Project Delta, Special Forces Detachment B-52, one
of the most highly decorated units of its size in the Vietnam War, was
organized in early 1965 under the code name, "Leapin' Lena. " At first it
used only indigenous troops, but within six months American advisers
started accompanying the patrols.
The project achieved its highest degree of perfection in 1967-68 under
Maj. (later Lt. Col.) Chuck Allen, the man Gen. William C. Westmoreland
called "Big 'Un. " Under Allen and subsequently, the core of the project
consisted of the recon section, with 12 teams of 10 members each — usually
four Americans and six Vietnamese Special Forces men — only six of whom
were usually deployed at a time. The headquarters was SF Det B-52.
Nominally the project was commanded by a Viet lieutenant colonel with
Allen as his adviser.
Project Delta was the organization of which Gen. Robert Cushman, later
Commandant of the Marine Corps, said: "These men come from the ether zone
of military excellence. "
At about the time of the Tet offensive, author Morris, a PIO officer, met
some of the officers from Project Delta and was able to go along on an
extraction operation with Allen and Capt. Bill Larabee, Allen's operations
On their return from this mission, Allen asked Morris if he wanted to
return the next day with the reaction force, the 91st Airborne-Ranger
Battalion, in order to blow up some caches and get further identification
on the Russian-made tanks found the week before. Morris said, "Sure."
Our ship flared out about 30 feet up and settled slowly to earth. When she
was about five feet off the ground, Ken Nauman hitched up the seat of his
pants and dropped out of sight. I barrelled out after him, jumping off the
skids, landing bent over and running for the edge of the LZ where the
perimeter was starting to form. I hit the ground behind a dirt bank
covered with dry reeds and looked around.
The choppers lifted off, whipping rotors pulling them upward. Vietnamese
Rangers ran to fill in a good 360-degree defensive perimeter. Rotors
blasted dust into the air, down the backs of our necks and into our hair,
teeth and eyes. The gunships went around again: rockets whooshed and
cracked, machine guns chattered, mini-guns bu-u-urrped out streams of
Nauman sat, looking bored, about 10 feet away, next to the Vietnamese
carrying his radio. He took the handset and said, "Crusade Zero-five, this
is Zero-six. Over."
There was a pause; then he said, "This is Zero-six. You in position?
Over." Another pause. "Roger, out."
Of medium height, Nauman generally looked bored. He had big, soft, baggy
on a Hot LZ
by Jim Morris