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Radio Research Chronicles

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Radio Research Chronicles

Postby RadioResearcher » Sun Jun 03, 2007 7:01 pm

I came across this account of life in Chu Lai with the 601st RR Det, by David Blakeslee.  The 601st was one of three detachments making up the Americal Radio Research Company (Provisional), my own being the 408th and the 415th rounding out the trio.  It pretty accurately represents a slice of life for all of us in that company, across the road from the Americal Division HQ and north of the Chu Lai air base, on the Ky Ha peninsula.  I have inserted a few pics from my gallery which depict some of the facilities David is referring to.  [excerpt reprinted from ASA Online, http://www.armysecurityagency.org/]

-- Radio Researcher

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

After a stop in Subic Bay, we proceeded to Da Nang to disembark on LSTs to Chu Lai. Of course the Army in their infinite wisdom announced on the Gordan's public address system for the 601st Army Security Agency Detachment to disembark on the LSTs. After we arrived in Chu Lai, I am told that Hanoi Hanna welcomed the 198 Light Infantry Brigade to Viet Nam and a special welcome to the 601st Army Security Agency Detachment. The Army did not know that the 601st ASA became the 601st Radio Research Detachment as a part of the Signal Corps enroute to country. So much for the Geneva Convention about ASA units being deployed in RVN.

When we arrived in Chu Lai, we could not locate our base camp. We located a jeep and wound up with the 196 that I think was located on the western perimeter of the airport. We helped the grunts by drawing sniper fire under a yellow alert. Needless to say, we bailed out of that jeep only to hear a mortar and some small arms fire. Later, we spent the night in a hooch when some grunts came in and asked who those idiots were that came driving into the camp during a yellow alert. We remained quiet and humble even though they thanked us for locating the snipers.

We eventually found our base camp which was located on the north side of the airport next to the 101st Airborne.  We were not that far from the hospital that became a part of the unrealistic TV show "China Beach".  [Note:  Not sure about this.  The actual China Beach in Vietnam was near DaNang.  --RR]
[attach=1]
We were in a compound with a Marine Security Group in which they had constructed a white fiber glass dome that contained R390s and voice scramblers etc.  We spent much of our time in tents until we could procure water buffaloes or wood from the Army Corps of Engineers.
[attach=2]
The Army Corps of Engineers were worthless and so we made numerous raids at night to procure building materials. However, our CO, Major Kane, was promoted to Lt Colonel and we were assigned to support S2 of the Americal Division. He pleaded at the Divisional level that our operators could not hear too well by living in tents and perform mission objectives under such circumstances. We did receive some support, but most of our materials came from unorthodox means. For example, four of us went to the motor pool, at night, and procured a water buffalo that we mounted on a jeep. Hauling a water buffalo on a jeep was not a good design practice, but we got away with it. Our compound was guarded by our own MPs and I am sure that we drove them nuts by covering our "midnight requisitions" by keeping out unauthorized persons following our activities. Once we procured our buffalo, we had stencils and paint to claim them as unit ownership.

We had an 'in' for obtaining an abundant supply of beer from our contacts at the docks.  We used the beer in exchange for materials to build our EM club but that twisted the nose of our First Shirt.
[attach=3]
We had to complete the building of the orderly room before we completed the club.

With a case of beer, the Seabees gave us everything we needed to finish both structures in a short period of time. We even procured mess hall emersion heaters, expended F4 fuel tanks and some wood to build a shower with hot and cold water.
[attachthumb=4]
Our Detachment had seven KY9 scramblers and the only electronic technicians in the 198th to install and repair them. One of our mission objectives was to locate targets and call for BUFF or F4 suppression. (As Dr. McCoy on Start Trek would say: "For goodness sake Jim, I'm an 058 not an 054!"). Charlie or the NVA soon learned it was not alway wise to try and take out Beavers or Mohawks unless they enjoyed air strikes. We could feel the B52 strike 40 clicks away and it was always neat to know what time the action would begin. However, it was always disturbing to hear your target sending XGC and continue traffic.

Although I left Chu Lai in February of 1968, I left feeling that there was not enough time to learn the targets much less to pass on my experience to the NUGs. There is a wide gulf between working a strategic mission and a tactical mission. Although my brief descriptions of these experiences may not be appropriate for military history, they are nonetheless true accounts of the start of the 601st RRD. We were very creative individuals that did not fit the typical warriors of the military.  --David Blakeslee
Attachments
ChuLaiBeach.jpg
408th601stTents.jpg
ClubCrowd.jpg
FiringPoint.jpg
Last edited by RadioResearcher on Sun Jun 03, 2007 7:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Radio Research Chronicles

Postby Huyen » Fri Jun 08, 2007 5:48 pm

I like these types of stories very much.  I would not be unhappy if we were able to populate the forums with people telling little vignettes like this.  8)

-H
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Re: Radio Research Chronicles

Postby tunnelratje » Sun Jul 08, 2007 3:32 pm

nice story radio rechearcher like miss saigon says the 're must be more off this story's published on the forum :biker:
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Re: Radio Research Chronicles

Postby RadioResearcher » Wed Nov 28, 2007 5:23 am

A truly bizarre and sickening video of the North Vietnamese delegation to the Joint Military Commission taking over Davis Station, the former headquarters of the 509th Radio Research Group (ASA's central command in Vietnam) at the end of the war.  I passed through Davis Station upon arrival in Vietnam, receiving orders to proceed up-country to Nha Trang and Chu Lai.  I find it hard to explain, but this enrages me.

-- RR

www.youtube.com Video from : www.youtube.com
Last edited by RadioResearcher on Wed Nov 28, 2007 5:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Radio Research Chronicles

Postby RadioResearcher » Wed Jan 09, 2008 8:57 pm

NSA RELEASES HISTORY OF AMERICAN SIGINT AND THE VIETNAM WAR

During the Vietnam War, North Vietnamese intelligence units sometimes succeeded in penetrating Allied communications systems, and they could monitor Allied message traffic from within. But sometimes they did more than that.

On several occasions "the communists were able, by communicating on Allied radio nets, to call in Allied artillery or air strikes on American units."

That is just one passing observation (at p. 392) in an exhaustive history of American signals intelligence (SIGINT) in the Vietnam War that has just been declassified and released by the National Security Agency.

From the first intercepted cable -- a 1945 message from Ho Chi Minh to Joseph Stalin -- to the final evacuation of SIGINT personnel from Saigon, the 500-page NSA volume, called "Spartans in Darkness," retells the history of the Vietnam War from the perspective of signals intelligence.

The most sensational part of the history (which was excerpted and disclosed by the NSA two years ago) is the recounting of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Incident, in which a reported North Vietnamese attack on U.S. forces triggered a major escalation of the war. The author demonstrates that not only is it not true, as Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara told Congress, that the evidence of an attack was "unimpeachable," but that to the contrary, a review of the classified signals intelligence proves that "no attack happened that night."

Several other important Vietnam War-era episodes are elucidated by the contribution of SIGINT, including the Tet Offensive, the attempted rescue of U.S. prisoners of war from Son Tay prison, and more.

The author, Robert J. Hanyok, writes in a lively, occasionally florid style that is accessible even to those who are not well-versed in the history of SIGINT or Vietnam.

The 2002 study was released in response to a Mandatory Declassification Review request filed by Michael Ravnitzky. About 95% of the document was declassified. (Unfortunately, several of the pages were poorly reproduced by NSA and are difficult to read. A cleaner, clearer copy will need to be obtained.)

See Spartans in Darkness: American SIGINT and the Indochina War, 1945-1975 by Robert J. Hanyok, Center for Cryptologic History, National Security Agency, 2002:  http://www.fas.org/irp/nsa/spartans/index.html
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Re: Radio Research Chronicles

Postby RadioResearcher » Sun Apr 06, 2008 8:15 pm

I submitted two photos from my Gallery for consideration in the photographic competition, "Memories from Viet Nam 1959-1975".  The competition is being sponsored by the Center of Vietnamese Arts and Culture in Garden Grove, CA, is exclusively for Viet Nam veterans, and benefits the Vietnamese-American Youth At-Risk Program.  Both of the photos below were selected for the exhibition, opening May 3, 2008 --

ImageImage
                                    "Polaroid Kids"                                                                              "Trash and Treasure"

My photos were taken with an early model Polaroid camera.  Imperfections result from the user developing and finishing the prints in the field, right out of the camera.  Photo #1, “Polaroid Kids”, shows a demonstration of this technology to children who were dependents of ARVN troops.  Photo #2, “Trash and Treasure”, was taken at the US forces dump at Chu Lai.  Local residents of the village of An Tan would use wood planks to scale the barbed wire perimeter fence in order to scavenge materials from which they built homes, shops, and other furnishings in the village.  The American soldier standing in the truck is a member of my unit.  I had long since forgotten his identity when an email arrived recently.  It was from this same soldier, who told me he had seen the posting of this on the internet and identified himself in the picture.

One of the judges for this competition is Huynh Cong Ut, also known as Nick Ut, a photographer for the Associated Press (AP) who works out of Los Angeles. His best-known photo is the picture of Phan Thi Kim Phuc, who was photographed as a naked 9-year-old girl running toward the camera to flee a South Vietnamese napalm attack on the Trang Bang village during the Vietnam War. After taking that photo, Ut rushed Kim Phuc to the hospital to save her life.  I feel honored to have my entries selected for exhibition by Mr. Ut and the other judges.

-- RR
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Re: Radio Research Chronicles

Postby Huyen » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:03 am

Way to go RR !  You know I love the pics.  Especially the kids :)
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Re: Radio Research Chronicles

Postby RadioResearcher » Sat May 03, 2008 7:01 pm

During my time in signals intelligence with the Army Security Agency (Radio Research in Vietnam), a primary mode of communication among target military units was manual morse code.  I analyzed many pages of morse traffic transcribed by our intercept operators in our intelligence collection activities.  This image represents the kind of target we were busy intercepting in Vietnam --

Image

It was an old communication technology, but ideal for sending both encrypted and unencrypted text traffic by radio.  Today, in the cyber age, it is generally thought of as outmoded, even antique.  The following from the Jay Leno show demonstrates how the technology and its operators may not be so creaky after all --

www.youtube.com Video from : www.youtube.com


As a footnote, here is a comment on the Leno contest from an Army retiree and former morse intercept operator --

Chip, K7JA and his buddy in the pix are well known high speed ops. From
listening to the Jay video you can tell they are running 18-20 wpm... reason so
slow was to be double sure they would beat the kids on the cell phone.

Chip and I talked this over on the QCWA Cruise to Alaska in 2005 .... the story
of how he went out and bought the green shades and his wife found garters for
the shirt so they would really play the part!

Chip can copy better than 50 wpm .... so even at "beginner" (haw) speed they
won.

MORSE RULES!


-- RR
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Re: Radio Research Chronicles

Postby RadioResearcher » Thu Jul 24, 2008 1:13 am

Image

The Crazy Cats

Image

The 1st Radio Research Company (Aviation) was an Army Security Agency airborne signals intelligence unit deployed to the Naval Air Station at Cam Ranh Bay in June 1967.  There was a good reason why an Army aviation unit was "on station" with the Navy.  They were flying a total of six converted P-2 Neptune aircraft - largely retired by the Navy after operation since 1945 - and only an NAS could provide the spare parts necessary to support operations.  The ASA configuration was designated RP-2E and was the largest aircraft in the Army fleet at the time.  Ground and air crews were trained at various NAS locations across the US, with SIGINT specialists obtained from the primary ASA training facility at Ft Devens, MA.

Originally promoted by Gen Westmoreland for electronic countermeasure (jamming) missions, the primary use was for HF and VHF COMINT collection.  Missions were flown all over Vietnam, with particular emphasis over the Ho Chi Minh trail.  Crazy Cat (later designated CEFLIEN LION) became ASA's most prolific airborne collector in Vietnam.

When the Crazy Cat company was stood down in 1972, it had accumulated 40,000 hours of accident free flying (although on Easter Sunday, 14 April 1969, enemy 37mm antiaircraft gunners scored a hit on an RP-2E, causing extensive damage to the aircraft).  By war's end, a total of 900 officers and men had worn the Crazy Cat patch.

www.youtube.com Video from : www.youtube.com


www.youtube.com Video from : www.youtube.com


www.youtube.com Video from : www.youtube.com
Last edited by RadioResearcher on Sat Jul 26, 2008 12:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Radio Research Chronicles

Postby RadioResearcher » Tue Nov 11, 2008 2:03 am

Image  403rd Radio Research Special Operations Detachment (Airborne)


Although not generally known, one of the Direct Support Units of the Army Security Agency (Radio Research) in Vietnam was actually Special Forces qualified.  These men made up the 403rd RR SOD (Abn) and arrived from Ft Bragg in September 1966 with a complement of 51 as a part of the restructuring of intelligence capabilities of the 5th Special Forces Group.  Although subordinate to the 509th Radio Research Group in Saigon, the 403rd headquarters was collocated in Nha Trang with 5th Special Forces HQ and its personnel were ultimately deployed across some 85 different locations in support of what would ultimately number 3500 5th SF personnel.  Obtaining linguist augmentees from the 330th RR Co and maintaining liaison with other Radio Research Collection Management Authorities, the 403rd provided mission-by-mission support to Special Forces units and played a much larger role than their small numbers might indicate.

The men of the 403rd were not only trained in SIGINT technical specialties, they also served as members of the Special Forces, performing duties as needed, based on operational conditions.  The following is an account of how three men of the 403rd participated in the defense of Duc Lap in August 1968.  This was originally printed in the official magazine of the Army Security Agency, The Hallmark:


403rd SOD: The Battle of Duc Lap

Duc Lap, Camp A-239, is a remote Special Forces camp located about 42 miles southwest of Ban Me Thuot, three miles from the Cambodian border. it is of critical importance because it sits aside a main enemy infiltration route.In addition to the three men of the 403rd SOD, the camp is occupied by a 12-man Special Forces detachment, a similar South Vietnamese Special Forces group, and 350 Montagnard tribesmen and their dependents.

Late one night last August the enemy decided they were going to take Duc Lap. They opened up on the camp with a barrage of heavy mortar, rocket, and small arms fire. The three men of the 403rd SOD manned their defensive positions.

SSG Hall and SGT Alward returned the fire with their 81mm mortar and continued firing until the barrel overheated. They quickly cooled the barrel with cold water and their hands and then fired again. This procedure was repeated throughout that long night. In the meantime, SP5 Childs, although earlier wounded by enemy mortar fire, began to guide the Montagnard dependents into the safety of the bunkers to encourage the men of the tribe to remain on the perimeter defense.

As daybreak arrived U.S. tactical aircraft began to pound the enemy positions. Bad weather conditions shrouded the targets, yet Air Force pilots flew dangerously low to give as much help as possible. During one strafing, an F-100 Super Sabre was shot down. The pilot ejected from the plane safely but parachuted down perilously close to enemy-controlled territory. SSG Hall, SGT Alward, and SP5 Childs joined other Special Forces soldiers to fight their way to the downed pilot. Through a rain of sniper fire, the pilot was escorted to the relative safety of the camp.

A chronological account of what followed is not possible. For the next three days and two nights, the defenders of Duc Lap faced incessant fire and repeated human wave of assaults.

Duc Lap is situated on two small hills. After repeated assaults, the enemy gained control of the north hill and most of the saddle between the two hills. At one time they were within 50 meters of the operations bunker on the south hill.

During one fierce assault on the perimeter of the camp, the Montagnard defenders drifted away from their positions. SP5 Childs rallied them back to the perimeter and led a 10-man force into the enemy held portion of the camp in an attempt to drive the enemy from the bunkers. SP5 Childs and a Vietnamese medic waded into hostile territory destroying enemy bunkers with hand grenades as they went. As the two continued their sweep, the Montagnards, who had been providing protective fire, were forced from their positions.

This left SP5 Childs and the medic alone in the face of an assaulting enemy squad. The young green beret single-handedly confronted the entire enemy squad and at a distance of five meters killed them with his M-16. The two men retreated up the hill but once on top noticed some enemy B-40 rockets and launchers abandoned on the side of the hill. Both men then went back down the hill and destroyed the rockets and launchers.

After the rockets were destroyed, the enemy resumed their fire. As the two allies went up the hill the medic was hit and fell less than half-way to the top. SP5 Childs made it to the top of the hill before he realized the medic had been wounded. Immediately, he descended the slope a third time. As SP5 Childs remarked later, "I couldn't lift him, I was just too beat to carry him and my equipment back up the hill." Instead, he returned to the top of the hill, stripped off all his equipment and descended once more carrying only his pistol, but now was repulsed by heavy enemy rifle fire. Two Vietnamese then volunteered to assist in the medic's rescue. As the two descended, SP5 Childs covered them with smoke grenades and a rain of .30 cal. machine-gun fire. The wounded medic was finally dragged to the relative safety of the perimeter.

As the fighting reached a fever pitch on the third day, a fresh group of Montagnard tribesmen fought their way into the camp to relieve the besieged Americans, South Vietnamese, and Montagnards. At the cost of half their force, the Montagnards helped recapture the North Hill and Duc Lap was held. When the fighting was over, nine U.S. and South Vietnamese Special Forces were wounded and more than 150 Montagnards were dead or wounded. The toll on the enemy was worse. More than 800 were killed during the three-day battle.

In addition to the Silver Star Medals, SSG Hall and SP5 Childs were awarded Purple Hearts for their actions. All three of the men were awarded Bronze Star Medals for Valor for their heroic actions. SP5 Childs had only five days left in country at the time of the battle.

The battle of Duc Lap is only one of many participated in by the men of the 403rd Special Operations Detachment. During the past two years this distinguished unit has received a host of awards and decorations for heroism in combat. Twenty-one of these 403rd SOD Green Berets have received the Purple Heart. One man gave his life.

The battle of Duc Lap, a place that few have ever heard of and even fewer will remember, graphically demonstrates that Radio Research soldiers have those characteristics vital to success in conflict - discipline and courage under fire.

SSG Danny Hall, SGT James Alward and SP5 Donald Childs, green berets of the 403rd SOD, personify the best of the U.S. Army.



Image
SP5 Donald Childs receives the Silver Star for his part in the defense of Duc Lap.  Also decorated are SSG Danny Hall and SGT James Alward.
(Photo:  The Most Secret War, Army Signals Intelligence in Vietam)


-- RR
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Re: Radio Research Chronicles

Postby RadioResearcher » Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:08 am

337th Radio Research Company
supporting the 1st Infantry Division

Image

View the full album HERE.


-- RR
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