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In conducting research for the first short in a series I am writing (more about that later) I came across this website: ModernForces.com
I have to confess that I never really “got” reenactments before. I had heard stories about Civil War reenactors starving themselves and spooning with each other in their confederate war camps in the name of authenticity. I had a SERE instructor who was a great guy, but his descriptions of the Rev War reenactments he participated in, namely sleeping in a lean to’s in January, sounded pretty nutty.
Studies and Observations Group, or SOG, was highly classified during the Vietnam War. In fact, not much information about them was available at all until the 1990’s. Reading between the lines, I suspect that there is still a fair amount of activity that SOG was involved in that has not been made publicly available. There are a couple of books out and some grainy photos released, but the Modern Forces website really brings history to life.
The attention to detail is pretty amazing and I’m sure the people involved spent a lot of time putting together the uniforms and equipment to such a high degree of historical accuracy. The full color images and close in shots of the equipment used really gives an idea of how SOG operated, a perspective you don’t really get from the older 1960’s era photography. When you have the chance I highly recommend taking a look at the pictorials in the SOG section of the website. A few Vietnam veterans who served in SOG have also contacted the website and provided exclusive photographs and interviews, a must read for anyone researching Special Forces units and missions during the Vietnam War.
Take a look at Modern Forces: MACV-SOG
News flash: Ranger School sucks. Especially in January. It isn’t that you don’t receive important tactical training, its just a painful experience. More so if you are a Strong Ranger rather than a Smart Ranger. At twenty years old, I was definitely a Strong Ranger. My class number was 04-04, after recycling Darby Phase of course…
After the graduation ceremony those of us who came from the Ranger Regiment got a congratulations/warning speech from the Regimental Commander and Sergeant Major. The gist was this: go out and get a DUI tonight and we’ll crush your balls, then kick you out of the Regiment.
Later that day, at the Ranger Memorial on Main Post at Ft. Benning. In a blatant act of defiance, those of us from Ranger battalions wore our Ranger scrolls pinned on our uniforms next to our newly acquired Ranger Tabs. Ranger School is required in order to hold a leadership position in the Regiment, but is still looked down upon as being beneath us “real Rangers.”
In a past post I showed some pictures of our compound in Iraq in 2010, where we lived in CHU’s. CHU’s are Compartmentalized Housing Units imported to Iraq from Italy. Basically they are micro-trailer homes, or a really high end whack shack, depending on your point of view. Still, that is pretty good living compared to Afghanistan in 2004 where as a dozen troops, we were crammed into a GP Medium tent. In this picture you can see my bunk, with the jumbo sized duffle bag sitting underneath (jumbo sized for transporting dead hookers of course!), and my SR-25 sniper rifle laid out on my shooting mat.
Okay, okay, let me explain the crucifixes… We built those to sling our combat gear over. The shoulder straps of your body armor rest on the lateral portion and your helmet sits up on the vertical piece at the top. This way your gear is always ready to go at a moments notice.
One of the more interesting experiences I had on my last rotation in Iraq was working with the Iraqi Air Force. Through a complicated series of events we managed to set up a training mission with Iraqi pilots, flying the older US-made Huey helicopters, followed by an actual combat operation.
During the training mission, I was the only American on the aircraft…a hair raising experience to say the least. As it turned out the pilot knew his stuff and my fears were unfounded. He had been flying for decades, all the way back to the Iran-Iraq war where he had been a fighter pilot. In this picture we (a small group of US Special Forces troops with a Iraqi SWAT contingent) are inbound to our objective area.