Saturday, November 29, 2014


A lot of the times it comes down to life experiences. I read this a short time ago and believe that there is a whole lot to it . . . S.L.


Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.
Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
Words that soak into your ears are whispered . . . not yelled.
Meanness don’t jes’ happen overnight.
Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.
Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.
You cannot unsay a cruel word.
Every path has a few puddles.
When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
The best sermons are lived, not preached.
Most of the stuff people worry about ain’t never gonna happen anyway.
Don’t judge folks by their relatives.
Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
Live a good, honorable life . . . Then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.
Don ‘t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t bothering you none.
Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a Rain dance.
If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.
Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin’.
Always drink upstream from the herd.
Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.
If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around . . .
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.
Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just kill you.

Most times, it just gets down to common sense . . .


Friday, November 28, 2014


Sikorsky S-97 Raider

If you are familiar at all with international military aviation, then you are surely somewhat familiar with the Westland Lynx, a high-speed British helicopter used for light utility, high-speed transport, anti-tank and armed reconnaissance roles. It had officially broken the record for fastest military rotary-winged aircraft after one such helicopter being recorded going 201 mph, or 324 km/h.

Westland Lynx

The Sikorsky S-97 Raider is the new kid on the block. With a rearward facing prop, you had better believe it’s going to fly fast and gun hard. Capable of carrying Hellfire missiles, 2.75in Unguided rockets, and an unnamed number of machine guns, the Raider is (according to the website) capable of reaching a top speed of 200 knots, or 237 mph. The Raider is also capable of carrying six soldiers in it’s “Assault” configuration, or automated munition systems in it’s Armed Reconnaissance configuration.

Here's the Good Shit:

The Raider is supposed to be directly competing to win a contract to replace the AH-6 "Little Bird". Whether or not that’s true is yet to be determined. But their website specifically states that they are working with the US Army to meet their design requirements, and look forward to expanding their project to meet USMC, USN, and USAF standards as well.

Official Rollout Video with Engineer Team & Tech Specs:

The best part is they named it after MY TEAM:


Monday, November 24, 2014


Banished to my workshop making shelfy-thingies for Wife TigerLily until SHE gets tired . . . these are for her new gallery . . . S.L.


Detail on joinery.


The Gallery 122 on Main in Elkton, Maryland, will open December 5th, 2014:

Future site of The Gallery 122 on Main

Irish Pub conveniently located across the street!

. . . and because I'm a Blogmeister, my next task after I finish with the carpentry will be to tighten up the social media side of the operation . . "stand by to stand by" . . .


Friday, November 21, 2014


Consider for a minute the implications what has just taken place in the United States of America . . . S.L.

The burning of the Reichstag in 1933 was the Nazi's final step toward total power

In the Oath of Office, the President of the United States swears that he will preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States to the best of his ability. That Oath was violated last night, in plain view of millions of people all over the world. That Oath was rendered meaningless. Cast aside as meaningless as a piece of confetti at a parade.

Also in the Constitution of the United States: the President of the United States shall faithfully execute, or see to it that the laws of the country are faithfully executed. That was also rendered meaningless last night. "Executive amnesty" - what President Obama actually did as a result of his executive order was to instruct law enforcement officials to ignore the law.

The law has not been changed. Congress has written no law that provides the President the power to enforce this aspect of it. Obama simply told everybody involved in law enforcement to ignore their duty. He told them to ignore crime when they come across it. He told them to not bother prosecuting violators of this particular law. Therefore, Obama is not only flouting the law, he's flouting the enforcement of the law.

The President of the United States is now demanding that these violators of our law not only be fully ignored by law enforcement, they will also be given work documents. Under existing law, they are not allowed to hold work documents, because they are here illegally. So the President of the United States is not enforcing a law; he's not changing, regulating, or otherwise. What we are witnessing is the President of the United States creating a new law out of thin air here. He is writing his own law.

There is no statutory foundation for this. The Democrats and their confederates in the Left-leaning Mainstream media are claiming that Reagan did it. Reagan did not do this. The Congress passed Simpson-Mazzoli in 1986 and Reagan signed it, and after that you've got a statute as a law. You've got a foundation, and Reagan then took some executive actions based on that statute.

Ronald Reagan didn't make up a law out of thin air. Reagan didn't create it out of whole cloth like Obama is doing. Obama, on the other hand, is actually instructing law enforcement to not enforce existing law. The President of the United States does not have the constitutional authority to do this.

Prosecutorial Discretion

The Executive Branch of our government DOES have the authority to prosecute, to determine when violators of the law are gonna be prosecuted. This is called prosecutorial discretion.

Prosecutorial discretion is exactly what it says. It's based on the fact that there's just too much law-breaking going on out there to enforce it all; there's just too much crime. We don't have the resources, we don't have the personnel, we don't have enough courts to enforce all of it, and so prosecutors determine which laws or crimes are going to be prosecuted based on severity, damage, any number of things.

But just because prosecutors choose not to enforce a law doesn't mean the law becomes legal or the act becomes legal. For example: the Treasury investigates deposits of $10,000. Therefore, just because a prosecutor somewhere might ignore you if you deposit $10,000 in cash, it doesn't mean it's legal to do it.

Just because a prosecutor chooses to ignore a particular act, just because a prosecutor decides not to go after a certain criminal, doesn't make that criminal act legal all of a sudden. What Obama is claiming is that there are too many illegals, and they're all over the place, and we can't find them. Understood; its a big situation - that doesn't make them legal, which is what he is doing. If prosecutors - and the President of the United States is the chief prosecutor - decides they're not going to prosecute particular crimes, it doesn't make the crimes legal. They are still illegal.

And yet Barack Hussein Obama has essentially said that any crime he doesn't choose to prosecute is legal now.

The President of the United States has exceeded his Legal Authority.

Under our system of government - as written in the United States Consititution - does not give that power to the President.

Article I clearly says: "The Congress shall have Power . . . to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."

Only Congress is vested with the power to make new laws or amend or repeal existing laws. The President does not have that authority. No President has the authority to tell law enforcement to simply ignore the enforcement of a law because he's violating that part of the Constitution - the same document that the President swears to see that ALL laws are faithfully executed. The President of the United States is not even close to having that kind of power.

Another example: marijuana. As you know, prosecutors less and less pursue marijuana crimes, but it doesn't mean that marijuana is thus legal. Just because a prosecutor decides "I got better things to do than go after" doesn't mean that the law has suddenly been changed and marijuana is legal. Well, by the same token, just because Obama says he's not going to enforce the law on illegal immigrantion, doesn't make it legal all of a sudden.

It does not make these people legal. And yet Obama has told us that his action makes them all legal. The President of the United States simply does not have the power to do that. Only Congress can do that. Obama is using smoke and mirrors to confuse the American people and have us believe that because he's choosing not to enforce the law on four or five million people, that automatically confers legality on them. According to the laws of our nation, it does not.

Smoke and Mirrors

Barack Hussein Obama simply does not have the legal ability to do what he is doing. The Constitution of the United States is being violated in a fundamental way. This is the manner of Third World dictators and absolute monarchs.

So what the President has done is try to fool everybody by claiming 'prosecutorial discretion.' What Obama claims is that he's got the power to declare which criminal acts he will pursue and which ones he will ignore. Obama is saying that illegal aliens now have a right to be here because he has chosen not to prosecute them.

Obama is saying, "Yes, they are illegal aliens, but I'm gonna turn them legal by not prosecuting them," and he doesn't have that power. Just because you choose not to prosecute somebody doesn't mean what they did to get in trouble in the first place is all of a sudden legal. Somebody is caught with a bale of marijuana - much more than realistically considered for personal use - and for some reason the local jurisdiction choose not to prosecute does not mean that possession with intent to sell has become legal. Prosecutorial discretion is standard operating procedure. It's been used for centuries because it's simply not efficient, affordable, any number of categories, to go after all crime.

And just because a particular crime is pardoned, let's say, doesn't mean that that criminal activity all of a sudden becomes legal. And yet that's what Obama is is claiming. The President of the United States is ordering the Border Patrol, ICE and the rest of Federal Law Enforcement to stand down. And because there will be no prosecutions of these people here illegally, he is stating that they are legal. No, they are not. They're still illegal, and just because the Obama Administration chooses not to prosecute does not make them legal. What President Obama doing is unconstitutional, illegal and if Congress does nothing to stop him, then they are complicit.

Welcome to the Third World, America.


Thursday, November 20, 2014


Speaking Thai is fun and its an easy language to learn - here is today's Lesson:

Mai Pen Rai = Never Mind

Na = Face

Rak = Love

Na + Rak = Lovely Face or "I love your face"

Travelling in Thailand Do's and Don'ts

"Sawadee Kha!"

I grew up in Thailand, and returned there with the Army. Bangkok is my home town.

I love Thailand


Wednesday, November 19, 2014


This is the third and final post on the Battle of Nui Coto. Thanks to Gary B. Blackburn for allowing me to post his excellent history here in its entirety . . . S.L.

IV Corps Mike Force troopers at Tuk Chup – March 1969 (IV Corps Mike Force History)


Copyright © 2014 Gary B. Blackburn

On 17 March 1969, a group of nine “Hoi Chanhs” defected to the Americans on Tuk Chup. “Hoi Chanh” was the term used for Viet Cong who opted to take part in the Chieu Hoi Program (loosely translated as “Open Arms”). Chieu Hoi was a psy-war initiative to encourage defection within the VC ranks. Recent psy-war efforts in the Nui Coto area, combined with the current successes of the 5th Mobile Strike Force had convinced the group that Tuk Chup was going to fall, and they were willing to provide a wealth of valuable information in return for safe passage. The deserters pointed out the locations of weapons caches, gun emplacements, troop concentrations, and the tunnel entrances of the principle caves. Their information confirmed and expanded the data that Sgt. Al Belisle’s young Montagnards had gathered during their scouting foray the day before.

At first light on 18 March, the Mike Force soldiers began to sweep south. The 1st Battalion would secure the lower half of the mountain and the 2nd Battalion would secure the top. Three 4th MSF battalions would be the rear guard, ensuring that the 1/5th and the 2/5th were not attacked from behind. As midday approached, the Mike Force troops were encountering heavy resistance and taking substantial casualties. Reinforcements were brought in and the steady forward movement of the troops continued, clearing snipers, machine gun nests, spider holes, and caves as they went. The battle was reminiscent of the Marines clearing the Japanese out of Suribachi in March of ‘45.

Battery B of the 6/77th Artillery (9th Infantry Division) provided direct artillery support and helped to soften up the opposition ahead of the Mike Force troops, firing over 14,000 105mm rounds. The Mike Force Special Weapons Platoon also supplied invaluable support using jeep-mounted 106mm recoilless rifles for precision fire on the well-hidden VC snipers and machine gun nests. Twenty-eight young Green Beret volunteers would receive their Combat Infantryman’s Badges for their service in that platoon during the Battle of Nui Coto.

Sgt. 1st Class Doc Blanchard and his company of Rhade Montagnards on Tuk Chup – March 1969 (Nha Trang Mike Force History)

The lines of Mike Force troops continued their assault, but progress was slow and casualties continued to mount. Snipers were a constant fear and bullets appeared to come out of nowhere. The greatest frustration for both troops and Green Berets was the lack of a visible enemy. The defenders of Superstition Mountain seemed as ethereal as the ghostly residents of its mythology. Physical signs of the Viet Cong, either living or dead, were few, but the rockets, grenades, and small weapons fire were real and unrelenting. As the US-led troops pushed forward, the VC simply melted into the surrounding terrain, taking their dead and wounded with them.

As darkness settled over the unearthly landscape, the attack slowed but did not stop. The moon, combined with occasional flares and illumination rounds created a fantastic landscape of wildly distorted shadows and eerie phenomena among the giant boulders. The exhausted troops continued to push forward, but had to wonder when they would catch the elusive foe that always remained one step beyond their grasp.

As dawn broke on the fourth day of their campaign, little had changed. The assault continued to move slowly around the massive pile of boulders, the opposition continued without abatement, and there was still little physical sign of the enemy. Morale among the troops was low. They had seen many of their comrades killed and wounded, and in their minds, had little to show for it. Most of the Special Forces NCOs were hardened veterans who had returned tour after tour to work with and fight with the Mike Force troops, but they had never dealt with an enemy force that was so lethal, yet so evasive. At midnight that night, the Americans declared a ceasefire until 0730 hours.

The break provided much-needed rest for the Strike Force soldiers who had pushed so hard for so long, and also allowed the Green Berets time to intensify their psy-ops campaign. Using loud speakers, they invited the Viet Cong units still on the mountain to either surrender or come forward and fight, but there was little response. Chau Kim’s influence was strong. At 0730 sharp, the side of the mountain still in enemy hands was hit with a violent barrage of artillery and air strikes, and the Mike Force assault resumed.

Walt Hetzler watches an air strike with a napalm drop on Tuk Chup – 1969 (Mike Force History)

Somewhat refreshed, the two Strike Force battalions pushed forward for two more days, taking several large caverns and well-defended ravines in the process. On 22 March, the first of the extensive cave complexes was captured, and the Americans marveled at the size of the underground facilities. One cavern was large enough for the VC to house two battalions. The next day, Mike Force troops discovered a fully-equipped underground hospital, complete with bamboo beds, deep within the stony fortress. Several generators furnished electricity for lights and ventilation, and rainwater caught in natural depressions on top the mountain provided piped-in water for the facility.

There were more skirmishes with the Viet Cong on 24 and 25 March; additional caves and tunnels with caches of weapons and documents were discovered, but most were deserted. Information from the Hoi Chanhs and Sgt. Belisle’s Montagnard scouts indicated that the Strike Force was near the main communist complex and Chau Kim’s headquarters. Defeating the legendary Chau would be a major blow to Viet Cong prestige in the Mekong Delta.

Most of the Viet Cong troops had slipped away, but hundreds of weapons and huge quantities of supplies and ammunition, along with thousands of pages of documents and personnel records were captured. Numerous other caves and additional stores of equipment and supplies were also discovered over the next ten days as the 5th MSF, assisted by CIDG units and National Police, mopped up the area.

Some 55 Viet Cong bodies were recovered, but the true number of enemy dead and wounded will never be known. It was believed that Chau Kim and 250-300 of his troops had escaped across the Cambodian border. The Mike Force warriors paid a heavy price for their bravery and determination. They suffered 45 dead and 191 wounded in action. U.S. Special Forces casualties included 24 wounded and three killed: Sgt. John Greene, Staff Sgt. Benedict Davan, and Master Sgt. Willis F. House of the Mike Force Special Weapons Platoon who was killed by a sniper on 13 March.

Sam Rayburn, who was seriously wounded on Tuk Chup, with Al Belisle – Nha Trang – 1969 (Mike Force History)

The Battle of Nui Coto (as it has become known) received little note in the U.S. media. The press was totally consumed with the story of the “Chicago Eight,” Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Rennie Davis, John Froines, Lee Weiner, Bobby Seale, and Tom Hayden. On 20 March 1969, they were indicted by a Chicago grand jury for crossing state lines to incite riots during the 1968 Democratic Convention and the media circus that followed would dominate front pages across the US for months. The deaths of three Green Berets and 45 indigenous tribesmen from South Vietnam could hardly compete with that.

In the “Seven Sisters” region of the Mekong Delta, however, the battle was a big story. For the first time in over 20 years, the area was not under Communist control. Tuk Chup had fallen.

Ben Davan, with Yap and Doc Blanchard (Mike Force History)

[Sources: Recommendation for Valorous Unit Awards: Company D (5th MSFC), 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces – 1970 (NARA); Operational Report – Lessons Learned, Headquarters, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces, Period Ending 30 April 1969; “The News and Courier” Charleston, S.C., 31 March 1969 – “Only Ghosts at Tuk Chup Now” – Horst Faas (AP); “Mike Force” – Lt. Col. L. H. “Bucky” Burruss; “Mobile Strike Forces in Vietnam 1966-1970” – Gordon Rottman]

Gary B. Blackburn served with the US Air Force Security Service 1961-64. He studied Chinese at the Institute of Far Eastern Languages, Yale University and at Goodfellow AFB, San Angelo, Texas. Overseas assignments included the Joint Sobe Processing Center in Okinawa, and the 6987th Security Group, Shu Lin Kou Air Station in Taiwan.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014


The Battle for Nui Coto, fought in March 1969 by Mike Force Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG), South Vietnamese forces (ARVN) and their US advisors against Communist forces, was as intense, as bloody and as desperate as any engagement in the entire Indochina Conflict - S.L.

Staff Sgt. Benedict “Ben” Davan leads a Mobile Strike Force Montagnard patrol – 1968 (Photo: Mike Force History)

NUI COTO AND THE MIKE FORCE ASSAULT ON TUK CHUP – MARCH 1969 Copyright © 2014 Gary B. Blackburn

“We killed them one by one with grenades, direct hits of ‘Willie Pete’ (white phosphorus artillery shells), or with napalm,” said Maj. John Borgman, commander of the 5th Mobile Strike Force, as his companies pushed and clawed their way up the rocky ridges of Tuk Chup. Experience gained in prior attempts had shown the futility of attacking Tuk Chup’s fortifications head-on, so as the first Mike Force soldiers reached the top of the mountain, additional platoons moved up to secure and reinforce the MSF positions from top to bottom. Maj. Borgman’s plan was for his two battalions to sweep around the peak in a flanking move, cleaning out the dozens of small caves and tunnels as they went.

With the two lead companies moving on up the mountain, the troops of Sgt. 1st Class Stan McKee’s 1st Company, still at the foot of the rocky butte, were now receiving the brunt of the enemy defenses. The company was made up of ethnic Vietnamese with primarily South Vietnamese Special Forces NCOs in charge. It was an early “Vietnamization” effort and there were only two Americans assigned to the entire 200-man company. The SVNF cadre had little control over their troops and discipline was lax compared to the companies of Montagnards and Nungs. As the machine gun and RPG fire intensified, the unit began to take casualties and halted any forward progress. The men crawled behind rocks and cowered there, refusing to move, in spite of prodding and threats from their Vietnamese sergeants.

Unedited footage of the action at Nui Coto (no audio). The first section shows the 9th ARVN attacking a cave in which Communist soldiers had a complex. They did not get inside. The second section shows an American advisor - ducking to avoid possible sniper fire - directing a Chinook dropping a form of napalm on another area nearby thought to be a Communist stronghold. This footage was shot with a 16 mm Filmo camera (no autofocus or light meter, no audio) by Chris Jensen, 221st Signal Company. This footage now resides in the National Archives.

McKee was away from his company trying to rescue Sgt. Jack Greene, who had been hit by a sniper while dragging one of his wounded 2nd Company troops to safety. McKee was determined to reach Greene, but in his absence, half of 1st Company deserted the battlefield. Even a litter detail he had brought with him to assist in his rescue of Greene had disappeared. It was not the Vietnamese company’s finest hour.

Sgt. Hamp Dews – Special Forces medic – 5th MSFC – 1969 (Photo: Hamp Dews-Nha Trang Mike Force History)

Sergeants Blanchard, Nail and Talley had moved back down the steep slope to assist another Green Beret who was pinned down by sniper-fire and calling for help. The three were accompanied by a public information officer with a camera, and as they reached the position of the downed American, the PIO was shot through the chest, slumping to the ground. Amid a hail of gunfire, Sgt. Hamp Dews, a Special Forces medic, slid down the face of the rock and worked quickly to try and save the dying man. But now the entire group was pinned down. Richmond Nail was the next casualty. While attempting to spot the sniper, he was struck in the face, partially blinding him. Spinning around as he was hit, Nail was wounded again in the kidney. Having failed in his efforts to save the photographer, Hamp Dews now turned his attention to saving Nail who was in serious condition.

Staff Sgt. Ben Davan’s company had been under intensive sniper, machine gun and B-40 rocket fire, and it was impossible to tell where the fire was coming from among the tall boulders. Several of Davan’s men had been hit and others in the company seemed disorganized and confused. Sensing his troops were on the verge of panic, Davan had led a small team through withering machine gun fire to a vantage point where they could see the offending bunker. After instructing his team to lay down covering fire, he had single-handedly assaulted the Viet Cong position, placing such deadly fire on the gunners that the position was destroyed and several VC surrendered.

Sgt. John Talley – 2nd Battalion, 5th Mobile Strike Force searches a cave on Tuk Chup – March 1969 (Photo: Nha Trang Mike Force History)

Davan’s company regrouped and moved some distance up the hill before once again coming under heavy machine gun and sniper fire. It was the same sniper that had killed the public information officer, wounded Richmond Nail, and still had the group of Green Beret NCOs pinned down in the rocks below. Three more of Davan’s troops had been wounded, and were also pinned down. The soldiers were unable to move, and no one had dared to try reaching them. With no thought for his own safety, the young sergeant crawled down through the rocks to assist his men. Lifting the first man slightly off the ground, he managed to drag him in a circuitous route to a sheltered location and quickly returned for the second man. The sniper’s bullets were ricocheting off the granite boulders, spraying the wounded striker with chips of granite as Davan helped him crawl to a nearby medic. But now there was one left, and this one was the most difficult. The young Montagnard was sprawled awkwardly in a sandy open area between two massive rocks. He appeared to be alive, but unconscious; if he moved, it was certain death. The sergeant reached the cover of one of the huge stones safely, but as he crawled forward to rescue the boy, Ben Davan was shot and killed by the sniper.

Sgt. 1st Class John Maketa – 5th Mobile Strike Force – Nha Trang (Photo: Mike Force History) — with John Maketa

The compatriots of the Green Berets trapped below had been trying to locate the hiding place of the sniper who had brought their operation to a halt. Each time the sniper fired, they would move closer to the sound of the weapon. When the shot was fired that killed Davan, Sgt. 1st Class John Maketa found himself directly above the sniper’s location. He had heard the rifle’s report and it had come from a deep, shadowed cleft in the rocks. Borrowing a flamethrower from the Special Weapons Platoon, the sergeant strapped it on his back and rappelled down the rock face to a position that seemed to be right. Then, taking a deep breath, Maketa swung himself out in front of the gunman’s hole and filled the cavity with a deluge of flaming fuel.

(Flamethrower team – Nui Coto – March 1969 (Photo: Hamp Dews-Nha Trang Mike Force History)

Special Forces Sgt. John “Jack” Greene was rescued from the battlefield and medevaced to a hospital, but would die of his wounds six days later. Greene, of Charlotte, North Carolina, was posthumously awarded the Silver Star Medal for his heroic efforts to save his wounded man, at the cost of his own life. Jack Greene was 20 years old.

For “exceptional valor,” MSF Company Commander Benedict Davan was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor, and the Bronze Star Medal. Ben Davan, from Westbrook, Maine, was 23 years old.

Special Weapons Platoon jeep-mounted 106mm recoilless rifle – Tuk Chup – March 1969 (Photo: Hamp Dews-Nha Trang Mike Force History)

To be continued . . .


Monday, November 17, 2014


There is a backchannel pathway on the Internet where the Special Forces Brotherhood hangs out, where we compare notes and continually work our nefarious plans to take over the World. Late one night last week, one of the Nam vets uttered a phrase in Viet that caught my attention:

"Nui Coto"

I've heard older veterans refer to this little known chapter of the Vietnam war; fought between the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) with their American advisors, against South Vietnamese Communists. Until now I never knew the full story. I did some research; what I found is posted here, with permission - S.L.

Nui Coto and Tuk Chup loom over the Plain of Reeds (Photo: Lt. Col. James Pyle, USA-Ret.)


Copyright © 2014 Gary B. Blackburn

Deep in southwestern Vietnam stands a chain of mountains called the “Seven Sisters,” and the southern-most of those mountains is a rugged peak called Nui Coto. Early in 1969, representatives from 5th Special Forces and the 44th Special Tactical Zone reached the decision that in order to secure the region, the Viet Cong strongholds atop Nui Coto and Tuk Chup, a lesser peak to the southwest, must be attacked and destroyed.

The Nui Coto fortress was reputed to be the headquarters of Chau Kim, a notorious, almost mythic Cambodian communist. Chau and his troops had terrorized local farmers for years, demanding food and supplies for their camps.

Phase I of the operation called for CIDG troops from Special Forces A-camps in the area and National Police to cordon off and search local villages. That would cut off much of the enemy’s food supply, liberate the local populace, and help identify any local VC. Phase II called for 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 5th Mobile Strike Force Command (Nha Trang) to move in and seal off Tuk Chup (“chup” means knoll).

The “knoll,” covered with huge rocks and boulders the size of two-story houses is a “promontory of the Nui Coto group,” and riddled with caves used as storage facilities by the VC. Those caves would be a source of resupply and reinforcements if not isolated from the main peak. In Phase III, Tuk Chup would be cleared of enemy forces before friendly elements moved in to clear and secure Nui Coto itself. It was a simple plan, but there was nothing simple about Nui Coto, or Tuk Chup.

Phases I and II were completed by 14 March 1969, and the Mike Force units were flown into positions west of Nui Coto the following day. At 0430 hours on 16 March, an artillery barrage commenced, followed an hour later by the ground assault. In the predawn haze, hundreds of Mike Force soldiers with their Green Beret advisors moved silently across the paddies and marshland surrounding the ominous peak. Sgt. 1st Class Richmond Nail and the troops of 6th Company led the way, followed by Sergeant John Talley and his 4th Company. Hidden within the 800-foot-tall pile of boulders, enemy sharpshooters watched and waited.

The MSF battalions were comprised of separate companies of Koho, Cham, Raglai and Rhade Montagnards, as well as ethnic Chinese Nungs and Vietnamese, and the battalions’ Special Forces advisors. The first troops arrived at the base of the rocky mass and began to make their ascent as weak sunlight filtered through the swirling mist. Initially they had encountered only scattered sniper fire, but at 0645 the Viet Cong opened fire. M79 grenades and B-40 rockets rained down on the advancing troops, followed by a hail of machine gun and small arms fire. The barrage came out of nowhere and from everywhere. There were dark holes, cracks and crevices wherever the soldiers looked, and bullets seemed to be coming from all of them. Some 20 percent of one 200-man company was knocked out in minutes and the onslaught had only begun.

It was said that locals called the rocky mass “Superstition Mountain” in their dialect, because they believed its defenders were protected by spirits and “immune to death.” ARVN troops believed that the soul of every man killed there wandered the mountain forever, because Buddha had abandoned the ugly crag. It was certainly true that in earlier efforts to attack the mountain, the mountain had won. The 4th MSF Command had lost Joe Smith, Bobby Herreid, Gary Goudy, Roger Brown, and Bob Stec on Tuk Chup, just in the last six months. The promontory was a natural fortress overlooking the surrounding paddies and Plain of Reeds, and so far it had been impregnable.

Special Forces Staff Sgt. Albert Belisle, commanding one of the Strike Force companies of Montagnards, said: “When we crawled over the big boulders, Viet Cong sharpshooters picked us off one by one. We tried to crawl forward under the rocks, but the Viet Cong came on top of us, throwing and rolling grenades down.”

There were snipers everywhere; Belisle’s company had lost two men to sniper fire before they reached the foot of the knoll. As the MSF troops attempted to push beyond the massive rocks at the base of the mountain, they encountered even stiffer resistance. “. . . We fought straight up the hill,” Belisle said. “But every 20 yards another man fell.”

One of the more senior advisors said, “When my men snaked up from the crevices and squeezed themselves over the boulders, we caught the most accurate fire I have seen in six years here. It was screaming hell. The wounds were terrible. ‘Charlie’ wasted no bullet on easy wounds like arms and legs. When a medic crawled after them, Charlie seemed to know where he had to expose himself. With one bullet he would drop the medic right on top of the wounded man in the cave. From then on we just swapped grenades with the Viet Cong. The one who was more accurate lived.”

“We crouched between the rocks with a grenade in one hand and the other hand free, listening for the sound of a pin being pulled or the clink of a grenade pin,” Al Belisle recalled. “When a grenade came clinking in your direction there were only two chances – throw it back with your free hand or hunch between the rocks and pray.”

Montagnard Strikers make their way up the side of Tuk Chup – March 1969 (Photo: IVth Corps Mike Force History)

As his unit struggled to move, Belisle asked for three volunteers to crawl out and attempt to infiltrate the Viet Cong camp. His three Montagnard platoon leaders volunteered. Lieutenants Ha-Elyz, He-Non and Mang-Son took off their web gear and helmets, and handed their M16s to the Green Berets. Sticking knives in their belts, they stuffed their pockets with grenades and slipped away between the rocks.

The three young Montagnards had crawled only a short distance when they began to hear the chatter of a specific machine gun. Quietly signaling each other, they moved like shadows among the enormous granite rocks. As the battle roared around them, they soon found themselves behind a single enemy soldier in front of a small cave. The man was on one knee and intently firing an antiquated Chinese machine gun through a narrow crevice. Without a sound, Ha-Elyz slipped behind the man and killed him.

There was a narrow path from the cave extending on up the mountain, so the trio continued their trek. They had acquired an AK-47 rifle and moved quickly, keeping low to avoid being shot by their own men. Staying close to the stone outcroppings, the Montagnards passed several empty sniper positions before coming up behind and slightly below the next manned machine gun nest. As the three small men peered over the edge of a low ledge, they saw two VC in black uniforms chained to the stone wall behind them; they were firing a heavy machine gun. One of the men was cradling an ammunition belt and feeding it into the weapon; held by his safety chain, the gunner was leaning far out to the side and firing his weapon through a crack in the rocks while perfectly protected by solid granite. The chains that secured the men were tied around their waists and fastened to hooks driven into the stone. Quietly pulling the pin from a grenade, He-Non climbed up over the rim of the ledge, moved behind a boulder and tossed the explosive. The bodies were left dangling from their chains as the small team moved on up the trail.

Meanwhile, the main force of the MSF companies was making slow progress. The machine gun fire, rockets and grenades from above were unrelenting, exacting a terrible toll on the troops below, and the Green Berets leading them. Sgt. Belisle was literally caught “between a rock” and the destruction of his entire company. “I had to call in artillery and napalm to beat the assault back,” he said, “knowing all the time that my platoon leaders were somewhere under the bombarded rocks.”

As artillery and tactical air strikes commenced, the three infiltrators sought cover, cramming together into a small cleft under a house-size boulder. Artillery shells posed little danger, barring a direct hit, but napalm was of more concern. Their refuge was soon immersed in dense acrid smoke and black soot, and globules of flaming napalm dripped down the sides of the rock causing painful burns. The men appeared so blackened, battered and burned, however, that it worked to their advantage. As they continued their mission, they encountered a group of female guerrillas led by a man wearing a pistol, presumably a Viet Cong officer. One of the Montagnards held up their captured AK-47 in a salute, which the officer acknowledged, and then he asked if they were hurt or needed water. The three Montagnards could not answer, because their highland Vietnamese accent would give them away. With only a slight hesitation, the young men smiled, bowed, and nodded their heads as one of them flipped a grenade into the middle of the enemy group, and all three dived for cover.

Upon reaching what appeared to be a main entrance to the Tuk Chup cave complex, the three Montagnard officers killed the guard and stole inside.
Once inside, they moved from room to room, surveying the accessible areas of the cave system. If they encountered VC, they simply bluffed their way past and kept moving. Before departing the caves, they grabbed as many documents as they could safely carry, and made their way back down the rocky escarpment. With the sun slowly dying behind the peaks of southern Cambodia, the battle continued to roar, and the three youngsters crossed safely back into area controlled by their company some eleven hours after they had left.

“They got us all the poop we needed to get the company into the caves,” Belisle said proudly, “. . . I never thought I'd see the three alive again, but . . . they were back, with eleven Charlies killed and they still had seven grenades left.”

Tactical air and artillery strikes on Tuk Chup – March 1969 (Photo: IVth Corps Mike Force History)

Gary B. Blackburn served with the US Air Force Security Service 1961-64. He studied Chinese at the Institute of Far Eastern Languages, Yale University and at Goodfellow AFB, San Angelo, Texas. Overseas assignments included the Joint Sobe Processing Center in Okinawa, and the 6987th Security Group, Shu Lin Kou Air Station in Taiwan.

To be continued . . .


Sunday, November 16, 2014


Special Forces soldier killed in action in Afghanistan 14 Sept. 2014.

Green Beret Sergeant First Class Michael A. Cathcart, 31, of Bay City, Michigan, died in Kunduz Province, northern Afghanistan, of wounds received from small-arms fire while on dismounted combat operations.

SFC Cathcart was assigned to Company A, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne). This was his fifth deployment with the battalion, known as the Bushmen, to Afghanistan.

The unit "lost one of our nation's finest," said Cathcart's battalion commander, Lt. Col. Michael Sullivan. "Cathcart died a true warrior with his fellow teammates at his side."

Cathcart enlisted in the Army in June 2001 as a Fire Support Specialist and served more than five years with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he served for more than five years. He had two combat tours to Iraq with the 101st.

The Army said Cathcart volunteered for the Special Forces in 2007, and after his training he joined the 3rd Special Forces Group in 2009 as an engineer sergeant.

SFC Cathcart's decorations include four Bronze Star Medals, the Purple Heart Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Fifth deployment. All gave some, but he gave all.


Saturday, November 15, 2014


I think we found where the cuts should be made!

Salary of retired US Presidents . . . . $180,000 FOR LIFE

Salary of House/Senate members . . . . . $174,000 FOR LIFE This is stupid

Salary of Speaker of the House . . . . . $223,500 FOR LIFE This is really stupid

Salary of Majority/Minority Leaders . . . $193,400 FOR LIFE Ditto last line

Average Salary of a teacher . . . . . . . $40,065

Average Salary of a deployed Soldier . . . $38,000

The Buffet Rule

We must support this...pass it on and let’s see if politicians understand what people pressure is all about . . . S.L.

Warren Buffet, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling:

"I could end the deficit in 5 minutes," he told CNBC. "You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971 - before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took one (1) year or less to become the law of the land - all because of public pressure.
Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.

In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.
Congressional Reform Act of 2014

1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they're out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.
All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective12/1/14. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen/women.

Congress made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

If you agree, pass it on. If not, turn the page and go to the next part of the Internet . . .


Wednesday, November 12, 2014


The Stolen Valor Act of 2013 (Pub.L. 113–12; H.R. 258) is a United States federal law that was passed by the 113th United States Congress. The law amends the Federal Criminal Code making it a crime for a person to fraudulently claim having received any of a series of particular military decorations with the intention of obtaining money, property, or other tangible benefit from convincing someone that he or she rightfully did receive that award. This law is a revised version of Stolen Valor Act of 2005 that was struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States for violating freedom of speech in the case United States v. Alvarez.


Joe Rios has made the following claims regarding his military service:

1) Served in US Army Special Forces from 1975-1988
2) 18B Weapons Sergeant
3) Special Forces Instructor
4) SERE Instructor
5) Instructor - Fort Sherman Panama
6) Pathfinder Instructor - Panama
7) Combat duty in Nicaragua and El Salvador
8) French Commando Training

Joe Rios claims to have spent 18 months in the hospital recovering from crushed vertebrae after a parachute accident. However, it seems that Joe wasn't even Airborne qualified:

Joe Rios' records indicate:

1) US Army - 15 July 1976 through 14 February 1980 Active Duty
2) MOS 71B and 71L (Clerk Typist)
3) After Basic and AIT Joe was assigned to HHB 2nd BN, 1st ADA in Germany for the entirety of his military service.
4) Awards and Decorations include: Expert Rifle and Pistol Badge


Joe Rios has spent many years scamming people into believing he was a former Special Forces soldier. His claims have been publicized and even used to convince a school that he was qualified to build a "Green Beret" confidence/ leadership course, for which he was paid.

Joe Rios is a loser, poser, fraud and liar . . . nothing more.

Perhaps he should follow his own advice . . .

Last known location: Anderson County, SC. Previous address listed is in Tucson, Arizona.

Special Forces soldiers have been discretely engaging Rios via social media. He is not forthcoming and "cannot remember" his team number. None of his answers to our questions make sense. He apparently was paid to work with the Walton Academy in DeFuniak Springs, Florida based on his military claims: this is the basis of our Stolen Valor allegations.

Spending 18 months in the hospital after a parachute malfunction is hard to do when you aren't even Airborne qualified.

International "Silent" Military Missions?

"Divine Intervention"

Joe Rios is a professional scam artist and it is believed that the old lady is well aware of his lies, she is following him around the country. He needs a co-actor to pull off the scam. Con artists often operate in pairs, male & female.

Identity of Joe Rios' girlfriend is withheld although she is clearly identified on Joe Rios' FB page.

Keep in mind this guy is a con-artist; some of the first people these types go after are family. They have in all likelihood conned someone into signing for the house for them, with the agreement they're making the payments, etc. The house in Tucson is under his old lady's name (withheld). Evidently the GF gets a monthly hand out from her elderly parents; they bought the house in Tucson for them.

Special Forces plate on his red Toyota Tacoma truck.

Phony Wannabe Joe Rios Gets Away with Another One:

Joe Rios was paid $1500 to build a "Special Forces Obstacle Course" for Walton Academy by Steve Ruder; former student and former friend of Joe Rios, and principal of the Academy.

On 25 August 2014 the FBI notified Ruder and told him the agency would NOT be pursuing the Rios case due to the monetary amount not being high enough to go further. The agency did confirm he was a Clerk Typist on active duty for a couple years. The Brotherhood spoke with Steve on the phone and he said Rios continues to build his web of lies to everyone he comes in contact with.

Unfortunately the FBI won't investigate Joe Rios for Stolen Valor because the $$$ amount was too low, but they investigate crap like THIS

"Stand By to Stand By"

Information is forthcoming on the Walton Academy fraud to include the tax form from $1500 payment to Joe Rios (which used federal education funding). Please check here for update.

Possible VA Fraud?

Apparently $1500 isn't enough to generate a Stolen Valor investigation, but I wonder if he's getting VA benefits from his "parachute accident"?

I guess we'll have to find out . . .


Tuesday, November 11, 2014


My good friend & comrade-in-arms Blue wrote this for Veterans day last year - it is a worthy post for Veterans Day . . . S.L.


My life was late nights and early mornings, physical exhaustion and boredom, my life was hurry up and wait.

My days were broiling heat, my nights freezing cold. I lived in pouring rain, freezing snow and stifling humidity. Dust, sand and mud were my bed, my pillow a rucksack, butt pack or helmet.

My feet toughened by thousands of miles of roads, paths, trails and fields trod. My back made strong and wide by days upon weeks upon years of carrying my rucksack just one more click.

My youth spent learning my craft, sharpening my will and hardening my body for whatever was asked of me. Taught by men who had been taught by men who had hit the beach, held that hill or leapt from that airplane.

My teacher's lessons collected by experiences written in blood, sweat and tears. My classroom was the forest, the jungle, the desert and the mountain. My certificate a colorful ribbon, a shiny badge and those stripes.

My traditions are ageless, my heritage stretches back centuries, I descended from giants and am proud to be counted as one of them. My youth was spent in service to my country. My youth was spent with my brothers and sisters I served with. My youth was not misspent.

I salute all of you who served. As we approach Veterans Day let us look back and remember those we served with and also look forward and thank those that still serve. God bless you all.

Blue Harrell
Seattle, Washington

1981 Fort Gordon Georgia, 17 year old Private Harrell