Special Forces
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Special Forces

Green Beret - "Symbol of Excellence - Badge of Courage - Mark of Distinction in the Fight for Freedom..." President John F. Kennedy

John Wayne in "The Green Berets"

I was at Womack Army Hospital, Ft. Bragg, NC from Oct. 70 to Jan. 71 due to wounds received in Vietnam. (see my other webpages for that info) I was going to be returned to duty and personnel had asked where I wanted to be stationed. Since being at Bragg put me 30 miles from my home in Southern Pines, NC, I asked to be stationed at Bragg. I also asked to be assigned to a Special Forces unit.

I was on a medical profile that still limited my activities so I was assigned to the 6th Special Forces Group (Airborne). I was a 1st LT. at this time, but had not attended airborne training or Special Forces Officer School. Thus I was assigned to the Signal Company, 6th SFGA. There I was made the communications platoon leader. This was to be a temporary assignment. As soon as I was off medical profile they planned for me to attend jump school and then the SF Officer Course.

During this time I was able to begin learning more about special forces. My platoon provided the communications link between units in the field and group headquarters when they were deployed. We helped run a communications facility at Ft. Bragg.

For more information on Special Forces units and personnel, click here. Please be sure to return.

In early '71, the 5th SFGA was returned from Vietnam to Ft Bragg. The 6th SFGA was deactivated and we became the 5th. Also about this time my medical profile ended and I went to airborne school at Ft. Benning, Ga. This was for 3 weeks in late April '71.

Just prior to going to jump school, I was assigned to Co B 1st Battalion 5th SFGA. While at jump school I was promoted to Captain. After graduation I returned to Bragg and was told that I'd be attending the SF officers course starting in August.

When I returned to Bragg, I had to go to 5th Group Headquarters so the Colonel could officially pen on my new Captain's bars.

During the mean time I was made an A-Team commander. My first FTX was at Windover, Utah. Since I was not yet SF qualified the teams XO ran the team and I was along to learn. My cherry jump (first after jump school) was on this exercise. We jumped from a C-141 starlifter. Talk about being nervous, all I had jumped from at school were the old C-119 Boxcars. Boy was this a big step up. Plus I had never jumped with a full combat load.

Some photos to look at.

Photos of Winter Training in Helena,Mont.

Everthing went well until my parachute opened with a jerk. I must have exited the plane wrong because my risers were all twisted and the opening shock had caused my helmet cover to come loss and it covered my face. I managed to remove it and landed without breaking anything. We spent several days at the old Wendover Air Force base planning our operations. Then we moved out into the desert that is a part of the famous Bonneville Salt Flats.

We were to move thru the desert and nearby mountains and attack several targets in and around Wendover,Utah. We learned to hide in the desert as the opposing forces had helicopters up looking for us. I really did enjoy this FTX. The return to Bragg was easier as I knew what to expect when jumping from the C-141.

I attended the Special Forces Officer Qualification Course at Ft. Bragg in July '71. We had a couple of foriegn officers in the class with us. They were there to learn how to teach their troops on the methods of guerilla warfare, so that they could help defeat those elements within their countries.

The Special Forces officer course was designed to give you enough knowledge of the specialty fields of each team member, so as to allow you to perform as a commander.

As a result of this training I learned how to blow up things, shoot all kinds of interesting weapons, how to send and receive radio messages and if need be to proved life saving medical help. Of course, I enjoyed the shooting and blowing up the most.

This last one got me extra points during our graduation field training exercise (ftx). My job was to plan the demolition of a railroad bridge. I first had to recon the bridge, draw up my demolition plans and then place simulated explosives on the target. The instructors checked all of this and then gave me a small explosive devise to place near the bridge to better simulate the explosion. As we moved back to watch, a train came down the track and was crossing the bridge at the time the simulator devise exploded. As a result the instructor gave me extra points for an "enemy troop train" destroyed.

In August I was going to be married. The school told me that I could not take time off, or I'd have to start over. The wedding had been planned for months and could not be changed. So, we were married on Sunday afternoon and spent our wedding night in a Fayetteville motel. On Monday morning at 0800 I was in class. Several of the student officers and officers from my unit had been in our military wedding. So you can imagine the jokes that arose when someone pointed out the fact that I had forgotten to wear a belt that day. During the first class break I had to phone the motel and have the new bride bring one to me.

After a short 2 day honeymoon in a Fayetteville motel I left with the class for a 3 day training exercise. My new bride went back home by herself. Good thing she loved me. (We did get a week honeymoon at the beach after the school finished)

One thing my new wife learned was that soldiers are often sent away from home for long periods of time. Co B 1st Bn, 5th SFGA seemed to be one of those units that was always going to the field. There was one group that seemed to go more than any other. We named ourselves "The Dirty Thirty" and even had a patch made up. Our joke was that when you came in from the field, you'd make love to your wife, take off the rucksack, change clothes, make love again then head out to the field again. My wife and I are convinced that our son was conceived during one of those home visits.

One time another officer, 2 sgt's and I were sent to the Florida Gulf coast to plan a FTX for the Battalion. Part of our mission was to select beach landing areas and targets for our teams. One target was to be a swivel road bridge (turned on a center pivot to open river for boats then swivals back for cars). As we inspected the target one of the bridge operators showed us how he would damage the bridge. He even suggested doing it as the bridge was part way open so as to block river and road traffic.

When we returned to Ft. Bragg and reported to the Battalion staff I told them a joke that a local resident had told me. I told them that the only problem the troops might have is looking out for the machine. "The Machine"? "Yes sir, the one that goes around at dusk rolling up the streets."

Unfortunately the unit never went on that FTX. Seems we had used up our training funds for that period. Same problem the Army runs into today, not enough money for training.

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