tv Nick Brokausen We Few CSPAN July 14, 2018 3:30pm-4:31pm EDT
[inaudible conversations] >> here's a look at upcoming book fairs and festivals hopping around the country. next week it's the beyond the sea book festival in lincoln bill, maine. august 18, we will be live at the mississippi book festival held on the grounds of the state capitol in jackson. later in august, the aj decatur book festival takes place in atlanta and september 1, we are live in the washington convention center for the library of congress' national book festival in the nation's capital. for more information about upcoming book fairs and festivals and to watch previous festival coverage look at the book fairs web on our website, but to the.org-- book tv.org.
>> good afternoon and welcome to the william g mcgowan theater here at the national archives to hear nick brokhausen talk about his new book "we few: u.s. special forces in vietnam". it is a pleasure to welcome you here. whether you in the theater or joining us on our youtube station in a special welcome to our friends at c-span. today's program is part of a series of discussions, films, programs, lectures and other events related to the remembering vietnam exhibit upstairs. before we bring out-- bring up nick brokhausen , like to tell you about to other programs coming here later this week. tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m., join us for a bipartisan discussion
about how citizenship-- citizen movements have influence policymakers in a program called citizen engagement in america's history, citizen activists will join a panel of former members of congress to discuss civic engagement, civic education and how to petition the government's and on thursday june 21, at noon at the robert f kennedy legacy program we will hear from cary kennedy about her new book about her father robert f kennedy "ripples of hope" using interviews with those that have been inspired by him kennedy brings to life value and passion and a book signing will follow the program. to learn more about these and all of our programs consult our monthly calendar of events online and archives.gov. there is a sign-up sheet outside on the table also where you can get e-mail updates and you will find more information about national archives
activity and events. another way to get more involved is to become a member of the national archive foundation. the foundation supports all of our education and outreach activities and their applications for membership in the lobby. now, i will ask all vietnam veterans or any united states veteran who served on active duty in the united states armed forces anytime during the period november 1, 1955 and may 15, 1975, to stand and be recognized. [applause]. veterans, as you exit the mcgowan theater after today's program national archives staff and volunteers will present each of you with the vietnam veteran lapel pin.
on the back of the pin is embossed: grateful nation thanks and honors you. united states of america vietnam war. as i mentioned earlier this program is related to our special exhibits, remembering vietnam. for this exhibit our staff after national archives, records here and across the country to find documents to tell the story, stories recounted in the 12 episodes of exhibit. these records come in many forms, reports, audio recording, motion picture film and video tape and artifacts. remembering vietnam traces the long walk of the war from the decisions that led to increased american involvement to the eventual withdrawal of the united states troops it also brings us face to face with individual stories of people who live, thought and died
in vietnam. we few, nick brokhausen nick brings us some of those stories from the perspective of some who served and fought side-by-side. the small company and its indigenous allies were the backbone of ground reconnaissance in vietnam during the war. to hear from him now and learn the stories about us men and the hardships they faced. nick brokhausen served 17 years in the us military after his time in the military in vietnam, studied observation group, participated in missions and as a member of the first counterterrorist unit in the us military. since leaving the military he is still some are businesses to provide training to law enforcement in the military as well as consulting for the resource development community.
he has developed business interest in software and cyber security, energy and power plant projects as well as projects to the ballistic shield used by law enforcement and armored vehicles. ladies and gentlemen please welcome nick brokhausen. [applause]. >> thank you. thank you. i will make this as short as i can so we can get into questions and answers and that. i would like to say that i wrote this book as a catharsis. i went to a period in my life where things have slowed down somewhat and i wanted to get some of my demons than away with , so i sat down and wrote this book in about six months and then it sat around for two years and finally i had a
small publisher pick it up and printed it back about 15 years ago or 10 years, something like that. it has been out of print for 10 years and it's just been republished. i'm not a scholar. i'm not an archivist. i'm just a guy that went through this i decided to put it down on paper in the hopes that people after me would understand the incredible courage of my peers as not sergeant rock and howling commandos. not a lot of me. on more of the narrator rather than the central figure. .com. i wrote the book as a tribute to my peers and i would like to read something to give you an idea of exactly what i'm talking about. this is the presidential unit citation that was
awarded and i was actually privileged enough to be at the ceremony in for pride. with about three other-- 300 other survivors of matt the salt that were there including several generals, retired generals that had been staff sergeant said buck and sergeants in days so i will read this if i can. i'm not a professional reader, either. the presidential units citation for extraordinary heroism to the united states studies and observation group united states military assistance command vietnam. the studies and observations group cited for turner heroism, great combat achievement and unwavering fidelity while executing an harrowing top-secret missions deep behind enemy lines across southeast asia. incorporating volunteers from all branches of the
armed forces and especially us army special forces special operations groups ground, air and sea units fought denied actions which can treated immeasurably to the american war effort in vietnam. no attorney assistance command special operations group reconnaissance teams composed of special forces, soldiers and indigenous personnel penetrated the enemy's most dangerous jungle wilderness and the sanctuaries of eastern cambodia. pursued by human trackers and even bloodhounds these small teams outmaneuvered, out fought and outland there numerically superior foe to uncover key enemy facilities, plant wiretaps, mites and electronic sensors, capture valuable enemy prisoners, ambush convoys, discover and
assess b-52 strikes and inflict casualties out of proportion to their own losses. when countermeasures became dangerously effective special operations group operators innovated their own from high-altitude parachuting and unusual explosive devices to tax six as old as the french and indian war, fighting alongside their chinese cambodian vietnamese allies special forces led tactic for shoes company and platoon with rates against laos and cambodia. overran stockpiles, blocked enemy highways to choke off the flow of supplies and south vietnam. special operations group border operations proved effective more
compelling than the north vietnamese army to divert 50000 soldiers to security duties far from the battlefield and south vietnam. supporting these hazardous missions were special operations group , united states and south vietnamese-- pardon me. page turned. air force transport and helicopter squadrons along with air force air controllers and helicopter units in the us army and us marine corps. these courageous aviators often include heavy fire-- through heavy fire to extract operators from seemingly hopeless situations have the-- saving lives by selflessly risking their own. no truer statement can be made.
special operations group vietnamese naval forces instructed and advised by the u.s. navy seals boldly rated north vietnam against the north vietnamese navy while indigenous agent teams penetrated heartland of north vietnam. despite casualties and sometimes-- that sometimes became universal special operation group operators never wavered, but thought throughout the world with the same player, fidelity and attributed the that distinguish special operations group from beginning. the studies and observation group combat , martial skills and unacknowledged sacrifices as saved many american lives and provide a paradigm-- paragon for american forces future special forces. that was the presidential unit citation given to the
unit. when i wrote this book there were only two other books out at the time. one was written by david mauer, which was a fiction accounts called "the dying place" and it was based on his experience at the same unit i was in. of the other was a scholarly work by a gentleman named john plaster who had been and ran recon. most of the people that john tried to interview refused to speak to him as myself when i first i read the book because these missions were classified and as far as we know they were still classified, so a lot of the information in john's book he got from one or two people that were willing to talk to him and as in all cases
i witnesses, everyone of them have a different view of the same instance, so there were things that were left out with inaccuracies, but today more and more authors are coming forward and writing about special operations. john mayer has written to really find books and toby todd and i think a couple others. i applaud them in their effort to come forward and tell people about their peers. i didn't write this for myself i wrote it for the guys i was there with, the most incredible people of ever met in my life all of whom are still friends of mine. i treasure them deeply. i hope that the book gives you an idea of what it was like to be there in that time. it's not scholarly work. there's a lot of profanity.
it's the viewpoint of someone who is there at the time who witnessed it at the time and had the impressions of that time. i think it pretty well details what it was like on some of the missions. there is a sequel that i worked on at the same time that will come out after detailing the last part of my tour and special projects. but, i hope that if you get the book that you enjoy it. i hope that you learned something from it, but it doesn't offend you. book, the same time that you get a feel for what we went through and why we went through it. so, i can take questions now, if that's all right [applause]. thank you.
>> folks, if you questions, please go to the microphone. >> thank you for your talk. curious if you talked about it if someone came to you and you asked a bunch of questions if you thought things to do to stay classified at that time? what are-- what did you feel you needed to get cleared so many years after you experienced them? what kind of things have opened up or become less classified? >> i never got clearance when i wrote the book. you know, it was 15, 20 years ago was when i wrote it and there were things i still don't tell. portions of what we did and some of the target areas i'm sure are still sensitive because of the particular country they were in for a location and other aspects that we still don't talk about because they are classified, i'm sure.
but, as far as the techniques in the way we operated, i had a good friend of mine give me an idea of the complexity. when we were young staff sergeants had buck sergeants and young lieutenants we were running operation, joint combat operations combined arms directing air support on the ground running a combat mission. you are ready to save your life at the same time fighting to get with the information he went in there for. today, one of our guys and all the way to major general and he was instrumental in the operation anaconda in afghanistan and someone asked him, aren't you afraid of the danger you're putting these these young men in and he said when they are in as much danger as i was
in and laos i will feel comfortable they are doing their job, so it was challenging, but it paid off in the end. >> thank you. what would you describe and i guess it's probably in your book and maybe you could touch on it, a path you join, the service and type of people that go into special projects, how do they raise their hand or have their hand raised for them to go down those paths that you were involved with? first, other divisions of the military? >> you heard the term shanghai? >> yes. >> i had people ask even current special forces guys, what kind of training and selection course did you go to to get into special projects. blackmail. [laughter] you had to be a triple volunteer first of all. you had to volunteer for special forces. you had to volunteer for
vietnam and you had to volunteer to be in projects and any time you could quit, i mean, and we had people that actually quit. to this day, there is no stain on their manhood or anything because this was about as high pressure is you can get. the only thing that comes close to it i think, is being over 70 because every day it could be your last one, so it's something that some of you recognize. as far as special selection, we ran a 10 course. one zero was a code selected force and one one was his assistant and one to his his assistant etc. to actually ran a school in longtime vietnam that was run by others that
had run missions. you could go from running missions down to one time to be an instructor. i never saw that happen, but they said it was possible and the actual last exercise as an actual mission in war zone d where they put you in on the ground and you have a lane greater there to speak and it it's your lifeline. you know, you're going to run into someone at their carrying an ak and the whole idea was to train you to survive and to think. we became masters of the planet b. that's the one when plan a failed you pulled out of your back pocket and started working it out. special selection for special forces there was no real flexion to get you into special projects. you were told when you got to the project, you could be in hatchet company and you can be an recon company and you
can be in support, and recon was the only one that was voluntary. i think something most people don't understand, at the height of the war special forces only consisted of about 3500 people worldwide. so, we were a small compact roof in assets in the beginning and special projects became even smaller and more complex. as far as a statistic i saw one time of the 7800 men that served in ground combat operations , there is a difference, not staff, ground combat operations guys that actually ran on the ground. only about 1800 of us survived the war, so, i mean, we lost 18 teams that disappeared without a trace. usually ate many peace
or more that vanished off the face of this earth and even more there were decimated. each one of those recon companies consisted of between 30 and 50 americans. you had supposedly 18 teams that were available, but he had teams that were so shot up that they couldn't go back out. they had to recruit new people, train new people up, get back in shape to get back on the roster and towards the end and 71 and 72, you are running more missions because there are less teams because the war had it changed by then. you know, we stopped being a reconnaissance unit and actually became bait took get out there, stir them up, make them come up on the radio and we will send in the beat 52 well they're getting a pedicure and on the place. i hope i answered your question and didn't scramble onto far.
>> thank you very much. you mentioned locals in the area and relied on them in today we have issues obviously trying to build up trust and in some cases that trust failed. well with some of your experience with some of the areas that you participated in and being able to rely on the -- and trust the locals you would rely on for support and involvement in some of those missions? >> the best thing to tell you in that is i have borne this, it's a bracelet. john wayne war one all the time and i will be until the day i die. the montagnard and the people we worked with, you became a warrior in their tribe and the fidelity that they served with-- i have had yards play on top of me to keep me from being wounded again.
some of the most dedicated, hard core fighters you will ever find. they were essentially an iron age tribe and then we trundled into the country and started handing out man jewelry, new rifles, new mortars and all that. they adopted to it like ducks in the water. the chinese pre-much the same story. the vietnamese and the cambodians the other ones we used and we would use-- up north we used mostly on yards from the brew and the tribes. we had a few other small tribes and some vietnamese. oddly enough most of the vietnamese were recruited out of prison and they were good recon people, i mean, hard-core. they were imprisoned for robbery, bank robbery, whatever and we went
down a recruited them and got a chance to work their cents off at the same time. that was in a prevailing thing, but it happened in a couple occasions. i actually recruited my gunner, and 79 was a former north vietnamese in the pow camp next door and i recruited him out of the pow camp because he was not brew montagnard and the others knew him and they said he wants a cloud work with us and if they trusted him i trusted him. to this day,-- we betrayed the montagnard's in the end, not us, but the government. they basically when they signed away our pows and find a way all of the other stuff in the agreement with the north vietnamese, they basically gave the north vietnamese license to do what they wanted to do, which was destroyed up
montagnard people and they were the victims of the yellow rain. they were the victims of out and out genocide after the war. i went back after the war and a lot of the little people that we had that had their arms cut off because-- most of them had sue tattooed on their forum that was special commando unit and anyone found with that tattoo to a chop it off right above it. a lot of them went to the reeducation camp afterwards. a lot of them went back up into the hills. a footnote there, at the end of the war we knew pretty much what they were going to sell out. the vietnamese were going to be able to hold and if they did they wanted to get rid of the yards to, so we were arming of them and i don't mediate pistol here in a couple cartridges there. with the big american units were pulling out
they left stacks of ammunition and weapons and that behind especially where the fit that was and we took it in mass and gave it to the yard in the hope they would be able to survive afterwards. they are warrior nation. they have been that way for centuries. in there for that actually have a memory in the stories about hunting elephants with long hair, so originally the montagnard people came from an area in china who are gradually pushed south through the centuries until finally they ended up in the mountains of laos in vietnam. so, very very interesting people. i still hold them very close to my heart. any questions? yes?
>> this is a level outside the scope of your book, but you served in special operation for counterterrorism. can you elaborate a bit on that? >> are you the sniper in the crowd? [laughter] okay. let's see, you have to first understand about special projects people. when i came back from vietnam i went to i think it was the sixth special forces and i ride on a friday. i got an interview and actually at that time it changed from b team to company. he said come back monday and did the old man wants to me to, the commander. i came back monday and he goes he will have to find a new job. why? he said the company commander doesn't want to you and i said why. he said everyone knows that people from projects are either alcoholics or psychos
and apparently, you are sober. so, i had defended new job-- to find a new job. my brother-in-law was adjutant. yet been in vietnam with us. in the book he was captain psycho. he was in the test special forces group and he was filling up the test is expanding at the time and virtually everyone else that didn't want special projects people, he got them in the 10th group and they became the core ..
>> we were supposed to blend into the local population, and using hidden caches of weapons and money, old coins, we were supposed to start a resistance movement, you know, to tie up -- do basically the same thing we did in vietnam was, you know, destroy their logistics chain. because everything moves by rail with the russian army. and the biggest rail yard in eastern europe was in east berlin at that time. that was one of the particular areas of interest. and oddly enough, most of the people that were former special projects people. they had gone there, you know, you had to speak german or speak a foreign language to get there. and then, you know, and you had to have a top secret, top secret clearance to get in there. and it was pretty much the same
thing. twelve-man teams, you had a different mission. some things match, some things don't. but it -- that unit participated in both the iranian hostage attempts, rescue attempts. people from dead a. and then they had the mission of, you know, also intelligence gathering and, you know, in the case a balloon went up, performing other functions for the army. and there's, you know, you look at the numbers today, there's 60,000 or 80,000 special operations troops and that. where are they at? you know, they're out -- they've included a lot of people like the rangers and the seals in that category in that, but there's still a lot of people out there doing, essentially, the same thing. you would come back from vietnam, and you might go on a mobile training team to bolivia to work with the rangers in the
mountains as a radio operator because they couldn't transmit, and we were using signal side band, brown wave prop a division to actually -- propagation to actually communicate. they were actually hunting down can what they called bandits in those days. so you ended up doing different jobs in different places for different bosses. but still pretty much stayed special forces. >> nick, would you be able to describe one of your actions that's not classified? >> you been talking to my ex-wife? [laughter] yeah, sure. what's a good one? you mean in vietnam, right? >> yes. >> well, for example, we'd do -- i think it's in the beginning of the second book, we did wiretaps. the first wiretap machinery that we got was god awful big, i
mean, it was huge. a tape recorder like that with a reel to reel on it. they miniaturized it down to finally got it down to about that big and about that wide. but the problem was the tapes, you know, they were normal speed p. you kept -- you had to change the tapes every four hours which meant crawling back down to where you put the wiretap in, change the tapes, recamouflage it, get out of there without bruising any of the vegetation, and then they came out with a new system that you could actually do coaxial cables which which the north vietnamese usedded a lot of as well as the regular, you know, camo wire set-ups and that, which was much better. so we get a wiretap mission, and this is the first one i've ever run with matt. and i go down, i go to supply, i draw the wiretap equipment, get the due or to have y'all on it, sit down -- tutorial equipment. talk with another team that had
done one about a month before that. and atta time we were trying to find out how in the hell they were getting fuel down south without hauling it in 55-gallon drums. and eventually we found out they had a pipeline that they were resupplying -- all those 64 and 54 tanks that wheeled out of the jungle, when they finally took the country? they were all down south, and somebody had, another team had gotten pictures of them. the soviets used 55 -- actually, it's not 55, but they looked like 55-gallon drums on the exterior rear of of the t-54. well, they weren't using that. i mean, they had to have fuel somewhere. so we were going in wiretapping, trying to find out cable, trying to find out where their fuel dumps were, and that was our mission actually to go in, they'd try and do a wiretap in that area because they knew that the troop concentrations were right for us to actually find a
major headquarters. so anyway, we go in. i got the thing set up and that, and my -- my 1-0 and my 1-2 are behind me about 30 yards kind of up the slope and that. we had found a trail juncture where it came down and forked off to the west on the side of this old -- [inaudible] that was all overgrown and that. we knew that there was probably about a division plus in that area. so we found the wire, we put the tap on. and i'm laying there, i've got to go back down and change the tap now every 24 hours which is much better. so the next morning at about six i'm down this, i crawled down moving real slow. because you don't want to -- the north vietnamese used trail walkers that would walk the trail and look for -- they had a
machine that detected load loss. so they knew if you had a tap on it. anyway, i'm moving real slow, i'm down there, i'm putting a tape in, and i hear two clicks on the emergency radio which means somebody's coming. so i'm laying there trying to look at a small as i can, and here comes about 25 north vietnamese and sit down and start giving -- well, first, two guys came up with a detection device, one of those electromagnetic coils and that to detect load loss and that. and they went away and then they came back with about 25 troops and that, and they started giving a class. this is the m-1, a-1 wire-detecting device, you know, and they've got this guy droning on, droning on, and i'm slaying there sweat -- laying there sweating bullets. and i'm only about -- i think the nearest one is about where the cameraman is. and they're kind of sitting up on the slope, and i just know one of them's going to see me out there.
so i'm sweating bullets, and i hear this, you know, typical thing some nco yelling at somebody, right? in vietnamese. and then i hear a slapping sound, and then a little bit more talking, and the whole group moves on. i get back up top, and i'm asking matt what happened. he said, well, three of them were sleeping in the back row, and one of the ncos went back there and jacked them up. [laughter] i'm like, god, i can't believe they didn't see me. he said we decided to move the tap, which was good. we just removed the tap, and it pulled back up to move out in another direction when here they came back. and they came back with 40 guys that were not there for a class. they were looking for us. so they had seen something or the tap had been given away or whatever. we -- that's right, we were going to leave it there, and we left a toe popper underneath it. so the device was still there, and we were going to leave it, and we were going to put another i one up the trail and that, come back and see -- and they
found it and it went off. so it destroyed the device, and whoever was around it -- toe popper's a little mine be around that big around that's designed to blow your leg off from the knee down or whatever part's in the way. so that, we got a lot of good intel. it was a technique that worked, sometimes you couldn't use them. depends on who the unit was in the area. you have to understand our tactics were constantly evolving because theirs, they'd get on top of you in a minute. and in the latter part of the war in '71, '70, '71, '72 they started using anti-recon teams. and these boys were no sloughs. they were seasoned, experienced troops. mostly ncos. and seasoned troops, and they'd use their green troops to take casualties and figure out where you were at, then they'd send
the anti-recon people in, then they'd drive you into an area where they could kill you, where you had no more terrain or the weather started socking in. because our lifeline was air rescues. as much as everybody liked to think there were giants in the battlefield, the aviation guys saved our cookies many, many times. hope that answers your question. >> i was very excited last night when i saw online that you were speaking. i was actually talking with my dad over the weekend. he served in special forces. he was at da nang during the tet, and he was late '69 to early' 70. >> what's your last name? >> grissom? his name was wayne marvin grissom, he was a captain. >> yeah. first of all, captains are spec
4s with manners. [laughter] >> i'll make sure he knows you said that. >> he'll understand because my brother-in-law is a captain. >> yeah. the question i had for you though that had to deal with in the beginning of your talk you mentioned the book about being a cathartic experience for you. and i know for several veterans, including my dad, you know, coming back home wasn't the best. you didn't really have the support that you to did for the other wars. so could you talk a little bit more about that cathartic experience and maybe how other veterans who maybe not have the gift of writing about their ordeal, but other ways to express -- because he never talked about any battle, any experiences he had. and i feel that part of that was maybe because some of it was classified, but some of it was that he just felt like it was going to be too emotional. so could you talk a little about that cathartic experience for you? >> my best friend -- by the way, your father was there in '71?
>> [inaudible] late '69, early '70. >> '70, yeah. i think he was with the hatchet force in the beginning. i remember a captain grissom from that time period. my 1-0 had never read my book, the guy it was mostly about, mini mac. i know it bothers him, and that incident i had not written about. but, you know, it brings back too many bad memories for him. but when we have a reunion every year in las vegas, it's called special operations association. and it's, you know, and we're getting older, so there's less of us today from that era, but it's healing for us to get together and drink a hotel out of their dram buoy supply -- [laughter] and scotch at the same time. and, you know, let it out.
the only people that are going to understand you is another veteran. really. when you get right down to it, much as the family and everybody else would like to empathize and sympathize with the veteran, the only guy that really understands you, that's been -- somebody that's been there and seen the elephant. because it's, war is, it leaves an ugly scar on your soul. and don't get me wrong, because if you ask anybody, they're going to tell you i'm not a liberal or a pacifist. i still have the same spirit in me that i went to vietnam with, but i realize -- and your dad realize -- that things we did then, you know, were part of war, and and it shapes you, it affects you, you know? the guy -- i worked a lot with the new special forces in a number of areas. i invented armor products, and i had a device that you could find
a beating human heart under 55-foot of rubble, and they used it to find high-value targets in iraq that were hiding behind walls. as a test anyway. i couldn't be prouder of these guys if they were my own children. totally, they have the same spirit, the same -- they're having the same experiences that we had with dealing with ptsd and the other things that come with doing this type of a job. the government and the american people still haven't gotten their arms around what a tremendous debt they owe their veterans. you know? when i look around, i might be opinionated, but i think the people in this country should get down on their knees and thank god they're able to produce men like this -- and women -- that'll go out there and do this for the country. so i'd say vietnam shaped me because when i later got in the
private sector, that don't give up has done me well over the years. don't get me wrong, i've had bankruptcies and things like that, but i never quit. and i think that's the one thing you come away with, don't stop. don't stop fighting. the minute you stop fighting, you're dead. yes. >> i want to do another follow-up here. in the 1980s we saw a lot of movies, uncommon valor, rambo, chuck norris, and they were all about bringing prisoners home. and hanoi hilton, i believe, there were attempts, but nobody ever escaped, and it's not clear whether there are any attempts the get them out. just curious as to what you were involved with, if there were plans to try and find folks, bring them home, things that happened in iran in regards to the hostagings. anything that you can describe in regards to missions like that
that existed from that perspective. >> we did -- tried to do prisoner recoveries when we could find out about them, you know? and we did a number of things. there was a team of deserters from the united states army that they called salt and pepper, one black guy, one white guy that was working with the north vietnamese. they were high on that prisoner snatch list. if you ran across them, get them back. they wanted to have a question and is answer period with them. [laughter] the tailwind was an example of a mission that went really bad when it -- because it has always potential to be bad in the first place. trying to get -- i don't know if anybody here remembers the tailwind debacle where they accused special forces of all kinds of atrocities in trying to rescue prisoners in south vietnam. and i think that stain against our honor is why we tried so
hard to get the hostages out of iran. that it had come to an impasse. i mean, dealing with the persians should be, i don't know, it's an exercise in futility because they really are a true janice, you know? what they're saying out of one side is not what they mean out of the other. so they'd actually come to the decision they had to do something militarily. all the assets were there. all the proper tools were there. and luck just wasn't. because to be successful on the battlefield, you have to have skill and luck on the same day. can't have one and not the other. so it -- there were a lot of failed attempts on, you know, privately after the war. there was a number of groups that went back in there, guys from special forces that went back trying to recover people that they thought were -- we had
an excellent intel with the laotians and the people we work with that were feeding information to us. one case in particular colonel bob howard, who was a former sergeant first class -- rulers of the world -- and he was the most decorated veteran of vietnam. he had a medal of honor. he'd been put in for the medal of honor twice, had a medal of honor, i think two dscs, a bunch of silver stars. hard wore west virginia, you know -- hard core west virginia, you know, let's go get 'em type of guy. he was in vietnam in, i think, '78 with some official function, and a frenchman journalist came up to him and handed him a note that had been handed to him by somebody in the crowd. and it was signed, it said don't forget me, and it was signed tupelo flash.
the only guy that was known in special projects by that name was first lieutenant danny hendrick. and he disappeared when rt asp p got overrun. and we actually went in -- we had a thing we called bright light which is, essentially, you're so shot up you can't get your wounded and you're shot up but -- to the helicopter. you call for help, and a bright light team comes in, shoots their way in, gathers you up, shoots their way back to the helicopters and hopefully everybody gets out. so we had gone in on the bright light on this, and we had been listening on the radio at the top, at the time to i think it was, it was danny that was talking on the radio. and a guy named hollingsworth had been shot up pretty bad.
and daryl danke, the other guy that was -- the other american on the team was already dead. and danny was staying with hollings worth, and hollingsworth was really badly wounded. and then we heard rifle shots and then nothing after that. when the bright light team got there, we found hollingsworth. he'd been executed, and we found danke, but we never found danny. but this note said please don't forget me, tupelo flash.
[audio difficulty] and he'd been captured up on hickory. totally different group. i mean, we're dealing with pav and not the local militias or anything like that. but i hope i answered your question. i have a tendency to rattle on at times. there was a gentleman that was over here. ah. >> a couple questions for you. what inspired you to join? so you volunteered, and i'm assuming you were in vietnam for three years or four years? i mean, so you stayed. did you have to have a three or four-year commitment? what was it like for special ops? >> i was unlucky in love. yeah, you enlisted -- you had to
be enlisted to get into special forces. and then as far as special ops, like i said, you were -- you went there, you did your time, did the project and you went on to another project. so what made me stay? special forces is the greatest job in the world. and being a special forces team sergeant is the best job in the world, you know? and anywhere in that 12-man team, the things that you do and the missions that they give you are so diverse and so challenging that i can't see how anybody won't want to be in special -- wouldn't want to be in special forces. hope i answered your question. >> yeah, you did, thank you. second question. so you just mentioned that the american public doesn't embrace, you know, veterans the way they ought. what's your suggestion for the way the general public can do a better job of that? so i'm not a policymaker, you know? i have one friend that served in
afghanistan, and -- but some of the time i feel like the american public doesn't know how, you know? we stand up at ball games and whatever and clap, but i come here to listen to you because i respect what you've done, and i'm grateful for it. but what's a way that, you know, not at the government level, but the average citizen can do a better job of embracing or thanking veterans? >> we're getting better at it, let's put it that way, the american public is. you know, people come up and thank you all the time for your service and that. you know, i've got to say when i see veterans today, i buy 'em lunch, or i buy 'em a beer, try and show 'em that people out here think of them as what they are, heroes, for being on the line. being in the shield wall. that's what it's all about. best way to have the american public get more involved in it i think is the positive stories
about veterans. finish i agree with the president that the press at times is their own worst enemy and our worst enemy. they really -- it's slanted. let's put it that way. but we're getting better at it. i think that a lot more -- we're becoming more open since -- i know people probably don't like the donald being in office, but he's done a lot to change this country so far back to, you know, i just can't believe that our cup has gotten -- our country has gotten the way it is. because when i grew up, this was davy crockett and, you know, you went off of to war if you were called. if you were drafted, you went. if you, you know, if your dad and your with uncle both served in world war ii, by god, you're going in the military, you know? it was an obligation. it wasn't described as, well, you're going to get caught, you're going to get draft, you'll have to go to vietnam.
it's your sworn duty as a citizen that if your country called, you went. that's why they had the draft. and the drafted soldier is what we won our, won two wars with. you know? the national guard that activated the italians and the draftees that came in filled up our ranks and actually went out there and destroyed germany and the axis powers. so finish and vietnam. we talking vietnam with draftees. we fought vietnam with mcnamara's 100,000 which was a prom so that even the mentally -- a program so that even the mentally disabled could die for their country. they drafted people with exceptionally low iqs, basically, in mcnamara's 100,000. not in the main, but in some as a way of filling up the troop levies. which i thought was an insult to the people they actually draft can, but they did fine.
they honored themselves by their performance. any other questions? okay. one more or -- >> sure. >> by the way -- go ahead. >> i'm sorry. i was in special forces also, but not earlier than you were. i got out in '68. but i'm saying, things have changed a bit since i was in special forces also. and one thing about it -- [inaudible] >> and vice versa. >> that's one of the things that -- [inaudible] because they really hated the vietnamese. they hated them with a passion. and like we're saying, there was a part about volunteering. you had to volunteer to go to jump school, and then they gave you a test. and i remember taking the test, they actually gave us a physical test to get into special forces. and after we got in there, like you said, it was like heaven.
no place else like it. it was really a great, great bunch of guys, a great bunch of things, and we did a lot of great things. like one of things we did, they sent us down to south america, ask we were supposed to -- it was the dominican republic. >> [inaudible] >> we was down there, and we was supposed to get the people on our side. so first thing we did, we dress ed up like bandits, robbed the banks and gave it to all the people. that's the kind of things special forces did. >> that that sounds like a good special forces operation. [laughter] yeah, i actually wrote a book one time called financial operation and the unconventional warfare of theater. and what it was was a bank rob key manual. we actually met some guys that were professional bank robbers that we went to prison and talked to them and got tips. and that was, you know, how do you finance a guerrilla organization? some rob banks and rob trains. as soon as we got done wit, they
classified it through the ceiling, and i they confiscated -- they physically searched us for any notes we might have had the time. yeah, it's a wonderful group and glad to have served with you. >> [inaudible] [applause] >> thank you. [applause] >> a reminder, there is a book signing -- [inaudible] we will meet you up there in just a few moments. [inaudible conversations] >> booktv recently visited capitol hill to ask members of congress what they're reading this summer.
>> well, i have quite a stack of books here. the first one is the meditations of marcus aurelius. i read this a long time ago, but i was recently told that this is jim mattis, our secretary of defense, favorite book. so it's kind of helping me understand him a little bit better to read that. i have a biography here on the rise of theodore roosevelt are. it's an older book, been out for a long time, but i never got a chance to read it. so i'm looking forward to that. this is the 50th anniversary of the tragic death of senator robert kennedy. chris matthews has a new book out about senator kennedy. i've gotten to know senator kennedy's grandson, joe kennedy, who is a member of the house here, and this is really something i'm looking forward to. i have another book here, it says 1587: a year of significance. it was a book recommended, again, by secretary mattis. it's about the ming dynasty in china, and he says if you want to understand china, modern-day china, you need to understand the ming dynasty.
this book is on the temptations of power, and this is another way to look into the mind season set of what's happened -- mindset of what's happening in the contemporary middle east and islam worldwide with. this little book is something that was recommended to me, it's called immersions, and it's a very interesting book about science. it's the science and mystery of freshwater mussels. we have the widest, largest diversity of freshwater mussels in my district in southwest alabama. this thing that you could probably throw like a rock and hurt somebody with is supposed to be the definitive book about cuba. it's i just called -- it's just called kube baa, and the -- cuba, and the author is hugh thomas. and it's just been updated. and my final one is a book by walter isakson called the up know saters. -- the innovators. this is about the people that have come up with all the great ideas that are coming up in the
tech world. some of it's eclectic, but usually it's related to the work that i'm doing here in congress. and i'm really grateful to have the help that i have from the library of congress and their experts to recommend books that we can read and return them and ask for other resources if we find something>> in the books tt interest us. >> booktv wants the know what you're reading. send us your summer reading list @booktv on instagram, twitter or facebook. booktv on c-span2, television for serious readers. [inaudible conversations] >> hello, hello? okay. hello. hello? if you can hear me, clap once.