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5th SFGA
Team Cutlass
SOG 1968
When I left FOB-3 at Khe Sahn I was assigned to Special Projects, Command and Control North (CCN).   There were two teams at the time I knew of: TM Cutlass (mine) and TM Saber.  We were sent to Kontum and trained at the "Yard Camp" which was about 5 miles South of FOB-2.  My team consisted of Bru.  These were tribesmen from Laos.  Several were recruited and exfiltated to Vietnam for training. 
The war in South East Asia began in Laos, and may even be going on right now.  President Kennedy talked of "Lay-os" before Vietnam.  The Pathet Lao were a throw off of the Viet Minh who defeated the French.  This war  was conducted from Vietnam and Thailand as well as from within.  There were many units/agencies operating and I am sure our operation was a result of ground work laid by other teams and agencies.  Our ultimate mission was to infiltrate well within Laos and set up a semi-permanent base of operations.  We were to then send the Bru in to infiltrate villages and recruit, extract, train and reinsert natives for the purpose of intelligence gathering. Tm Cutlass and Tm Saber had the mission of initial infiltration and securing the base site and then others would be sent in. We really had nothing to do with the ultimate mission.  We were, if you will, the advance party.
We spent several months at the Yard Camp training to include parachute training and use of weapons a little larger than the Bru were accostomed to such as machine guns and mortars.
I established a real close relationship with the Bru and still miss them to this day.
I will show pictures of the team, training, jump training, our graduation and finally I have some pictures of our Area of Operations (AO) in a place far, far away.

Special Projects Teams Cutlass and Saber
My Team (Cutlass) is kneeling. I'm the tallest one in back.

I think the "Flight Manual" is a Playboy Magazine.


Physical Training

Everybody's Favorite
Swing-Landing Trainer

Preparing for first jump.
The man on the right is Cheek, our interpretor. He would have made a fine NCO in anybody's Army.

Walking off of the DZ.


Graduation Party
The man standing is Maj. Sanford, the commander op

Al Fontes with Guest of Honor!

My Asst. Tm Ldr. Commo man is behind him. I can't recall their names.




Our insertions were flown by VNAF Helicopter pilots.  We flew in unmarked CH-34 helicopters code named "Kingbees".  The Kingbee pilots were legendary in C&C -- especially two we called "Cowboy" and "Mustacio". They flew in near "zero ceiling" weather and without gunship support to extract teams. They hovered against steep hillsides and even used their rotor blades to "cut" through vegetation in order to get to the teams.
They had one aggravating and scary trait.  They liked to fly in close formation with overlapping rotor blades.  Once, two collided killing an entire team they were shuttling.  More than once I would reach up and grab the pilot's foot trying to get him to "lighten up".

For a good article on the "Kingbees", click here:

Physical Training

Rigging Resupply Chute
Gil Secor and Percy Hudson

Preparing for final qualifying jump.



Asst. Tm Ldrs of Tm Cutlass and Tm Sabre. The man in the black PJs iwas my asst.

Our area of operations was in North Central Laos.  It was deep enough to be some what safer than sitting right on the "Ho Chi Minh" trail but close enough to observe and report activity.  It wasn't so safe, however that we didn't take ground fire and have a few attempted insertions aborted.
Notice, that the area was far from un-inhabited.  There were trails and fields throughout the area.  They were, however, outside the direct influence of the Vietnamese. We were there to gather intelligence and recruit and train "trail watchers".
On one over flight we took some ground fire.  I was sitting in the door and immediately jumped back in and took cover.  I felt a little sheepish when I realized that the skin of the aircraft was too thin to stop a BB let alone 12.7 mm and 22 mm anti-aircraft fire.
On another outing we were met at the border by a couple of Huey Cobras.  I waved to them and they left.  Only later did I realize that they were there to escort or bring us down and our friendly waves probably saved us.  There were reports of unmarked and unidentified aircraft in the Ben Het area.  The NVA used tanks so why not helocopters.  There we were in unmarked Kingbees and the pilots neglected to file flight plans and monitor their radios.  Sometimes it pays to be friendly.

Team Formation


Rapellingfrom Kingbee

Physical Training

"Mac" our Rigger, down from Danang.

Al Fontes "Helping" pack a chute.



Relaxing in the Team House.
Percy Hudson and "OD".




There were good times and there were bad times.  I prefer to remember the good.  In mid-December of 1968, I started getting messages that it was time to go home.  Leghorn, which I thought was impervious was mortared and some casualties were sustained.
We began receiving single rounds of mortar fire around the camp.  This was an indication that the NVA were sizing us up and registering their weapons for a sudden, fire-for-effect attack.  Luckily I had received orders and was on my way to Danang to begin processing out.  I was sitting in the club around Christmas eve when I got  news of the shelling.
  I left Ton Son Nhut on New Years eve, 1969 and arrived at SeaTac International on New Years eve.  Because of the International Date Line I celebrated New Years Twice in 1969.
I was assigned to the 7th SFGA at Ft. Bragg.  I was at Ft. Bragg for less than a year when I received orders to The Defense Language Institute in Alexandria to study Latino.  From there I was assigned to the 8th SFGA in the Canal Zone.

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