Thursday, June 30, 2011


This is my old outfit . . . of course, I wasn't in Vietnam, and I didn't do what these guys did. They are the type of heroes who were still serving as Platoon Sergeants, First Sergeants when I was a private. When I got to Special Forces, they were the Team Sergeants, Sergeants-Major, and crusty old Warrant Officers - S.L.

by Nick Stubbs
MacDill AFB Thunderbolt

6/23/2011 - MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. - In the steamy jungles of Vietnam in 1957, nearly eight years before America began major combat operations there, members of the U.S. Army's 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) were in country, advising and training indigenous warriors.

It was all on the down-low, as were all missions until the end of the war. Secrecy is stock and trade of the Green Berets, after all.

Flags proudly wave over the United States Special Operations Command Memorial Plaza during a memorial service in which members of the 1st Special Forces Group Reunion honored their fallen comrades, at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., June 20, 2011. The memorial service included a moment of silence and a tribute to fallen members of 1st Special Forces Group from Viet Nam through Operation Enduring Freedom (Philippines and Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Basic David Tracy)

But it was no secret in Tampa this week when some 200 veterans of the famous unit gathered for a ceremony at U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base Monday. Arriving in town over the weekend, the group of old soldiers staged at the DoubleTree Hotel at Rocky Point. It was a time to remember, laugh and shed a tear or more for those who were lost.

Formed at Camp Drake, Japan, June 24, 1957, 1st SFG served in the Pacific region and provided some of the first American military members to serve in Vietnam. It wouldn't be until 1965 when major combat operations would begin, sending many members of the 1st on very dangerous missions well behind enemy lines.

How far behind lines?

"We were the front line - sometimes 70 miles behind what they called the front line," said retired Master Sgt. David Kauhaahna, who joked that his special forces code name is "Brother K."

Retired Lt. Col. Keith Walter, Lt. Col. Jim Bean and Retired Sgt. Maj. Russ McDaniel, members of the United States Special Operations Command Parachute Team, The Para-Commandos, descend toward the 1st Special Forces Group Reunion memorial service. Sergeant Major McDaniel flew the POW/MIA flag behind him during the descent which was presented to former prisoner of war Isaac “Ike” Camacho. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Basic David Tracy)

He arrived in country November of 1965, and served in Laos among other places. Like most others of the 1st, he operated in small units, usually just six men. Three of them might be indigenous Montagnards, or mountain people who earned a reputation as some of the toughest warriors and expert jungle guides in the country.

Being so far behind lines, and with support far away, there was always the risk of not making it through any mission.

"Lots," said Sergeant Kauhaahna of close brushes he had with death. "Lots of times."
One sticks out in his memory.

"We were surrounded by enemy, and they had set the elephant grass on fire and it was closing in on us," he recalled. "We thought that was it for us, but helicopters got there just in time to pull us out; we would have been slaughtered."

Isaac "Ike" Camacho, Vietnam POW that escaped from his capture, receives a POW/MIA flag from Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Smith, United States Special Operations Command, during the 1st Special Operation Group annual reunion at MacDill Air Force Base, June 20, 2011

Close calls were part of the job, said retired Sgt. Major Billy Waugh, who served just shy of eight years in Vietnam, and has a Purple Heart for all eight (along with a Legion of Merit, a Silver Star and four Bronze Stars).

"A lot of what we were doing was directing air strikes (targeting and surveillance as members of the Studies and Observation Group)," said Sergeant Waugh, who recalled that the U.S. Air Force fighters and bombers evolved into being "very effective" at tactical air strikes during his years of service. "They took a little while to get the hang of it, but once they did, they did a heck of job."

When not performing SOG duties, "Our job was to kill and destroy," said Sergeant Waugh.

Members of the 1st were invaluable to downed pilots in need of rescue behind enemy lines.

"We were the only guys there, so we did the job," said Sergeant Waugh.

The memories fill volumes, and are only outnumbered by the close kinships members of the historical group share, said Sergeant Waugh, which is why the reunions are regularly held. This year's event marks the first in Tampa, and a special one in that it was in the same town as MacDill Air Force Base and SOCOM.

"We are glad we could gather here this time," Sergeant Waugh said. "It's a sort of coming together."

Today's Bird HERE



  1. Hey bro did you ever have a chance to figure out what MOS 115.93 code was?

  2. I think it’s wrong that ex soldiers who have done so much for their country have returned from service and are now unemployed. More employers should be hiring ex soldiers to show their gratitude to them for their commitment to their country.

    Sam Apex

  3. "cách chữa hôi miệngHiện nay theo thống kê của năm 2016 thì hiện nay những người mắc phải căn bệnh hôi miệngđã vượt lên con số 80 triệu người

    cách chữa trào ngược dạ dày thực quảnLà những biến chứng có thể xảy đến của bệnh trào ngược dạ dày.
    trị trào ngược dạ dày ở người lớnBình thường co thắt dưới thực quản chỉ dãn mở ra khi nuốt, sau đó sẽ co thắt và đóng kín ngăn không cho dịch dạ dày trào ngược lên thực quản
    viêm thực quản trào ngượcViêm thực quản trào ngược là tình trạng bệnh về hệ tiêu hóa khá phổ biến hiện nay và theo thống kê, tại Việt Nam bệnh này đang có nguy cơ tăng không ngừng
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    cách trị hội chứng trào ngược dạ dàyTrào ngược dạ dày thực quản là một bệnh lí của hệ tiêu hóa, bệnh thường gặp phải ở những người trưởng thành
    khám bệnh trào ngược dạ dày ở đâuRất nhiều người đã tìm uống đủ các loại thuốc khám ở nhiều nơi mà bệnh tình không mấy khả quan
    trào ngược dạ dày có nguy hiểm khôngDạ dày thực quản đang dần phổ biến hiện nay, tính đến thời điểm này có khoảng 14 triệu người đang gặp phải căn bệnh này
    triệu chứng của trào ngược dạ dàyMỗi người có các triệu chứng bệnh khác nhau, nhưng thông thường việc đau tức ngực gặp rất nhiều ở bệnh nhân bị trào ngược dạ dày thực quản.
    trào ngược dạ dày nên ăn gìBệnh ban đầu có những triệu chứng nhẹ, nhưng nếu không chữa trị sẽ càng nguy hiểm về sau."