81st Airborne Rangers make a name!

Story by Capt. Steven P. Solomon
Picture by Sergeant Nguyen Van Bat.
Article from "Green Beret" magazine issue #8/1968.

           In Nha Trang during the Tet Offensive 1968.

A little talked about, but important, element in Project Delta is the 81st Airborne Ranger Battalion. This elite Vietnamese battalion, which is trained by the Vietnamese Special Forces, servers as Project Delta's reaction force during all operations.

Until June of this year (1968), this battle-hardened unit was not known extensively outside of Project Delta. When the communists initiated their grandiose scheme to occupy Saigon, the  81st  was

called to that city. There, in the midst of the rubble and refugees in the Gia Dinh sector of Saigon, these soldiers distinguished themselves in many separate actions. Although unaccustomed to fighting in urban areas, the Ranger aggressively assaulted the North Vietnamese soldiers who manned camouflaged fortification.

The NVA soldiers who surrendered to Vietnamese Marines occupying a blocking position can attest to the speed and violence of their move through Gia Dinh. These NVA would have surrendered sooner but for their fear of the Rangers. Also, many NVA soldiers were found tied together in their bunkers, indicating a greatly demoralized enemy.

Much acclaim was given to this gallant unit for its combat achievements and for the more important job it accomplished by winning the confidence of the civilian population in Gia Dinh. During the service in the Saigon area, the unit became widely known as the "81st Special Forces Battalion".

Even when the Rangers are on stand down, they do a great deal of training to  give new men experience. Much of this training is on the job, patrolling the hills around Nha Trang.

Captain Ken Naumann, who is assisted by Master Sergeant Virgil Murphy, presently heads the battalion advisory section of Project Delta, 5th Special Forces Group. This advisory section participated in all training and operation, and was present with the Rangers during the battle in Saigon.

Three enemy soldiers and captured rocket launcher are escorted
to a holding area.

The 81st Airborne Ranger Battalion has won a great deal of praise, especially in the Saigon fighting, and in Nha Trang during the Tet Offensive in January 1968. Members of the unit have won numerous American valor awards, including the Silver Star.

The unit is a hard-working integral part of the Project Delta operation and should continue to help make Delta's missions the great successes they have been in the past.