This excellent three part story on Project Delta by Jim Morris was published in Soldier of Fortune magazine July-

Aug-Sept 1981 issues. It is reprinted here with special permission of Soldier of Fortune magazine and Jim Morris.


DEATH-
DEALING
PROJECT
DELTA

Part 1: Exclusive Look
At Special Forces
Classified Operation

by Jim Morris

 

 
he hoped he wouldn 't have to use. On his back was a portable home a groundsheet, 14 days' chow (long-range reconnaissance patrol rations, or LRRPs) and some miscellaneous fruit cans.
  The others were similarly attired, except for the two radios: one held by the Americans and one by the Vietnamese. Each was on a different frequency in order to send the same data simultaneously
  Five minutes from the infiltration point, Doc's old friends, the butterflies, began zipping around in his stomach again. "All right," he thought. "You butterflies get in line, column of twos! Shape up there!"
  The ship started down, and he looked below into the dark space in the trees that was their landing zone. The chopper eased in and he was grateful again for the 281st Aviation Company. "Man, these people can fly, " he thought.
  Trees rising on all sides, rotor blades snipping leaves around the edges, the chopper inched its way down into the hole. Master Sgt. Norman Doney, the reconnaissance section leader, who would stay with the helicopter, rolled two ladders out the door. Doc swung over the side.

    VC prisoners from early days of Delta.
 

  He swung his feet straight out, as he should, being the bottom man on the rope ladder. The heavy gear dragged him toward the ground and Doc started working his way down, all his weight on his arms. Finally, his feet were below the ladder and he hung by the bottom rung, eight feet above a bomb crater. He let go. Ortiz dropped beside him from the other ladder and they skipped sideways to get out of each other's way.
  At a dead run, they headed for the encircling jungle and, 50 meters into it, stopped. Doc gulped air down fast to silence his panting.

  You could tell they were good, just by looking at them. Doc Betterton Staff Sgt. Dale C. Betterton, of Providence, R.I., a tall, slender man with glasses and a quiet manner oozed confidence.
  "Okay," he said, standing on the platform in the briefing room at the Project Delta Forward Operational Base at Phu Bai. "We'll go in here" he tapped the map with his pointer "and check out these areas. Primary mission is to check out enemy installations and personnel. "
  Taking all this in were five other team members Betterton was the senior adviser. The other two Americans, Sgt. 1st Class Alberto Ortiz, Jr., a new man on the Project, and Sgt. John D. Anthony, watched the briefing. The Vietnamese contingent consisted of 1st Lt. Ton That Hai, patrol leader, and Sgts. Nguyen Van Khun and Hoang Van Lieu.
  They all listened with the same air of intense calm. They had, as the saying goes, their stuff in order.
After listening to the briefback in English, Lt. Hai repeated the information in Vietnamese.
  In the rear of the room, Maj. Charles A. Allen, Fayetteville, N.C., a massive man, leaned forward in his chair, one hand propped on his knee and the other under his chin.   He did
not  appear  to  listen  so  much  as to

absorb the information, evaluating it ans storing it in a corner of his mind which constantly tracked and controlled every detail of the Project.
  Beside him, his counterpart, Maj. Phan Van Huan, leaned back, his manner detached.
  As the chopper skimmed over the tree-tops, the sun was being extinguished by the mountains, throwing long shadows across the streambeds and valleys below.
  "What is this now?" Doc thought. "Seventeen, maybe 18 times in a year and a half. Every time, I'm still scared. That's good! A scared man is a careful man, and a careful man will live a long time. If I'm ever not afraid I'll go into some other line of work.''
  Sitting in the left door of the helicopter, he followed the hills and valleys on his map. The wind whipped his tiger-striped trouser legs and floppy hat, which hung down his back on a homemade cord of parachute suspension line. A CAR-15 was slung over his shoulder by a triangular olive-drab bandage which he would convert to a neckerchief when they reached the ground.
  The seemingly endless maze of pockets on his tiger suit were jammed with notebooks, signaling devices, cigarettes, matches and maps, all neatly folded into plastic bags. In his patrol harness were more signaling devices,  a camera and  the ammunition

26     SOLDIER OF FORTUNE MAGAZINE
 

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July/81

Part I - 1   2   3   4   5   6

Part II - 1   2   3   4   5   6

Part III - 1   2   3   4   5

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