by Don Valentine
(Note: The following stories are based strictly on the
memory of Don Valentine and from what others have shared with him as best
as he can remember it. Used here with his permission.)
When we arrived in Vietnam, our B Team was re-designated as "Detachment B-52," and we were put in charge of Delta Projects or as some called us Project Delta. We just referred to it as plain Delta. My Team Commander was Major Arthur "Art" Strange and our Team Sergeant Major was Charles T. McGuire. Deltaís base camp adjoined the 5th Special Forces Group Headquarters camp in Nha Trang and the airbase. This was the first time that I had heard of Delta. Delta had only started about six or eight months before we arrived in December 1964. Deltaís original mission was operating lurps [long range reconnaissance patrols] in support of the 5th Group throughout Vietnam. Then we were given any job that was not covered by any other unitís mission anywhere in Vietnam and that was when MACV-S3 finally got involved and screwed-up the whole damn thing.
Major Strange was a very tall, lanky southern man. At 6í 9" tall, he stood about the limit for airborne duty and he weighed about 250-260 pounds. Art had hands like Grandpa Valentine ó about the size of a ham, but because he was so tall he was still lanky. Sergeant Major McGuire was a barrel-chested, burly Irishman and he stood about 5 foot 10 inches or 6 foot tall, weighed about 220 pounds, and loved to drink and sing Irish ballads. Or at least, he thought that he could sing, actually he was pretty good.
The SF Team that originated Project Delta was an A Team that was composed of hand-picked volunteers from the teams that were in Vietnam at the time TDY. As I recall, the Team Leader was a Captain W. J. Richardson, Jr. and the Team Sergeant was Paul Payne. Paul Tracy, Bill Edge, and Tony Duarte were also on the team along with several others. [I did have a list of the members on this page, but lost it somehow while I was editing this page earlier. I will find those names again and add them to this paragraph as soon as I can.] Larry Dickinson, Norbert Weber, and Harold "Catfish" Dreblow joined it very soon afterwards in the fall of 1964. I believe they came over with the 5th Group also, but were among the first units to arrive, but they may have been TDY from the 1st Group on Okinawa. Our detachment was among the last units to arrive for some reason.
Captain Charles H. Thompson, Jr. was our Executive Officer. Thompson was a loud-mouthed, obnoxious, over-bearing shit head. On our first operation we worked out of our base camp because the area of operations was near Nha Trang. Our officers planned the operation and were about to infiltrate the team before I even knew that there was an operation underway that I had to support. No one informed me about the operation, they just showed up wanting radio equipment. "This is a hell of a way to run a railroad," I said to myself. As it turned out, the staff officers had decided to use HT1s on the ground and a Prick Ten [AN/PRC-10] in the chopper. I warned them, "One radio set is AM and the other is FM. It might work and it might not. If it did work it would be at short distances only." They went with their plan anyway and fortunately, the radios worked okay, but there could have been a tragedy on that operation.
After the lurp team was on the ground, we were having trouble copying a Morse Code message from Paul Tracy. His signal was very weak and there was a lot of stronger static over-riding it. As the radio operator on duty was struggling to copy the signal, Captain Thompson came roaring into the commo-tent and started raising hell because we werenít copying the message fast enough to suit him. He caused so much ruckus the radio man couldnít hear anything but him. Try as I might, I could not get that shit head to understand that he was jeopardizing the lives of those men on that patrol by interfering with the base station radio operator. That dick head seemed to think that if he could yell loud enough the radio signal would somehow become stronger and the operator could copy better. The commo tent was directly connected by field telephone line to our headquarters tent which was in the same camp. Thompson could have used that, but he was a dumbass. He finally left and we went back to concentrating on the incoming message. He was on my back from that day on and tried his level best to make my life in Delta as miserable as possible. For some reason, I remained "outside the loop." I was never advised of any staff meeting, mission planning or mission briefing.
Thompson was the only American officer that I actually hated. Hell, I didnít even hate Captain Queen from my 511th days, but Captain Queen had not singled me out for "special treatment" either. As far as I was concerned Captain Thompson was as worthless as tits on a boar hog. A few days after that fiasco, McGuire informed me, "Val, we have decided to put Buster Keaton in charge of communications. You can either be Busterís assistant or transfer to any unit of your choice." I told Mac, "That was the way it should have been in the first place because Keaton outranks me." Up to this point, Keaton did not have a job. I also said, "I would prefer to stay with the guys that I started out with." So I stayed with Delta.
Originally, Deltaís field teams were all indigenous personnel and the Americans were merely trainers and advisors. The first teams were code-named "Road Runners" because thatís what they did. They were dressed like NVA [North Vietnamese Army] or VC [Viet Cong ó a communist guerrilla] and after being inserted into the area of operations, they traveled on the trails. No Americans were inserted with the Road Runners. This tactic did not last long. For some reason when our Road Runners encountered an enemy unit on the trail, the enemy would open fire immediately. Our guys never figured out how the VC knew the Road Runners werenít VC and the teams suffered high casualties so tactics changed. Two Americans were assigned to each RT [Delta referred to their lurps as RTs which stood for recon team] and they began to develop lurp tactics for Southeast Asia by the trial and error method. A Battalion of Vietnamese Rangers was assigned to Delta. Delta had its own air force. The Vietnamese Air Force assigned two C-47ís with crews and four H-34 Helicopters with crews permanently to Delta. They were under the command of the Delta CO [Commanding Officer].
The Vietnamese aircraft and crews were under the direct command of Deltaís CO. Our Vietnamese chopper pilots were very good. They did some pretty wild and hairy flying for our RTs. They used their blades as a lawn mower to clear out elephant grass a foot or so at a time so they could pick up our teams. They put one wheel down in the fork of a tall dead tree on a very steep slope so a lone patrol survivor could climb the tree and into the chopper. They flew rescue missions through fog that was so thick in the mountains they literally flew up the dirt roads and between the trees where they were far enough apart.
Delta also started a "Rough Terrain Jump School" which used the same basic gear and parachuting techniques as Smoke Jumpers. Delta personnel experimented with silenced weapons, both factory-made and home-made. Only two silencers were found acceptable, both were factory-made. One was made for the Swedish K submachine-gun and the other was made for a .22 caliber automatic pistol. This all happened before our team arrived.
Deltaís mission was greatly expanded after we arrived. If a situation arose anywhere in Vietnam that wasnít specifically covered by any other unitís mission, it automatically became Deltaís responsibility. We traveled all over Vietnam while I was with Delta. We ran operations out of Nha Trang, Pleiku, Bien Hoa [twice], Vung Tau, Ban Me Thout, Quon Nhong [twice], Vung Ro Bay and Hue and probably a couple of other places that I have forgotten. Delta also went on other missions during that time without me because they left me to operate our Base Camp Radio Station. Believe me by that time, I was glad to be left behind.
The Air Force B-52 bombers and the C-47 gun ship commonly referred to as "Puff the Magic Dragon" were two of the most devastating weapons available to our forces at this time. The B-52s were code-named "Arc Light" and if you wanted a C-47 gun ship to support you, you just asked for "Puff." They were both appropriately nicknamed.
The 2,000 pound bombs dropped by the B-52s made a huge arc of light when each bomb exploded. Each one of these bombs would make a crater about 10 to 15 feet deep and 25 to 50 feet across and threw shrapnel about a 1,000 yards.
As I recall, Puff was armed with six mini-guns. These mini-guns all fired into the same killing zone and didnít have any distinctive individual muzzle blasts, just one long "burp" and a solid string of red tracers were strung out from the barrel all the way down to the ground! According to what I was told, if Puff was flying at optimum altitude and speed and fired a one second burst, the guns were zeroed to place about one bullet in every square foot of an area the size of a football field. When Puff was working at night, all you heard was a dull roar and all you could see was one solid red string [tracers] that waved and wiggled as the gun ship turned and banked in the sky. Each gun fired 2,000 rounds per minute and only every sixth round in each gunís ammunition belt was a tracer. When Puff was working at night, it looked as if the Jolly Green Giant was flying a giant kite on a red string. The effect of Puffís mini-guns on the ground was awesome. A couple of passes would completely destroy all of the trees in the killing zone and would reduce a masonary building to a pile of rubble.
Our first operation away from Nha Trang after we arrived was in Vung Tau and I believe this was in January 1965. Vung Tau is a very popular beach resort. In fact, the beach was so nice there it was the in-country R&R spot for both our side and the VC or at least that was the latrine rumor. We set up our Forward Operational Base in squad tents beside a small American air field. We were camped adjacent to the warm-up ramp where all of the planes parked to check their engines just before take-off. We had to tie everything down to keep it from being blown away. Everything and everyone stayed covered with sand. The worst planes for blowing dust on us were the Mohawks. They were a very small fixed-wing plane. Somebody told me that they used the same engine as a C-130 Hercules. That plane really covered us with dust and sand.
One night while we were in Vung Tau, I sat outside with some guys and watched a fighter practicing strafing runs on a nearby bombing range. It made a couple of dives and each time it pulled out between 300 and 500 feet. Then he dove again. That time he dove right into the ground with his machine guns still blazing. It didnít look like he had even tried to pull up. According to latrine rumors the next day, there had been two USAF in the plane and both were killed. They were apparently victims of "target fixation." If I had been in the back seat, I think I would have beat the back of the pilots head hard enough to jar him out of his target fixation mind set.
While we were at Vung Tau, we lost one US SF Recon man because of wounds, I believe his name was Frazier or something similar, and another SF man who was a member of the headquarters element because of love. The latter was a first-hitch Specialist Fourth Class, who was away from home for the first time, overseas in a strange country for the first time and in combat for the first time. I think his last name was House. The prostitute that he was smitten by was probably his first sex partner. The pussy-whipped young soldier told Sergeant Major McGuire that he wanted to apply for permission to marry a local girl. Within twenty four hours of Mac finding out who the lucky girl was, the groom-to-be found himself sitting bag and baggage at the front gate of the A Team Camp in Ashau Valley and thatís where he spent the rest of his tour. Ashau Valley was thick with VC and NVA troops. Mac figured even if that idiot didnít survive Ashau, he would be better off than being married to that woman. Every pussy-whipped, lonely soldier that contemplates marriage needs a Sergeant Major like Mac.
Sometime after Vung Tau, the Delta ranger battalion was sent on an operation along the coast north of Nha Trang, I believe it was the Vung Ro Bay operation. An observation plane had spotted a camouflaged NVA supply ship in a small inlet. The guys that actually saw it said the shipís camouflage included potted plants, even small trees, on its deck. When our troops finally reached the ship, it was sunk in shallow water and all the supplies was stacked on shore.
[I originally thought our recon teams had also gone on this operation, but found out quite a while later that none of them had been involved.]
I believe the entire force was inserted by landing crafts. Another SF sergeant that was assigned to the ranger battalion and myself were sent with a company of the rangers in a landing craft. We were to land on the coast, I believe north of the target, and act as a blocking force. The ship had one American officer as advisor and the rest of the crew were Vietnamese. That ship was a mess. Either somebody had forgotten to instruct the Viet sailors how to use a commode or some of our ARVN Rangers had beat me to the latrine. Whoever it was had squatted on the seats when they shit and threw the toilet paper in the floor instead of in the commode. It was bad, very bad. Sea sickness is bad enough without that kind of thing. The two of us were the only USSF assigned to go on this ship.
The landing craft was too large for the beach and it could not get close enough. While we sat just off the beach trying to decide what we were going to do, I climbed up on the sides of the ship for a look around.
Our navy officers finally decided that we had to disembark. They lowered the ramp and laid the largest plank they had out into the water for our guys to walk on. The other SFer and I led the way. The water was up to my shoulders. We watched our little rangers unload and all you could see were their hands holding their weapons up out of the water. Thank God, we had no welcoming committee on shore. We never made contact with the enemy. According to what my buddies in recon told me, no one made contact with the enemy. Later, I saw three Vietnamese men in black pajamas that had been captured and tied up, but almost every peasant wore the same clothes. They included thousands of brand-new [never used] German Mauser bolt-action rifles from World War II. The weapons were still packed in grease in their original cases. I do not recall hearing anything at that time about any other beach landing, but that doesn't mean that there wasn't one. I just knew what my job was and assumed that the rest of our outfit was being inserted by choppers, which was the norm. It has been a long time and my memory is far from perfect. I never spoke with any of the ARVN Ranger battalion advisors from Dong Ba Tin that went on this operation, except the one sergeant that I went ashore with and I can't even remember his name.
[In late 1981 or early 1982, after I retired and was living in Florida, I read a very small article in the Jacksonville Florida Times-Union during the early 1980s that brought back old memories of when I was with Delta. The article was an exposeí of our CIA. It provided one example of how the CIA was used to manipulate the media and the generalís reports in order to help President Johnson justify the USA increasing their troop strength in Vietnam.
According to the article in the paper, the reporters had gotten this information from CIA files - I believe through the Freedom of Information Act. Anyway, the article told about one CIA operation in particular that concerned a ship load of weapons and ammunition. The more that I read, the more it dawned on me that was the same operation Delta had went on at Vung Ro Bay.
The weapons had been captured by the US during World War II and stored in warehouses by our intelligence service (first the OSS then the CIA) for future use. The observation plane was in that area because of an intelligence report they had received from the CIA. I did not like SF being used to hoodwink our government into sending conventional troops to South Vietnam. I would have really been against that stupid war a lot sooner, if I had known of the truth about that operation back then.
(At the time, I was unaware of any fighting to take our objective. However, I learned much later that there had been VC near the ship and the other troops had to fight to reach the supplies and at least one SF sergeant received the silver star for his actions that day. I never heard a shot fired the whole time. SGT Louie Hernandez who was from Los Angeles went with the men that captured the ship and he told me after I retired that there wasn't any resistance to speak of. I have no idea how far my company of rangers were from the ship, but the battle was out of my hearing and I could hear damn good back then.)
That was not the only time that SF was used to hoodwink our government and our citizens into supporting President Johnson sending more conventional combat troops to Vietnam. Many years later, an SF buddy of mine told me the CIA and special forces had been involved in the Gulf of Tonkin incident. He told me that troops from a special operations unit [which were controlled by the CIA at the time] were sent by boat to raid a North Vietnamese island in the Gulf of Tonkin. He believed that it was Project Omega which was also known as Detachment B-50. The North Vietnamese torpedo boats that attacked our fleet were responding to the raid on their island. Apparently the North Vietnamese thought the raiding party had came from those ships. Meanwhile, the raiders were silently slipping back south to safety.
The army refused to admit that any such unit as "SOG" had ever existed until sometime in the late 1970s.
Many years later, I read about this operation in SOG a book written by John L. Plaster written about MACV-SOG [Military Advisory Command Vietnam-Studies and Observation Group] which was the cover name for their Special Operations Group and he reported on this raid also. His investigation revealed that the raiders had came from OP34A, another code name for CIA-controlled special operations unit manned primarily with Navy SEALs. And that these raids along the North Vietnam shoreline had been made by Norwegian civilian sailors and troops indigenous to the Republic of South Vietnam. If you are interested in learning about exactly what the special forces troops who were assigned to SOG did, I highly recommend Mister Plasterís book.]
After we were in country about two or three months, an MP unit was assigned to Nha Trang and I was the first one they stopped for speeding. At the time, I was driving along Beach Boulevard enroute to the PX during lunch hour. When the MPs caught up to me in the PX parking lot. They claimed that I was doing 65 miles per hour. Me and the MPs were the only two jeeps on the road. Hell I had been speeding, but I didnít think that floppy-fender jeep would do 65 miles per hour and I wasn't paying any attention to the speed odometer. They gave me a ticket for speeding anyway and I delivered it to First Sergeant William Fuller in 5th Groupís Headquarters and Headquarters Company. Deltaís personnel came under Head and Head for administrative purposes. All the way there, I was thinking, "This is going to be one hell of a war." Fuller was about 6í 6" tall and must have weighed at least 300 pounds ó he was also a black belt in karate. That speeding ticket upset Fuller more than it did me. He started cursing and snatched that ticket up and headed for the MP Station. Fuller told me later that he had torn up the ticket and threw it on the Desk Sergeantís desk and told them they might as well shove it up their ass as to issue anymore to anybody in the 5th Group and walked out. So much for our MPís contribution to our war effort.
About six months after we were in Vietnam, the first marine units landed at Danang and our troop buildup was underway. The Stars and Stripes reported that the first marine to be killed in Vietnam was killed by his own troops. It seems that he was standing on the beach when a landing craft came ashore and dropped the ramp on top of him. The first several marine casualties were, according to latrine rumor, caused by scared, trigger-happy fellow marines. Later, this became known as 'friendly' fire. Actually there is no such thing as incoming fire that is 'friendly.' It looked as if I was right, this was going to be one hell of a war.
Navigation, map reading and communicating were very big problems in that terrain. While traveling cross-country in rough mountainous jungle terrain, counting paces to determine the distance that you had traveled was a total waste of time because much of the time you were sliding or crawling. It was better just to count the number of ridgelines and streams that you crossed and check this against the map. Usually in flat terrain, the team leader just picked the center of a grid square [1,000 meters x 1,000 meters] as his location. Thatís as close as they could come. [Now, in the computer and satellite age, hand-held computers the size of a calculator can pin-point your location to within 27 feet in a matter of seconds. The A Team or Recon Team radio operator can now communicate just about anywhere in the world using a portable satellite up-link system and with the new voice-encryption equipment they don't even need to use Morse Code. I understand that is why special forces communications men are no longer required to master a minimum of 18 words per minute in Morse Code. I don't know what the new requirement is, but allegedly it is less.]
During my entire tour with Delta, I was assigned to the Communications Section of the Command Group. When I first went to Delta, I wanted to be on a Recon Team. With almost seven years in an airborne infantry rifle company, I had more experience related to that type of work than most of the men in Deltaís Recon Section. For a short time I really felt dejected, but I accepted the situation and did the best that I could at my assigned rear echelon job. The members of the Reconnaisence Section were not selected on experience, they were selected because they were "known" to each other to be trustworthy and reliable in a tough situation, which isn't a bad way to operate.
McGuire and Major Strange disagreed about some policy and McGuire was still nursing a grudge when Delta had our first party in the mess hall tent of a nearby American helicopter unit. During the party, McGuire decided that the only way to settle his problem was to invite Major Strange "outside" and "duke it out" with him. Mac challenged Major Strange, but Major Strange refused and told him to go back to the barracks and sleep it off. As usual, Mac was drunk. For some reason that I can not remember, McGuire deeply felt that he had to stand up for the enlisted men about something, I never knew what that something was. Apparently it couldnít have been all that damn important. As I recall, it wasnít that big a deal, but it was to Mac. A very dejected Mac left, but within a minute or two he tramped right back in and made some stupid statements and challenged Major Strange again. This time McGuire said something that gave Major Strange the definite impression that this was very important to Mac and he was not going to go away.
Major Strange told Mac that he really didnít want to do this, but Mac insisted, so Major Strange went outside with him. They squared off and then Mac attacked and that was the end of the fight. Major Strange avoided Macís attack, took him down to the ground and then put a very painful arm lock on Mac and held his face in the sand. About this time an armed guard from the chopper unit waltzed by on his rounds of his unit area and got all bent out of shape. He rushed up to the two fighters and ordered, "Knock it off you two! Get up from there!" Delta people wore sterile tiger fatigues that bore no insignia of rank. The only exceptions were our officers and Sergeant Major McGuire, who wore the metal insignia of their rank on their collars. We knew who we were and what rank we were, but no one else did. When Major Strange raised up and faced the young enlisted guard, his rank was visible to the guard. Major Strange told the guard, "Go on about your business sonny or I will kick your ass too!" The guardís jaw dropped down to his chest when he saw the ranks of the two combatants and he beat a hasty retreat around the corner of the mess hall. Major Strange asked Mac, "Do you want me to break your damn arm?" Of course Mac said, "No sir!" and that was the end of that.
[After his tour with Delta, Sergeant Major McGuire was stationed at Fort Bragg. Two of his better NCOs went on leave and were a day late returning and Mac was pissed. When they finally reported in, McGuire sent everyone else out of the orderly room, including the CO and XO. McGuire then locked the doors and told the two sergeants that he was going to kick their asses which he promptly set about doing. When the fight was over the two sergeants, who each had a couple of good knots on their heads, called the hospital and ordered an ambulance for Mac who was beat all to hell. Oh well, you have to admit that Mac had a warriorís spirit. Maybe it did some good though, to the best of my knowledge, those two sergeants never over-stayed their leave again.
McGuire retired and now lives near the coast in Supply, North Carolina. McGuire gave up drinking booze and singing Irish Ballads. Instead, he now sings in the choir and acts as part-time preacher for his church. Wonders never cease! Art Strange retired in the Fayetteville, North Carolina area where, rumor has it, he bought a lounge.]
Delta was responsible for combat testing some proposed SF radio equipment. We had the only six prototypes of the HC-162 radio sets. The HC-162 was a portable, Single Side Band radio with Morse Code and voice capability. It had a re-chargeable, wet-cell battery, a doublet antenna, a whip antenna, a head set, and leg key [ a telegraphic key that is mounted on a clip that clamps onto your thigh for field use]. The transceiver and battery weighed about 50 pounds. The battery was the biggest pain in the ass. It seemed to weigh a ton and always needed repairing, cleaning or charging. The battery weighed more than the transceiver.
Periodically we would set up a 162 at our base camp at Nha Trang and test it. We would use the fold-up whip antenna which was about eight feet long as I recall and a doublet antenna strung only three feet above the ground for these tests. We called the US Air Force control tower at Bangkok, Thailand and Clark Air Base in the Philippines. Our signal was normally loud and clear. Just in case you donít know anything about radios, thatís pretty damn good for a man-portable, high frequency radio set that only has a 12 watt output. When the men on the RTs took those radios to the field they had to rig a demo charge to each set because they were classified TOP SECRET. That just added more damn weight. Besides, every damn thing we did was classified TOP SECRET and I didnít have a charge tied to my ass. Eventually, the RT guys stopped attaching demolitions to the radios.
Speaking of weight, foot soldiers, also known at various times as gravel-agitators and grunts, learn to travel light very quickly and SF were referred to by some as "super grunts." The toilet articles that I took with me on field training exercises in SF consisted of a towel, a bar of soap, and a toothbrush. That saved a little more space for the important things in life such as, ammo, food, water or a decent first aid kit. I don't know of anyone that took any toilet articles on combat operations.
On field operations with Delta, I didnít even carry my handy-dandy spoon from my infantry days. We didnít need a spoon because most of us ate the same field rations that we issued to our indigenous troops. With those rations, you just squeezed the "goodies" out of its plastic bag directly into your mouth.
According to the rumor-mongers at the time, when SF first got involved in that war way back in the late 1950s [yes you heard me right, in the 50s], they were under the "operational" control of the CIA. This lasted into the early 60ís. We could not get adequate support from the conventional supply chain so they got approval to develop their own supply chain under the CIAís Civilian Irregular Defense Group [CIDG] program.
They hired an Okinawan to manufacture field rations for all of our indigenous troops because our field rations were not suitable for their diet. The Okinawan came up with a dehydrated meal based on rice. Each meal was contained in one packet. Each packet consisted of a plastic bag of brown rice, a meat that was either sugar-cured beef jerky or dehydrated shrimp and minnows, a dehydrated vegetable, usually green beans, and dehydrated and well ground hot red peppers that were really hot. Most of us preferred the Indig-Rations to our C-Rations. Hereís how we used it: Before going on an operation, you sliced open the top of the rice bag and emptied into that what you wanted in addition to the rice, such as meat, vegetable and/or peppers, then you added water and sealed the top with a rubber band. You stuck one of these in the thigh pockets on your tiger fatigues and this was your first meal. It "cooked" while it was in your pocket. When you were hungry, all you had to do was untie the top and squeeze the contents into your mouth. If you just wanted a "snack," you could re-seal it with the rubber band. We called the thigh pockets on our field trousers, jungle fatigues and tiger fatigues "jump" pockets because when we wore a parachute, it was the only damn pocket that you could reach.
If hard put, you could get by on one bag [meal] per day, especially in very hot weather. Some guys prepared two meals, before infiltration, one for each jump pocket. Before you ate your first meal, you had to prepare its replacement so you were never without at least one meal on your immediate person at all times, the rest being in your rucksack which you were subject to lose in a fire fight. Most of us threw the jerky away because it made you too thirsty. Believe it or not the dehydrated shrimps and minnows were better. Well, at least I preferred them. [The US Army caught up a few years later and developed lurp rations and then from that came todayís MRE (Meals Ready To Eat) rations.
The army only issues the infantryman one field bandage. This field bandage has two strings on each side so it can be tied to the patient but it is too small for where the shrapnel or bullet exits and most times there are at least two wounds: an entrance wound and an exit wound. Theyíre primarily for minor arm, head, and leg wounds and just to make-do until your unit medic reaches you, but thatís all you are supposed to get.
Many SF devised their own survival and first aid kits. The first aid kit might include two of the above bandages, and at least one larger bandage for belly or chest wounds, maybe two and, if you were lucky, some morphine.
SF had the best damn medics in the military. The current Physicianís Assistant Program came into being because of the effective work of SF medics. However, SF units never had a medic with them on combat operations because SF medics were soldiers first. If your medic was with you on an operation, he would be in a leadership position, he was never just a medic when on an operation. He was only a medic when he was in base camp where he had his dispensary. [Now Iíll bet you are wondering how any of our wounded survived. Well, to be honest, I donít have the foggiest damn idea. Just damn lucky, I reckon.]
We recommended several changes for the HC-162 radio set. Some changes that I recall were a lightweight, disposable dry-cell battery for field use; a power converter/transformer for 110 volt ac, 220 volt ac, 12 volt dc for vehicle battery or a hand-cranked generator; add receptacles so it could be attached to the "burst" device; an insulated wire for the doublet so it could be used in thick foliage without grounding out but keep it light and strong; change the doublet reel to an enclosed spool with a handle, like some measuring tapes and level lines; and the antenna reel should include an eyelet for attaching supporting lines. Delta Recon Teams used metallic deep sea fishing line as an antenna and it was attached to an empty surveyorís plumb line spool. It worked great except, the antenna wire wasnít insulated. We were trying to cover all of the possible situations that you could encounter in guerrilla operations, counter-guerrilla operations and direct-action operations. Some examples of what the SF Officers called "Direct-action Operations" are the Iran Raid and the POW raid into Son Tay, North Vietnam.
Hughes Aircraft Corporation did a great job. From the HC-162, Hughes produced a damned good radio set, the Prick 74 [AN/PRC-74]. The 74 was almost exactly what Delta recommended ó almost. Hughes did not modify the doublet antenna system. But as far as I was concerned, the 74 was still ahead of its time.
The 74 was eventually adopted as the standard SF Teamís radio set. The 74 replaced our Angry 109, which was a hand-me-down from the CIA that had replaced the RS-1, which was another CIA hand-me-down that had replaced the Angry 87 [AN/GRC-87], which was a standard army-issue radio set. The 109 was a good clandestine radio set, it was a slightly modified version of the RS-1. The best thing about the 109 was its transmitter. It could use just about anything metal for an antenna, such as a wire coat hanger, a clothes line, a jeep or barbed wire. Most radios are very sensitive to the length of the antenna and for best results, the antenna must be the exact prescribed length for the radio frequency being used ó not so with the 109 or RS-1.
Delta also used VHF sets that were like World War II walkie-talkies except it was black and weighed about half as much and were AM not FM. They were civilian radios made in Japan called HT-1s. You could carry the damn thing in one hand and it had a greater range than the Armyís conventional field man-portable radios at that time. It also included an earphone that made it especially dear to our guys in the field. That reduced the noise to almost nothing. Noise is the biggest danger to radio communications in recon work. The biggest noise with the HT-1 was when you spoke into it. Before the earphone, it was the other way around. The most noise was the squelch and incoming voices that you could only control by turning the set off and that left you with no communications at all. In a fire fight, everybody shoots at the radioman or at a point just below the radio antenna, if thatís all they see, or at the sound emitted by radios.