Closing Reflections: The very reason I wished this book to be published, is to tell you of some wonderful actions I have had the pleasure to be involved in, over a 58-year period.
I must say, that being a hero has not entered my mind, for a good combat man, as I see it, is one who has control of his wits, regardless of the severity of the action. I do not believe there is a hero in any man; I believe that some men are able to think, act, and react quickly enough, in combat – appearing – rightfully so – to be a hero.
To me, heroes are the lads who successfully complete paragraph II of the Field Operations Order; this would be TO COMPLETE THE MISSION, regardless of the enemy counter-action, then prepare for the next mission.
I’ve witnessed young men, both U.S. and Indigenous, who constantly were in control of the battle area. These men were in control of the battle area, for they were able to perform rationally and instantaneously in deadly combat v. an enemy.
I watched an SF SFC who while under enemy fire, and while crossing a flooded stream, rescue one his Montagnards (non-swimmer) deep under the water, down stream, while this SFC disregarded the fire, threw down his weapon, and brought this Montagnard up from certain death, successfully breathing life back into this Montagnard’s lungs. Year 1963.
I herded the lads into Co Roc mountain, as we recovered the bodies of two of our first SF SOG lads, Killed in Action. Those men entered Laos to seek out the NVA because this was their Mission. Year 1966.
I’ve witnessed U.S. Pilots, of fixed wing and helicopters, who have bowling balls for gonads. Pilots, who would fly through a wall of green-tracer steel to save a Special Forces soldier or a Montagnard who was down in the battle area below.
I have witnessed our Mercenary Pilots, from the 219th VNAF (SOG Pilots) who constantly astounded me with their lack of regard for their own safety (equals bravery), who flew / drove their helicopter through the trees along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, chopping down trees and branches, as they strived to save a Recon Team in trouble – or a solitary friendly on the ground. Years 1965–66–67–68–70.
I was aboard an H-34 when the same Mustachio slammed through 20 + trees in Target Oscar–8 as we rescued three Vietnamese Crew members from a downed bird. Year 1967.
I have witnessed a pilot Nguyen Van Houng (Mustachio) who placed his knuckles into the gaping gunshot wound through his neck, to stop the bleeding, as he flew his H-34 out of the battle area, saving the life of SFC Harry Brown (now deceased from natural causes). Year 1967.
I worked with a black Special Forces medical man, named SFC Jimmy Scurry, who, when I told him to grab his gear, for we are going on a Silver-Star type of rescue, jokingly said, “Damn Billy, lets make it the DSC.” SFC Jimmy Scurry is a true and pure combat man – a true hero, for he kept his wits under fire. Year 1967.
I saw Jimmy Scurry carry Mustachio (gravely wounded through the neck), into an emergency U.S. Military Hosptial tent at Khe Sanh, SVN), and when told “We don’t treat Vietnamese in this emergency tent; as Jimmy Scurry grabbed the military medical man saying, “You are going to treat this Vietnamese Pilot, or I will whip your ass right out of this tent.” Mustachio was treated immediately, for Jimmy Scurry was very large and ver.y mean. Mustachio lived to fly again; to be shot down and captured, becoming a POW, and never returning from captivity. Year 1967.
I worked with a man named Manuel ‘Manny’ Bustamante, whom I told (via radio) to drop into the battle area from a CH-53 hoist, alone, to search for a Missing SF Recon man (Flora) who (unknown to us) had been captured. Did Manny Bustamante argue or hesitate, not on your God-Damned life. He went into the battle area alone, searched the battle area for not less than one hour – alone – in attempt to pick up SSG Flora, for SSG Flora was an SF man. Year 1967.
I worked with an American Recon man named Charles Jenkins (our best POW snatcher), who ordered an H-34 to land among buildings, in broad daylight, along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, as Jenkins ran to a hootch, kicked the door in, and drug out an NVA, threw him on the helicopter, and away all flew with this POW. Year 1967 – Gonads, not the size of bowling balls; the size of Medicine Balls.
I watched as SSG Lester Pace lowered himself into the battle area of Oscar-8 to pick up SFC Wilklow whom, though gravely wounded, had managed to evade the NVA. Did Lester Pace argue with me about completing this action? Not on your life, for he was a Special Forces man and a SOG man, who did as he was told. Year 1968.
I know an (now handless) H-34 pilot named Nguyen An, who actually lifted a downed HU-1D Helicopter, from a river (before it was washed away), with the wheel of his H-34 Helicopter, while under relentless enemy fire. This act saved the life of three U.S. personnel aboard that HU-1D Helicopter. Year 1968.
I was standing next to SFC Bruce Luttrell, talking over a plan of action, when he was hit by shrapnel, into his brain, later dying of wounds, as I dragged his body out of the line of fire, but could do nothing to close the gaping head wound. Year 1969.
I know and actually rescued a (then) SSG Sammy Hernandez, who, while being lifted from the battle area, and dangling on a climbing rope beneath the helicopter as it lifted – just to be shot from the skies, as the rope attached to Sammy Hernandez snapped allowing him to drop alive, back into the battle area. Sammy H. maintained his wits; escaped and evaded for a lengthy period, to be rescued from the area, by signaling with his trusted mirror. Sammy Hernandez is a true Special Forces man, who continued combat actions for several years after this rescue. The year 1970.
Heroes are made of men who stay focused in battle.
Heroes are men to have a plan, and execute the plan when the enemy interferes with intended actions.
I worked with Special Forces ODA 594 in Afghanistan, and did see these fine young men continue to display the mettle it takes to win the battles. I watched as Special Forces led Anti-Taliban, using the Close Air Support (CAS) provided so wonderfully by the United States Air Force, defeated the Taliban and al Qaeda in three months. These same Taliban whom had fought the Russians to a standstill for 9 years. Hoorah for Special Forces, and Hoorah for the Air Force – including their ground personnel working with SF. Years 2001 – 2002.
As our men kicked Saadam Hussein’s tail in less than 3 months, and now Saadam and his sons are history We have our problems, especially with the media, who are most anxious to divide Americans. All I can say is, “Stay focused.”
From 1954 to the year 2008, I have been around / working with – the U.S. Army Special Forces. We had to battle to remain in existence in 1956, then again in 1972, for the Generals at the highest levels of the U.S. Army, e.g., the Chief of Staff, wished Special Forces to be abolished.
The wonderful results of Special Forces Team deployments, to over 130 nations, where the Teams have taught, assisted, lead, and cared for indigenous of what-ever nation worked in. The Special Forces men have turned the old-dissenting Generals who had a terrible hate for Special Forces, into retirees.
Now, year 2008 – time and time again – the US Army Special Forces has proven to the dissenters of the US Military High Command – that the “Special” in in the title Special Forces – means something / with the right to be called “Special.”
The men I have mentioned – SFC Manuel Bustamante (Deceased 2008), SSG Sammy Hernandez, SGT Charles Jenkin, SFC Bruce Luttrell (KIA 1969), SGT Lester Pace, SFC Jimmy Scurry, VN Pilot Nguyen Van Houng (MIA), VN Pilot Nguyen An (Handless) are true heroes, for these men kept their wits in combat; saved lives; then, continued the battle. Many of the US men mentioned continued their military after the war and were promoted to the highest military ranks – retirement ranks not shown on this paper.
I have never heard a Special Forces soldier say, when assigned a very difficult mission, “I am not going to do that,” for I have always heard the SF Team say, “Lets get it on, lets go.”
There is a wonderful stone near the Unknown Soldiers tombs in Arlington Cemetery, dedicated to the Special Operations Forces. This marble stone, which is flush to the ground, and is implanted just north of the tombs. Etched on this beautiful grey marble are the words from Isaih 6-13 (slightly modified by myself) which reads, “And the Lord said, who will go, who will fight for me,” and the young SF man, who was with his family stepped away from his family saying, “I will go, send me,” and the Lord took him – he was then gone – forever.
Soon we will join the SF team members – now gone – we wish to be with you – for you are the true and bravest of HEROES – we wish to stand beside you.
Billy Waugh sends
Billy has been my friend for 38 years.