SOG ‘Bright Light’ Mission – an unpublished account from ‘BlackJack’

View Latest Activity

Home Forums Tactics & Leadership Reconnaissance & Surveillance SOG ‘Bright Light’ Mission – an unpublished account from ‘BlackJack’

Viewing 11 reply threads
  • Author
    • #118671

        Edit: format may read better on the original Blog Version at this link:

        SOG ‘Bright Light’ Mission – an unpublished account from ‘BlackJack’ – Lynne M. Black Jr.

        I recently read ‘Whisky Tango Foxtrot‘ by Lynne M. Black Jr. I read it after Scott had regaled me with the tale of the amazing battle that RT Alabama had in ‘Oscar Eight’ in Laos as part of SOG recon operations. I had to buy the book and it is excellent.

        I was able to get in touch with Lynne Black (callsign ‘Blackjack’) on Facebook and had the privilege of having a conversation with him. He is one of the legendary SOG One Zero’s from Vietnam. He was also kind enough to share with me some additional unpublished stories, which I will put up in a couple of separate blog posts.

        A ‘Bright Light’ mission was a rescue mission for downed / lost / overrun missing / troops ‘across the fence’ in places like Laos. Recon Teams such as RT Idaho (Black’s team, where he was the One Zero, or team leader), would volunteer for these often incredibly risky rescue missions. The HF in the story stands of ‘Hatchet Force’ which was another SOG formation at greater strength than the Recon Teams, used for cross border company sized raids and such. I hope my description here is accurate!

        Here follows the account:


        “Black … Sergeant

        “What? What time
        is it?” I ask, prying open my eyes.

        “It’s 2250 hours.”

        “11:00 p.m.! It’s
        the middle of the damn night.”

        “They want you in
        the TOC, now.”

        “OK, I’m on my
        way.” I close my eyes.


        “You want to see
        me, Sir?”

        “I need RT Idaho
        for a Bright Light mission … right now.”

        “You don’t need to
        ask us to volunteer, Sir. We’re geared up and ready to go for a trail watch.
        We’ll dump the food and add more ammo.”

        “I didn’t ask you
        to volunteer; I said I need Idaho
        for a Bright Light right now. We’ve been working on extracting an HF platoon.
        Their last extraction chopper has been shot down; several were killed on
        impact. No sooner had the chopper hit the ground than NVA swarmed it executing
        the wounded. The good news is there are survivors. The bad news is they’ve been
        overrun twice and can’t last much longer.”

        “Do you have a fix
        on the survivor’s location?” I ask, yawning.


        “How far from the
        downed chopper are they?”

         “They’re approximately fifty meters directly
        in front of the chopper, waiting for pick up. That position isn’t defensible
        and we don’t have any gunship support to provide cover. Their shit’s flapping
        in the breeze. Be careful out there, to the east of them is an extensive NVA
        bunker complex. Don’t wander too far in that direction.”

        “How many

        “Half a dozen,
        maybe less. Has Idaho
        worked at night?”

        “Yes, Idaho’s good with night
        movement.” Where did that dumbass
        statement come from? Am I nuts? Maybe all that playing with C-4 has addled my

        “Great. Get your
        team and gear … load all of your heroes on one Kingbee.”

        “Will the altitude
        allow us to put all five of us in one chopper?”

        “Yup … by the way,
        you’ll have to rappel in; there isn’t enough LZ space to land.”

        “Gee, this just
        keeps getting better and better. If it’s an LZ, why can’t we land?”

        “It isn’t big
        enough for two birds. Get a move on, there’re survivors and they need your
        help, right now. Move it Blackjack!”

        “That means we’ll
        all have to come out on strings … crap. Radio frequency … what frequency are we

        “Air Force
        survival freq … use your URC-10. Take a couple extra batteries, just in

        “Good, I don’t
        have to carry that heavy ass FM field radio. OK, let’s go.” A Kingbee begins
        cranking up its engine, coughing and sputtering its way to life. Lights around
        the compound snap on revealing flying hordes of critters fluttering in the
        brightness of the lights blue-halo. “Idaho!
        Get your gear and load up. Grab rappelling equipment, we’ll rig it as we fly!
        Come on, move! Wake up Point! Somebody wake up the damn point man!”

        Idaho scrambles to life, grabbing gear,
        heading for the waiting Kingbee. The Mai Loc Ops is up on the Pilot side of the
        chopper, holding on to the flight cabin window frame with his right hand,
        jabbing his left index finger at a position on the pilot’s flight map; who’s
        nodding his head in understanding.

        “Hey! Who are
        you,” I yell in the racket of startup. He’s standing with his back to the
        lights his face obscured in shadow.

        “MEDIC,” he
        shouts. “I’m going with you. There are wounded.”

        “Get on board
        then!” That’ll make six … an even number.
        That’s good; the Vietnamese don’t like uneven numbers. Superstitious little

        I’m the last man
        to throw my gear on board grabbing the handrail next to the door and stepping
        up onto the first rung of the two-step ladder as the Kingbee springs from the
        PSP headed for Laos.
        Sau, Idaho’s
        VN team leader and the door gunner reach down and pull me in. Wind wildly
        swirls through the open door and windows of the ship; our clothes and gear
        erratically flapping and snapping. The Kingbee’s tail is up and its nose down
        as it moves at full speed chugging its way through the moonless night. “No moon
        … there’s no moon. It’s going to be darker than all hell on the ground,” I
        yell, pointing skyward, nudging Idaho’s

        “Sau say no
        problem,” Hiep the interpreter yells into my ear. “Much green tracer light,” he
        grins. “You go, we go.” Two Scouts are rigging the rappelling rope. I grab one
        of the extras, stuffing it in my rucksack.

        “Fifteen minutes,”
        yells the Crew Chief. “Fifteen minutes!”

        Idaho gets ready. Final weapon and gear
        check. Looking around the ship, “Everyone’s OK?” They’re all smiling … shifting
        around … nervous, ready for the fight. I sit in the door to be the first man
        out. Everyone lines up behind me in order of descent. Swiss seats, snap links

        “One minute!”

        I grab one of the
        aluminum ship spars with my left hand and lean out into the torrent of wind
        trying to get a fix on the downed chopper. There
        it is!
        The Door Gunner squawks in his helmet mic to the Pilot that we’ve
        spotted the LZ. “Take us down! Take us down,” I yell back over my shoulder. The
        gunner jacks a round into his thirty-caliber door gun, then leans into it and
        out looking for the LZ and any sign of muzzle flash.

        Flickering spot
        fires flare around the downed chopper, which is lying on its side in the middle
        of an LZ. A silhouetted jungle reaching up into blackness jumps to life with
        each spontaneous blaze; shadows dance and weave, popping in and out of focus,
        giving a surreal life to the impenetrable black on black of the moonless night.
        From my doorway perch, I can see our people in the downed chopper. My heart
        jumps into my throat as one of them waives … “Oh God!” It’s just the fire
        reflecting off his freshly bloodied arm, his ghoulish death mask smiling,
        chilling me to the bone. How the hell did
        the Pilot find this little hole in the Laotian jungle in the middle of the

        The Pilot turns
        the big exit door of the Kingbee to face the downed ship. RT Idaho’s guns are
        at the ready, poking out of every opening, ready for anything. Flying his ship
        sideways, the Kingbee pilot moves directly over the downed chopper, placing one
        of the Kingbee’s balloon tires on its shell. We’re approximately eight feet off the ground. “We don’t have to
        rappel,” I yell over my shoulder.

        Struggling out of
        my rucksack, dropping it to the ground before jumping the eight feet with the
        other five following suite; the Idaho-6 form up in a defensive circle, each of
        us facing out, at the ready as the sound of the big Kingbee radial engine
        disappears into the inky night leaving us with the flitting, popping, dancing
        shadows. Pungent smells of fuel, oil, hydraulic fluids and exhaust saturate our
        nostrils. Occasionally fires pop and crackle forcing us into an even higher
        state of alert as we get used to our surroundings. Slowly I come to the
        realization that I’m fixating on the light of the fires and not on their
        encompassing darkness, that darkness holds our survivors. It’s under the cover
        of night that our survivors are for the moment hopefully safe. It’s in that
        impenetrable gloom the enemy waits for us.

        An intense
        childhood fear floods through me with the memory of the boogey man in my bedroom
        … the unseen … the unknown in the night. “If you close your eyes and go to
        sleep it will go away,” my mother would say. My father, on the other hand,
        would say, “As you get older you will learn to face your fears. For now close
        your eyes and go to sleep, or I’ll whack you on your butt.” Time to grow up and face the boogey man. “Point,”
        I motion him to the ships front.

        Sau taps me on the
        shoulder, waving a forefinger in front of his lips. Using hand signals, he
        motions the two Scouts and Interpreter to East, West and South security
        positions leaving Point at North. The Medic squats in the shadows, waiting for
        orders. Sau and I climb into the wreckage looking for survivors. All five on
        board have been shot in the head execution style. “Bastards,” I mumble.

        Sau again puts a
        finger to his lips, signaling me not to speak. I nod my head in compliance.
        “Keep your cool. Listen to the experience. Don’t let the NVA psychologically
        get to you.” Sau shrugs giving me the what-next gesture. I point North beyond the
        nose of the ship, he nods his understanding. Back outside he motions the
        interpreter and Point to my side. He and the other two Scouts will remain with
        the ship along with the Medic. Sau pulls an Air Force Survival radio from his
        rucksack, turning it on, waving it at me as he plugs in the ear jack and
        whisper mic. Idaho’s
        interpreter reaches for mine, I hand it to him.

        Point begins
        moving north, the three of us searching for survivors at the edges of glowing
        pools of light provided by the subsiding fuel and oil fires. Suddenly I become
        aware of moths and insects fluttering up and about intensifying my awareness of
        our surroundings even further. The three of us now online, Point to my left, Interpreter
        on my right, conducting our search forward; moving away from the firelight into
        the inkiness of night. The terrain is becoming unreasonable; it’s overgrown
        with a thorny vine that grabs and tugs at our boots and pants. Slowly we move
        through the blackness struggling with the demonic vegetation. A rush of wind …
        a swishing sound of unknown origin blows past my face. I turn back toward the
        last fire and … there it is again … and again. A fuel fire silhouettes bats
        swooping in and out catching the myriad of moths and flying insects that are
        attracted to its illumination. The three of us are unsuccessfully making every
        attempt to move quietly as we tear our way through the undergrowth; trying to
        dodge hovering bugs that are haphazardly flying into our eyes and mouths. I’m
        beginning to welcome the unintended protection afforded by the feeding bats. Focus … stay focused on what we are out here
        for … concentrate Blackjack.
        An occasional crackle from the fires snaps us
        to full auto readiness. Once again, I turn looking back in the direction of the
        downed chopper; no longer can I make it out. We’ve crossed over into the
        netherworld, unseen forces tugging and pestering us from all points on the
        compass. The further we make our way into this world, with our newly honed
        night senses, the more we become aware of the small eyes of thousands of
        animals peering at us between jumbles of leafy branches, and barbed vines.
        Snakes and small furry nocturnal creatures scatter under each footstep. This is like trying to work your way through
        Brer Rabbits Briar Patch blindfolded.


        Instantly the
        three of us crouch, thumbing the selector switch of our CAR-15’s to full auto.
        Straining to listen, straining to see … Where
        the hell are they?
        In this position closer to the ground, straining to
        sharply focus my eyes, I can discern faintly glowing objects on the forest
        floor. I relax my concentration attempting to take in as much of the void as
        possible and am further surprised by small, constantly glowing lights that are
        floating down from the blackness of the forest canopy, hovering and bobbing
        like helicopters looking for a place to land. Millions of fireflies flash their
        signals from all strata of vegetation.

        To my left, a low
        mooching sound; Point is calling me to his location. The unseen undergrowth
        grasping, tearing at me, I make my way slowly to his location. Seconds seem
        like torturous hours. Finally, I barely make out Point motioning me to him;
        reaching out into the darkness I take his hand and he guides me to his side. I
        turn to see Interpreter moving in behind. Point raises his hand, getting our
        attention, and then motions down directly to his front.

        Three bodies. We cover one with a
        poncho. I fish a penlight out of my One-Zero vest and crawl under the poncho
        for a view. His hands are tied behind his back, he has been executed, a single
        shot to the head. Ops said there are
        supposed to be half a dozen HF, maybe less. There are five at the chopper and
        three here, that’s eight. The chopper crew would be four and add the six from
        the HF that would be ten. There might be two more bodies or two survivors
        somewhere in this blackness.
        Quietly we listen for any sound of life other
        than our own.

        Waving my hand in the
        interpreters face, I get his attention and retrieve the survival radio;
        whispering, “This is Blackjack, over.” Nothing.
        “This is Blackjack, over,” I whisper into the mic a second time sucking a
        moth down my throat … choking … finally spitting it out.

        “Blackjack, Covey,
        you ready for extraction, over?” Comes the low steady voice of Pat Watkins, the
        Covey Rider.

        “Negative Mandolin,
        standby … this is Blackjack, looking for HF survivors, over,” I whisper.

        “Blackjack, we can
        hear you above us.”

        Whoa! … there you are. “Where are you
        from my locations, over?”

        “I don’t know,” the
        survivor replies.

        “Do you have a

        “No. Where are

        Where are you? Sure, tell the enemy where
        you are. Oh what the hell it’s just as dark out here as it is with my head up
        my ass.
        “We are several yards out in front of the downed chopper. We have
        found three bodies, over.” That’s general

        “I will give you
        directions to our location from there. The nose of the ship is north. Turn
        ninety degrees, facing west and proceed.”

        “Negative HF, you
        come to our location, over,” I calmly demand.

        Blackjack, I have broken bones and am with three other survivors who are all
        wounded. We need help. Please come to our location. Be careful.”

        Goddam it! How do I know this isn’t an
        ambush? We can’t see shit in this no-moon gloom. Goddam it!
        “Point,” I
        whisper motioning in our new direction of travel. “Be careful … maybe ambush.” Interpreter
        quietly interprets to Point. None of us like the odds. Point strongly objects
        to walking off into the darkness with only three of us. I take the lead.
        Thumbing my CAR-15 selector switch to SAFE, I use the weapon like a blind man’s
        cane to sound my way carefully, slowly forward. Fireflies advance before me,
        rippling out like a stone thrown in a pond, leading the way. I whisper into the
        mic, “HF, this is Blackjack, over.” 

        “Blackjack, we can
        hear you. I think you’re about twenty feet from us; be careful.”

        Twenty feet … there’s nothing but pitch
        black in front of us. I can’t see a fuckin thing.
        Whispering into the mic,
        “HF, I’m on my way.” Twenty feet … just
        twenty feet.
        I position the Interpreter and Point to provide covering fire
        in case of an ambush. As I move into position to make the final advance, I
        sense a shadowy presence moving up on me from the rear. The hair stands up on
        the back of my neck as I thumb the CAR-15 to full-auto.

        “It’s me, Medic.
        We’ll cover you.”

        Where the hell did he come from! Scared the
        crap outa me.

        Ever so slowly,
        tentatively, blindly searching for footing and a handhold I step into space
        sliding several feet down the face of the briar-covered cliff taking the skin
        off hands, knees and the right side of my face; sounding like a herd of
        elephants rampaging through the jungle. Crouching painfully at the base of the
        rock I listen.

        “Blackjack, is
        that you,” a voice whispers.

        Who the hell else would it be? I doubt even
        the NVA would be stupid enough to venture out in this god forsaken place at
        Straining my ears and eyes to determine exactly where the voice is
        coming from. I need a couple million
        fireflies to show me the way, where are they when I need them?

        “Blackjack, is
        that you,” the voice pleads.

        intently, as he calls for help, for any indication of an accent … I just can’t tell. Suddenly, a
        frightened Cambodian voice cries for help in its native tongue. I hear Hiep the
        Interpreter tell him to shut the hell up or he’ll grease him.

        “Blackjack, is
        that you?” comes the plaintive voice again.

        Oh what the hell. “Yeah, it’s me. Keep
        talking quietly while I come to your position.” I can hear weapon selector
        switches being flipped to full auto. FUCK
        I do the same. In a crouching duck walk, I inch forward until I can
        barely make out the face behind the voice. He lowers his weapon and motions me
        into their position. Its four wounded men with their backs to a tree with
        weapons at the ready.

        “Did you bring
        enough men to hold out till daylight,” he asks.

        “Screw that, I
        ain’t sticken around here until daylight. We’re going home in just a few
        minutes. We’ll patch you up as well as we can and then take you out on strings.
        I don’t want to fight it out with only five of us and a Medic.”

        “Five! You came in
        here to rescue us with only five guys?”

        “Quiet down damn
        it. Five and a Medic, yes. You want to debate this or go home?”

        “Get us the hell
        out of here. You goddam recon guys are crazy.”

        Blackjack, we have linked up with the survivors. Tell the Kingbee’s to rig two
        ropes on each chopper and be ready to take out four of us at a time, over.”

        Blackjack, Kingbee’s rigged with one rope containing three snap links. It will
        take two trips to get you all out, over.”

        Blackjack, the wounded will go out first trip and then my team second trip,

        “WILCO Blackjack,
        ten minutes.”

        “I’ll bandage
        their wounds,” the Medic quietly pushes his way past me.

        “Goddam it, quit
        sneaking up on me like that, you’re going to get yourself killed.”

        “Sorry man, I
        thought you heard me. Maybe you should get your hearing checked.”

        “Just do your job
        and shut the hell up.” I pull the rope and snap links out of my rucksack and
        rig Swiss Seats and chest restraints for all the survivors. “You’re ready.”

        Kingbee One, need location, over.”

        “Kingbee One, look
        for small light.” I grab my penlight, turn it on and stick in the ground facing
        skyward to mark our position. “Can you see the light, over?”

        “Move light, up,
        down, right, left … yes I see light. Many lights.”

        Fireflies, goddam bugs. Panel. Orange panel.
        I remove the orange panel from my survival vest and lay it on the ground
        with my pen light in the center.

        “I see color
        light. Orange light. Many small fires.”

        “Whisky Tango
        Foxtrot, over.”

        Moment later ropes
        are dangling into our location. I get three of the survivors snap linked and
        the chest restraints tied in so they don’t flip upside down. “Kingbee One, OK
        to go.” Slowly up and up they go. That’s three.

        Two moves into position for the next survivor and the medic. “Kingbee Two, OK
        to go.” Slowly up and up they go. Green tracers and rockets light up the
        midnight sky, illuminating the survivors dangling under Kingbee Two, hanging on
        for dear life. Antiaircraft fire begins to punctuate the moonless night. The
        Kingbee applies full power to it engine swinging a wide arc in the direction of
        safety. Bright Light accomplished. Now
        for Idaho.

        Sau and the two indig have joined up with Hiep and Point, holding their position, not returning fire. I toss a rope up to them, and scale the small rock face, joining our little four-man force on the rim.

        The NVA fire
        shifts from the out of range Kingbee’s to the downed helicopter and then
        generally sweeps across the landscape. From the firing pattern, we quickly
        realize they don’t have a fix on our location. “Thank you God,” I whisper.

        “Buddha too,” says

        Sau puts his
        finger to his lips, “No talk. Numba ten.”

        I have an idea. “Covey, Blackjack, over,”
        I whisper.

        “Go Blackjack.”

        “Are you in the

        “Yes, what can I
        do for you?” Mandolin asks.

        “Did you see where
        the NVA firing is coming from?”

        “Roger that. As
        soon as we get first-light I’ll have assets go to work on them.”

        “Circle to the south
        of the downed ship and fire rockets in a southerly direction. Try to make the
        NVA believe you are over us and are providing covering fire. That way the
        Kingbee’s can come in here and pick us up while you run the distraction, over.”

        “It’s worth a try.
        I’ll time the distraction for the return of the Kingbee’s, over.”

        The six of us bury
        ourselves beneath the fireflies in amongst the brambles waiting for the
        Kingbee’s return. An hour goes by, then another before we can make out the
        sound of those big radial engines. Circle up, snap links ready. Sau, B-Team on
        the first ship and me and mine on the second.

        The Kingbee’s are
        flying at tree top level. I twist on the penlight shining it in the direction
        of the first ship. He swoops in drops a rope with three snap links about six
        feet apart. B-Team snaps in, up and away they go, the rope end dragging through
        the treetops.

        At the crack of
        first light, Hiep, Point and I are dumped unceremoniously onto the PSP at the
        launch site. The extraction rope is detached from inside the hovering Kingbee
        and piles down, burying us under its 100-foot length. Lying there, we watch as
        it disappears into the first reaches of morning light in the direction of its
        Phu Bai base.

        “Blackjack,” the
        CO yells as he approaches the three of us buried under the pile. “Damn good

        “Thanks. Can we
        get some, water and food. I think I’m going to sleep the rest of today.”

        “I don’t think so.
        The Marines are binging in a Sikorsky Flying Crane and a recovery crew. CCN has
        ordered me to send you back out there to secure the LZ so they can bring home
        the bodies and the downed ship. You and your team have just enough time to get
        something to eat and get your gear ready.” 

        “Where’s the mess

        “Come on, I’ll
        show you.”

        “We’re going to
        need body bags and rigging for the ship in order to get it ready to be lifted

        “The Marine’s will
        take care of all that stuff. They just want you to secure the LZ for their work

        “I don’t know if I
        can secure the LZ with just the five of us. We could use the help of The

        “The Shadow? Who
        the hells The Shadow?”

        “The Medic who
        went out with us last night; he did a good job by the way. Covey will be
        running air strikes in the surrounding area while we’re onsite. You’re aware of
        that, right?”

        “Can’t do that
        either. Covey will be running extractions for the four teams we have in the
        field and The Shadow is scheduled for duty in the dispensary. The Shadow, he’ll
        love that.”

        “The LZ’s going to
        have to be made larger to get the Flying Crane in. I’ll need blasting caps, a
        spool of det cord and a case of C-4.”

        “There’s a
        Lieutenant from CCN who’s bringing in Tetratol, he’ll take care of felling
        trees on the LZ. You’re not to screw around with explosives, remember?”

        “Sir, Tetratol
        won’t do the job on those trees.”

        “What do you mean?
        It’s the most powerful military explosive in the world.”

         “Tetratol is a solid, a brick. Those trees are
        heavily barked and fluted. Tetratol will do nothing but blow the bark off.
        He’ll need to use C-4 and create shape charges in the crevices of the flutes.
        Then wire all the shapes together with det cord cutting the tree off at the
        base. If he wants it to fall in a particular direction he’ll have to put a
        kicker charge at least half way up which goes off after the cutting.”

        “You’ve been
        hanging around that damned Supply Sergeant too long. The Lieutenant will take
        care of clearing the LZ. You stay away from the explosives. That’s an order.”

        “Yes Sir. That
        stuff gives me a headache and makes me talk funny anyway.”

        “Hiep, take one of
        the other guys and go get what we need from the Ammo Dump and distribute it
        amongst the team.”



        “ALL the stuff we

        “That’s right …
        ALL the stuff we need.”

        “OK boss.”

        While eating
        breakfast, we hear several helicopters land on the PSP. Marine flight crews and
        a Lieutenant wearing a green beret saunter into the mess hall. The LT looks
        around sizing up everyone in the room. “You Sergeant Black,” he asks me.

        “Yes, Sir?” I

        “I’m taking over recon
        team Idaho. We’ll
        be securing the LZ so the Marines can get their helicopter back and we all can
        bring out the dead you left in there last night.”

        You sorry sonofabitch. “I don’t think
        so. You might be going with Idaho,
        but you are not going to take it over. Right now I’m the One-Zero. Your role is
        demo and mine is team leader.”

        “You want to be a

        “WHAT! You want to
        ride with Idaho…
        FINE! You’re not going to be the team leader, get that through your thick skull
        right now, SIR!” Jesus Christ Black,
        that’s a little over the top. Calm the hell down.

        yells the launch site operations officer.  

        “Yes Sir,” the LT
        testily replies.

        “Blackjack is the
        team leader of Idaho.
        You have responsibility for clearing the LZ and that’s all, do you understand?”

        “Yes, Sir!”

        “Lieutenant, how
        bout I buy you a cup of coffee,” I offer.

        “How about I Court
        Martial your ass when this is all over, soldier?”

        “Wonderful, Sir,
        just fucking wonderful,” I sarcastically reply.

        “OK, you two knock
        it off.”

        Sir,” we both reply.                                                     

        This asshole is out here to do nothing but
        get his CIB … REMF prick!
        Hiep pokes his head into the mess hall giving me
        thumbs up. “Excuse me, I have to get ready to go to work.”

        “Insubordinate recon
        prick,” mumbles the Lieutenant as I brush past him.

        Hiep has procured
        everything Idaho
        needs, enough to take down several trees. We check our gear, weapons, and fill
        our canteens with fresh water. “There’ll be no fire support, so tell everyone
        to bring extra ammo. This time we go in extra heavy.”

        “OK Black,”
        replies Hiep. “If we have fire fight, Sau say he kill Lieutenant for you?”

        “Lieutenant? No,
        don’t do that. He just needs to do his job and we need to do ours. When he’s
        finished screwing around we’ll do his job as well.” Fucker might have the education, but not the experience. He’s one of
        those assholes you might want to salute while an enemy snipers looking at you.

        1000 hours we are
        standing back on the LZ. Sau and I survey the area to determine where we’ll be
        most vulnerable to attack. We set the team up in that area, with claymores, toe
        popper anti-personnel mines, hand grenades at the ready, and 40 mm grenade
        launchers loaded with tear gas and fresh magazines in our CAR-15’s. The Marines
        are busy bagging the dead and rigging the downed chopper for extraction. I grab
        Point and we strip the chopper of its two M-60 machine guns and all the ammo,
        carrying them to the two ends of our security position. Boy that was dumb. I should have taken these guns last night. We’re
        damn lucky the NVA didn’t rush in and use them on us.

        I sit back
        watching the Lieutenant rigging Tetratol at the base of three trees. “Fire in
        the hole!” BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Large chunks of bark fly hundreds of feet in all
        directions. Leaves, twigs, branches and bark rain down on all of us. None of
        the three trees topple. Each of them is still standing waving in the morning

        “Damn, I’ll bet we
        killed every enemy soldier for five miles with flying bark,” I say to Hiep. He
        starts laughing and spreads the word down our perimeter. Pretty soon we’re all

        Sheepishly the
        Lieutenant inspects his handiwork. “I don’t have anymore Tetratol, we need to
        come back tomorrow for the chopper.” The Marine Recovery Crew is pissed;
        complaining the NVA will burn the chopper in place before it can be recovered.

        More than likely they’ll move a larger force
        into the area and wait for us to return. I don’t think I want to come back
        “Sir, now that you have debarked the trees it will be easy to
        take them down. I’ll give you a hand.”

        He storms to my
        position, “What the hell are you trying to do make me look stupid.”

        With a big smile
        on my face, trying not to laugh, “No Sir, just trying to help.”

        “What do you think
        you can do that I couldn’t,” with his hands on his hips he bitches.

        I collect all the
        explosives into two rucksacks. The Lieutenant and I begin rigging each of the
        trees with shape and kicker charges. Then I serially wire one tree to the next
        and finally the entire series to one hand generator. The Marine recovery crew
        has finished bagging all the bodies. “Here you go Sir. Phase two ready. Fire in
        the hole!” The Lieutenant cranks the generator, each tree jumps up clean from
        its base; cut clean and its top kicked outward from the downed chopper allowing
        enough room for the Flying Crane to do its work.

        “Will you teach me
        how to do that,” the Lieutenant asks as he hands me the generator.

        “I just did, Sir.”

        “I’ve heard about
        you. They say you’re a good field soldier but have a tendency to cause trouble
        in garrison when you get bored. They say you spend a lot of time in the club
        playing dice and debriefing recon teams.”

        “That’s a fair

        “I’m glad you and
        your team are here.”

        “Thank you, Sir.”

        “You get the job
        done; you look out for your team … you protected us and taught me something
        new. I shouldn’t have been such a bulldog.”

        “Bulldog kiet
        roi,” interjects Hiep.

        “What’d he say?”

        “I don’t know,
        Sir. I’ll have to ask my interpreter.”

        “Isn’t he your

        “Him? That’s just
        some dumb indig,” I respond with a straight face.

        “I’m tired. I need
        sleep,” I complain getting off the chopper at Mai Loc.

        “Not yet,
        Blackjack,” gruffly states the Mai Loc Ops officer.

        “Man, you guys
        sure beat the hell out of your backup Bright Light teams. What’s next?”

        “Get the hell back
        on that chopper and out of my launch site. Your job here is finished,” the
        Launch Commander smiles.

        I wonder who that American is we extracted last night? Hope he made it … later. Not now, I need sleep.

        Blackjack sends this as part of the intro to this story:

        The rescued office was Lt. David Gordon. He lives in California. Before he retired Dave was a Fire Chief. I met him at a reunion several years ago. He walked up and introduced himself, grabbed me and we both had an emotional moment. Today Dave is a landscape and underwater photographer who’s enjoying life.

        The medic is now Dr. Ron Williams. He lives in Texas. He introduced himself to me at another reunion where my wife and I had dinner with him and his son.

        The launch site commander is Major Clyde Sincere. He and his wife live in Utah. Highly decorated career soldier, great leader and friend. 

        This is a really great book, and set me off on my current reading-frenzy on anything SOG-related.

        • This topic was modified 9 months, 3 weeks ago by Max.
        • This topic was modified 9 months, 3 weeks ago by Max.
      • #118685

          Hell yeah :good:

        • #118687
          Joe (G.W.N.S.)

            219th’s Kingbee Pictures

          • #118702
            First Sergeant


              Signal Out, Can You Identify
              Je ne regrette rien
              In Orbe Terrum Non Visi

            • #118814


              • #118818

                  Book ordered

                  HEAT 1(CTT) X 3
                  HEAT 2 (CP) X1
                  FOF X3
                  OPFOR X2
                  CLC X2

                • #118867

                    Great book. Synchs with MVT training. Shocker.. :yahoo:

                  • #122575
                    D Close

                      I finished the John Meyer books, On The Ground and Across the Fence. Unbelieveable.

                      Jocko podcasts with these guys were the best I’ve listened to. Meyer was on RT Idaho with Black.

                      btw The Frenchman, LeTourneau just passed.

                      • This reply was modified 9 months ago by D Close.
                    • #122661

                        Awesome read. Definitely picking up the book and look forward to more of the unpublished stuff.

                        In an initial stage; beginning to happen or develop.

                      • #125393

                        • #125462



                          • #125467

                              I recently finished “Across the Fence” by John Stryker Meyer. He is another legendary SOG One-Zero. His book dedicates a chapter to a mission that ST Alabama has in which Lynne Black is the One-Two (junior American on the team) and radio operator. The team was inserted into the A Shau Valley in Laos on 5 OCT 1968 with a substitute (non-SOG) One–Zero. On the way in Black notes that he observed an NVA flag flying from a hill top and he concluded there was a regiment of NVA in the area.

                              After they land, the One-Zero quickly leads them down a trail (against the objections of the rest of the team) and into an ambush. The One-Zero is killed instantly. Black stands up – in the middle of the ambush – and coolly shoots NVA ambushers. For the rest of the day the team fights against overwhelming odds. Black is credited with saving the team that day and is awarded the Silver Star (the One-One spent the entire engagement with his face in the dirt praying). Throughout the day airpower was used to keep the NVA from overrunning the team. Multiple aircraft were damaged and/or shot down. The two H-34 Kingbee’s (flown by South Vietnamese pilots) that were sent in to extract them were both shot down. Three HH-53’s were eventually sent in to get them. The 1st was heavily damaged but made it back to base. The 2nd one was shot down. The 3rd hovered in the trees, below the tree level until the team could get to it. It managed to get them out, but was heavily damaged and controlled crashed a few valleys away. From there they were all successfully evacuated. The team had 3 KIA, and there were 2 KIA from the HH-53 that crashed, and at least 4 KIA from the Kingbee’s.

                              Thirty years later Black assisted with the recovery of the KIA. He then received a call from the Commanding General from the NVA unit. He asked Black who it was that was standing up shooting during the initial ambush. Black tells him it was him. The General tells Black he shot him 3 times. He also tells him that they did not have a Regiment in the area, they had a Division – 10,000 men. And they took 90% casualties!

                              It is just an incredible account. I could not put the book down. I’m looking forward to reading Black’s book.

                              • #126388
                                D Close

                                  And remember as well that while they were still on the ground, MACV had approved and launched a B52 ARC LIGHT mission in their AO. The clock was ticking to either exfil or die.

                            Viewing 11 reply threads
                            • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.