As I became more and more involved in the field and the operational end of that, I did less of the office work, and although I was still in an advisory capacity, that particular function was taken over by a major. And in the final phases I was assigned for the purpose - this is in the last six to eight weeks in Vietnam - of writing the official history for Special Forces in Vietnam, in addition to which I was also doing staff study papers, analyzing various field situations, and submitting solutions to problems for study.