Company C, 5th Special Forces Group

C-1 Operations Detachment
Da Nang

 

Company C, 5th SFG(A), 1st Special Forces was in charge of all the Special Forces activities in 
the I Corps Tactical Zone and was collocated with its C detachment in Da Nang

Company C arrived in Vietnam in September 1962 on a temporary basis until November 1964 
and left Vietnam on the 1st November 1970.  After its departure,
C-1 Indigenous troops were attached 
to the 70th Vietnamese Ranger Battalion.

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LTC Ken Facey, CO C-1 DaNang 1966.

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Photos thanks 
to Cpt S Perry
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Below, photos from the "C" Team 
BOQ (Batchelor Officer's Quarters) and BEQ ( Batchelor Enlisted Quarters)
The barracks were laid out with the long axis running north and south 
with the NCOs, Officers and Junior Enlisted quarters running east to west to west finishing with the support building and motor pool.  The barracks were long, single story buildings. There was a central hallway running the length of the building with two-man rooms either side of the hallway and a latrine at the south end (at least in the officer's building).
I don't remember the stub blast walls with concrete footings in the pictures (being there in 1968). Only 3 air conditioners were in the whole compound, with one at the TOC, the 2nd one at the club, and the last in the CO's room.
The C-Team Headquarters and the Marine Air Base were to the north. 
To the south was the combined club and then the Mobile Strike Force Compound.

Charlie used to rocket and mortar the air base, and the C-Team would catch a stray round now and then, and just this side of Marble Mountain was the C&C Compound that was hit in August of '68 where 17 SF were killed in the same incident.....  Most lost at one time before or since as far as I know.
C team info thanks to 1st Lt, Gary J. Honold, C-1 Intel Officer

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C team 1969/70 

Photos thanks to 
SSG Michael Fairlie, A-104
 

 

C Company, Danang


There were a number of English speaking Vietnamese on the plane from Nha Trang, and I got them to give me some more Vietnamese language lessons on the flight north to Da Nang. I found that I had to learn to make sounds with my vocal apparatus that I’d never made before.
I landed in Da Nang pretty much alone and was somewhat bewildered when there was no one there to give me further directions. I sat in the terminal wondering what to do for quite some time before an NCO came in and picked me up. I rode to the C Company area in the back of a deuce-and-a-half and reported in to the Orderly Room to sign in. A guy named Tom Perry whom I knew from Training Group back at Ft. Bragg happened to be there in the office at the time. 
He had been in the class ahead of me when I first started medical training; we were nodding acquaintances, had exchanged a few pleasantries and maybe had a few brief conversations. When he learned that I was just then reporting in he invited me to come and move into his two-man room with him with the specification that he had dibs on the top bunk. That was fine with me and we became roommates and soon afterwards got to be good friends also.
The C Company or C-team compound was just north of the port city of Da Nang on the shore of the South China Sea. On the seaward or beach side of the compound was a row of concertina wire, sandbagged fighting positions and bunkers. Several guard towers were situated around the perimeter and two or three of these dotted the wire along the beach. The C-team perimeter and the perimeter of the B-team compound next door, just down the hill, was guarded by a company or two of Nungs, an ethnic group of Vietnamese citizens of Chinese origin.
Beyond the wire was the most gorgeous of beaches; the sand had the look of granulated sugar, the water blue-green. There I first tasted sea water. 
Just down the beach to the south the C-team area was the B-16, Mobile Strike Force or Mike Force compound and then the firing range for both teams. Then further south was the C&C compound, then Marble Mountain, a huge, apartment building sized rock sitting on the beach, perhaps six or eight stories high at its peak. It was reported to hold several Buddhist shrines and was pretty much off limits to U.S. forces. It was honeycombed with caves and supposedly full of enemy North Vietnamese Regulars (NVA). To the south, then, of Marble Mountain was a US Marine compound.
Our next door neighbor to the north was the Marble Mountain Marine Air Facility (MMAF), a helicopter base with a runway perhaps long enough for very light STOLs (Short Take Off and Landing aircraft) to use. The enemy liked to lob rockets into their compound late at night from somewhere to the south down the beach beyond Marble Mountain and the Marine compound. The rockets could be seen shedding sparks as their propellants pushed them directly over the C-team. When the rocketing would begin we medics had to rush to the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) hospital in the compound and evacuate all the patients and staff to safer bunkers built all around the hospital. CIDGs were Vietnamese, ethnic Chinese and Montagnard troops recruited, trained, equipped and led by U.S. Special Forces. These troops included those of the Mike Force and those of all the A-teams scattered about the countryside which were within the C Company area of responsibility.
One night Tom and I awoke to muffled explosions over at MMAF and the wail of the C-team’s “incoming” sirens. In my haste I grabbed my issue M-1 carbine, threw on my boots and sprinted toward the hospital. About halfway there I tripped on my bootlaces and fell, jamming the triangular bolt of the carbine up into the palm of my left hand. Wrapping my hand quickly, I assisted the hospital patients into the bunkers where we all stayed until the bombardment was well over and the all clear signal sounded.
Tom cleaned and dressed my wound and insisted on putting me in for a Purple Heart. I told him, “You gotta be shitting me”! On any other part of the body I’d have put in a few stitches, but Dr. Hunter decided to the contrary.
The next morning, because of fumbling with my boot laces I was a few seconds late getting to the formation. The Sgt. Major threatened to give me punishment for being late to formation, but Tom took up for me, explaining my wound of the previous evening and the Sgt. Major let me skate.
A senior NCO lived alone in the room next to us and he liked country music. One night this guy was playing his ugly music so loudly that Tom and I couldn’t sleep. We were complaining to each other about the annoyance when he suddenly said, “Hey, I’ve got an idea”, and jumped to the floor. I couldn’t see what he was doing, but he seemed to be doing something down on the wall near the electrical outlet. I heard a loud “pop”, and the music stopped. Tom had shorted out the electrical outlet and blew a fuse. We lay awake for a long time giggling like school girls!

Tom and I worked every day in the hospital and several kinds of recreation was available; the beach, a handball court, a combination basketball and volley ball court and movies about every night on the patio of the mess hall/club with the beach and South China Sea in the background. But mostly we got together and listened to music after duty hours until lights out. And if we got some daylight free time we usually spent that on the beach.
Duty was good except when we had to pull Charge of Quarters (CQ) or do PT. CQ meant staying awake all night in the orderly room signing in people who were reporting in, listening to radio traffic, taking care of the after hours office duties, cleaning the office and just being generally in charge of things. It sucked but it was followed by at least 24 hours off all duty.
And PT was a form of harassment. After working eight to twelve hours a day 
people didn’t want to do PT in the sweltering heat and high humidity. But the Sgt. Major ordered that everybody would do PT every day after work. This was the 
same guy who ordered all enlisted men to keep their hair cut in high, white 
sidewalls. Everybody hated and feared him. But, in hind sight I must say, the harassment was clearly designed to drive people out of the garrison and into the Mike Force, C&C, or out to one of the A-camps.
At the hospital, I worked with Sgt. Nick Fragos who survived the battle of Lang Vei which happened during the Tet offensive just before I got to VN. (See Night of the Silver Stars, by William R. Phillips, Naval Institute Press). He had endured quite an ordeal at Lang Vei.
I started writing my journal on the first day of March, 1968 and the following day was assigned the job of running the hospital laboratory. SFC Wilburn was the lab tech from whom I’d be taking over and who was about to end his tour and go back to the States. He trained me to microscopically differentiate the malaria parasites Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax. This was important both in the treatment of the infection by the respective species and the potential intelligence 
value in the differential diagnosis. P. falciparum was more endemic to northernmost South Viet Nam and to North Viet Nam. Infection by that species
meant a patient’s past whereabouts might be determined.
I also did blood work such as complete blood counts (CBCs), hemoglobin levels, hematocrits and white blood cell counts (WBCs) and differential WBCs. I had a small, hand-cranked centrifuge to do the hemoglobins. I did throat smears for TB, Strep and even Diphtheria, stool for ova and parasites and diagnosed Gonorrhea. Dr. Hunter and I even did a viral culture on a patient who died of some febrile disease before we could discover the cause of his illness.
I hadn’t been there very long before I saw the first of many corpses. They brought in a bunch of bodies from an ambush out at one of the A-camps. It was probably Mike Force strikers, including a Vietnamese interpreter. One of the bodies was a “crispy critter”- it was burned up in a deuce-and-a half truck. Quite nauseating! 
On another day a Msgt. Lowe and I went across the road from the C-team compound to the Navy hospital and unloaded from a chopper the body of an SFC shot in the back in an ambush out at the Thuong Duc SF A-camp. Msgt. Lowe was the senior NCO in charge of our hospital. He and the Sgt. major had flown out to the site of the ambush. Their chopper was fired on and Lowe got nicked in the wrist. The Sgt. Major was lightly wounded in the ass. 
On March 16th I got a heads up that I was going out on my first mission the following Monday: I was to drive a deuce-and-a-half in a combat convoy to Thuong Duc. No friendly vehicles had used that road in months because of intense enemy activity, mostly in the form of ambushes. (Shortly after this mission I volunteered for the Mike Force.)

Thanks to Sgt Jack Matheney, B-16, Mobile Strike Force (Mike Force), Danang, Feb,'68 - '69, 
From Mike Force Medic, copyright 2000

C team Photos thanks to Sgt Ivan Davis 1967/68

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One of the
"beach-house" at 
C team Da Nang

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Wall "Mural" 
in the OPS room

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Cpt R Ringwald was the Signal Officer for Charlie Company from Jun to Dec 1968.

 Cpt Ringwald and myself would appreciate any help to ID the two E5 and the Lt in the photo below taken in Da Nang in 1968

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2008 Photo report 
C Team,  Da Nang

Thanks to Sgt Michael C Natale , A-104

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I was on OD (Officer of the Day) one night. Sitting up in the Headquarters building. Just me and the Duty NCO contemplating our navels, when there were about 4 or 5 bursts of automatic weapons fire coming from down at the beach.   Not long before that we had gotten some intel indicating that a South China Sea infiltration route was something that had been placed in the NVA bag of tricks, so it really got our attention immediately. 
   I told the Duty NCO to stick tight, and I grabbed my M-16 and the Nung Guard dude, and hauled ass for the beach. When I got there a minute later the Nungs in the guard towers were sweeping the beach with their searchlights. Seems they had seen movement on the beach out at the water-line. I asked how many they had seen. They thought it was just one. I told them to hold their fire because I was going down there to check it out.
   I immediately found the object of their target practice, and made a note to self to check how long it had been since the Nung guards had fired for qualification. There, face down in the sand, belt buckle the only thing keeping him from getting lower, was a soldier who by this time was very scared, and very sober. I policed him up and headed him back for the headquarters to call his unit so they could come and pick him up.
   Apparently he had been partying down near Marble Mountain, gotten shit-faced, was hitching a ride back to Da Nang on a Navy patrol boat, and had fallen overboard off the C-Team beach. When he swam ashore he had drawn a wee bit of fire from our guards.
   His Duty NCO was not happy to have to drive across Da Nang after dark to pick him up. I have a feeling that by the time they reached their unit the soldier was very aware of just how unhappy the NCO was.

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 One morning about 2:00 A.M. I was asleep in the BOQ when I was rudely awakened by some incoming mortars. Normally Charley was trying to hit the Marine Air Base next door. Any rounds we got were strictly coincidental. This time they seemed really close, so I jumped up, slipped on my fatigue pants and boots, grabbed my M-16, and was about to break for the bunker out back when I heard a little voice talking to me. I'm not normally prone to that sort of thing, so I stopped and looked around the room. Nobody there, but I heard that faint, hi-pitched voice again. "Where do we go"? Then I remembered that there was a JAG Captain that had been assigned to the empty bunk in my room for a couple days while he was visiting the C-Team for something-or-other, but I didn't see anyone else in the room.

   Those that remember the barracks at the C-Team may recall that they were concrete walls about 4' high topped by screens that could be covered by corrugated sheet metal drop-down "awnings", then a corrugated sheet metal roof.
   By now I had decided that the voices in my head were actually coming out from under the bunk on the opposite side of the room. Just as I bent over and squatted down to tell the captain that there was a bunker just outside the door and to the east of the barracks a round landed right outside my room. I heard a funny whirring, fluttering sound, and when I looked up I saw the screen had been shredded where I had been standing a second before. All-of-a-sudden under my bed seemed like a very good place to be.
   Another lieutenant from the "3 shop" was due to leave the C-Team the next day to head for Nha Trang to start outprocessing for PCS back to The States. He hadn't quite finished packing, so he had a line of boots and stuff under his bunk that delayed entry to his "in-room bunker". He got his upper torso under the bed, but the part left hanging out took some shrapnel when a round hit the sheet metal roof above his room.     
   His wounds weren't particularly serious, and because of their location he took a LOT of ribbing about their placement in the few hours he had after he got back from having his ass patched, but before he left for Nha Trang.

Thanks to 1st Lt, Gary J. Honold, C-1 Intel Officer

 "A-Team Rats" stayed in a building down near the beach that had a guard tower at each end. We shared a room which had two bunk-beds in it. I don't remember how many rooms were in the building.
When you caught a hop into the C Team on a mail chopper you reported into the C Team SGM who had a big board in his area with the personnel from all the A Teams on it. He noted your status on his board in grease marker, made you turn in all your weapons, grenades, knives etc ; noted when you were supposed to leave to return to your team and assigned you a room in the A Team Rats building. He gave you a chit for the dining hall, A-Team visitors didn't have to pay as I recall and he also provided some instructions about visitors to the compound.
Eating at the C Team was heaven for us A Team visitors, tables with linen, waitresses, food and wine we didn't see on our quarters and rations non-available status out at our camps. Officers and Enlisted dined together with the Col. and his staff, who sat at a long head table on a raised dais.
When it was time to catch the bird back to your team you checked out with the C Team SGM, who returned your weapons etc. If you were incapacitated they poured your ass on the chopper and told them where you were supposed to be dropped off.
Trips to the C Team were used to scrounge food and other supplies, arrange for logistical re-supply items the team needed and other official tasks that you were told to take care of while out of camp. It was a busman's holiday where business and pleasure were taken care of.
Sometimes you had to lay over at the B Team on your way to or back and similar business issues were taken care of.
Trading or scrounging or covert requisitioning was conducted at Chu Lai the Americal Hqs. and in Da Nang from the Navy or Air Force as needed. This is how A Teams supplied the food they ate and the beverages we drank as we were not issued them by the Army for our personal consumption. Never ever trade for two cases of brisket; it gets monotonous.
Two cases of bologna and a couple of cases of dehydrated chicken noodle soup with Co Mai's and Co Lil's homemade bread provided lunch for several weeks. 

Thanks to SSG Michael Fairlie, A-104 

 

 

 

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