The most elite warriors of the secret war during the Vietnam War, Green Berets and the North Vietnamese Army’s highly-trained killer teams met in Southeast Asia last week, in a meeting – naturally, cloaked in secrecy, SOFREP has learned.
For combatants on both sides of the deadly secret war, this meeting not only was one of unique historic significance for the soldiers, but it will also aid efforts by both governments’ pursuit of locating and identifying thousands of missing soldiers in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. As of Jan. 28, there are 1,601 Americans missing in SEA from the Vietnam War.
For SOFREP readers, imagine being a Green Beret fighting for several years in an eight-year secret war during the Vietnam War – so secret you can tell no one about it outside of the chain of command in the Military Assistance Group Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group, or simply SOG.
Imagine being a Green Beret fighting in the triple-canopy jungles of Laos knowing that the enemy, the North Vietnamese Army had specially trained sapper teams with the primary mission to hunt, find and kill SOG recon teams – including your team.
Imagine being an NVA soldier trained to serve on the NVA SOG-killer teams coming up against America’s elite troops, the highly trained Green Berets.
Fast forward to January 2018:
Imagine being Green Beret Mike Taylor who served with Special Forces during the Vietnam War from 1968 until 1972, meeting for the first time NVA soldiers who served with the SOG-killer teams. This NVA unit had the simple title of C-75. Stated plainly, SOG met C-75.
This historic meeting occurred between the most elite warriors who served in the eight-year secret war during the Vietnam War, a war that was hidden from Congress, the media, the public and family members in the U.S.
Communist leadership hid its involvement in the secret war from the world also. From its inception in 1964 through 1972, very little information about the secret war that raged in Laos, Cambodia and N. Vietnam, ever reached the public eye.
From a personal level, I entered the secret war in May 1968 at FOB 1 in Phu Bai, where small Green Beret-led six-to-eight man reconnaissance teams ran missions across the fence into Laos, Cambodia and N. Vietnam. By that time, five months into May, the NVA had wiped out or inflicted severe casualties on nearly a dozen SOG recon teams. When I arrived there, Recon Team Idaho was wiped out in Laos in May 1968 on a secret mission. The two Green Berets from that fateful mission, Glen Lane and Robert Owen, remain among the 50 Green Berets who fought in the secret war in Laos and remain listed as missing in action today, along with approximately 200 Army, Marine and Air Force aviators.
By 1968, the NVA and its communist allies had escalated its covert efforts against U.S. forces to unprecedented levels: Russian advisors, including thousands of aviation, anti-aircraft missile and artillery trained specialists were in Hanoi, Laos and Cambodia, along with Cuban and Chinese advisors. In August 1968, after more than 18 months of planning, NVA and Viet Cong sappers launched an early-morning attack at the SOG base in Da Nang, dubbed FOB 4, killing 17 Green Berets and dozens of loyal, fearless, indigenous forces – that single-day loss of Green Berets, remains a tragic record in that elite unit’s history.
After the August attack, during our pre-mission briefings in 1968, for targets in Laos, Cambodia and the DMZ, S-2 officers told us about intelligence reports warning of NVA sapper teams being trained to hunt and destroy SOG recon teams in those Areas of Operations. On New Year’s Day 1969, an NVA sapper team hit RT Diamondback, killing all three Americans. While the attack was quick and deadly, it also had a twisted psychological impact on SOG men because the sappers didn’t kill the indigenous members of the team.
When the survivors were interviewed, among the first questions asked was how they survived the attack while the Americans were killed. The surviving team members passed lie-detector interrogations. NVA sapper teams struck elsewhere in SOG that year which ultimately led to SOG having the highest casualty rate during the Vietnam War, exceeding 100 percent for Green Berets killed in action, wounded in action or missing in action. For example, SFC Robert Howard who received the MOH for a SOG mission in 1968, received eight Purple Hearts for wounds inflicted on SOG missions. He declined three additions nominations for Purple Hearts.
Thus, last week, when Taylor met with those prior enemy combatants, the meeting was cloaked in secrecy. Exact details about how it came about will be disclosed later. As this story went to press, Taylor was returning to CONUS after a 16-hour layover in Korea. Taylor is chairman of the joint Special Operations Association/Special Forces Association POW/MIA Committee.
Since being appointed to the committee chairmanship in 2014, Taylor and both Green Beret associations have pioneered membership letter writing campaigns to support the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s budget requests, supported the nominations of retired Air Force MG Kelly McKeague – who was appointed DPAA director Sept. 5, and worked closely with the National League of POW/MIA Families and its CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors Ann Mills-Griffiths, an MIA sister, and League Senior Policy Advisor and Director of Asian Affairs, Richard T. Childress. He served eight years during the Reagan administration on the National Security Council where his primary focus was POW/MIA issues – an issue Childress has dedicated his life to.
Taylor’s trip to Southeast Asia with his wife began earlier this month as a parallel delegation to SEA with the National League of POW/MIA Families delegation, which included Mills-Griffiths, Childress and League BOD Director Cindy Stonebraker. Taylor and his wife traveled to many of the same locations League officials visited but didn’t attend closed-door meetings between government and League officials. In addition they traveled to Hanoi where League officials met with DPAA staff, Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis, U.S. Embassy staff, Stony Beach staff from DIA and U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam David J. Kritenbrink. Taylor met with many of the same officials, but there has been no press release on whom he met.
On a Facebook posting Sunday, Taylor confirmed meeting with Vietnamese veterans from C-75 that worked in the tri-border area of SEA. He described the first meeting as “VERY interesting…” He will be filing follow-up reports to his respective BODs in the weeks ahead.
DPAA Director Kelly McKeague, after attending a DPAA family briefing in San Diego, told SOFREP that seeing the increased public attention to the POW/MIA mission in SEA by President Trump, Mattis and the League, will mesh with Vietnam’s publicly announced intents to increase cooperation with DPAA officials for recovery efforts. He also added that having the SOA/SFA committee meeting Vietnamese soldiers and officials enhances the overall POW/MIA issue.
Editor’s note: if you would like to read more from John Stryker Meyer, check out his book “SOG Chronicles: Volume One” here on Amazon — there he sheds light on the untold stories of Green Berets behind enemy lines in Vietnam, conducting harrowing missions with little to no support.
Featured image: Mike Taylor, chairman of the joint SOA/SFA POW/MIA Committee presents a shadowbox of SOG challenge coins to the company commander of the NVA’s C-75 SOG Hunter unit. Photos courtesy of Mike Taylor.