Phantom Warriors: Book I: Lrrps, Lrps, And Rangers In Vietnam by Gary LindererPhantom Warriors: Book I: Lrrps, Lrps, And Rangers In Vietnam by Gary Linderer

Phantom Warriors: Book I: Lrrps, Lrps, And Rangers In Vietnam

byGary Linderer

Mass Market Paperback | June 5, 2001

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Here are some of the most courageous missions executed by six-man teams on their own deep behind enemy lines.
Gary Linderer is the publisher of Behind the Lines, a magazine that specializes in US military special operations. He served in Vietnam with the LRPs of the 101st Airborne Division, earning two Silver Stars, the Bronze Star with V device (for valor), the Army Commendation Medal with V device, and two Purple Hearts.
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Title:Phantom Warriors: Book I: Lrrps, Lrps, And Rangers In VietnamFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 6.87 × 4.2 × 0.81 inPublished:June 5, 2001Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0804119988

ISBN - 13:9780804119986

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B-52 (Project Delta), 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne)   Many of the standard operating procedures employed by long-range reconnaissance patrols during the Vietnam War were established by the men of Project Delta. The program started in May 1964 as an outgrowth of an earlier, covert operation known as Project Leaping Lena. Project Delta grew quickly from a single twelve-man A detachment to a battalion-size command containing nearly one hundred Special Forces personnel and more than twelve hundred indigenous soldiers.   B-52 was organized into twelve recon teams, twelve CIDG “roadrunner” teams, a Chinese Nung camp security company, and a South Vietnamese Airborne Ranger battalion as a reaction force. Their primary mission was to infiltrate hostile territories inaccessible to conventional units. Project Delta teams went into these areas to locate enemy units, gather intelligence, ambush small enemy elements, coordinate air and artillery strikes, perform bomb-damage assessments, harass and confuse the enemy, and sometimes to conduct special-purpose raids. It was because of the success of Project Delta that Gen. William Westmoreland decided to authorize the formation and utilization of special reconnaissance elements for the conventional army forces deploying to Vietnam. So he sent a directive to 5th Special Forces Group to establish a permanent three-week-long school based on the concepts developed by Project Delta. He named the school “Recondo” after three well-known terms associated with soldiering— reconnaissance, commando, and doughboy. It was the beginning of a rich history of long-range patrolling carried out during the Vietnam War.   By November 1965, the guerrilla war in South Vietnam had taken on a new face. Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap’s regular North Vietnamese Army divisions had surreptitiously infiltrated into the country and were openly challenging the American and South Vietnamese divisions on numerous battlefields from the DMZ in the north to the Delta in the south. Conventional unit commanders who had been used to dealing with local VC guerrillas and the more organized VC Main Force units began to meet conventional NVA forces that demonstrated a growing propensity to stand toe-to-toe and duke it out. To be able to anticipate such confrontations, major unit commanders were begging for battlefield intelligence from beyond the range of their artillery fans. It was the assembly call for covert U.S. long-range reconnaissance patrols.   B-52 (Project Delta), 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), based at Nha Trang, fielded small recon teams, usually two Americans and two indigenous personnel, which worked wherever they were needed in South Vietnam and sometimes, across the border into Laos. In 1965, they were commanded by the legendary Lt. Col. Charles Beckwith.   Just before Christmas, 1965, S.Sgt. Brook Bell’s patrol, consisting of Sgt. Charles McDonald at point, Quan, a Chinese Nung, and 1st Lt. Guy H. Holland II, received a warning order for a patrol into a mountainous area along the coast north of Vung Tau. The team was told to prepare for a two-day patrol, but little additional information was provided by the infantry division assigned responsibility for that area.   After the team went through all the usual preparations for the mission, the men loaded aboard a waiting helicopter late that afternoon. As the Huey approached the LZ, the pilot, flying at treetop height, inadvertently passed too close to a village along a nearby coastal road then faked an insertion into a large clearing not far away. He immediately compounded the error by flying a little farther north before inserting the team. The sun was just setting behind the rugged mountains to the west, and deep shadows darkened the LZ. The large, grassy clearing was well situated on level ground that dropped on one side into a low, heavily timbered thicket at the bottom of the slope. On the far side of the timbered thicket, the ground rose slightly before leveling off again at a somewhat higher elevation than the LZ. Then it ran back away from the LZ until it crossed the road near the village.   The chopper flared to a hover over the clearing, far from the nearest tree line, leaving the men a long sprint across the open before they reached cover. As the Huey lifted back into the evening sky, McDonald the point man, headed for the closest tree line. At the edge of the woods, outside the trees, McDonald discovered a well-worn trail. Stepping back into the grass, he motioned for the team to go down, in column. There they lay dog, listening and watching. Ten minutes after the last sounds of the Huey faded in the distance, Bell signaled for McDonald to move on, and the four men were up running again, crossing the trail in single file.   It wasn’t long before McDonald happened across a large thicket in the forest. They were only three hundred meters from their insertion point, but it was getting too dark to move about in the jungle. Taking a quick look around he dropped down on all fours and crawled into the dense cover, his three teammates right behind him. Inside, the brush opened up into a small, circular clearing perfect for the team’s first “remain overnight” (RON). The surface was covered with a thick layer of dry leaves that protected the patrol from the damp floor of the jungle.   Once safely inside the thicket, Bell called the command-and-control (C & C) aircraft, circling a few miles away, and reported that they had gotten in safely. Bell then released the aircraft to return to base. The team was on its own, without commo or a link to the outside until 0730 the next morning, the time of the team’s next regularly scheduled contact— unless something out of the ordinary happened during the night. The four recon men silently cleared their RON of sticks and debris, anything that might make an out-of-place sound and give their location away. Then they sat back quietly in the dark, waiting, watching, and listening over their back trail. If trouble came, it would be from that direction.   At 2130 hours, McDonald was on watch when he sensed that something was wrong; the sounds of the night insects had stopped and in the distance, he could hear the faint barking of an animal. He was not alarmed at first, because the Asian barking deer was common to the jungles of that region. However, a few minutes later the barking was closer to their position. Then McDonald realized that the barking was not that of the diminutive deer of Indochina but that of dogs— several dogs.   Ever so quietly, McDonald reached over and gently grabbed Bell’s shoulder. When he was certain that his team leader was awake, he leaned to his right and whispered that company was coming. Bell sat up and listened for a minute or two, then whispered to his point man, “I don’t like the sounds of that either, but I hope you’re wrong.”   A large number of dogs barking had to mean that something was going on back at the village. Maybe the local VC had heard the helicopter drop off the team. If they had it would take them a little while to organize a search party. The activity of doing so would have surely upset the dogs in the village. If that was the case, McDonald and Bell knew that it would be only a matter of time before the enemy came looking for whomever had gotten off that helicopter. It was 2200 hours, nearly twenty minutes since the two Delta men had heard the dogs. They were both tense and alert, neither willing to go back to sleep. They had decided to forgo much-needed sleep for the sake of caution.   An hour before midnight, something rustled leaves along the trail. The sound was coming from the west, from the direction of the village and the barking dogs, and it was growing louder. Suddenly, through the thick vegetation, they spotted a tiny beam of light sweeping back and forth over the ground. The enemy was definitely looking for them.   The next few minutes passed slowly, and then they clearly heard the sounds of metal clanging together and of men talking in hushed tones.   Bell carefully reached out to touch Quan and Holland who by then were wide awake. He wanted to assure them that he was aware of the threat. Bell knew that since no one on the team had gone on patrol together before, performance doubts were building inside each one of them. Staying cool was critical to their survival. Fortunately, the enemy soldiers moved past their position and disappeared in the night.   It was midnight, and the moon was up high overhead casting a faint illumination through the trees. Out on the trail, it was bright enough to make out forms and shapes. No one seemed to be there, but it wasn’t long before the recon team again heard the unmistakable sounds of a number of people on the trail. They could even make out the shadows of men standing between them and the clearing. Without warning, the enemy soldiers began firing their weapons on semiautomatic into the jungle to scare the team into returning fire and giving away their positions.   During the remainder of the night, at least a platoon of enemy soldiers working in small groups passed by every thirty to sixty minutes. It was certain that they had no clear idea where the American patrol was hidden, and to stomp through the jungle at night in hopes of stumbling over them was a dangerous gambit they were unwilling to take. But come morning—and light—the odds of locating the patrol would improve.   Bell decided to keep his team hidden in the thicket. To move out of their cover at night during a full moon would only give away their position. And getting hit at night would result in a long and dangerous escape and evasion (E & E) or a battle against insurmountable odds. And there was no chance for help until daylight and the return of the C & C aircraft.   The moon set in the last full hour before dawn. But soon the false dawn (BMNT, “before morning nautical twilight”) began faintly illuminating the jungle around the patrol’s position. This was the time that the recon men had fearfully anticipated during the long, dark night. The enemy had not given up and returned to their base camp but were probably waiting in a number of locations for the team to move. If the Americans failed to expose themselves by some predetermined time, the enemy would regroup and sweep the area.   The team members would have to break out of the trap, for to stay where they were was to risk discovery, and to be discovered was to die. They had to get free and escape.