By Manuel Beck
I took the first photo of my new Spike Team in November 1968 at SIGMA. Please notice how happy and carefree they all are. The other photo was taken of me, and what was left of my Spike Team in October 1969 at CCS. Three men out of fourteen. All the other men were killed, pulling recon missions, in the hottest area of operations (AO) in Cambodia. Look at their faces and that thousand-yard stare.
After six months of pulling recon missions with B-56 Project SIGMA, I was sent to the MACV-SOG Reconnaissance Team Leaders Course of the Combat Reconnaissance School or the One-Zero School, in October 1968. I was honor graduate of the course. After graduation, I was assigned to SIGMA’s Sergeant Major. Sergeant Major Schumacher told me that I was being taken out of the Recon Company and would be on special assignment working with and training a new Spike Team. He said I would have thirteen Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) later changed to Special Commando Unit (SCU) soldiers and a South Vietnamese Army Special Forces captain assigned to me for the next few weeks. The idea was to allow the South Vietnamese Army to take over the command of the Recon missions with our SCU soldiers as team members. The sergeant major told me to set up a training program to train the Spike Team so they would be able to go on a mission without the help of American Special Forces team members. This was something new SOG was trying, sending in an all-indigenous team on Recon missions.
MACV-SOG recon casualties exceeded 100 percent. In 1968 69, every MACV-SOG recon man was wounded at least once, and many were killed. 1968 and 1969 were very bad years for SOG men in the Viet Nam War.
This is a comment from John Stryker Meyer from a previous post of mine. “We must add one critical item to this SOG history: Many SOG men were posted as MIA in that 68-69! Today, we still have approximately 50 SF SOG soldiers listed as MIA IN LAOS alone!! Plus approximately 120 aviators and crew members from the AF, Army, Marines who died supporting SOG – and there is no count of Kingbee pilots and crew members.”