NOTE: The Author, Col. Thom Nicholson’s submitted his response to this review and is included herewith at the very end of the review and comments from other SOG members. Anyone wishing to comment, please send your comment to Robert L. Noe.

15 MONTHS IN SOG, A WARRIOR’S TOUR REVIEW

BY ROBERT L. NOE, Cpt, USA Ret, SOG VET

The title of the book "15 Months in SOG..." perpetuates the first fraud. As far as records that are available are concerned, the Author was in SOG, not for the 15 months he claims, but the normal 12 months. He appears to have misrepresented his assignment as the Company Commander of Company B, CCN for almost his entire tour. Records reflect the author as a Staff Officer for the majority of his time (7.5 months) and then during the last couple of months (4.5 months), and shows he was a Platoon Leader in Company B, and not the Company Commander. There are a number of combat missions cited which were led by the author; however, he was not involved in the action and appears to have stolen the glory of others who actually performed the missions. In some of the tales of action, the bases of the action involved in the various combat missions were real, but the author has taken great liberty and license to modify the real events by changing the circumstances, locations, and personnel involved and interjected himself as a SOG combat field commander. For example, he kills off the Company Commander of Company B, then relates he was made the Commander. Fact: The Company Commander was not killed, he completes his tour and rotated back to the United States one month after the author goes home. Although the author served in SOG with CCN and in his own rights should be recognized for what he has accomplished and contributed, in the book he was not what he related he was. A number of those who served during the time the author was there refute basically all claims the author makes (See comments below).

Records reflect Captain Gary P. Jones was the Company Commander of Company B as of November 21, 1969, but the Author has him killed about December 31, 1968. CCN was overran in Aug 68 and the author relates he was there during that action; however, he is reportedly still in the US and does not depart until about October 19, 1968. Documents shows the author was initially assigned as the Assistant S-3 (Operation Officer) from November 17, 1968 to January 16, 1969 at which time he was appointed the S-1 Adjutant on January 16, 1969 and served in that capacity until June 1, 1969. On June 1st, the Author was assigned as the Platoon Leader for the 3rd Platoon of Company B and remained in that position until October 18, 1969.

Some have indicated that Col. Nicholson’s misrepresentation are due to recall and forgetfulness. These premises would be acceptable if it were merely names and dates and some of the specifics in events; however, the addition of 3 months of service, the assumption of a command he did not hold, the total misrepresentation of various facts and missions dismisses the excuse of memory lap. Col. Nicholson’s heroics in the various events when he was not on the missions or the missions did not actually take place causes one to look at character issues,. Of those few individuals who were real and actually Killed In Action, The changing the of the circumstances and events surrounding their deaths is a discredit to these individuals, They deserve a better fate.

Subj: Peter Hinchman McMurray

Date: 12/22/99 7:22:17 PM Central Standard Time

From: Col. Randy Givens

To: Robert Noe

The story about McMurray (listed below ) is bullshit._ Pete was my roomate at CCN when he was killed._ He was the Platoon Leader, First Platoon, Company A (NOT Co. B), CCN._ One of the sergeants in his platoon later served in my company at CCN - he was there._ What I was told was,

Pete was in the middle of the LZ, directing Kingbee into the LZ._ For some reason, the Kingbee fell out of the sky._ (about 18 months ago, COL Isler told me that the rotor blade hit the hillside)._ Whatever the reason, the aircraft fell into the LZ and Pete was killed by getting hit with the rotor blade._ As the aircraft was beating itself to death on the ground, it rolled back and forth..... the open door fell over the sgt. and sort of "scooped" him into the aircraft._ It bounced him around with too much damage That's it._ J. Storter was the Company Commander at the time. John Plaster interviewed Jim for SOG and may know how to get hold of him. Jim may have more details I commanded Company A after Jim's tour as commander. Thanks for all you do.

Chronological KIA/MIA Memorial Entry

27 Aug 69- Peter Hinchman McMurray, (Age: 24 years 0 months and 6 days) ILT 0-2, USASF SOA, CCN, XO, Co B, Da Nang, Ops 35, of Duxbury, MA., Non-Hostile Death-Remains Recovered. Note: This is a disclaimer regarding the following events summarized from the book 15MONTHS IN SOG by Thom Nicholson, Ivy Books. Although the book is written as non-fiction it is for the most part appears to be fiction. The events, names, and descriptions makes it an unreliable source for accuracy, but because it is the only reference to the circumstances involving Peter McMurray plus the fact McMurray’s death was the results of Helicopter accident and the potential "there may be some truth" to the story, it is included here.. A Recon Team had found and reported a 6-8" pipeline which had been constructed in the Mu Gia Pass area where the Route 911 of the Ho Chi Minh trail comes out of North Vietnam and enters Laos. Two Platoons form Company B were inserted into the location where the pipeline was discovered with the mission to destroy and disrupt the oil supply going to Vietnam and during the extraction of the element, the last chopper was loaded with the two Americans and two SCU. As the helicopter began its ascent, it was engaged by frontal enemy machine gun which killed the Pilot and Co pilot resulting in the helicopter crashing. One of the SCU had been thrown from the helicopter and was dead, then the body of McMurray was located, he also had been thrown out of the helicopter as it was spinning to the ground when the helicopter blade hit him in the chest killing him. NOTE: The source, 15 Months in SOG, reflects this action took place on 22 July 1969; however, all official records reflect the date of death for Lt McMurray as being on 27 August.

Subj: Peter Hinchan McMurray & 15 Months in SOG

Date: 12/22/99

To: All Special Operations Association Members, via email

From: Robert L. Noe

Please find above R. Given’s comments regarding the incident involving 1Lt Peter McMurray. As mention in my narrative on the KIA/MIA, the information contained therein was from the book 15 Months in SOG, A Warrior’s Tour by LTC Thom Nicholson. Although records do reflect he was in SOG, he so distorts the truth on every level to make it a book of fiction. I have attached a quick review of the book and made a number of notations (See Last item). Anyone desiring to add their comments or observations, I’d be happy to receive them.

It saddens me a bit to find this type of book. Taking credit for events and experiences of others. I’m sure Nicholson performed appropriately in CCN and perhaps distinguished himself, but he should have made an effort to write realistically of his own experiences.

Sources tells me Nicholson was in the United States at the time CCN was attacked in 68, when Nicholson writes of those events saying he was there and responsible, perhaps of one American’s death. I do know for sure the numbers Nicholson says were Killed do not match the official records. Any ways, the whole book, as Randy Givens says with respects to events surrounding McMurray’s death, is BULL SHIT!

If you’re into reading fiction, it’s good reading, but that’s it.

 

 

Subj: Re: Peter Hinchman McMurray

Date: 12/23/99 2:11:39 PM Central Standard Time

From: BG Gaspard

TO: Robert Noe

Dear Bob:

May I add my two seconds worth concerning 1LT McMurray? I may be hazy, but I checked one of my citations for an ARCOM with V for an action on Aug 31 and Sep 1, 1969.

As I recall, SOG directed CCN to put a CCC platoon onto COROC Mountain; in addition, a Support Platoon from CCN and a Recon Team from CCN were to be inserted.

The support platoon, commanded by Lt McMurray, made their approach and a Kingbee (H34) rotor hit the hillside. McMurray was killed either by a blade or a rock sent spinning by the blade. I (Gaspard) was immediately notified. Meanwhile the other CCC platoon and the RT were inserted. I, Gaspard, notified the Mobile Launch Team (MLT)-2 to send in the Company Commander, whom I believe was Captain Jim Storter and take charge. In the meantime, still at CCN in Danang, I was notified by the AF weather officer that a Typhoon had changed course and would pass directly over COROC that night. MLT 2 notified me that Cpt Storter was having a malaria attack and could not fly to COROC. SOG then notified CCN that they had enemy intercepts, which indicated they (enemy) knew of the insertion and of the CCC platoon moving south off of COROC to their AO. The enemy planned to attack that night. I (Gaspard) then left CCN to fly to MLT 2. I briefed the people there that I planned to abort the operation as soon as possible, but probably not before daylight the next morning. I flew to COROC and met two Sergeants from the Support Platoon. I apologize for not remembering their names but one was a tall brunette and the other a shorter blonde. In fact, I have slides of the aftermath of the Typhoon taken the next morning. One of those great sergeants and I walked the perimeter directly on top of COROC. They had laid toe poppers and other obstacles. The CCC platoon was notified by KY38 of the impending attack. Darkness fell, the winds intensified and the slashing rain began. A flareship appeared and attempted to drop flares; the flares were ineffectual and the plane flew off. The CCC platoon was hit about four a.m. by a B40 rocket attack. I believe one indigenous was killed and two wounded. After daylight, that platoon was picked up. The RT had continued toward the river bottom and continued their mission. Those of us, in Support, were picked up and returned to MLT 2. According to Steve Sherman, McMurray was killed on Aug 29. I believe that date is correct but that the dates on my citation are incorrect and should have read Aug 29 and 30th. Lt McMurray was a fine young officer and certainly deserved a better fate. Hope this all makes sense to you.

Regards, Speedy

Subj: Re: Peter McMurray

Date: 12/27/99 4:32:17 PM Central Standard Time

From: B. General George Gaspard

To: Robert L. Noe

Dear Bob:

As an addition to the fanciful tale told by Nicholson, I refer you to your message where Nicholson describes the MuGia Pass and the oil pipeline discovery.

MU Gia was in the Strata AO. On the Laos side of MuGia the hillside is littered with orange 55 gallon drums, apparently used in the past to refuel aircraft, probably CIA light aircraft. Mu Gia in 1968 was heavily defended by AA. Kingbees would not have had the range to reach MuGia. CCN did not send RTs or Security Co personnel that far north. Rts from Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, from OP 35 did use AF assets for insertions in Laos. NKP is where Strata teams were launched from in 1968 utilizing AF CH3 choppers. I know that some phone tap teams were inserted in eastern Laos from NKP. However, a CCN RT did discover an oil line during the 1969-70 period. I am checking some of my files to see details. I do recall CCN being praised for uncovering the line. Nicholson apparently took great latitude in combining missions for his book.

Regards, Speedy

Subj: Re: Book Review "15 Months in SOG, A warrior's Tour

Date: 12/23/99 1:15:37 PM Central Standard Time<

From: Col. Michael. Haas

To: Robert L. Noe

So, Bob, are you going to send a copy of your review to the Colonel? You don't mention the publishing house here. Was it Presidio Press, by any chance? They've published some bad stuff in the last couple of years, including a horrible book Swimmers in the Trees written by a fake SEAL.

 

Col Michael E. Haas, USAF, Ret

Author, In the Devil's Shadow UN Special Operations during the Korean War, Apollo's Warriors: United States Air Force Special Operations during the Cold War, Air Commando! 1950-1975: Twenty-five Years at the Tip of the Spear Member, Special Operations, Special Forces, Air Commando, The Ranger Regiment Former Intelligence Officer Associations, US Army Infantry Officer School Hall of Fame.

 

 

Subj: Re: Book Review "15 Months in SOG, A warrior's Tour

Date: 12/23/99 3:02:02 PM Central Standard Time

From: Patrick A ROGERS

To: Robert L. Noe

Nice work guys. I made the mistake of picking up this book at an airport book store. Sorry that I put any money into his pocket.

Semper Fi

Pat Sends Courage is endurance....for one moment

Subj: Re: Book Review "15 Months in SOG, A warrior's Tour

Date: 12/23/99 5:58:14 PM Central Standard Time

From: Col. Michael Haas

To: Robert L. Noe

Don't know if you know a Liam Adkins, a guy who showed up for the first time at this year's SOAR (last Sep/Oct), but he served with Speedy and told me a bit about the man. I'm told Speedy's word is one you can pretty much count on. Guess you know, or know of, Jug Burkette, who wrote that massive and great book "Stolen Valor", about fake vets. Not that Nicholson is a fake vet, but whereas I might consider some the statements you outlined in your original review simply a matter of mistaken memory, others seem too far off to be accounted for as a memory loss. I thinks this bears some follow-up, i.e., your speedy delivery to Nicholson of your review. In fact, I'd make sure he had the opportunity to respond before your report was published. But you've already figured that out. I'm still struggling with the idea that Nicholson would put out something blatantly false, knowing that he would be caught up with almost immediately.

Subj: Re: Book Review "15 Months in SOG, A warrior's Tour

Date: 12/23/99 6:24:47 PM Central Standard Time

From: Col Michael Haas

To: Robert L. Noe

As you say, Speedy seems to remember the incident pretty well; his account certainly sounds credible to my ears, for what that's worth:-).

I talked to Clyde Sincere last week, and found him busy putting together the AAReport for our last SOAR. He said he would add a book "blurb" on my forthcoming book (In the Devil's Shadow: UN Special Operations during the Korean War), based on something I faxed to him that day. Hmmmm, my brain just went dead. Who is publishing your review? If it's not SOA, maybe it's not too late to do a one para something on it for Clyde.

Speedy just won my heart with his mention of having an ARCOM w/ "V" device. That's what I got for my "best day" in Vietnam (I really was rather clever and dun gud), and it means much more to me than the DFC, BS, and other stuff I got there. We all laughed about it at the time, as every one (well, everyone but me) seems to have reams of the Big Stuff on their uniforms.

Re: 15 Months in SOG, A Warrior's Tour

Date: 12/23/99 9:03:08 PM Central Standard Time

From: James Shorten,

To: Robert L. NOe

Aren't you being a bit overdoing it. I spent time at the china beach hospital in 1967, there was a road between MAG-16 (marine helicopter base H-34's) and the hospital. CCN was quite a bit away from the hospital. but heading away from CCN and from the hospital was the China Beach in-country R&R site keep going and you turn left to go over the RMK Bridge to go to DaNang. If you don't go left and instead go straight you end up at Camp Tien Shaw "Naval Support Activity" Monkey Mountain. I couldn't tell you the exact dates, but I do know that the dates of some of my friends who were killed and the dates the government has listed at the wall are different. I couldn't even tell you when I was the 1-0 of RT Delaware it was around june or july of 1969. I couldn't even tell you who had it after me. Dan Ster had it before me. The point is as long as the story of SOG is known, then are friends who died will be remembered. To me, well, that's all that really matters. I'm sure John's book (I know this is not the book your referring to) will be made into a movie for all to see. but how accurate will the movie be, I'm sure it won't be but the fact remains that people will know who SOG was and what they did and are friends and fallen comrades will be remembered as courageous soldiers who fought the secret wars. There's a lot of us out there that would love to write a book and I'm sure there will be mistakes made (as long as it's not a remf claiming he was awarded the CMH ) But, how many folks would want to pass on the stories when there going to be put down or torn apart for making a mistake. I know a book that was really packed with lies, I know because I was there. Those who make up stories will have to live with them. It wasn't anything so terrible that the public is going to think less of us. so I won't point fingers. he who wrote it knows the truth.

Merry Christmas and have a wild millenium jimbo, :o).

 

Subj: Re: 15 Months in SOG, A Warrior’s Tour

Date: 12/23/99

From: Robert L. Noe

To: James Shorten

Hello Jim, thank you for your comments. Merry X-mas to you and your family.

I've though long and hard about writing the review and those concepts which you presented were considered. I am, in no way, merely saying these were mistakes, but appear to be an honest and deliberate misrepresentation of the truth in an effort to make himself as the hero. To me, it's paramount to obtaining the CMH under fraudulent circumstances. I cannot nor would I point out mere "mistakes," if that was what was done. However, to blatantly misrepresent the truth to make oneself look good is another matter, at the expense of those who actually performed the missions. Col. Nicholson took it upon himself to present himself as the main character in the book as a field officer, involved with many events that are not true. To present the death of Lt McMurray as his XO and under the circumstances he did presents a real problem for me. As Speedy Gaspard says, Lt McMurray did not deserve that fate, he deserves better. To tell war stories are also fine, I don't have problems with those either.

I am attempting to present SOG in a truthful manner, to remove the veil of Bull Shit, there was enough heroic action for all to share, even a staff officer. I was not Recon, I was initially assigned to the S-1, then to the NCO Club before going to 1-0 school, then assigned to Co A., I didn't do anything heroic. What I'm trying to say, Nicholson should have written the book as fiction, so stated, or added a clause that the book is a historical recollection and some names and events may not be accurate. That would have covered him. He didn't and made himself as the RAMBO, with a disdain for Staff people, and he was one for most of his tour as far as I can determine.

Sorry to ramble, but Jim, his book contains far too many mistakes, carrying it beyond the veil of mistakes to deliberate misrepresentation. You said you read it, so there's no sense in debating those issues, you know them far better than I.

What's wrong with writing a book about the truth, if it's shaded a little, it should be so stated? He would have done just as well had he wrote it as a book of fiction, or history of others. The truth will carry SOG much further than a bull shit book full of bull shit stories.

John Plaster wrote his book, SOG, The Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam, and he at least attempted to present the book as an accurate representation of what occurred. However, his book has some "mistakes," and those are exactly what they are, as far as I know. For example, the narrative on Jerry Shriver, but it was not by the Author's intentional design. I don't point those out. Plaster, recorded the events the best he could with what he had. If the book becomes a movie, it will not be totally true, but it will not make the director the "hero" of the movie, plus, people know movies are made with inaccuracies. There is a difference in books, if it is written as nonfiction, then it must be truthful, I believe not only for the present generations, but for future generations.

Nicholson wrote the book, knowing someone, one day might criticize it. Sorry to ramble. Hey, by the way, the book talks about the nurses as being at the Marine Compound which was down the road, beyond Co C, not Monkey Mountain. If he was talking about Monkey Mountain, Camp Tein Shaw, the guy who ran down the beach was truly one super runner, haha. I don't think I ever was able to see Camp Ten Shaw on Monkey Mountain from the back of CCN, I think I had 20-20 vision, maybe I needed glasses. Wasn't Camp Tein Shaw on the opposite side of the island facing away from CCN?

We have to remember, Cpt Nicholson’s book will still be read many years after we're long gone and will contribute to history. The history should be accurate. Yes, I agree with the dates being somewhat different in memory and reality, but I'm not questioning the date aspects, alone.

Subj: Re: Peter Hichman McMurray-KIA 27 Aug 67 & Book: 15 Months in SOG

Date: 12/24/99 2:25:51 PM Central Standard Time

From: Charles Berg

To: Robert Noe

I understand your feelings, SOG can live and "bask" in its accomplishments and deeds (good and bad) without any type of known distortion. You are one hundred percent right, it is written and there for must be, someone someday will pick it up and use it for the basis of a decision of thought.

I also understand others feelings about not sweating the small stuff, but if not us than who will set the record straight.

Have a GREAT Holiday seasons, who would have thought we would still be around at the new millennium?

Subj: Re: 15 Months in SOG, A Warrior's Tour

Date: 12/24/99

To: Jim Shorten

Hi Jim, sorry, mistook you for Captain Jim Storter, Commander Co A, CCN.

Jim, in my opinion the whole book by Col. Thom Nicholson was designed to promote his status, including the title of the book, 15 Months in SOG, A Warrior's Tour. He tells some real questionable crap, for example, the "Pie Plate." A platform device with legs, which is dropped into triple canopy tree tops. Cpt Nicholson's team then deploy from it. One element of his team makes contact after a day of recon opns and are followed/chased by the NVA. The team then makes it back to the tree where the platform is, ascends up ropes with packs, etc. spend the night with the NVA below looking for them....pure fantasy. Now, I know some weird crap went on, but this was a bit much. With all the other misrepresentations in the book, crap!

As I responded to Charles Berg, I can see one of Nicholson's future generations submitting him for a CMH based on the bull shit he spouts in the book. He doesn't need a CMH, he already has reached that status by his book.

Just trying to get it right.

Subj: Re: 15 Months in SOG, A Warrior's Tour

Date: 12/24/99 10:49:02 PM Central Standard Time

From: Col. Donald Summers

To: Robert L. NOe

This is irritating as hell, but getting to be an old story I guess. Either that or I am getting older and more patient.

Subj: Re: 15 Months in SOG, A Warrior's Tour

Date: 12/25/99

From: Robert L. Noe

To: Col. Donald Summers

Don, I'm getting about the same, but in this case, I'm more involved because his book distorts the truth and as General Gaspard says, McMurray deserves a better fate.

Subj: Peter McMurray

Date: 12/25/99

From: Robert L. Noe

To: Gen. G. Gaspard; Col. R Givens & GWGSRG,

While you guys were there, did you ever hear of something called the "pie plate?" According to Nicholson's book, it was a large platform, made of PSP, 24' in diameter, "and setting it on eight steel pipes that radiated from the center and reached about ten feet past the edge of the steel plate." This devises was dropped in the top of a tree, the steel and cables resting on branches, with tree limbs supporting the weight of the device. Cpt Nicholson states the teams drop off the insertion choppers onto the "pie plate," and simply rappel down ropes to the ground. Ran the patrols and come back where the team members would "climb up the ropes," then pulling the rope up behind the team members. The Pie Plate was deployed in triple canopy tree tops, where the enemy couldn’t see it, he states he actually ran a mission using this devise. One element made contact and ran most of the day, getting back to the plate and climbed up. If my memory served me, shit, I don't think could have climbed up a rappel rope with all the crap I had to carry, even if I didn't have to run from the NVA.

Here's the revised edition: (Note the revised edition is furnished below, after Col. Given’s & B.G. Gaspards comments received on Dec 26th).

Subj: Re: Peter McMurray

Date: 12/26/99 11:20:42 AM Central Standard Time

From: B.G. George Gaspard

To: Robert L. Noe

Dear Bob:

Your revised story appears to be the real thing. In rereading my citation, I find that two CCC SCU were KIA and four WIA from B40s. I did not see that unit after extraction so I cannot say positively where one was KIA (as I reported) or two KIA as in the citation. I do not know Nicholson nor have I read his book. I can assure you that McMurray's platoon was in a support role and not seeking an oil line. The top of Co Roc is essentially bare. After the Battle for Khe Sahn, it was bombed repeatedly. Co Roc had rocket and artillery pieces located on it prior to Khe Sahn and Lang Vei attacks. The RT that moved to the river bottom may have had an oil line in its multiple list of intelligence gathering. The river bottom would have been most consistent with such an oil line location.

I think you are doing a great job in trying to find truth. We are indebted to you.

Speedy

Subj: Re: Peter McMurray

Date: 12/26/99 12:47:17 AM Central Standard Time

From: Col. Randy Givens

To: Robert L Noe & Gen. George Gaspard

First a note to Speedy: Great to hear from you after all these years. I've seen your photo in The Drop and you look like your old self. Randy

At 09:20 PM 12/25/1999 -0500, Robert wrote:

>Here's my revised edition. ....>While you guys were there, did you ever hear of something called the "pie >plate?" ....

Robert, Yes, there was a device such as the "pie plate" at CCN. I do not know of any time it was actually used in combat.... (Just because I don't know, that doesn't mean it didn't happen.) When I got to CCN in Nov '68, there was a fat civilian living in the BOQ, He was there to test the platform out. He was so overweight that he sweated profusely in the heat... he was one miserable person. Anyway, I think his device was tried out up at Monkey Mountain. I never saw his device again after he left. My best guess is that it was tried, found wanting, and abandoned. I do not believe that it was used other than in its trials and then, I seriously doubt that it was used in combat.

 

Another point. I was assigned to CCN from Nov 68 to Jun 70. I don't remember any Thom Nicholson. I know the records say he was there. However, have you found anyone else that remembers him???? What do THEY say about him? I don't remember who was Commander Co B in Aug 69. However I know damn well that it was Gary Jones in March 69 - I remember

hearing his radio call when he was wounded during Operation Dewey Canyon.

Following are excerpts from your message of 22 Dec, along with some comment of my own:

"There is no record of a "Thom" Nicholson being assigned as the Company Commander of Company Co B; however, there was a Thomas P. Nicholson assigned to Command and Control North (CCN) as the Assistant S-3 from November 17, 1968 thru January 16, 1969;

Funny, I was the Assistant S-2 and Acting S-2 during this time. As bad as my memory is, you'd think I would remember someone whose desk was no more than 20 feet from mine - and arrived about the same time as I did.

"... Now that I (Cpt Nicholson) was a company commander... replacing the late Captain Jones."

We had two Cpt Jones when I was at CCN, Harry Jones (Jones, No Hair) Commander of Co C, and Gary Jones (Jones, With Hair). Harry was alive and well in California when I talked to him about 2 years ago. Gary was wounded (not badly) in March 1969. If he was KIA, I would have noticed it.

"Of all the names mentioned by Nicholson as being KIA/MIA, the following are the only names I could verify: ....

P 29: Major Samuel Kamu Toomey, CCN's S-3-KIA 30 Nov 68 "

Robert, I remember when Toomey was killed and also the day we buried him in Arlington in 1990.

I had been at CCN less than 2 weeks and he was the first person I knew from the unit to be killed

However, I think Nicholson is wrong. MAJ Jack Deckard was the S-3 then. I believe Toomey actually worked for somebody else in SOG. He was inserting some 82mm mortar rounds the day he was killed - they strayed off the planned flight path and right into a ring of 37mm radar controlled antiaircraft guns... we had the AA plotted in the intelligence map books in the TOC. Note that Nicholson was supposedly working as an Asst S-3 in Nov 68, when Toomey was killed - therefore he claims his boss was killed.

"P41: Lieutenant Peter McMurray, XO, Co B who was related on Page 207 as being KIA on July 22, 1969; however, all official records record the date of death as Aug 27, 69" I just dug through my 1969 files and am now certain that Pete was killed in late Aug 69. I was on a CCK flight and still have the permissive TDY orders with a Will Proceed date of 25 Aug 69 for a period of 4 days. When I got back to DaNang on a Blackbird, 1Lt Rodney Burns met the aircraft and said "Did you hear about Pete McMurray?" When I got back to our room, all Pete's stuff had been packed away, except for his refrigerator and a wall locker full of M-2 carbines.

"Names mentioned in the book, but cannot be verified:

P 31: Major Skelton assumed the S-3 position vacated by Maj. Toomey "

He's probably talking about Major Bill Shelton, who came down to CCN when FOB-1 was closed down about Jan 69. Closest I can sort out now is that Maj Jack Deckard was the S-3 (not Toomey) who was replaced by Maj Shelton when Deckard went north to open MLT2. I think Maj Shelton was replaced by John Seymour. I'm absolutely positive Deckard was the S-3 on 1 Jan 69 - 30 days after Toomey's death.

"P 102: Major Orentes, XO, CCN "

Definitely not during the period Nov 68 - Jun 70. Nobody of that name in our neck of the woods.

"P 222 Major Angel, briefing officer, "

This is probably MAJ William E. Angel. He was liasion officer to XXIV Corps HQ in the spring of 1969 and later served at CCN HQ. I have some OER's with his name on it if anybody cares. Also a picture of us by a Kingbee at Vandergrift Combat Base in the spring of 69.

"PAGE 37: The Incident occurred the "day before New Year's," thus, 30 December 1968. "

What incident?? We lost a recon team in the MA-10 target area on New Year's Day 1969.... Ltc Jack Warren had the bodies laid on the helipad for us all to see. If it was at CCN main compound, does he point out that Martha Raye was our overnight guest?? and that we "fired the wall" for

her?? and we unintentionally got an offer of support from Spooky for our efforts??

"P 37: Captain Jones, CO, Co B. Cpt Nicholson says he replaced Cpt Jones as the Company Commander when Captain Jones was killed in action.

....(There was a Captain Gary P. Jones, Company Commander of Co B, with a departure date of November 21st, 1969. However, this individual is not recorded as being KIA or MIA)."

Robert, I agree with you. Gary Jones was a good friend and I would have noticed if he was killed.

"P 206: Cpt Nicloson ... reports Lt Peter McMurray was a Platoon Leader in Co B and was killed

when a helicopter was shot down and relating he (Nicholson) clearly remembers the date of the incident on page 207 as being July 22, 1969 and the day he watched the TV newscast of Neil Armstrong taking the first step on the moon, which did happen in July 69, but all the official records record Lt McMurray as being killed on 27 Aug 69. A source document reflects Lt McMurray as being a Platoon leader in Co A of CCN from Dec 7, 68 thru Aug 27, 69."

Robert, you are right, Nicholson is wrong.

"P 252 The author writes that a Lieutenant "Brice" was killed during an assault on Marble Mountain, time frame of this action (according to the story line) would be Sep-Oct 69, .."

Robert, I was wounded in the caves of Marble Mountain on 14 Dec 69. We lost a Lt from CCN up on the side of the mountain that day (sorry, I don't remember his name). A couple of months later, we lost a SCU in the village on the north side Marble Mountain (American officer, left to watch truck during changing of teams on Chinstrap, wandered away and a boobytrap was placed on the truck). There were also some firefights but I do not believe that we took any other KIA's on Chinstrap/Marble Mountain from 15 Dec 69 until I left in mid June 70. After my time in the mountain, I kinda kept track of it and I think I would remember any other KIA's.

"P 54: The author describes the area round the CCN compound, "Farther down the beach to the south was the headquarters of Company C, 5th Special Forces, "

Maybe he watched the movie Green Berets too often, especially the last scene when John Wayne and the orphan kid look out to sea from Nha Trang to watch the sun set...... We all know that Co C was North of CCN, not South. By the way, I have some excellent photos of the CCN compound taken from a Bird Dog - which show many of the features you talk about.

" Next door to C Company was the 3rd Marine Air Base, which supported the Marine units working in the northern provinces. Next was the navy field hospital, an oil tank farm, and a small POW compound..."

WRONG. It was the "Marble Mountain Air Facility." Then the Navy Hospital (NSA Hospital to be exact) was across the road on the west side of the MSR, not on the beach side. My 1SG was a patient there and we conducted many a scrounging mission in the CPO Club there.

"On page 105, the author states, "Down the beach, less than half a mile away, was the 3d Medevac Hospital, with a full complement of female nurses... ." In fact, a number of us attempted to see if we could see human figures on the beach from Co C, SF compound to no avail, a human figure could not be seen from the CCN beach area because of the distance. ....Thus, there is some question regarding the story about a Sergeant Swanson on the beach, running down to the nurses quarters and getting a date.

Robert, the hospital on the beach was the 95th Evac Hospital. I can prove it, my Purple Heart was issued by the 95th & I have the orders with their letterhead on them. It was located up by China Beach, well North of the Marble Mountain Air Facility. Therefore, SGT Swanson would have had one hell of a run to get up the beach to the 95th. If he was running to the NSA hospital from the beach, he would have had to run through our installations along the beach, then across the MSR, to get to the Navy nurses. One more point. The beach at the 95th Evac was off limits to

Americans because the Vietnamese had defecated on the beach for so many years that the water was contaminated... at least that was what they told me the two times I was a patient there. However, some of our guys did date some of the nurses from the 95th... but they got there by jeep, not running down the beach.

"P 222: Cpt Nicholson discusses his DEROS date and about leaving. The DEROS date is one year from the date of arrival in country. On page 258, Cpt Nicholson states his DEROS date arrived and he headed home...no mention of extension. Book is titled "15 Months in SOG"??"

Robert, back then, orders had EDCSA on them, meaning Effective Date of Change of Strength Accountability (amazing some of the meaningless drivel I remember).... possibly Nicholson is using the EDCSA of leaving his stateside unit, going on 30 days leave enroute to Vietnam, then DEROS with 30 days more leave enroute back to a stateside unit. That might appear to credit him with 14 months with SOG, but not 15. But then he seems to have a magical way with other facts....

Subj: Fwd: Cpt Jones' death, 31 Dec 68 according to Cpt Nicholson

Date: 12/28/99 8:02:51 AM Central Standard Time

From: Col. Randy Givens, Co Co A, CCN

To: Robert L. Noe

The short answer to Nicholson's claim is..... "That's a LIE!!" and you can quote me on that. (By the way, Co A was also a Hatchet Force company... therefore, Co B was not "THE raider company for CCN" as Nicholson claims). LTC Warren did have the entire American force out at the helipad, with the bodies laid out for all to see.... it's something I will never forget. I will also never forget the investigation we conducted surrounding their death. This was a RECON team, not a Hatchet Force unit. It was inserted into the MA-10 target area, just west of the DMZ. There were two pretty new Americans and one who was very experienced, who went along to sort of "show them the ropes" - he was to DEROS shortly. A check of dates arrived at CCN will probably bear this out.

The investigation was conducted by Maj Ted Moore, who was the CCN S-2 at the time. The Americans were found dead in the PZ and the SCU were picked up from different locations in the vicinity of the PZ. We were suspicious of the SCU because none of them were hurt. The SCU were kept isolated from each other and interrogated at length. Their stories were pretty much the

same. The following is what appeared to happen as best as we could piece it together -

 

The mission went well and the team was in the PZ. The NVA got in close, and opened up on the Americans in the PZ. All the Americans were killed. An autopsy showed that the slugs were from AK47's - not M-16's like the SCU were carrying. I clearly remember Maj Moore showing me a glass jar, with bloody alcohol or water in it.....as well as about a dozen slugs taken from the bodies of the Americans on the team. However, NONE of the bodies from that mission were of a Cpt Jones!!!

The following is a bit fuzzy and could be wrong, but here's what I THINK happened. The helicopters were in the air, enroute to the PZ. They were in radio contact with the team when they heard a scream, then silence. When they got there, they found the bodies of the Americans in the PZ and recovered them. A search of the area found the scattered, terrified SCU. The SCU said the Americans let their guard down at the last minute because the aircraft were inbound. The SCU said they tried to warn the Americans, but to no avail. Therefore, the SCU pulled back from the Americans to establish a defense, when the NVA (who had apparently been following them) popped up out of the grass/brush and opened fire, killing all the Americans.

Now as for Cpt Gary Jones being KIA about 1 Jan 1969 is an absolute LIE!! The other Cpt Jones (Harry = Jones, No Hair) was alive and well in California about 2 years ago - I talked to him on the phone. Anyway, in March 1969 the USMC launched Operation Dewey Canyon. CCN ended up

inserting Co A and Co B on top of a Recon Team, with (I think) about two more Recon Teams inserted. I was sent out, with another Cpt, to be the Liaison Officer to the 9th Marine Regiment on a hilltop, near the Ashau, called Fire Base Cunningham. It had a battery of 155mm and about a

battalion of Marines. The other Cpt and I maintained constant radio contact and acted as radio relay to MLT-2 - while our location was being frequently plastered by 122mm artillery fire. The CCN mission was to protect the flank of the 3rd MAR DIV. An NVA regiment closed in and surrounded the CCN forces. Maj Moore, the S-2, was inserted as the Task Force commander. They started a breakout attempt, to walk back to friendly lines, with a Recon Team on point.... it was wiped out. There was some pretty heavy fighting. During one fight, Cpt Gary Jones was on the radio with me when he said "I am Whiskey India Alpha!!" Then, he continued on with the operation and was later extracted, but not killed then or three months earlier, as Nicholson reports. By the way, SOG also inserted a platoon from OP34 up at Monkey Mountain, commanded by Dick Meadows, off on the (I think Northern) flank to pull the NVA away from our two companies. Dick and his folks then walked out and linked up with a USMC unit at some hilltop, which then marched overland to another USMC firebase for extraction.

 

We finally extracted the whole operation. With a company being inserted on a ridge line across the valley from our location at Firebase Cunningham. We were socked in most of the time (for about 2 weeks) and they were out of food. I managed to get the USMC to donate some C Rations and had them flown over to our company across the valley, during one of the rare breaks in the clouds. Finally, the weather broke enough to get us all out of the area - still under 122mm fire. I do remember drinking more than one beer with Gary Jones back at CCN. So much for (a somewhat long winded) tales of heroic Cpt Nicholson taking command after Co B was so badly hit at New

Year's Jan 69. BULLSHIT!!

Hope this helps set the record straight.

Regards,

Randy

Re: 15 Months in SOG, A Warrior's Tour

Date: 12/26/99 11:46:15 AM Central Standard Time

From: Stephen Sherman

To: Robert L. Noe

Since I am being quoted in this controversy, let me establish some parameters have not read the book - YET.

I heard about the tour of duty date claims and pointed out to Nicholson that my records show him assigned to Command and Control North (CCN) as the Assistant S-3 from November 17, 1968 thru January 16, 1969; and as the S-1 Adjutant from January 16, 69 thru June 1, 1969; and then as the 3rd Platoon Leader for Company B from June 1, 1969 thru October 18, 1969. This was his

second tour. His DDUS was 19 October 1968 on the April 69 Roster and his DEROS is given as 18 October 1969 for a standard 1 year tour, but outside some of the dates he claims to have participated in events. I suggested if his records show otherwise, he should send same to me. He said he would, but hasn't. However, HE WAS IN SOG, which puts him in a different category than a few others who have written books about SOG.

I certainly have mistakes in my files and I am willing to be corrected, if sufficient evidence is provided. I am also very willing to help people refresh our CRS clouded minds. Most histories have errors; it behooves us to keep those errors to a minimum. There are many errors in histories I read which just go right by me. There are also errors which involve distorted names and facts, but are based on valid recollections.

I would rather see less acrimony on the part of those who are readers and encourage them to use their knowledge to set the record straight by telling their own stories. Bob Noe's web site is turning into a very good venue for doing so as far as SOG is concerned.

Steve Sherman sends

 

Subj: Peter McMurray

Date: 12/26/99

From: Robert Noe

To: Col. Randy Givens and B.G. George Gaspard

Here's the changes made with your input, Randy:

Chronological KIA/MIA Memorial Listing

27 Aug 69- Peter Hinchman McMurray, (Age: 24 years 0 months and 6 days) 1LT 0-2, USASF SOA, CCN, 1st Plt Ldr, Co A, Da Nang, Ops 35, of Duxbury, MA., Non-Hostile Death- Remains Recovered, and Two Special Commando of CCC, Kontom-KIA. SOG had directed CCN to put a CCC platoon onto Co Roc Mountain; in addition, a Support Platoon from CCN and a Recon Team from CCN were to be inserted. The Support Platoon was commanded by Lt McMurray. As a Kingbee (H34) helicopter made its approach to the LZ, its rotor blade hit the hillside and the aircraft crashed into the LZ. McMurray was killed either by a blade or a rock sent spinning by the blade. A short time later, SOG notified CCN that enemy intercepts indicated the enemy knew of the insertion and that the CCC platoon was moving south off of Co-Roc to their (enemy's) area of operation (AO). The enemy planned to attack that night. BG (then Major) George "Speedy" Gaspard flew to Co-Roc where he coordinated activities, toe poppers and obstacles were already set around the perimeter. The CCC platoon was notified of the impending attack and was hit about 4 am by a B40 rocket attack with two Commando Killed and four Wounded. After daylight, that platoon was picked up. The Recon Team continued to move toward the river bottom and continued its mission. Gen Gaspard and the support personnel were picked up-(Information furnished by BG Gaspard). Col (then Cpt). Randy Givens reports Lt. McMurray was his roommate and Lt McMurray was a Platoon Leaders in Company A and not in Company B and confirms the information furnished by BG Gaspard. THERE IS A DIFFERENT, INTENTIONAL MISREPRESENTATION OF EVENTS INVOLVING THE DEATH OF LT McMURRAY RECORDED IN THE BOOK, 15 Months in SOG, A Warrior's Tour, by Thom Nicholson, Colonel (then Cpt), US Army Retired, Ivy Books. The misrepresentation appears to be a deliberate, intentional effort by the author to falsify a variety of events to document Cpt Nicholson as a "Heoric Field Officer" with 12 months of service with SOG, not 15! Although the book is written as non- fiction it is essentially fiction with no historical value: General Gaspard writes that Lt McMurray was a fine young officer and deserves a better fate. Col. Nicholson states he was the Company Commander of Co B and Lt McMurray as his Executive Officer. A Recon Team had found and reported a 6-8" pipeline which had been constructed in the Mu Gia Pass area where the Route 911 of the Ho Chi Minh trail comes out of North Vietnam and enters Laos. Two Platoons form Company B were inserted into the location where the pipeline was discovered with the mission to destroy and disrupt the oil supply going to Vietnam and during the extraction of the element, the last chopper was loaded with the two Americans and two SCU. As the helicopter began its ascent, it was engaged by frontal enemy machine gun which killed the Pilot and Co pilot resulting in the helicopter crashing. One of the SCU had been thrown from the helicopter and was dead, then the body of McMurray was located, he also had been thrown out of the helicopter as it was spinning to the ground when the helicopter blade hit him in the chest killing him.

 

Randy, you were assigned as the Co of Co A Sep 12, 69 and served until Dec 06, 69. You were serving during the time when Cpt Nicholson state's he was the CO of Co B. If he were the CO, I'm sure you would have remembered him.

Subj: Re: 15 Months in SOG, A Warrior's Tour

Date: 12/26/99 12:04:43 PM Central Standard Time

From: SOG1RLNOE

To: Steve Sherman, Col Randy Givens, & Gen Gaspard

Thanks Steve, appreciate that. Would love to have more data on Nicholson, I agree he was in SOG. I think he needs to provide some supporting data covering his assignments. Mistakes are one thing and I'm sure many have been made due to the time element and cloud of battle. We should not look to the mistakes as a point of personal criticism of the person providing such data. Any intentional misrepresentation of facts and events (war stories) in a bar or telling is one thing and we can work through these; however, writing a book and presenting these events and data as true, is totally another point, especially when they are written to make the author the "hero." I can just see one of his family members, one day, a generation or two down the road, taking the information as valid and try to get him awarded a CMH or something.

There is always the possibility his book is valid, but at this time, data does not support this, thus, as Steve says, in prior communications, the ball is now in Col Nicholson's court. I don't have a POC for him, would love to personally send this to him so he can have the opportunity to present his substantiating data.

Subj: Chapter 13, page 152, "Pie (Plate) in the Sky or Where Do You Pee, up in a Tree?

Date: Dec 26, 99

From: Robert L. Noe

To: All SOF members

The following is the discussion of the "Pie Plate" operation detailed in Cpt Nicholson’s book. He relates it was Maj Skelton who assigned him this mission. Maj Skelton is determined to be Major William L. "Bill" Shelton, S-3 officer, CCN from Mar 18, 69 to Jun 12, 69. " True to his word, Major Skelton found a perfect place to put the thing. I watched from my transport chopper as the CH-47 dropped the plate over a big tree on top of a hill right in the middle of heavy jungle somewhere close to the Laos border..." "...I directed them (men) to move to the edge of the metal disk so the cargo chopper could leave and the one carrying the recon team could land. As they jumped onto the plate, with the water, rations, and ammo for twenty men..." "...I decided to rappel down a ways and check out the ground. I took the two recon leaders with me. Quietly, we dropped the rapelling ropes over the side and stepped off the edge of the plate. The first ten feet were tough going; the jumble of compressed branches took some effort, a lot of sweat, numerous curse words, ..." "Our main tree was over a hundred feet high, with most of its branches in the top thirty feet of the trunk. At about sixty feet up, we hit the second layer of tree canopy and descended through it...." Cpt Nicholson talking to the two team leaders, " ‘I’m going back up’... ‘I’ll send the teams down, one at a time, starting with Sidewinder, and then Python’" "...the two recon teams, Each would leave in its own direction, loop out for one day, then come in the next. At the end of four days, we’d have a 360-degree recon coverage of the area and could be picked up at daylight on the morning for the fifth day." "... around three P.M.,Team Pyton showed up. It was a little early, but not worth making a scene over, so we dropped the ropes and the five hot, sweating, dirty soldiers climbed up like monkeys..." It appears RT Sidewinder made enemy contact that afternoon and had been able to evade until they returned to the Pie Plate, where they were dropped ropes and climbed up for the night. During the night "They’re down there (Talking about the NVA). Some went past our tree about ten minutes ago..." "We arrived at CCN safely and got our hot shower and hot chow. I spent a good deal of time writing a report on the tactical advantages and disadvantages of the tree platform...The Eagle’s Nest sat on the tarmac for a couple of days and then was picked up by a big chopper and taken away. I watched as the monstrosity, spinning in its harness like a top on a string, faded in the distance. I never saw it again"

Subj: Re: A chuckle or reality? 15 Months in SOG & The "Pie Plate"

Date: 12/26/99 6:01:02 PM Central Standard Time

From: Jan Egan

To: Robert L.Noe

Robert: I'm like everyone else - I was there during some of the time periods mentioned and never heard of the damn thing (but that doesn't mean it didn't exist), I do not think I would have used it if I understand the operation of the devise. Hell, I had enough problems with the Jacobs Ladder and the McGuire Rig (later STABO) !

Climb what ropes ? It seems as though the more books that are written on the subject - the wilder the stories get. I couldn't see me climbing a 100 foot repelling rope buck naked if the whole NVA army was on my ass !

 

Subj: Re: A chuckel or reality? 15 Months in SOG & The "Pie Plate"

Date: 12/26/99 6:22:37 PM Central Standard Time

From: Sherman Batman

To: Robert L. Noe

Robert:

I don't know if there is any truth to the story. However, an operation such as he describes would have been a real fiasco. I don't recall any yards that were that adept at repelling down a rope much less up. Remember this took place long before the advent of modern repelling gear i.e., ascenders, etc. So anyone leaving the platform would have to climb back up a 3/4" nylon rope, a difficult task in any circumstance, much less for a troop loaded with all his combat gear. As for detection, what happened to all the leaves that were displaced during the landing of the platform and subsequent trips up and down the tree? Even a blind man could tell the difference between a fresh leaf and one that had fallen naturally.

I thought the Patrol base in the tree story was a real doozey and worthy of Mack Bolan or one of the other superheroes i.e., Sgt Rock. In my humble opinion Col. Nicholson is a "wanna-bee".

Subj: Re: A chuckel or reality? 15 Months in SOG & The "Pie Plate"

Date: 12/26/99 8:39:32 PM Central Standard Time

From: SGM Bert Moore, Sr Medic, Ops 53 (SOG Training Element)

To: Robert L. Noe

Hi there, The "Pie Plate" was used only for experimental use and it went to CCN first and then to Long Thanh or Long Thanh and then to CCN but we had problems with it and the team got cough up in the ropes. We tried it on quit a few insertions and always had problems with the spaces between the ropes. It was supposed to support a bird (helicopter) and that did not work. So they tried to put troops on it and they got entangled in the ropes. It was one of the other thing they tried to sell the US Army. It was a good idea but did not work. At no time did we use it in a real mission while I was in Long Thanh.

Bert sends

Subject: Re: [Fwd: A chuckel or reality? 15 Months in SOG & The "Pie Plate"

Date: Sun, 26 Dec 1999 21:16:12 -0500 (EST)

From: Lynn Thompson, RTAsp

To: Sherman Batman; Fwd to: Robert L. Noe

Sherman,

I read about half of the book and it was so full of bullshit I couldn't read anymore. I then gave the book to SGM Billy Boggs who also never heard of Col. Nicholson and also thought the book was bullshit. So how is that for a review. I was in CCN recon at the same time he claims to have been there and I never heard of him. He should show up for one of the conventions. I know a few people that would like to ask the phony a few questions.

Lynn Thompson,

Subj: Re: A chuckel or reality? 15 Months in SOG & The "Pie Plate"

Date: 12/27/99 1:59:34 PM Central Standard Time

From: Lynn Thompson, Tm Ldr of RTASP 1969

To: Robert L. Noe

This is in response to your note. I myself have never heard of Cpt. Nicolson. Most of the book that I read, to me was bullshit. I just recently spoke to Cpt Garry Robb who was my 11 on RT Asp in 1969. Cpt Robb and also SGM Billy Boggs think that this guy is bogus. Maybe he should be in the book stolen Valor. Sincerely, Lynn Thompson

Subj: Re: A chuckel or reality? 15 Months in SOG & The "Pie Plate"

Date: 12/27/99 6:26:38 PM Central Standard Time

From: William "Bill" Shelton, CCN’s S-3, Mar 18, 69-Jun 12, 69

To: Robert L. Noe

I too read the book, and found some inconsistencies in it, but I think from rusty memories more than anything. The tree top device was never deployed operationally. We looked at it, asked some team members to evaluate it, and it was rejected by us for a variety of reasons. When LTC Isler came to CCN, I believe John Seymour was the acting S3. I was commanding FOB 4, the almost defunct launch site at CCN. I was walking thru the TOC, when LTC Isler asked me what I knew about the CCN operations. After I briefed him, he informed me I was the new Ops officer. Due to all of the things going on at that time, I could not keep track of all the many fine young officers we had and the assignments they were given. I remember their names and faces, and I do remember Thom, but not his exact assignment at the time.

I talked with Thom briefly at SOAR during my shortened stay. I suspect Thom may not have had access to good and reliable background documentation, and that he may have been writing from a rusty memory. There is no sin in that, as I am reminded each day. He had me confused with MAJ Bill Angel. Bill may have been the S2 at the time, and I had talked with him on a few occasions, since we both were originally from Indiana. As I recall thru the haze of the years past, Bill had come to CCN from the 46th Company in Thailand. Angel departed shortly after I moved to CCN from the XO/CO position at FOB 1. LTC Bahr, MAJ Jaks and others had xfrd to Kontum to form CCC in the DEC 68 time frame. I became CO FOB 1, and remained as such until closure in JAN-FEB 69. The CCN CO at the time was LTC Jack Warren, who gave me the ignoble task of

CO MLT 4 at CCN. Jack Isler replaced him. MAJ Jack Deckard may well have been an interim S3, but after Jack Isler's arrival, he was sent to open the MLT at Quang Tri. They were co-located with Force Recon. Jack Deckard was there at the start of Dewey Canyon. When Jack Isler was promoted to O6, he was xfrd to OP35. His replacement was LTC Donahue. I knew I could not/would not work for him. COL Isler asked that I stay on for 90 days, and that he would bring me to OP35. True to his word as always, he brought me to OP35. I remained there for about 90 days when COL Isler "shanghaied" me to become CO MLT 3 in NKP Thailand. During these assignments, I cannot recall any OPERATIONAL deployment of the pie.

Hope this helps clear the mystery of the pie. It was an insignificant non-event.

Regards,

Bill

15 MONTHS IN SOGA WARRIOR’S TOUR

BY THOM NICHOLSON, COLONEL, USA SF (Ret.)

REVIEW BY ROBERT L. NOE, CAPTAIN, USA SF, (Ret.)

There is no record of a "Thom" Nicholson being assigned as the Company Commander of Company Co B; however, there was a Thomas P. Nicholson assigned to Command and Control North (CCN) as the Assistant S-3 from November 17, 1968 thru January 16, 1969; and as the S-1 Adjutant from January 16, 69 thru June 1, 1969; and then as the 3rd Platoon Leader for Company B from June 1, 1969 thru October 18, 1969. From October 18 thru November 16, 1969, there is no record of where Thomas P. Nicholson was assigned; thus, he could have assumed the command of Co B during that time?? Page 39/40 relates that Thom Nicholson assumed command of Co B, "Happy New Year, 1969. Now that I was a company commander..." replacing the late Captain Jones.

Of all the names mentioned by Nicholson as being KIA/MIA, the following are the only names I could verify:

P 15: Lieutenant Paul Potter-KIA 23 Aug 68

P 29: Major Samuel Kamu Toomey, CCN’s S-3-KIA 30 Nov 68

P41: Lieutenant Peter McMurray, XO, Co B who was related on Page 207 as being KIA on July 22, 1969; however, all official records records the date of death as Aug 27, 69

Names mentioned in the book, but cannot be verified:

P 31: Major Skelton assumed the S-3 position vacated by Maj. Toomey

P 41: Lieutenant Ray Lawrence, Plt Ldr Co B, then XO

P 61: Sgt Jose O’Connor, RT Cobra, Co B

P 74: Lieutenant Cable, Plt Ldr, Co B

P 102: Sgt Richard "Dick" Swanson, RT Asp, Co B

P 102: Major Orentes, XO, CCN

P 105: Sergeant Brian Krause

P 128: Sergeant White, Supply Sergeant between Jun-Aug 69 time frame

P133: Sergeant Crowley, Platoon Sergeant, Co B Jun-Aug 69 time frame

P 147: Lieutenant Will Turin, Platoon Leader, Co B Jun-Aug 69 time frame

P 172: Sergeant First Class Boker, Co B, Jun-Aug 69 Jun-Aug 69 time frame

P 174: Sergeant Garrett, Co B, Jun-Aug 69 time frame.

P 187 Sergeant Margier, Co B, Jun-Aug 69 time frame

P 222 Major Angel, briefing officer,

P 233 Sergeant John "Sandy" Sanderson, Estimated time Aug-Oct 69

P 247 Major Buelher, CCN S-, Estimated time frame around Aug-Oct 69

P 252 Lieutenant Brice, estimated time frame around Aug-Oct 69.

P36-37: "LTC Martha Ray showed up right after Christmas...The day before New Year's, we were tasked by HQ MACSOG to put out a reaction force at a key intersection on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.....Co B, the reaction standby unit, packed up and was choppered out by noon. They were back by four, shot to hell and back. I debriefed the senior surviving American, Lt. Will Turin. ‘They were all over us as soon as we landed,' he said as he struggled to maintain his composure. Captain Jones was hit almost as soon as he dropped off the chopper. Lieutenant Jefferson and Sergeant Proudlock dragged him to a pile of brush next to the LZ (landing zone)...There's six still out there. Captain Jones, Jefferson, Proudlock, and Lieutenant Nham of the VNSF, and two Yards." The Incident occurred the "day before New Year's," thus, 30 December 1968.<BR>

P 37: Lieutenant Will Turin, Co B-No record of a Lt Will Turin being assigned to CCN..

P 37: Captain Jones, CO, Co B. Cpt Nicholson says he replaced Cpt Jones as the Company Commander when Captain Jones was killed in action.

There are no Captain Jones recorded as being KIA/MIA during the month of December 1968 from any of the military branches of service, serving in Vietnam. Of those 1Lt, Cpt, and Maj serving in the Army that were KIA/MIA, none were killed in between Aug 68 and Mar 69.(There was a Captain Gary P. Jones, Company Commander of Co B, with a departure date of November 21st, 1969. However, this individual is not recorded as being KIA or MIA).

P 37: Lieutenant Jefferson, Co B, Killed the day before New Years, 69

There are NO Army commissioned officers by the name of Jefferson ever KIA/MIA during Vietnam.

P 37: Sergeant Proudock, Co B, Killed the day before New Years, 69

There is NO name of "Proudock" recorded as ever being KIA/MIA in Vietnam.

Note: The only missions resulting in KIA/MIA that occurred during the last days of December 1968 were the following:

PFC (SSG?) Robert F. Scherdin of CCN MIA on 29 December 1968. A team from CCC (FOB-2) was inserted on 30 December 1968 to look for Pfc Scherdin and Lt James R. Jersen of CCC and notCCN was KIA.

On 1 January 1969 there were 3 Americans with CCN killed: CCN's Recon Co, RT DB lost were SSG James M. Hall, 1-0; Sp/4 Wayne L. Hawes, 1-1; and Michael J. McKibban.

P 61/62: Cpt Nicholson relates SGT JOSE O’CONNOR was a member of his company, assigned to Recon Team "Cobra." (Recon Team "Cobra," according to my notes, was a team in the Recon Company and during this time, commanded by Cpt Dick Medows who assumed command February 1969, not Company B under the control of Cpt Nicholson). Cpt Nicholson mentions the name "Col Isler" when discussing this mission. Note, LTC Jack Isler "Iceman" assumed command of CCN on Feb 22, 1969, he was promoted to Full Bull and relinquished command on Jun 1, 69 . On page 56, he mentions the time as "early in February" when talking about another event, then on page 62 he states; "On the last day of the month." RT Cobra was inserted and ran into trouble immediately with one Special Forces team member as being KIA and O’Connor MIA status. There were no KIA/MIA for all of SOG between 14 Feb and 2 Mar 69. On 2 Mar Sgt William Evans and SP/5 Michael May of CCS and not CCN were listed as MIA. No Special Forces members were lost between Feb 25-Mar 2nd. Further, No one with the name O’Connor, in the Army with the rank of Sergeant, was KIA/MIA prior to August 1969.

P 104: Cpt Nicholson states, "I’d like to give Sergeant Swanson command of Recon Team Asp...so, I’ll transfer him over to Asp as the one-one.." and discussed RT Asp as though it was an element of Company B. Note: RT Asp was an element of the Recon Company and not part of Company B. Cpt Nicholson fixes the date of the insertion and action on Page 102 after the arrival of LTC Donahue who arrived as CCN commander on Jun 1, 69 and serving to May 1, 1970. On page 111, the team’s composition was Sgt Swanson, three SCU and another American as the one-one, and he further states on page 114, the entire team was lost, never to be seen again. NOTE: RT ASP was lost (completely decimated) twice, the first time on 22 March 68 and the other 10 May 71, but not in 1969, and there was no Sergeant Swanson on the team during either of those times. There is no record that SOG or Special Forces lost a Sergeant "Swanson" in Vietnam. Further, there was no Army Sergeant with the name "Swanson" lost during the entire year of 1969. There is no record of a Team or individuals being lost by CCN during June 69 nor was there any action reflecting the loss of a team ran by a sergeant during the period of May-Aug 69.

P 206: Cpt Nicloson is concluding his story on the Pipe Line operation and reports Lt Peter McMurray was a Platoon Leader in Co B and was killed when a helicopter was shot down and relating he (Nicloson) clearly remembers the date of the incident on page 207 as being July 22, 1969 and the day he watched the TV newscast of Neil Armstrong taking the first step on the moon, which did happen in July 69, but all the official records records Lt McMurray as being killed on 27 Aug 69. A source document reflects Lt McMurray as being a Platoon leader in Co A of CCN from Dec 7, 68 thru Aug 27, 69.

P 233 A Sergeant John Sanderson, formerly a member of RT Blacksnake, Co B, later assigned as the One-Zero for RT Asp and on P 244/245 he is reported as dead. A check of all record/sources does not reflect an Army Soldier by the name of Sanderson as being killed in Vietnam after 23 Feb 69.

P 252 The author writes that a Lieutenant "Brice" was killed during an assault on Marble Mountain, time frame of this action (according to the story line) would be Sep-Oct 69, however, a check of sources and official records does not reflect a "Lieutenant Brice" from the Army or Marine Corps (combined action) as being killed in Vietnam. There was a Lieutenant Eric Brice, US Navy killed June 4, 1968, thus a year plus before this action.

P 161: RT Python in Co B? Wasn’t Python an element of Recon Co?

Page 104, Cpt Nicloson describes the Team Leader being the one-zero and the RTO as the second in command and being designated the one-one. In reality, the Team Leader was the one-zero; the Assistant Team Leader as the one-one, and the Radio Operator as the one-two. During this time period, the teams were being ran by three Americans, however, on occasions there may have been teams with only two Americans and the one-zero/one-one designation would have been correct.

P 54: The author describes the area round the CCN compound, "Farther down the beach to the south was the headquarters of Company C, 5th Special Forces, which commanded all the regular Special Forces camps located in the northern region of I Corps. Next door to C Company was the 3rd Marine Air Base, which supported the Marine units working in the northern provinces. Next was the navy field hospital, an oil tank farm, and a small POW compound..." On page 105, the author states, "Down the beach, less than half a mile away, was the 3d Medevac Hospital, with a full complement of female nurses....However, the nurses weren’t above sitting on their quarters’ patio with binoculars and scoping out the scene as we romped buck naked in the foamy surf." The actual lay of the land, North to South, coming out of Da Nang, starting with Marble Mountain Marine Airfield, then Company C (C-1) [a Major SF Headquarters element], then an open area, and then the Prisoner of War Camp which was next to the CCN compound. Having been on the beach, with 20/20 vision, there was no way I was ever able to look down the beach and see the Marine Airfield, it was too distance. If my memory serves me, I’d estimate the Marine Airfield to be several miles North of the CCN compound. In fact, a number of us attempted to see if we could see human figures on the beach from Co C, SF compound to no avail, a human figure could not be seen from the CCN beach area because of the distance. Further, none of the compounds were located directly on the beach but some 100 yards off the beach. With the various obstructions intervening between the CCN compound and the Marine Airfield combined with the fact all facilities were one story high, there was no way, even with bino, could someone even from Co C could observe activity on the CCN beach. Thus, there is some question regarding the story about a Sergeant Swanson on the beach, running down to the nurses quarters and getting a date.

P 222: Cpt Nicholson discusses his DEROS date and about leaving. The DEROS date is one year from the date of arrival in country. On page 258, Cpt Nicholson states his DEROS date arrived and he headed home...no mention of extension. Book is titled "15 Months in SOG"??

Subject: 15 Months in SOG, a Warrior's Tour

From: Robert L. Noe

To: Col. Mike DeLapp, USA Retired

Date: Thursday, January 06, 2000 1:22 AM

 

Just read your review (Note: Col. DeLapp gave a 5 star review of the book for Barns and Nobles, which reads: "Up close and personal account of the guy that did it. Not since reading SLA Marshall’s books have a read such a personal account of men in combat. The difference is Marshall wrote it from interviews, Nicholson fought the battles and had the ability to write about himself. Compelling acount of the personal aspect of the warrior without the political mumbo-jumbo."), sorry to inform you that Col. Thom Nicholson made up a lot of the stories he tells and the others he takes from real events, changing the names, circumstances, and locations to fit his fantasy then inserts himself as the Company Commander running the missions. In fact, Col. Nicholson relates to the event when CCN was overran in Aug 68 when he was still in the US. Further, there is no one who can recall or records to document him ever being the Company Commander of Co B. In the book, Col.Nicholson kills off Cpt Gary Jones Dec 31, 68 then assumes command. The actual fact is that Cpt Jones served as the Company Commander until

November 21, 1969, he was not killed, he served his tour of duty and rotated back to the states. Col. Nicholson departed the US Oct 19, 1968, served as the CCN's Assistant S-3 from Nov 17, 68 to Jan 16, 69; CCN's S-1 Adjutant from Jan 16,69 to Jun 1, 69 and then as the 3rd Platoon Leader from Jun 1, 69 to Oct 18, 69. I have a number of comments from members of CCN who were there and they totally refute Nicholson's claims. I will be posting their comments on the

MACVSOG website next week, should be of some interest to you. http://www.specialoperations.com/History/Vietnam/MACVSOG/Default.html (Note: the comments were forwarded via an attachment)

It is regrettable Col. Nicholson chose to represent his book as nonfiction when it is almost totally fiction in almost all respects. As Brigadier General George "Speedy" Gaspard of SOG says when talking about those fine men who were real and who died in circumstances different than that related by Col. Nicholson, "They deserve a better fate."

It seems to me, Col. Nicholson wanted to make himself the "hero" of events he was not involved with. What a shame.

Robert L. Noe

 

Subj: Re: 15 Months in SOG, a Warrior's Tour

Date: 1/10/00 11:50:38 AM Central Standard Time>

From: Col. Mike DeLapp

To: SOG1RLNOE@aol.com

Thank you so much for taking the time to send me a note and the accompanying reviews.

As an SF Colonel without Viet Nam experience, I found the book and the reviews you sent me quite interesting. My review of the book was to indicate that SLA Marshall's work was done only from interviews, and not from personal involvement. It appears from the interviews that you sent me that no one disputes Nicholson having served in the area from which his book is written. The major dispute from the interviews seems to be about Lt McMurray's death. Assuming your respondents are correct, that would seem to be the only hard issue. As to the descrepencies in dates and the scenario in how it is written, I don't find that it impacts in any major way on the

story. I'm sure that having someone who served in that area being able to write a story about it, only serves to let others know of the intense service many of your performed. I have found through the years that someone will always have more specific information about one event than someone else. I seriously doubt if any of the critics would have been able to write in such a compelling way. You surely realize that getting a book published is no easy task. It MUST read in a fashion to keep the reader interested. Nicholson did this and was able to tell the story of all of you. I would hate to think that jealously could play any part in the critics review. I would have hoped that those who served in that area, during that time would have been supportive of Nicholson sharing the story of what happened regardless of whose names are used and if a Company designation might have been different of a date different.

In any case, I again want to thank you for sending along the information. It does reinforce the idea that we all are of one community.

I hope that opportunities for Special Forces folks to get together or read of that period of the war would result in our commending one another for the job done rather than being so negative. I am sure Nicholson would accept criticism. Should you or your critics chose, Nicholson's email (not displayed herein).

Subj: Re: 15 Months in SOG, a Warrior's Tour

Date: 1/10/00 1:07:02 PM Central Standard Time

From: Robert L. Noe

To: Col. DeLapp

Thank you so very much regarding your comments. I tend to agree with you in several of your observations. However, there are several areas of concern other than the Peter McMurray incident. The underlying problem area that seems to impact those who were there is that Col Nicholson writes the book as "nonfiction" and inserts himself into the various missions as the leading character, taking credit when the credit should go to others. Especially when he was not on those missions, nor did the events transpire as he related. I certainly do understand the difficulty of getting something published, holding the reader's interest, etc., but when thing are changed to the degree they appear to be in the book, the publication should have a disclaimer or be noted as "fiction." The effort to make a publication interesting is not justification to lead the public to believe those events which have been changed are true. I guess I have a different view of ethics. In my book, a falsehood is a falsehood, a half of a lie is still a lie.

The book would have been just as interesting and there would have been no basis for questions regarding his participation or what actually took place. My understanding is that "nonfiction" is the truth, and any modification of the truth even to make the book more interesting, causes the book to be a "fiction" publication. Col. Nicholson had the option to have the book classified as fiction, he opted not to do that, thus, he is subject to the criticism.

We of SF and SOG do not in any manner wish Col. Nicholson any harm nor are we jealous of him, we wish him well and hope he makes a million bucks. His service with CCN marks him as a special man among men. However, it seems what he has done is tantamount to putting himself in for a medal, making himself a hero in various actions when he was not. This is not an act of jealousy, it's an effort to have the truth made known.

I attempted to email him the review, it bounced twice. I have this date sent it to him via snail mail.

I went back and read your review of the book that is published with Barns and Nobles, I find you held the impression Col. Nicholson was in the thick of things after reading the book.

Guess we all hold different views on what is right and wrong. How far does a book go with falsehoods, memory laps, and forgetfulness covered up by insertions of claims that are untrue before it becomes a book of nonfiction?

Again thanks for your response,

Robert

Subj: Critical Review-15 Months In SOG, A Warrior's Tour

Date: 1/10/00 10:02:50 AM Central Standard Time>

From: Robert L. Noe

To: Col. Thom Nicholson

File: 15 Months in SOG-Review2.wpd

RE: Critical Review of 15 Months in SOG, A Warrior's Tour

I am the owner and manager of the MACVSOG website http://www.specialoperations.com/History/Vietnam/MACVSOG/Default.html. In this capacity, I am in daily contact with a great number of SOG and SOA members regarding a number of subject matters. One of which is the MACVSOG Chronological KIA/MIA list which has a number of narratives. My efforts is to present SOG in a truthful manner, including the events surrounding those members who lost their lives and to establish a realistic history. While doing this, I seem to have been appointed, unofficially, as the reviewer of books about SOG, which may present erroneous data/facts and inappropriate heroic claims.

A couple of months ago, your book was sent to me by a former member of SOG. Shortly, thereafter, another copy of your book was given to me by a member of Chapter 63, SFA. Both asked me to review the book and to tell them what I though. After I read your book, I found a number of areas that I had questions with. I made a number of notations, sending to SOG/SOA members with email addresses for their input.

The results of that effort produced a number of comments from members who were at CCN at the time you were there. I have also added other comments which should be considered. In all, I developed my review based upon my own personal knowledge and their input. Each individual making a comment is clearly identified as to name and rank. As a courtesy, because you are an Officer of the United States Military, I am sending you the entire packet to give you the opportunity to respond before it is put in the public domain. If these observations are in error, please send me the various supporting documentation necessary and rebuttals so the review may be modified, accordingly.

My intent is to get to the truth and to put this review out to the SOG members and online within two weeks. My mailing address is: Robert L. Noe, 300 Pauline Drive, Alexandria, Louisiana 71303

Subj: your msg ref: critique of book

Date: 1/12/00 3:58:24 PM Central Standard Time

From: coltompn@chicago.avenew.com (Tom Nicholson)

Reply-to: coltompn@chicago.avenew.com

To: Robert L.NOe

Dear Bob,

Got your attachments. Wow, did some of the vets of CCN let me have And their memories. Impressive. I'm not gonna even try and fight them, but simply defer to their better memories.

I really was CO of B Company from around the end of Apr to Oct, when I got ready to go home. Somehow it doesn't seem too exciting to say that my predicessor at B Company just DEROS'd home. And three brave men did die on Jan 1 69. I wnated people to remember that, since the

politicians in Washington were spouting about cease-fires, and stand-downs over the holidays.

My origional title of this book was "War Stories of Vietnam,written to my son while he was in college, taking a course in Vn War History. I'll show you the page when I meet up with you in SOAR. The first page says that I forget names and dates, made up names to cover situations, and

screwed with the time frame to cover the entire year. The time I was on staff, nothing I did was of any real importance to the war, except write Fred Zabatowski's MOH award recomdation.

I put a paragraph at the bottom of the first page of my origionl manuscript that the contents should be told first, since the lies of anyone afterwards would cause my tall tales to be forgotten. The

publisher stripped all of this book out, and since it is my first and only book ever published, I had no clout to stop them if I wanted it published. If it offends the purists, I apoligize, and state

catigorically I had no intention of hurting anyone nor insulting their memory. Pete McMurray was a good friend, and I wanted his death to be more than just a stupid accident. "Dirty Dick" Thompson was a good friend, and when he pulled his stunt in 1966, in DaNang, I thought it

was just too good to be left out of any story about the wild and wooly soldiers of SOG. WHen I was at SOAR this past fall, I told every body I talked with about the book and stated that it was a 90-10 but never said which was truth and which was fiction. I'll leave that for others to decide. I'll be at SOAR XXIV this fall and all those who want to step up and get up in my face can. I was caught between wanting something I wrote to be put in print, and knowing my flawed stories might anger one of the men who was there. Thus the fake names for most of the characters, the dates of actions, and what really happened. I did do most of the stuff, in one way or another, but if I didn't, someone did, and that's the story worth telling.

Tell any of your correspondants who are upset that they can email me their outrage, and I'll read it and be properly ashamed of myself. I hope it will spur them to write a book of their experiences. Any history that makes people think of their bravery and dedication under extreme circumstances is worth putting out.

Regards,

Tom