Six Silent Men: 101st Lrp/rangers by Reynel MartinezSix Silent Men: 101st Lrp/rangers by Reynel Martinez

Six Silent Men: 101st Lrp/rangers

byReynel Martinez

Mass Market Paperback | December 28, 1996

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"No way in hell you could survive 'out there' with six men. You couldn't live thirty minutes 'out there' with only six men."                [pg. 13]

In 1965 nearly four hundred men were interviewed and only thirty-two selected for the infant LRRP Detachment of the lst Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. Old-timers called it the suicide unit. Whether conducting prisoner snatches, search and destroy missions, or hunting for the enemy's secret base camps, LRRPs depended on one another 110 percent. One false step, one small mistake by one man could mean sudden death for all.

Author Reynel Martinez, himself a 101st LRRP Detachment veteran, takes us into the lives and battles of the extraordinary men for whom the brotherhood of war was and is an ever-present reality: the courage, the sacrifice, the sense of loss when one of your own dies. In the hills, valleys, and triple-canopy jungles, the ambushes, firefights, and copter crashes, LRRPs were among the best and bravest to fight in Vietnam.
Reynel Martinez is a veteran of the 101st LRRP Detachment. He is the author of Six Silent Men, a military biography of six members of the 101st Airborne Division during the Vietnam War.
Title:Six Silent Men: 101st Lrp/rangersFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 6.84 × 4.25 × 0.99 inPublished:December 28, 1996Publisher:Random House Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0804115664

ISBN - 13:9780804115667

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Six Silent Men Great read get the point across.
Date published: 2014-04-09

Read from the Book

In late May 1965, the Screaming Eagles of the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division were alert for deployment to the Republic of Vietnam. Two short months later, on 29 July 1965, the 1st Brigade, under the command of Col. James S. Timothy, arrived at Camranh Bay. They arrived trained and honed to a fine-tempered edge, thanks to the efforts of a legendary warrior, Maj. David Hackworth, the brigade operations officer. The 1st Brigade had the finest NCOs and privates that ever laced up a pair of jump boots.   The Screaming Eagles were welcomed by Gen. William Westmoreland and Ambassador Maxwell D. Taylor, two men very familiar with the 101st Airborne Division. Ambassador Taylor had been the commanding general of the 101st Airborne from Normandy to the end of World War II. General Westmoreland had commanded the division from April 1958 to November 1960, and established its famous Recondo school.   When the 1st Brigade arrived in country, the battalion command groups knew that they would need intelligence-gathering units. The 1st Battalion, 327th Parachute Infantry established Tiger Force for their immediate needs in field intelligence. The 2nd Battalion, 502nd Airborne Infantry, under command of Lt. Col. Hank Emerson, formed what he called “hatchet teams” (later changed to Recondos), and the 2nd Battalion of the 327th named its unit the Hawks. Brigade staff, with prompting from General Westmoreland, knew that it would have to establish a reliable intelligence gathering and special operations force at the brigade level. In September 1965, the 1st Brigade issued a directive announcing the formation of a Provisional Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol detachment and asking for volunteers from within the brigade. The new LRRP detachment was to be commanded by 1st Lt. Joel Stevenson, a former noncommissioned officer who had served with Special Forces, then earned a commission at OCS. Lieutenant Stevenson was personally selected by the brigade commander to command the new LRRP detachment. It was a plum job that most officers would have given their eye teeth for. A very impressive man, according to the people who worked with him and knew him, Lieutenant Stevenson came up with the LRRP motto: Fortuna Favet Fortibus—“Fortune Favors The Bold”—to represent the LRRP detachment.   The detachment’s first sergeant was M.Sgt. Phillip Chassion, a Korean War veteran who had been on the Advanced Airborne Committee at Fort Benning, Georgia. He had also served a stint with the British Army. Well respected by the enlisted men, he was a definite asset in the formation of the LRRP detachment for the brigade.   The infant LRRP detachment was formally established in Qui-nhon on 15 October 1965. With the formation of this elite unit a real challenge was directed to the men of the 1st Brigade, and a certain breed of men answered that call. Three hundred thirty-seven men volunteered and were interviewed, and thirty-two men were selected. Among those accepted was a man who came to be called the “Black Icicle.”   The Black Icicle   When the 1st Brigade arrived at Camranh Bay, S.Sgt. Larry Forrest carried the battalion colors of the 1/327, and General Westmoreland, who remembered Forrest from his time as division commander, greeted him fondly by name and made a little joke about how they’d have to stop meeting like this. To men like Sergeant Forrest, war was the ultimate litmus test for a professional soldier. Arriving in Vietnam, he knew he was where he belonged. His whole life had been shaped for this moment. The legions of men who would come after him to Vietnam would not have the opportunity to arrive in country with a unit from a peacetime environment, having trained and soldiered as a group, building friendships and professionalism. Forrest was very proud of his unit and figured they were ready for anything, but in the coming months they would be finding out just how much they didn’t know. When they arrived in country, they had not yet borne witness to the face of battle, had not yet seen the elephant come stomping among them. That would come soon…. And for S.Sgt. Larry Forrest, the most important part of his tour in Vietnam would not be with the battalion whose colors he carried ashore. It would be as a Lurp.   Larry Forrest was born Christmas Eve 1939 in Rockford, Illinois, to a proud black family of seven children. His mother was from Athens, Alabama, the oldest girl of a family of fourteen. His dad had grown up in a Louisiana orphanage. Larry himself had gone to fourteen schools in ten years, and was an A-B student. But as he grew older, he began to feel a little disillusioned with school because he saw that people who had degrees and were black usually didn’t have jobs to match their degrees. School was very easy, but it wasn’t a challenge anymore. His buddies were either being killed by the police or sent to prison. He didn’t want that kind of fate but he was looking for a challenge, so he decided to become an infantry soldier. The catalyst for this was growing up in the subdued racism of the late forties and fifties. In those days, the Saturday matinees featured adventure serials starring Johnny Weissmuller, Frank Buck, and Clyde Beatty. These serials always portrayed the black man as an inferior, bumbling, cowardly person. As Tarzan, for instance, Johnny Weissmuller would swing through the trees, drop down in among 150 black African natives, and whup them all single-handedly. Then he’d swing up through the trees, kick two lions in the butt, all the while holding a couple of apes by the tail. Clyde Beatty and Frank Buck were African explorers, and whenever they ran into a lion, they would bravely shoot it while their black gun bearers would be so afraid that their eyes would go round like saucers, their hair would stand up on end, and they would tremble with fear. Larry Forrest just had to rebel against that nonsense. He was determined to prove his abilities by being a soldier. He’d grown up in the era of the Tuskegee pilots, the all-black 555th Parachute Infantry, and the all-black 2nd Ranger Company, so he felt he had a proud heritage to live up to. He wasn’t consciously aware of all his motivation at the time, but Larry Forrest wanted to prove again that black men weren’t stupid or illiterate—and that they weren’t cowards. That, along with a yearn to change his environment, created a strong desire in him to become a professional soldier.   On 21 July 1955, as a sixteen-year-old tenth grader, Larry Forrest joined the Michigan National Guard’s 26th Infantry Regiment, “Iron Fist” K Company, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They were still using old ’03 Springfield rifles in the squad, for the Michigan National Guard was not exactly the cutting edge of the military art. At that time, the army came out with what was called RFA, or Reserve Forces Act, in which a National Guard soldier could serve six months active duty—most of it training. Forrest remembers going down to Fort Leonard Wood on a troop train for basic training. Their final stop was Cuba, Missouri, where they were to eat dinner in the train station before continuing on buses to the base. The restaurant manager at first announced that the black soldiers could not eat, then finally that they could eat but would have to do it outside, in the back. The sergeant in charge said, “Well, if they can’t eat, nobody eats.” So everybody stayed hungry all the way to Fort Leonard Wood. After basic, Forrest left Fort Leonard Wood by troop train and went to Fort Jackson for advanced infantry training. Advanced infantry training lasted eight weeks, and the remaining time of his six months was spent in what was called advanced-advanced infantry training. At the end of his six months, Larry Forrest decided to take a release from the National Guard and go active. The army sent him to tank school at Fort Knox. After tank school, he went to Germany and was assigned to a bridge outfit. While there, he went through ammunition supply organizational school, learning about ammunition and demolitions. In 1960, he left Germany and headed home. When he arrived back in the States, he reenlisted and went Airborne. He reported to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and went through three weeks of pre-Airborne training, waiting for a slot at jump school, then graduated from Airborne school in September 1960. Larry Forrest was one of the top three men of his class, and General Westmoreland pinned his wings on the drop zone (DZ).   He went to his assigned unit, E Company 1/327, on a deuce-and-a-half truck and reported to the first sergeant, William Edward Wade.   “William Edward Wade…I never will forget that bastard,” Forrest recalls. “When I reported into the company, he opened up his center desk drawer, pulled out a piece of paper, slid it across his desk, and said, ‘Read that, boy.’”   Forrest read it. It was some kind of tricked-up honorable discharge from the Confederate Army.   “Now you understand where we stand?” asked the first sergeant.   “Yes, sir,” said Larry Forrest. “I know exactly where we stand.”

From Our Editors

Old timers called it the suicide unti. Whether conducting prisoner snatches, search and destroy missions, or hunting for the enemy's secret base, LRRPs depended on each other 110 percent. Author Reynel Martinez, a 101st LRRP Detachment veteran, takes readers into the livesr and battles of these extraordinary men. Original