Welcome to III Corps

Different terrain... similar misery

    Go to Previous Page

The following pictures were taken by Phil Crowell. We exchanged pictures not too long after Phil arrived in country. Phil got to 'Nam about six months after I arrived in country. (The story about how Phil got to Vietnam and how/why he left in six months is presented below.)


Sgt. Phil Crowell (sportin' a ten-day beard) was a typical Special Forces Radio Operator -- an over-sexed, over-paid, under-worked, butt-ugly average guy with basically with no faults!

NO... the truth is that Phil was someone whom I would have wanted on my team. One of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet!

Notice that, in the absence of high ground, you build towers.

On the back of his photo Phill writes "Our CO likes the lizards and leeches" I Corps didn't have the lizards that I know of, but we sure had the leeches!

Terrain around Dong Xoa (A-342)...

Phil's caption states that their B-Team (Nui Ba Ra) lies right behind the small knob seen in the distance. Elevation is 800 feet above sea level.

Nice flat swamps and a few rubber plantations.

Contrast this view with the photos about I Corps topography. Ngoc Linh, approximately halfway between the Gia Vuc and Ba To Special Forces camps in I Corps, rises to over 8500 feet. (See map on Special Forces I Corps A-Teams page)

Again, the chopper was the mode of ingress and egress for the camp.

Camp under new management

Who said the Special Forces 'pacification' program wasn't working??

Dong Xoa JAYCEEs? Rotary Club?

These guys were sick pups!!

Elevation: 600 feet

Camp within a camp

A-342 Dong Xoa The portion of the camp (top right corner) with the four long horizontal roofs was the District Chief's area.

The middle-third of the righthand edge of the picture shows the Special Forces 'inner compound'. The 'company area' surrounds these areas.

Terrain: Flat and wet!

This was typical of the III and IV Corps regions -- elevation usually just at the water line. Notice the height of the grass?

Also, pay particular attention to the density of the vegetation directly ahead of the lead patrol member. Can you see how the dense foliage could easily snag the backpacks, canteen, and other items you carried?

Did you notice the broken limb almost dead center in the picture? It was signs such as this that we looked for while on patrol. It meant that you were not alone in the boonies.

How Phil got to Vietnam... and why he left in six months

I mentioned elsewhere in the web site that five of us became very close friends... referring to ourselves as 'the family'. (See 'Silent Salute' web page) Within four months after graduation from Special Forces Training Group, all of "the family" had received orders for Viet Nam... except Phil. The reason for this was very simple.

All of the 'family' members had enlisted for the service -- except Phil. Richard (Rick) Bennet, Bill Howe, Gerry Sachs and I all had enlisted for a three-year term. Phil, on the other hand, had "volunteered for the draft". Until I met Phil, I didn't know you could do that. When you were drafted, you entered the service with no specified duty. This meant you were assigned to the training/specialty that the Army needed at the time. In fact, the recruiter told me that you couldn't get 'what YOU wanted' if you were drafted. So I, like the others, enlisted.

But I also found out that you could NOT enlist for Special Forces. Why not, you ask? Because, as I was told, you had to be a three-time volunteer. You had to volunteer for the Army (meaning enlist), volunteer for airborne service ('jump school'), and then volunteer for (AND pass the test for) Special Forces. Since the Army could not guarantee that you could/would complete the airborne school or the Special Forces test/training, it would not guarantee a Special Forces assignment. I decided to roll the dice and enlist with no specified duty -- the same as being drafted but with a three-year obligation.

While in AIT (Advanced Infantry Training) a Green Beret sergeant visited the class -- he was recruiting for Special Forces. Those who were interested signed up to take the SF test. And (although we didn't know each other yet) Phil, Rick, Gerry, Bill, and myself all volunteered for jump school when we were in AIT. These separate actions would eventually bring the five of us together at Special Forces Training Group.

Special Forces training was long and difficult. By the time we graduated, we had about 18 months left on our enlistment. All of us except Phil, that is! Because he was drafted for two years, Phil had less than a year remaining in the service. Slowly, each of the 'family' members was put on orders for Viet Nam. Rick and Bill would be the first to go. In June 1966 I received my orders. Only Phil was left. He had seen all of the others (his 'family') be called for RVN duty. He would have no peace knowing he was state-side while we were slogging through the rice paddies. Phil went in to talk to the Personnel Section. He wanted to go to Viet Nam.

The Personnel Staff explained to Phil that he could not be placed on orders for a one-year tour in RVN when he had less than one year remaining in his active service obligation. However, if Phill agreed to extend his service obligation, they could (and would) have him on orders for Viet Nam immediately. Would Phil extend?

How could they put Phil on orders "immediately"? In those days ALL Special Forces personnel orders were handled by a lady known simply as "Mrs. Alexander". Many SF'ers spoke to her directly at her office within the Pentagon. Under the right circumstances a phone call to Mrs. Alexander resulted in orders being issued within 24 hours

Phil wrestled with this decision for a couple days. He knew that many SF'ers were being wounded or killed in RVN. It was the nature of our assignments and duty.  Still, he just couldn't let the rest of us fight without him! So... after a couple days... Phil went back to Personnel and agreed to extend. The sergeant completed the paperwork, Phil signed the forms, and the sergeant got up to go call Mrs. Alexander using the phone in the next room. Since his part was done, Phil got up to leave. In typical SF, 'ballsy' fashion he reached across the desk.. grabbed the papers he had signed in front of the sergeant.. and simply tore them up!

Within a couple months Phil found himself assigned to A-342 in III Corps. He had done what he knew he needed to do. He had gone to RVN like the rest of the 'family'. After six months duty in RVN, personnel realized that Phil's active service obligation was rapidly nearing an end and shipped him back to the states to ETS.

Going to RVN for SF duty (even for only six months in the mid 60's) could easily get you killed or wounded. But Phil was a team player... a 'family' player.  His loyalty to SF and his friends would not let him sleep at night until he had made at least some level of sacrifice. His 'sign-up-and-then-destroy-the-evidence' move was as Special Forces as you can get. There are NO survivors from a GOOD ambush!!