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SYNOPSIS: SFC Jerry M. "Mad Dog" Shriver was a legendary Green Beret. He was an exploitation platoon leader with Command and Control South, MACV-SOG Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observation Group). MACV-SOG was a joint service high command unconventional warfare task force engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia. The 5th Special Forces channeled personnel into MACV-SOG (although it was not a Special Forces group) through Special Operations Augmentation (SOA), which provided their "cover" while under secret orders to MACV-SOG. The teams performed deep penetration missions of strategic reconnaissance and interdiction which were called, depending on the time frame, "Shining Brass" or "Prairie Fire" missions.
On the morning of April 24, 1969, Shriver's hatchet platoon was air assaulted into Cambodia by four helicopters. Upon departing the helicopter, the team had begun moving toward its initial target point when it came under heavy volumes of enemy fire from several machine gun bunkers and entrenched enemy positions estimated to be at least a company-sized element.
Shriver was last seen by the company commander, Capt. Paul D. Cahill, as Shriver was moving against the machine gun bunkers and entering a tree line on the southwest edge of the LZ with a trusted Montagnard striker. Capt. Cahill and Sgt. Ernest C. Jamison, the platoon medical aidman, took cover in a bomb crater. Cahill continued radio contact with Shriver for four hours until his transmission was broken and Shriver was not heard from again. It was known that Shriver had been wounded 3 or 4 times. An enemy soldier was later seen picking up a weapon which appeared to be the same type carried by Shriver.
Jamison left the crater to retrieve one of the wounded Montagnards who had fallen in the charge. The medic reached the soldier, but was almost torn apart by concentrated machine gun fire. At that moment Cahill was wounded in the right eye, which resulted in his total blindness for the next 30 minutes. The platoon radioman, Y-Sum Nie, desperately radioed for immediate extraction.
Maj. Benjamin T. Kapp, Jr. was in the command helicopter and could see the platoon pinned down across the broken ground and rims of bomb craters. North Vietnamese machine guns were firing into the bodies in front of their positions and covering the open ground with grazing fire. The assistant platoon leader, 1Lt. Gregory M. Harrigan, reported within minutes that half the platoon was killed or wounded. Harrigan himself was killed 45 minutes later.
Helicopter gunships and A1E aircraft bombed and rocketed the NVA defenses. The heavy ground fire peppered the aircraft in return, wounding one door gunner during low-level strafing. Several attempts to lift out survivors had to be aborted. Ten airstrikes and 1,500 rockets had been placed in the area in attempts to make a safe extraction possible. 1Lt. Walter L. Marcantel, the third in command, called for napalm only ten yards from his frontline, and both he and his nine remaining commandos were burned by splashing napalm.
After seven hours of contact, three helicopters dashed in and pulled out 15 wounded troops. As the aircraft lifted off, several crewmen saw movement in a bomb crater. A fourth helicopter set down, and Lt. Daniel Hall twice raced over to the bomb crater. On the first trip he recovered the badly wounded radio operator, and on the second trip he dragged Harrigan's body back to the helicopter. The aircraft was being buffeted by shellfire and took off immediately afterwards. No further MACV-SOG insertions were made into the NVA stronghold. Jamison was declared dead and Shriver Missing in action.
On June 12, 1970, a search and recovery element from a graves registration unit recovered human remains that were later identified as Sgt. Jamison, but no trace was found of Shriver.
For every insertion like Shriver's that were detected and stopped, dozens of other commando teams safely slipped past NVA lines to strike a wide range of targets and collect vital information. The number of MACV-SOG missions conducted with Special Forces reconnaissance teams into Laos and Cambodia was 452 in 1969. It was the most sustained American campaign of raiding, sabotage and intelligence-gathering waged on foreign soil in U.S. military history. MACV-SOG's teams earned a global reputation as one of the most combat effective deep-penetration forces ever raised.
The missions Shriver and others were assigned were exceedingly dangerous and of strategic importance. The men who were put into such situations knew the chances of their recovery if captured was slim to none. They quite naturally assumed that their freedom would come by the end of the war. For 591 Americans, freedom did come at the end of the war. For another 2500, however, freedom has never come.
Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to missing Americans in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S., convincing many authorities that hundreds remain alive in captivity. Jerry Shriver's friends claim they heard on "Hanoi Hannah" that "Mad Dog" Shriver had been captured. They wonder if he is among the hundreds said to be alive today. If so, what must he think of us?
THE UNTOLD TRUE STORY OF MAD DOG SHRIVER:
Mad Dog led dozens of covert missions into Laos & Cambodia until his luck ran out.
By Maj. John L. Plaster, USAR (Ret.)
There undoubtedly was not a single recon man in SOG more
accomplished or renowned than Mad Dog Shriver.
Mad Dog! In the late 1960s, no Special Forces trooper at Ft.
Bragg even breathed those top secret letters, "S-O-G," but
everyone had heard of the legendary Studies and Observations
Group Green Beret recon team leader, Sergeant First Class Jerry
Shriver, dubbed a "mad dog" by Radio Hanoi. It was Jerry Shriver
who'd spoken the most famous rejoinder in SOG history, radioing
his superiors not to worry that NVA forces had encircled his tiny
team. "No, no," he explained, "I've got 'em right where I want 'em
-- surrounded from the inside."
Fully decked out, Mad Dog was a walking arsenal with an imposing array of sawed-off
shotgun or suppressed submachine gun, pistols, knives and grenades. "He looked like
Rambo," First Sergeant Billy Greenwood thought. Blond, tall and thin, Shriver?s face
bore chiseled features around piercing blue eyes. "There was no soul in the eyes, no
emotion," thought SOG Captain Bill O?Rourke. "They were just eyes."
By early 1969, Shriver was well into his third continuous year in SOG, leading top secret
intelligence gathering teams deep into the enemy?s clandestine Cambodian sanctuaries
where he?d teased death scores of times. Unknown to him, however, forces beyond his
control at the highest levels of government in Hanoi and Washington were steering his
The Strategic Picture Every few weeks of early 1969, the docks at Cambodia's seaport
of Sihanoukville bustled with East European ships offloading to long lines of Hak Ly
Trucking Company lorries. Though ostensibly owned by a Chinese businessman, the
Hak Ly Company's true operator was North Vietnam's Trinh Sat intelligence service.
The trucks? clandestine cargo of rockets, smallarms ammunition and mortar rounds
rolled overnight to the heavily jungled frontier of Kampong Cham Province just three
miles from the border with South Vietnam, a place the Americans had nicknamed the
Fishhook, where vast stockpiles sustained three full enemy divisions, plus communist
units across the border inside South Vietnam -- some 200,000 foes.
Cambodian Prince Sihanouk was well aware of these neutrality violations; indeed, his
fifth wife, Monique, her mother and half-brother were secretly peddling land rights and
political protection to the NVA; other middlemen were selling rice to the NVA by the
thousands of tons. Hoping to woo Sihanouk away from the communists, the Johnson
Administration had watched passively while thousands of GIs were killed by communist
forces operating from Cambodia, and not only did nothing about it, but said nothing,
even denied it was happening.
And now, each week of February and March 1969, more Americans were dying than
lost in the Persian Gulf War, killed by NVA forces that struck quickly then fled back to
Combined with other data, SOG's Cambodian intelligence appeared on a top secret
map which National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger studied aboard Air Force One at
Brussels airport the morning of 24 February 1969. Sitting with Kissinger was Colonel
Alexander Haig, his military assistant, while representing the president was White
House Chief of Staff H.R. "Bob" Haldeman. During the new administration's transition,
President Nixon had asked Kissinger to determine how to deal with the Cambodian
buildup and counter Hanoi's "fight and talk" strategy.
While President Nixon addressed NATO's North Atlantic Council, those aboard Air
Force One worked out details for a clandestine U.S. response: The secret bombing of
Cambodia's most remote sanctuaries, which would go unacknowledged unless Prince
Sihanouk protested. When Air Force One departed Brussels, Kissinger briefed
President Nixon, who approved the plan but postponed implementing it. Over the
coming three weeks, Nixon twice warned Hanoi, "we will not tolerate attacks which
result in heavier casualties to our men at a time that we are honestly trying to seek
peace at the conference table in Paris." The day after Nixon's second warning, the NVA
bombarded Saigon with 122mm rockets obviously smuggled through Cambodia. Three
days later, Nixon turned loose the B-52s on the Fishhook, the first secret Cambodian
raid, which set off 73 secondary explosions.
A Special SOG Mission Not one peep eminated from Phnom Penh or Hanoi and here
was a fitting irony: For four years the North Vietnamese had denied their presence in
Cambodia, and now, with U.S. bombs falling upon them, they could say nothing. Nixon
suspended further B-52 strikes in hopes Hanoi's negotiators might begin productive
discussions in Paris, but the talks droned on pointlessly.
To demonstrate that America, too, could "talk and fight," President Nixon approved a
second secret B-52 strike, this time against a target proposed by General Creighton
Abrams with Ambassador Bunker's endorsement: COSVN, the Central Office for South
Vietnam, the almost mythical Viet Cong headquarters which claimed to run the whole
war. An NVA deserter had pinpointed the COSVN complex 14 miles southeast of
Memot, Cambodia, in the Fishhook, just a mile beyond the South Vietnamese border.
The COSVN raid was laid on for 24 April.
Apprised of the upcoming B-52 strike, Brigadier General Philip Davidson, the MACV J-
2, thought that instead of just bombing COSVN, a top secret SOG raiding force should
hit the enemy headquarters as soon as the bombs stopped falling. He phoned Colonel
Steve Cavanaugh, Chief SOG, who agreed and ordered the Ban Me Thuot-based
Command and Control South, CCS, to prepare a Green Beret-led company of
Montagnard mercenaries for the special mission.
At CCS, the historic COSVN raid fell upon its most accomplished man, that living recon
legend, Mad Dog Shriver, and Captain Bill O'Rourke. Though O'Rourke would
command the company-size raiding force, Shriver equally would influence the
operation, continuing an eight-month collaboration they?d begun when they ran recon
Mad Dog -- the Man and the Myth
There was no one at CCS quite like Mad Dog Shriver.
Medal of Honor recipient Jim Fleming, who flew USAF
Hueys for SOG, found Shriver, "the quintessential
warrior-loner, anti-social, possessed by what he was
doing, the best team, always training, constantly
training." Shriver rarely spoke and walked around camp
for days wearing the same clothes. In his sleep he
cradled a loaded rifle, and in the club he'd buy a case of
beer, open every can, then go alone to a corner and
drink them all. Though he'd been awarded a Silver Star,
five Bronze Stars and the Soldiers Medal, the 28-yearold
Green Beret didn?t care about decorations.
But he did care about the Montagnard hill tribesmen, and spent all his money on them,
even collected food, clothes, whatever people would give, to distribute in Yard villages.
He was the only American at CCS who lived in the Montagnard barracks. "He was
almost revered by the Montagnards," O'Rourke says.
Shriver's closest companion was a German shepherd he'd brought back from Taiwan
which he named Klaus. One night Klaus got sick on beer some recon men fed him and
crapped on the NCO club floor; they rubbed his nose in it and threw him out. Shriver
arrived, drank a beer, removed his blue velvet smoking jacket and derby hat, put a .38
revolver on a table, then dropped his pants and defecated on the floor. "If you want to
rub my nose in this," he dared, "come on over." Everyone pretended not to hear him;
one man who'd fed Klaus beer urged the Recon Company commander to intervene.
The captain laughed in his face.
"He had this way of looking at you with his eyes half-open," recon man Frank Burkhart
remembers. "If he looked at me like that, I'd just about freeze."
Shriver always had been different. In the early 1960s, when Rich Ryan served with him
in the 7th Army's Long Range Patrol Company in Germany, Shriver?s buddies called
him "Digger" since they thought he looked like an undertaker. As a joke his LRRP
comrades concocted their own religion, "The Mahoganites," which worshipped a
mahogany statue. "So we would carry Shriver around on an empty bunk with a sheet
over him and candles on the corners," recalled Ryan, "and chant, 'Maaa-haa-ga-ney,
Maaa-haa-ga-ney.' Scared the hell out of new guys."
"Ready to insert deep into Cambodia on a covert
operation, "Mad Dog" carries his trusty
suppressed Grease Gun, Gerber fighting knife
and plenty of grenades." (Photo by Medal of
Honor winner, Jim Fleming)
Medal of Honor recipient Fleming says Shriver "convinced me that for the rest of my life
I would not go into a bar and cross someone I didn't know."
But no recon man was better in the woods. "He was like having a dog you could talk to,"
O'Rourke explained. "He could hear and sense things; he was more alive in the woods
than any other human being I've ever met." During a company operation on the
Cambodian border Shriver and an old Yard compatriot were sitting against a tree,
O'Rourke recalled. "Suddenly he sat bolt upright, they looked at each other, shook their
heads and leaned back against the tree. I'm watching this and wondering, what the
hell's going on? And all of a sudden these birds flew by, then a nano-second later, way
off in the distance, 'Boom-boom!' -- shotguns. They'd heard that, ascertained what it
was and relaxed before I even knew the birds were flying."
Shriver once went up to SOG?s Command and Control North for a mission into the DMZ
where Captain Jim Storter encountered him just before insert. "He had pistols stuck
everywhere on him, I mean, he had five or six .38 caliber revolvers." Storter asked him,
"Sergeant Shriver, would you like a CAR-15 or M-16 or something? You know the DMZ
is not a real mellow area to go into." But Mad Dog replied, "No, them long guns'll get
you in trouble and besides, if I need more than these I got troubles anyhow."
Rather than stand down after an operation, Shriver would go out with another team. "He
lived for the game; that's all he lived for," Dale Libby, a fellow CCS man said. Shriver
once promised everyone he was going on R&R but instead sneaked up to Plei Djerang
Special Forces camp to go to the field with Rich Ryan's A Team.
During a short leave stateside in 1968, fellow Green Beret Larry White hung out with
Shriver, whose only real interest was finding a lever action .444 Marlin rifle. Purchasing
one of the powerful Marlins, Shriver shipped it back to SOG so he could carry it into
Cambodia, "to bust bunkers," probably the only levergun used in the war.
And the Real Jerry Shriver Unless you were one of Mad Dog's close friends, the
image was perfect prowess -- but the truth was, Shriver confided to fellow SOG Green
Beret Sammy Hernadez, he feared death and didn't think he'd live much longer. He'd
beat bad odds too many times, and could feel a terrible payback looming.
"He wanted to quit," Medal of Honor winner Fred Zabitosky could see. "He really wanted
to quit, Jerry did. I said, 'Why don't you just tell them I want off, I don't want to run any
more?' He said he would but he never did; just kept running."
The 5th Special Forces Group executive officer, Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Norton, had
been watching SOG recon casualties skyrocket and grew concerned about men like
Mad Dog whose lives had become a continuous flirtation with death. Norton went to the
5th Group commander and urged, "Don't approve the goddamn extensions these guys
are asking for. You approve it again, your chances of killing that guy are very, very
good." But the group commander explained SOG needed experienced men for its high
priority missions. "Bullshit," Norton snapped, "you're signing that guy's death warrant."
Eventually 5th Group turned down a few extensions but only a very few; the most
experienced recon men never had extensions denied. Never.
"Mad Dog was wanting to get out of recon and didn't know how," said recon team leader
Sonny Franks, though the half-measure came when Shriver left recon to join his
teammate O?Rourke?s raider company. And now the COSVN raid would make a fitting
final operation; Shriver could face his fear head-on, charge right into COSVN?s
mysterious mouth and afterward at last call it quits.
Into COSVN?s Mouth The morning of 24 April 1969, while high-flying B-52s winged
their way from distant Guam, the SOG raider company lined up beside the airfield at
Quan Loi, South Vietnam, only 20 miles southeast of COSVN's secret lair.
But just five Hueys were flyable that morning, enough to lift only two platoons; the big
bombers could not be delayed, which meant Lieutenant Bob Killebrew's 3rd Platoon
would have to stand by at Quan Loi while the 1st Platoon under First Lieutenant Walter
Marcantel, and 2nd Platoon under First Lieutenant Greg Harrigan, raided COSVN. Capt.
O'Rourke and Mad Dog didn't like it, but they could do nothing.*
Nor could they do anything about their minimal fire support. Although whole waves of B-
52s were about to dump thousands of bombs into COSVN, the highly classified
Cambodian Rules of Engagement forbad tactical air strikes; it was better to lose an
American-led SOG team, the State Department rules suggested, then leave
documentable evidence that U.S. F4 Phantoms had bombed this "neutral" territory. It
was a curious logic so concerned about telltale napalm streaks or cluster bomb fins, but
unconcerned about B-52 bomb craters from horizon to horizon. Chief SOG Cavanaugh
found the contradiction "ridiculous," but he could not change the rules.
The B-52 contrails were not yet visible when the raiding force Hueys began cranking
and the raiders boarded; Capt. O'Rourke would be aboard the first bird and Shriver on
the last so they'd be at each end of the landing Hueys. As they lifted off for the tenminute
flight, the B-52s were making final alignments for the run-in. Minutes later the
lead chopper had to turn back because of mechanical problems; O'Rourke could only
wish the others Godspeed. Command passed to an operations officer in the second bird
who'd come along for the raid, Captain Paul Cahill.
Momentarily the raiders could see dirt geysers bounding skyward amid collapsing trees.
Then as the dust settled a violin-shaped clearing took form and the Hueys descended
in-trail, hovered for men to leap off, then climbed away.
Then fire exploded from all directions, horrible fire that skimmed the ground and mowed
down anyone who didn?t dive into a bomb crater or roll behind a fallen treetrunk.
From the back of the LZ, Mad Dog radioed that a machinegun bunker to his left-front
had his *(Greg Harrigan and I had been boyhood friends in northeast Minneapolis.) men
pinned and asked if anyone could fire at it to relieve the pressure. Holed up in a bomb
crater beneath murderous fire, Capt. Cahill, 1st Lt. Marcantel and a medic, Sergeant
Ernest Jamison, radioed that they were pinned, too. Then Jamison dashed out to
retrieve a wounded man; heavy fire cut him down, killing him on the spot.
No one else could engage the machinegun that trapped Shriver's men -- it was up to
Mad Dog. Skittish Yards looked to Shriver and his half-grin restored a sense of
confidence. Then they were on their feet, charging -- Shriver was his old self, running to
the sound of guns, a True Believer Yard on either side, all of them dashing through the
flying bullets, into the treeline, into the very guts of Mad Dog's great nemesis, COSVN.
And Mad Dog Shriver was never seen again.
The Fight Continues At the other end of the LZ, Jamison's body lay just a few yards
from the crater where Capt. Cahill heard bullets cracking and RPGs rocking the ground.
When Cahill lifted his head, an AK round hit him in the mouth, deflected up and
destroyed an eye. Badly wounded, he collapsed.
In a nearby crater, young Lt. Greg Harrigan directed helicopter gunships whose rockets
and mini-guns were the only thing holding off the aggressive NVA. Already, Harrigan
reported, more than half his platoon were killed or wounded. For 45 minutes the Green
Beret lieutenant kept the enemy at bay, then Harrigan, too, was hit. He died minutes
Bill O'Rourke tried to land on another helicopter but his bird couldn't penetrate the NVA
veil of lead. Lieutenant Colonel Earl Trabue, their CCS Commander, arrived and flew
overhead with O?Rourke but they could do little.
Hours dragged by. Wounded men laid untreated, exposed in the sun. Several times the
Hueys attempted to retrieve them and each time heavy fire drove them off. One door
gunner was badly wounded. Finally a passing Australian twin-jet Canberra bomber from
No. 2 Squadron at Phan Rang heard their predicament on the emergency radio
frequency, ignored the fact it was Cambodia, and dropped a bombload which, O?Rourke
reports, "broke the stranglehold those guys were in, and it allowed us to go in." Only 1st
Lt. Marcantel was still directing air, and finally he had to bring ordnance so close it
wounded himself and his surviving nine Montagnards.
One medic ran to Harrigan's hole and attempted to lift his body out but couldn't. "They
were pretty well drained physically and emotionally," O'Rourke said. Finally, three
Hueys raced in and picked up 15 wounded men. Lieutenant Dan Hall carried out a radio
operator, then managed to drag Lt. Harrigan's body to an aircraft. Thus ended the
A Time for Reflection Afterward Chief SOG Cavanaugh talked to survivors and
learned, "The fire was so heavy and so intense that even the guys trying to [evade] and
move out of the area were being cut down." It seemed almost an ambush. "That really
shook them up at MACV, to realize anybody survived that [B-52] strike," Col.
The heavy losses especially affected Brig. Gen. Davidson, the MACV J-2, who blamed
himself for the catastrophe. "General," Chief SOG Cavanaugh assured him, "if I'd have
felt we were going to lose people like that, I wouldn't have put them in there."
It?s that ambush-like reception despite a B-52 strike that opens the disturbing possibility
of treachery and, it turns out, it was more than a mere possibility. One year after the
COSVN raid, the NSA twice intercepted enemy messages warning of imminent SOG
operations which could only have come from a mole or moles in SOG headquarters. It
would only be long after the war that it became clear Hanoi?s Trinh Sat had penetrated
SOG, inserting at least one high ranking South Vietnamese officer in SOG whose
treachery killed untold Americans, including, most likely, the COSVN raiders.
Of those raiders, Lt. Walter Marcantel survived his wounds only to die six months later
in a parachuting accident at Ft. Devens, Mass., while Capt. Paul Cahill was medically
retired. Eventually, Green Beret medic Ernest Jamison's body was recovered.
But those lost in the COSVN raid have not been forgotten. Under a beautiful spring sky
on Memorial Day, 1993, with American flags waving and an Army Reserve Huey
strewing flower petals as it passed low-level, members of Special Forces Association
Chapter XX assembled at Lt. Greg Harrigan?s grave in Minneapolis, Minn. Before the
young lieutenant?s family, a Special Forces honor guard placed a green beret at his
grave, at last conferring some recognition to the fallen SOG man, a gesture the COSVN
raid?s high classification had made impossible a quarter-century earlier. Until now,
neither Harrigan?s family nor the families of the other lost men knew the full story of the
top secret COSVN raid.
But the story remains
incomplete. As in the case of
SOG?s other MIAs, Hanoi
continues to deny any
knowledge of Jerry Shriver.
Capt. O'Rourke concluded
Mad Dog died that day. "I felt
very privileged to have been
his friend," O?Rourke says,
"and when he died I grieved
as much as for my younger
brother when he was killed. Twenty some-odd years later, it still sticks in my craw that I
wasn't there. I wish I had been there."
There remains a popular myth among SOG veterans, that any day now Mad Dog
Shriver will emerge from the Cambodian jungle as if only ten minutes have gone by,
Green Berets of Chap. XX, Special Forces Assoc. & the Harrigan family gather for 1995
memorial service at the Minneapolis grave of young Lt. Greg Harrigan, killed in the top
secret SOG raid on COSVN in which Mad Dog became MIA.(Photo-John Murphy)
look right and left and holler, "Hey! Where?d everybody go?" Indeed, to those who knew
him and fought beside him, Mad Dog will live forever.
(This article is derived from Maj. Plaster?s book, SOG: The Secret Wars of America?s
Commandos in Vietnam, published by Simon & Schuster.)
Vietnam Wall Panel coords 26W 041
By direction of the Secretary of Defense, under the provisions of the Department of Defense 1348.33M, dated 1996, award of the Presidential Unit Citation to the following units of the Armed Forces of the United States and cobelligerent nations for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy on or after 7 December 1941, is confirmed according to AR 600-8-22, paragraph 7-2:
MILITARY ASSISTANCE COMMAND, VIETNAM, STUDIES AND OBSERVATION GROUP
24 JANUARY 1964 TO 30 APRIL 1972 and the following assigned or attached units:
U.S. Army: Command and Control Detachment, 5th Special Forces Group, Danang, Republic of Vietnam, 1 January 1965 to 31 December 1968; Special Operations Augmentation, Command and Control North, 5th Special Forces Group, Danang, Republic of Vietnam, 1 January 1968 to 31 December 1971; Task Force One, Advisory Element, U.S. Army Vietnam, Danang, Republic of Vietnam, 1 January 1971 to 30 April 1972; Special Operations Augmentation, Command and Control Central, 5th Special Forces Group, Kontum, Republic of Vietnam, 1 January 1969 to 31 December 1971; Task Force Two, Advisory Element, U.S. Army Vietnam, Kontum, Republic of Vietnam, 1 January 1971 to 30 April 1972; Company E (Provisional), Detachment C-5, 5th Special Forces Group, Ho Ngoc Tao, Republic of Vietnam, 1 June 1967 to 31 October 1967; Project Omega, Detachment B-50, 5th Special Forces Group, Kontum, Republic of Vietnam, 1 June 1967 to 31 October 1967; Project Sigma, Detachment B-56, 5th Special Forces Group, Ho Ngoc Tao, Republic of Vietnam, 1 June 1967 to 31 October 1967; Special Operations Augmentation, Command and Control South, 5th Special Forces Group, Ban Me Thuot, Republic of Vietnam, 1 November 1967 to 1 November 1971; Task Force Three, Advisory Element, U.S. Army Vietnam, Ban Me Thuot, Republic of Vietnam, 2 November 1971 to 30 April 1972; Detachment B-53, 5th Special Forces Group, Camp Long Thanh, Republic of Vietnam, 24 January 1964 to 31 December 1971; Training Center Advisory Element, U.S. Army Vietnam, Camp Long Thanh, Republic of Vietnam, 1 January 1971 to 30 April 1972
The Studies and Observation Group is cited for extraordinary heroism, great combat achievement and unwavering fidelity while executing unheralded top secret missions deep behind enemy lines across Southeast Asia. Incorporating volunteers from all branches of the Armed Forces, and especially, U.S. Army Special Forces, Special Operations Group?s ground, air and sea units fought officially denied actions which contributed immeasurably to the American war effort in Vietnam. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam ? Special Operations Group reconnaissance teams composed of Special Forces soldiers and indigenous personnel penetrated the enemy?s most dangerous redoubts in the jungled Laotian wilderness and the sanctuaries of eastern Cambodia. Pursued by human trackers and even bloodhounds, these small teams out-maneuvered, out-fought and out-ran their numerically superior foe to uncover key enemy facilities, rescue downed pilots, plant wiretaps, mines and electronic sensors, capture valuable enemy prisoners, ambush convoys, discover and assess targets for B-52 strikes, and inflict casualties all out of proportion to their own losses. When enemy counter-measures became dangerously effective, Special Operations Group operators innovated their own counters, from high altitude parachuting and unusual explosive devices, to tactics as old as the French and Indian War. Fighting alongside their Montagnard, Chinese Nung, Cambodian and Vietnamese allies, Special Forces ? led Hatchet Force companies and platoons staged daring raids against key enemy facilities in Laos and Cambodia, overran major munitions and supply stockpiles, and blocked enemy highways to choke off the flow of supplies to South Vietnam. Special Operations Group?s cross-border operations proved an effective economy-of-force, compelling the North Vietnamese Army to divert 50,000 soldiers to rear area security duties, far from the battlefields of South Vietnam. Supporting these hazardous missions were Special Operations Group?s own United States and South Vietnamese Air Force transport and helicopter squadrons, along with U.S. Air Force Forward Air Controllers and helicopter units of the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps. These courageous aviators often flew through heavy fire to extract Special Operations Group operators from seemingly hopeless situations, saving lives by selflessly risking their own. Special Operations Group?s Vietnamese navel surface forces ? instructed and advised by U.S. Navy SEALS ? boldly raided North Vietnam?s coast and won surface victories against the North Vietnamese Navy, while indigenous agent teams penetrated the very heartland of North Vietnam. Despite casualties that sometimes became universal, Special Operations Group?s operators never wavered, but fought throughout the war with the same flair, fidelity and intrepidity that distinguished Special Operations Group from its beginning. The Studies and Observations Group?s combat prowess, martial skills and unacknowledged sacrifices saved many American lives, and provide a paragon for America?s future special operations forces.
[Signed By] Thomas E. White, Secretary of the Army [TAPC-PDO-PA]