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TIME TO KICK MR. CHARLES’ BUTT . . .BROWN GETS HIS A-TEAM . . . IN THE GARBAGE PIT OF III CORPS – Soldier of Fortune Magazine

TIME TO KICK MR. CHARLES’ BUTT . . .BROWN GETS HIS A-TEAM . . . IN THE GARBAGE PIT OF III CORPS – Soldier of Fortune Magazine
I Am Soldier of Fortune

From I Am Soldier of Fortune   Robert Okay. Brown with Vann Spencer

TIME TO KICK MR. CHARLES’ BUTT . . .

All good issues should come to an finish, and by now I used to be anxious to get to

Nam. My arrival there was no totally different than the descriptions which have

been in scores of memoirs . . . getting off the aircraft and getting hit with a

straight left jab of humidity adopted by a proper cross of debilitating warmth.

. . . the grenade screens over the raggedy ass bus home windows . . . the smells,

sights, for me, of a baroque tradition . . . army fumes from the automobiles

together with the stench of the meals, unwashed our bodies and open sewers. No

massive deal. A pair of million-plus troops had completed the identical factor.

It didn’t take lengthy to get processed and transported to my assigned

in a sprawling, dusty base situated at Zion, about 20 clicks north of

Saigon. as soon as once more I landed on my ft, because the battalion I used to be assigned to

had their Tactical Operations Middle (TOC) in an enormous brand-spanking new

water purification plant constructed with one thing like, as I keep in mind, 60

million dollars funded by USAiD to offer potable water to the inhabitants

of Saigon. This challenge was typical of so many do-gooder tasks in

Nam and elsewhere, the place the intent was admirable however the outcomes a flat

ass failure. Oh sure, the plant labored simply fantastic, pumping out tons of of

hundreds of gallons of water towards Saigon. Drawback was the genius who

put this challenge collectively failed to understand that each one the pipes that carried the

water into and all through Saigon have been historic and decrepit, and subsequently

contaminated. And so was the water by the point it reached the top consumer.

However our quarters have been comparatively luxurious. tile flooring, bunk beds

and air con—most of the time. Once I first reported in to the

Battalion, the previous man, or CO, Lt. Colonel Crow, assigned me because the S-Four,

in cost of logistics. This excited me about as a lot as a bowl full of hairballs.

The quartermaster/provide part was based mostly at Zion. I slept in a mattress

of sweat until my physique adjusted to the warmth. I misplaced 10 lbs., right down to 165 becauseof the warmth. I ordered three tailor-made fits in Saigon, and inside weeks after I received residence and again to my regular weight, none of them match. Nicely, at $35 apiece it was not a serious monetary catastrophe.

 

“Particular Forces
Grasp Sergeant
James Lyons, my
Group Sergeant, Vietnam RKB

A-TEAM ADVENTURES: WHACKING MR. CHARLES . . .

AND ALMOST GETTING WHACKED MYSELF

After a few month, the Battalion Co tagged me to take over as

the S-2, employees intelligence officer. Coping with the enemy, climate

and terrain slightly than preserving monitor of beans and bullets was

undoubtedly a step upward. Our Battalion was one of a number of that had been

given an space of operations that blocked the most important avenues of strategy

for the NVA into Saigon after Tet.

In contrast to most fight battalions, who have been hopping across the nation

chasing the dangerous guys, we have been in a static location. In consequence, I had comparatively little to do in my new task, because the enemy models in our AO stayed the identical, as did the terrain. So I had time on my palms.

 

Sergeant First Class Robert Bernard, RKB’s workforce medic, with two Montagyards, prior
to leaving on an operation from Group A-334, Tong Le Chon, South Vietnam.
Bernard patched RKB when he acquired hit with mortar fragments. RKB

I established contact with the native Protection Intelligence Operation Coordination Middle(DIOCC), which was the native workplace of the Phoenix program which was headed up by a younger Second Lieutenant, John Kelleher who managed to a point, a dozen-plus thugs he had inherited or recruited, most of whom have been VC defectors. He was considerably of a sensible ass however fairly sharp and aggressive. His mission was to trace down and remove, in a method or one other, the VC province infrastructure. in our province.

His success was primarily achieved by his younger thugs shifting round within the numerous villages and hamlets until they noticed some of their former comrades  and put the seize on them. He had his personal informant community, and when agent studies predicted a motion of a VC unit which was too giant for him to deal with, he contacted me.

RKB Nam

I went to my colonel and requested an organization of infantry to ambush the route of the VC

component. Typically we scored,

typically we didn’t. In any occasion, we have been one of the few straight leg infantry fight

battalions that received kills based mostly on agent studies, and I even

obtained a letter of commendation from James Dameron, who was the Phoenix

province chief for establishing the ambushes.

I began creating my very own wire diagram of the province VC infrastructure,

and as time handed I developed an perception into how we have been

slowly gutting the VC group—whacking a pair in an ambush

right here, one other in a raid there. Our battalion, together with the ARVN models

within the province, have been getting a couple of extra each month. it was merely a matter

of flooding the province with nightly ambushes—like over 1,100 a

month—and ultimately Mr. Charles would stumble into one and get

blown away. We might see the outcomes as we quickly realized that numerous VC

leaders have been sporting two hats—liable for multiple space of operations. inexperienced VC have been pressured to maneuver up the chain of command.

We have been hurting them and hurting them dangerous. No macho Specops personnel

or fancy intel strikes. Simply easy, plain previous plodding grunt work.

I additionally loved the intel bit, particularly interrogations, as I received to look

contained in the heads of the enemy.

Nevertheless, my enthusiasm for such endeavors almost led to catastrophe.

on one sunny, bucolic afternoon my driver, blond, curly haired Spec. Four

Randy Goldman, was driving me and a younger just lately captured POW

from the Brigade intel store again to my headquarters on the Bn. TOC, me

within the again, the prisoner within the entrance subsequent to Goldman. I used to be  lolligagging

round, having fun with the surroundings and greenery as we slowed to make a left flip

close to a small village. As we did so, the VC bolted.

My response was so automated that I’ve no recollection of whether or not i

had a spherical within the chamber of my M-16. I do keep in mind, although, that as

quickly as you possibly can say, “Stop!” I used to be operating after him, quickly squeezing

off particular person photographs . . . aiming low . . . no spray and pray shit. I noticed him

tear right into a abandoned hooch the place I picked up a blood path. I had popped

the little shit. He had run out the opposite aspect of the hooch. I moved in, did

a “spray and pray” inside to discourage any potential drawback makers, and

tracked the VC out right into a pasture the place the little shit had the misfortune

of operating right into a patrol of native ARVN troopers. I had a fairly heated argument

with them as to who this slicky boy belonged to, and I assume my

uncompromising yelling gained out that day, as I had no intention of being

hung from the yardarm if I didn’t return with the prisoner.

Clearly the previous angel/gremlin was as much as his tips once more on this escapade.

I had been purposely aiming low—don’t ask me to attempt to consider

my determination making on this case—and one bullet had gone by means of the

sole of his proper foot as he raised it whereas operating. I might say I deliberate it

that method, however that might piss off my angel/gremlin.

RKB NAM

BROWN RETURNS TO SPECIAL FORCES

However this was all about to finish, as in late ’68 dame fortune turned from a

fickle whore right into a loving mistress. I came upon that an previous however not by any

means shut acquaintance, John Paul Vann, was working out of CORD

headquarters in Bien hoa, a couple of clicks up the street from our TOC within the

water plant.

Colonel Wendell Fertig, who had been a serious chief of the guerrilla

opposition to the Japs within the Philippines throughout World Struggle ii, and had

continued to function a advisor to the DoD or CiA relating to the communist

insurgency within the islands for a number of years, had launched me to

John Paul Vann. I had  met Fertig, who lived in Golden, Colorado, a hop,

skip and bounce from Boulder. My small publishing agency, Panther Publications,

was not solely publishing a number of considerably baroque books on unconventional

warfare, however was retailing a variety of titles on the topic by

different publishers.

After studying his memoirs I referred to as Fertig, informed him of my curiosity in

the sector, and that I want to go to. After a pair of conferences he launched

me to John Paul Vann, a former Lt. Colonel in Vietnam, who

had resigned his Military fee as a protest over the best way the conflict was

being carried out in 1964. In 1963, he went public relating to the true state

of the battle—that the South Vietnamese have been getting their asses handed

to them by the VC—which went towards the Military institution’s line of

official bullshit. Once I met him, he was working for protection contractor

Martin Marietta and he was angling to get again to the motion in Nam. Now

he was Deputy for Civil Operations and Revolutionary Improvement for

III Corps, and based mostly out of Bien Hoa.

 

A-TEAM ADVENTURES •

Although we had met solely a pair of occasions, I later contacted John Paul

Vann and he invited me to breakfast at his residence in Bien Hoa. he picked

me up at 0700 at my TOC. After pleasantries, I acquired proper to it. “John, I’ve

received to get out of this leg outfit and again into Particular Forces.” I defined

how I received kicked out of SF and my assumptions as to why it occurred. he

sympathized with me and stated, “I’ll see what I can do.” And, bless him, he

did. Shortly thereafter, I received a replica of a letter he had despatched to Colonel Arron

who was commander of the fifth Particular Forces Group in Nam. He tooted

my horn saying one thing to the impact that I used to be  one of the Military’s main

counter-insurgency specialists, and so forth., and so forth. this was moderately embarrassing, however no

means was I going to throw a wrench within the works and disillusion the great

Colonel Arron and jeopardize my possibilities for getting transferred again to

Particular Forces.

Shortly thereafter, I acquired a switch to the fifth Group. Getting an in nation

switch like this was extremely uncommon, however who was I to complain

or contradict John Paul Vann, who ultimately held the civilian rank equal

to a Main Common. I noticed him just one different time, once I organized

for him to attend an indication of unique small arms on the close by

ARVN infantry Faculty in South Vietnam within the fall of 1968. Additionally in attendance

have been high-ranking ARVN officers, U.S. army personnel and

representatives from the CIA. After the demo John Paul Vann spent an

hour with us busting caps and left in his helicopter. I by no means noticed him once more.

But if John Paul Vann had been operating that warfare, and if the dickhead

McNamara, his whiz youngsters and the politicians had performed with themselves

as an alternative of the lives of our army and our allies, we might have gained the

conflict. Because it was, John Paul Vann will get most of the credit score for enjoying a decisive

position in defeating the North Vietnamese by calling in B-52 strikes on the

NVA armored columns throughout their march 1972 Easter offensive. He was

an excellent tactician and strategist who may need gained the warfare in Nam if

he had not died in an ill-timed chopper crash.

I by no means did discover out who the unfortunate infantry Captain was who

thought he was going to Particular Forces and as an alternative ended up assigned to

a leg outfit within the First Division.

My luck continued when out of the blue, a TV crew from

CBS confirmed up at our TOC. I observed a well-known face. it belonged to a

cameraman who had been filming the abortive

Haitian invasion try although we had met solely a pair of occasions, I later contacted John Paul

Vann and he invited me to breakfast at his residence in Bien hoa. he picked

me up at 0700 at my TOC. After pleasantries, I acquired proper to it. “John, I’ve

received to get out of this leg outfit and again into Particular Forces.” Iexplained

Hoa I obtained kicked out of SF and my assumptions as to why it occurred. he

sympathized with me and stated, “I’ll see what I can do.” And, bless him, he

did. Shortly thereafter, I received a replica of a letter he had despatched to Colonel Arron

who was commander of the fifth Particular Forces Group in Nam. he tooted

my horn saying one thing to the impact that I used to be  one of the Military’s main

counter-insurgency specialists, and so on., and so on. this was fairly embarrassing, however no

approach was Igoing to throw a wrench within the works and disillusion the great

Colonel Arron and jeopardize my possibilities for getting transferred again to

Particular Forces.

Shortly thereafter, I acquired a switch to the fifth Group. Getting an in nation

switch like this was extremely uncommon, however who was Ito complain

or contradict John Paul Vann, who ultimately held the civilian rank equal

to a serious Basic. I noticed him just one different time, once I organized

for him to attend an indication of unique small arms on the close by

ARVN infantry Faculty in South Vietnam within the fall of 1968. Additionally in attendance have been high-ranking ARVN officers, U.S. army personnel and

representatives from the CIA. After the demo John Paul Vann spent an

hour with us busting caps and left in his helicopter. Inever noticed him once more.

But if John Paul Vann had been operating that conflict, and if the dickhead

McNamara, his whiz youngsters and the politicians had performed with themselves

as an alternative of the lives of our army and our allies, we might have gained the

warfare. Because it was, John Paul Vann will get most of the credit score for enjoying a decisive

position in defeating the North Vietnamese by calling in B-52 strikes on the

NVA armored columns throughout their march 1972 Easter offensive. he was

an excellent tactician and strategist who may need gained the warfare in Nam if

he had not died in an ill-timed chopper crash.

Inever did discover out who the unfortunate infantry Captain was who

thought he was going to Particular Forces and as an alternative ended up assigned to

a leg outfit within the First Division.

my luck continued when out of the blue, a TV crew from

CBS confirmed up at our TOC. I observed a well-known face. it belonged to a

cameraman who had been filming the abortive Haitian invasion try

 

BROWN GETS HIS A-TEAM . . . IN THE GARBAGE PIT OF IIICORPS

Ireported into fifth Particular Forces Group, headquartered in Nha Trang,

the place I used to be  assigned to Firm A, headquartered in Bien Hoa, who in

flip, assigned me to a B-team situated in hon Quan, close to An Loc. When

Iarrived, Lt. Colonel Michael Lanter, tall, lean, black-haired and nice,

determined after taking a look at my personnel file to make me the B-team S-1 or

personnel officer. Isuppose that since I had  a grasp’s diploma he assumed

that I used to be  fairly literate and will deal with all of the group’s bullshit paperwork.

Ibit my tongue for a pair of weeks, and in a letter to John Paul Vann,

dated 18 February1969, wrote, “Pricey John: my lengthy wanted switch

to Particular Forces lastly has occurred. Nevertheless, if it’s a blessing it definitely is nicely disguised. I reported to the SFOB in Nha Trang on 24 January.

I requested for iV Corps however was informed SF was at full power and subsequently

I used to be  assigned to Firm A, and later to Detachment B-33. I used to be  promised an A-team in about Four–6 weeks when in Bien Hoa however apparently my CO right here has totally different concepts. if I don’t get some sort of operational slot inthe comparatively close to future, I ought to decide up my ball and bat, terminate with

SF and ask for a “leg” outfit. I continued: “it’s each disgusting and irritating to be positioned regularly in employees positions as a result of of my instructional background, writing and publishing expertise. Moreover, the conflict effort receives rattling little profit from my in depth (and costly) coaching in unconventional warfare

and counter-insurgency . . . ”

Shortly after writing John Paul Vann, I confronted my boss, Colonel

Lanter. “Colonel, with all due respect, I got here up right here to battle, not fill out

varieties. if I can’t get an A-team and get some motion then I’d as properly de

volunteer from SF and return to a leg outfit the place a minimum of I’ll get some

set off time.” he smiled and stated, “We’ll, see.”

Nicely, we noticed all proper. Shortly thereafter, he despatched me out to A-334, generally recognized all through the B-teamas the “Garbage pit of III Corps.” The earlier workforce had so much of issues and the group chief and a number of other of the group have been relieved and despatched to some purgatory someplace.

I took over with a hand-picked crew of some

of probably the most competent SF NCO’s round. And God is aware of I wanted them,

as our primary mission was to interdict the NVA’s LoC, or Strains of Communication, from their provide depots in Cambodia into South Vietnam.

Not solely was Tong Le Chon a shithole, it was nonfunctional. There

have been gaps within the barbed wire that you may parade a marching band

by way of. No journey flares, No claymores implanted. No minefields.

My group Sergeant, Grasp Sergeant Jim Lyons, reminisced about his

experiences at Tong Le Chon: “Upon my arrival at TLC, I got down to restore

the defenses of the camp and the overall police of the camp, i.e., placing

in new wire obstacles and claymores, choosing up rubbish mendacity across the

inside and outer perimeter. Upon Captain Brown’s arrival, he instantly

took cost of the state of affairs, creating a crash program to improve the

camp defensive positions. This included constructing new preventing positions,

repairing present bunkers, putting in further tons of wire and hundreds

of claymores and journey flares. On the time of his arrival we had no outer berm

per se—besides tin and a few dust that was pushed in entrance of it.

We instituted a program whereby all of the preventing positions have been improved—in some instances cemented, overhead cowl was put in, and all the berm was revamped. the policing of your complete camp was improved a minimum of a hundred percent.”

Lyons famous in an interview on 24 April 1999 that, “Detachment A-

334 (Tong Le Chon) had been there for an extended, very long time however it had by no means

been constructed right into a preventing base. It was simply wire strung round a bunch of

sandbagged bunkers.”

So, confronted with this mess, I made a decision to lie. Now, I had  promised

myself that there was no method I used to be  going to bullshit anyone once I obtained

to Nam. I’d been across the rodeo area a couple of occasions and knew there was

no means that I used to be  going to make the Military a profession. So overlook kissing as much as

and mendacity to some limp-dicked superior officer. However lie I did. The Normal

working process (Sop) at the moment referred to as for half of my battalion of

Civilian Irregular Protection Pressure (CIDG) to be out on operations in any respect

occasions. Properly, we will’t do this once I don’t have a camp that I can struggle. So

in went the phony operations reviews, whereas my CiDG and my group constructed a fairly impregnable fortress. As Lyons factors out, we put within the requisite limitations of barbed wire, mines, claymores, flares, and so forth.

 

WHEN BROWN WAS KING AND MINISTER OF . . .

As an A-team commander I discovered myself in what was to be, wanting again

on it, probably the most difficult, irritating, but rewarding interval of not solely

my weird Military profession but in addition my life. I used to be  a “King,” albeit of a relatively

small kingdom. I used to be additionally the de facto minister of Protection, minister of

Justice, minister of the treasury and minister of well being, Schooling and

Welfare. I used to be  superintendent of roads and low-income housing—very low

revenue housing. I mediated private issues reminiscent of tips on how to deal with the

marriage of a Buddhist nurse and a Catholic. I used to be finally accountable

for the lives and security of over 576 mercenaries, Vietnamese, Cambodians

and tribesmen together with a number of hundred dependents.

Every single day introduced a brand new set of challenges, with Mr. Charles doing

his greatest to contribute to our uncertainty. I knew once I took over the camp

that I ought to hold a diary, regardless that it was forbidden. One acquired round

such a restriction if one had a thoughts to by titling such a piece a “Memo for

Report” or a “Log.” However what with the obligations of my place, i

merely simply didn’t have the required self-discipline to do what I ought to

have achieved. the one respectable report of specifics are elements of letters that i

despatched to my then shut pal, lawyer and rodeo buddy, Robert Bruce

Miller, who, for no matter cause, stored them.

One, dated 17 February 1969, reads as follows: “Yep, I’ve lastly

scored. I’ve acquired an A-team about seven clicks from the Cambodian border.

most of the elephants, tigers and different wild life have left the world or have

been eaten and been changed by a way more harmful animal whose

initials are ‘NVA.’ I’ve acquired one of probably the most forlorn asshole camps of the

world—however I’m virtually the ‘king’ although the official coverage is that I and

my group are presupposed to advise and help somewhat than command. I’ve received

374 motley Cambodians (who’re ready for the suitable time to abandon and

get help within the overthrow of the current Cambodian authorities),

Montagnards who’re prepared and prepared to slit any Vietnamese throat,

North or South, and a few shifty Vietnamese thugs who would stick it to

anyone for a piastre.

“Haven’t had a mortar assault in two days. Since we blew the again off

the top of a VC mortar part chief three days in the past. I didn’t, however one of

my 15-year-old Montagnard mercenaries did the job. Now the one factor

that retains me awake typically is our firing H&I hearth with the Four.2’s and

81mm mortars.”

 

OTHER THAN THAT, TODAY IS QUIET

On 7 April 1969, I wrote; “A busy day at this time. previous Charles tried to liven

issues up by firing a rocket into our camp however his goal was off by about 600

meters. then, about 2100 hrs, a pair of clumsy NVA, who have been making an attempt

to penetrate our defensive wire set off a visit flare. All our mercenaries on

the south wall opened up with mortars, .30 and .50 caliber machine weapons

and their m-16’s. that is the third floor probe in three days so we’re anticipating to get hit within the close to future. Our concern was heightened after analyzing the paperwork on one of the KIA we received throughout one probe which

said he was a member of a Recon unit of the seventh NVA Division that lately obtained its ass kicked to our south. We speculate that they could hit us to

regain some face.”

Whereas on radio watch on 23 April 1969, I wrote: “Fascinating job. A

typical day was yesterday. At 0500, Charley dropped in 35–40 rounds of

82mm (mortar rounds) on our runway, killing two ARVN Rangers and

wounding three in addition to destroying the chopper refueling level. At 0700,

laid on element to police up particles so planes might land. At 1000 virtually acquired

into battle with three Rangers who obtained pissed once I wouldn’t promote them

any beer. Chased them out of the compound.

At 1200 one of 4 Montagnard youngsters set off a claymore wounding one Air Cav trooper. They have been thrown in jail for a pair of hours and everybody yuk yuked—besides the Cav man who has a gap in his arm—course, he could also be yuk, yoking trigger he acquired medivaced to the rear.

At 1400 went over with 1st Sgt (Lyons)and chewed out the Four.2 mortar crew trigger they weren’t working—a lot yelling and screaming. made extra enemies. Came upon that the VC mortar crew that disturbed my sleep acquired dumped on. An Air Cav unit discovered their place—bloody bandages, blood trails and a blown up 82mm mortar.

Referred to as in air strikes and arty in help of area factor yesterday afternoon and eve. This morn, went up in Cav chopper for visible recon. We obtained referred to as in on a downed chopper shot down by floor hearth and burned. Rescue chopper acquired out one critically wounded. Again to our base to refuel—landed—Ranger three/Four truck close by —backed as much as get out of our method—over two Rangers who have been sleeping behind truck—one had damaged pelvis so needed to get medivaced. aside from that, at this time is quiet.”

OLD CHARLIE GOT ME

On 20 might 1969, I wrote: “previous Charlie messed me over on the 15th. We

took 27 rounds of 107mm rockets inside our perimeter . . . was operating

again from artillery place and obtained hit 20 meters away . . . 16 holes in me

. . . principally small . . . face fairly screwed up for some time . . . one fragment

went by way of my proper cheek and out my proper lip . . .”

25 June 1969: “Obtained some good motion final week. had a mixed operation—100 of my little individuals and a troop of the 11th Armored Automotive.

Went round capturing up NVA bunker complexes within the Michelin rubber

plantations. Sighted 5 gooks one afternoon and obtained two on our approach again.

Charles ambushed us. the Armored Cav. troop commander, a Captain,

in whose APC I used to be  driving took a .50 cal spherical which blew half of his

wrist away. missed me by lower than a foot. the Buddha I put on seems to be out

for me. We shot our method out. Took one U.S. KIA, three WIA and 5

CIDG WIA. Two nights latter Charles lobbed RPG rounds into our

perimeter we had arrange with the Cav. troop. two of my CIDG have been

wounded by pleasant hearth from our perimeter. I had despatched them out on ambush

however as an alternative of shifting a number of hundred meters away from the perimeter

as ordered, they solely went out about 50 meters and, enjoying the half

of laggards as they have been susceptible to do when not supervised, sacked out. And

being the place they weren’t purported to be, received shot up. I used to be

. . . although I’m a bit extra cautious about standing up on prime of

a bunker and watching the mortar rounds explode. Yea,

I’m out of the hospital and have been since about 24 Might. Acquired bored and have become so obnoxiousthe head nurse discharged me 5 days early.”

TROUBLE IN THE CAMP

As time handed, I discovered myself increasingly more at odds with my counter

half, a Captain Lengthy, who commanded the resident Vietnamese Particular

Forces detachment. Hypothetically I and my A-team have been within the camp to

advise and help the Vietnamese. Actually, in my camp and most A-team

camps that was not the case. We ran issues as we managed the funding

of the camps’ operations in addition to the salaries for all of the CIDG mercenaries.

We determined when and the place to conduct fight operations, in addition to,

for probably the most half, camp insurance policies.

FOR MORE, TO ORDER I AM SOLDIER OF FORTUNE CLICK ON DUST JACKET

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