involvement in Vietnam began in 1957 when a team from 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) started training members of the Army of the Republique of South Vietnam.  In 1965, a year after the deployment of the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Vietnam, nearly 50 Special Forces A-camps were operating, with half of them in VC/NVA controlled areas.  Due to their isolation and the lack of support from the few conventional US units in Vietnam, a “Reaction Force” was created to reinforce them.  


Mike Force units were Light Infantry battalions, equipped and trained to operate in remote areas without any significant logistical requirements or support.  Operation length did vary from 4/5 days to well over a month with Air Re-supply and Evacuation.

The Mike Forces were armed with WWII U.S. infantry weapons until mid-1967 when they started being issued with modern US weapons.

The Mike Forces were under control of each Special Forces C-Detachment. They were mostly used for reinforcement of A-camps under attack or under pressure of attack, but also conducted their own operations gathering intelligence, disrupting/eradicating VC/NVA activities in remote areas.  On some occasions they also conducted US and allied personnel recovery and bomb damage assessments. (*Bomb Damaged Assessment BDA over the border in Laos
and Cambodia were conducted by SOG teams
All the Mike Forces were USSF-led units with no Vietnamese Special Forces (LLDB) involvement. The exception to the rule was the 
“I and II**” Corps Mike Force, which had a combined USSF/AATTV (Australian Army Training Team Vietnam) A-teams.
(*The Pleiku Mike Force had AATTV - SAS attached to them)



By 1966, the “I” Corps C team had 2 Mike Force A-teams at its disposal:

A-113 formed in Aug 1965 Mobile Strike Force

A-100 formed in Sept 1966 Mobile Guerilla Force

Another Mobile Strike Force battalion A-111 was created in March 1967.   

In mid-1966, A-113 was relocating and rebuilding its own camp from the north side of the Da Nang C-Team compound (adjacent to MAG-16) to the south side facing Marble Mountain and adjacent to the trash dump.
Even though still in tents, A-113 was a fully functioning A-Team involved in combat operations throughout the “I” Corps area.  A-113 was a combined American/Australian team with 3 rifle companies in late 1966,
(one Rhade and one Koho Montagnards and one Nung from the Saigon Cholon area). 

One of A-113 company on parade, note Australian advisor on left hand side

(*South Vietnam was divided into four Military regions called Corps; the  “I” Corps was the most northern one)
All photographs courtesy of
Cpt V. R.Carter, I Corps MF,  A-113
XO/Acting CO, Aug 1966-Jan 1967 



Series of short films of the I CORPS MIKE FORCE taken by Cpt Stephen Perry late 1966 or early 1967 at Da Nang.

This is what Cpt Stephen Perry can remember about the filming, if anyone has more information or names of personnel in the film, 
please get in touch via the Gia Vuc website contact page.

<<Around late 1966 early 1967, The C-Det Commander decided that the Mike Force should be airborne qualified and had a short jump school set up. I can't remember names of the USSF personnel involved but I was the asst S-3 and had a small part in it.  I do remember the following.

*The qualifying jumps were made on a track coming from the ocean into a DZ near C-1, because of winds some of the jumpers drifted into the POW camp adjacent to C-1.

*Jumps were from Marine H-34 s.

LTC Lou Stein, C-1 Commander, made a demonstration jump for the mike force troops to watch. He made a stand up landing with no PLF. This  created some problems when the Nungs who had been trained to do a PLF decided to try for a stand up landing like LTC Stein.I remember we did have a few leg injuries from the training.

 Cpt S Perry>>



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Aerial view of  
DaNang Mike force compound, 
corrugated row of huts on the left hand side


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Another view of the MF compound 
in 196

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BAR gun training

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Weapon training

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Australian advisor with A-113

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"Morning call", Australian advisor in the forefront

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A-113 in the camp after its relocation, 
still living under canvass.

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A-113 Rhade company

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A-113 on operation, 
you can see in the foreground a 60mm mortar and 57mm recoilless riffle

1st MSF:  The boys in the summer of 1965, SSGT Loyd Little


The following are extracts from letters written from June-September, 1965, by SSGT Loyd Little. During this period, I was a medic assigned to B-16 in Danang , also known as I-Corps MSF.  In general, we went on long-range search-and-destroy and combat recon patrols in I Corps.   We had from 100 to 500 Chinese mercenaries (Nungs) on these patrols, which lasted from 1 to 3 weeks.  We often had 8-10 USSF, 2-5 Marines, and 1-5 Australians.  We generally had jet and helicopter gunship backup.


Ba To area operation – June 29 to July 14, 1965

        This was a search and destroy/recon operation around the A-team at Ba To, a new SF camp. On this patrol were 290 Nungs, 11 Americans (8 SF and 3 Marines), and 5 Australians.  The goal was a valley near Ba To known to be a VC battalion headquarters and a major food supply area.  It was also a suspected R&R center. 

We left Danang before dawn in about 30 choppers, a beautiful formation that curved long and up into a bleak, heavily overcast sky.  Every man was armed to the teeth, expecting the worst.  We were dropped off on two small bare patches on two hills overlooking the valley.  Each chopper hovered about five feet off the ground, just long enough to leap out.  No resistance on landing.

When the choppers lifted, we heard the screams of the big F104 jets that were bombing and strafing the four villages in the valley below us.  Here’s the irony:  Four days earlier, the Air Force dropped leaflets giving details of the coming bombing and advising civilians to leave and go to one of the two nearby SF camps – Ba To and Gia Vuc.  We were about midway between the camps, roughly 6-10 miles to each.  Later intelligence showed that most of the VC got the word.  Most had pulled out of the valley at 7:45 a.m. And the first jets hit at 8 a.m.

We began slithering and hacking our way through the elephant grass as the jets continued bombing.  They must have been using bombs as big as the 750 pounders for the grass and vines around us shook noticeably every time the bombs hit.  The jets used napalm, standard TNT , and 20mm rockets.  The air strikes continued without letup for 90 minutes; another one of those times when I said, there couldn’t possibly be anything left alive. 

We formed in two elements (I was in the security element) and headed into the valley.  Leading our element was a wonderfully crazy Australian warrant officer (a Mr. Jim McFaggett—not sure of spelling).  He carried a pop-open black umbrella (!), which he used to keep the sun off, point out directions of travel, and to ward off mosquitoes and bugs.  He marched along, waving the umbrella over his head in tight, small circles, muttering to himself about the bloody Americans and the bloody Vietnamese. 

We had been told that this valley had once been the home of about 6,500 Hre Montagnards and was considered one of the richest valleys in Vietnam .  We saw beautifully built and maintained rice paddies, bananas, pineapples and jackfruit (a type of grapefruit) everywhere for the picking.  The hills offered lemons, limes, a type of cherry and a type of fig. The Hre are one of the large subgroups of the Montagnards with an estimated 150,000 people.  Most do not have the epicanthal eye fold, and most have a straight, short nose, not the flatter nose of most Vietnamese.  Most adults (especially the older) have had their front teeth either filed down or broken off, a tribal custom. A few still speak some French, and French genes are visible in some who have white skin and some who have red hair.

Briefing notes

Three years ago, we had been told, the VC moved into the area—typical techniques of kidnapping, threats, fear—and began using it as a safe center and for food supply.  At that time a SF A-team was sent in.  [I think this was an earlier Ba To team; the Army SF book cites a team inserted into the Ba To area in 1962 and a “new” Ba To camp established in March, 1965.]   At any rate, the earlier SF team recruited 300 Hre and within six months, the valley was pacified.  The SF team built dispensaries, several village meeting houses, latrines and two schools.  Eight months after that the A-team was withdrawn, the Hre guerilla force was disbanded, and an ARVN battalion moved in. 

Things were so peaceful that the ARVN battalion was withdrawn and security became a hundred or so Hre PF (Popular Forces) in scattered outposts.  Our briefing officer said that over the next nine months, the VC began their old tactics again, and the valley being isolated and peaceful received no outside help. 

By the end of 1964, the VC completely controlled the valley, promising the Hre that no Americans could harm them.  We were told that no patrol from either of the two nearby SF camps had been able to penetrate into the valley in the last 9 months. Air recon showed well-fortified trenches and walls around the valley.  The population of the valley was estimated at around 3,000 at the time of our operation.


Heavily fortified

We found the four villages heavily fortified with fields of punji stakes and mortar pits surrounded by rock walls, machine gun bunkers and more.  As we began moving through, we estimated that about 800 people had decided to ride out the attack in the villages.  Mostly women, children and elderly.  Few young men, of course.  They would be VC by choice or force.  We knew everyone had gotten the word—our leaflets still littered the ground.  We found about 10 civilians killed by the bombing.  That’s easier to say that babies burned by napalm or old men blown into pieces beyond recognition.  About 20 civilians wounded. 

We received occasional fire as we moved in but no organized resistance.

By 10 a.m. , we had six of the big choppers on the ground lifting the wounded and the feeble out.   The rest we sent packing.  We pointed them in the direction of Ba To with promises of food and water there.  Ba To was 6-8 rocky, hard miles away, especially so when you’re carrying what’s left of a life on your back.

We had a positive dozen VC killed and an estimated 30 more killed by helicopters hop-scotching around the perimeters of the valley.  We found many tunnels, mostly empty.  The assault element found one tunnel with perhaps six people in it. After an hour of pleading with those inside to come out, grenades were tossed in.


Medical complex found

A number of rice caches were found. My element found a VC hospital, a VC dispensary, and a medical supply warehouse in 9-room, sprawling partially concrete villa.  I catalogued cases of medical supplies, some of the very best that Uncle Sam makes as well as some French.   By the way, when we went charging into the villa, we found a young girl and an old women calmly eating lunch at a table.  The young girl admitted to being a nurse.  We gave them a few minutes to collect their belongings and aimed them at Ba To. 

I found tunnels containing mostly medical supplies.  I inventoried the supplies and collected samples of different kinds for proof. Then we set fire to the entire complex.  Beds, farming tools, medical supplies, food stuffs, Buddha and his altar -- all up in smoke. As it burned, I thought about the irony that Special Forces had originally helped supply this hospital, trained this nurse, and given her the knowledge and the medicine for her people. 

By late afternoon, all the villages were leveled. Smoke mingled with fog rolling down the mountain sides.  During the day, we had continued to receive sniping snots from hills, but nothing serious.

Our Nungs were now carrying plenty of live and dead poultry.   Over there is a Nung gunner, lean and hard with grenades and ammo tied all over himself, and peeking over his shoulder, looking at us is a live, huge goose tied into his rucksack. In one house, one of our Nungs found a beautiful old yellow Singer foot-operated sewing machine. He was carrying the upper part and another solder was carrying the wooden base.  Someone else found a dozen new sets of brightly colored underwear, one of the prize finds of the day.  A few soldiers picked up Hre spears and baskets.


Heading for Ba To

As the shadows began to lengthen, we began marching toward Ba To, eventually catching up to the refugees.   There were about 700 people and 30 water buffalo on the trail.  Mostly women, children and elderly.  One woman carried a baby who she had given birth to only three days earlier.  A few asked for water; we had plenty and gave what was needed. The other SF camp reported about 600 people arrived there over the next several days.  We helilifted 400 or so to the two camps.  The rest of the people?  Into the hills, probably to come back to the rubble later to cut up the dead buffalo and salvage what they could. 

Thus, in one day, we had created two new “New Life Hamlets,” the current appellation for winning the hearts and the minds.  It’s easy to be sarcastic.  But what were the options?   The Vietnamese government had had a chance when the valley was pacified but had done nothing during that time in the way of support or supplies or helping build a future for these people.   

These Hre will live a more secure life in the shanty rows of the refugee villages around Ba To, but they will be considerably poorer, not only having lost their homes and livestock but a future as well.  Ba To now houses about 5,000 people crowded into a small flat area near the SF camp.  Some travel the two to six miles every day to work what’s left of their rice fields.  Most just sit and chew betel nut and stare into the distance. 

The A-team at Ba To was freshly there, having arrived less than four months ago.  Still eating off C-ration cases, living in tents, bathing in Ba Mui Ba cans, etc.  The typical problems of A-teams seem congealed here: no skilled labor, very bad relations with district chief, arguments between SF, ARVN, etc. 


We ambush ourselves  

We rested two days and then took off for a sweep around three of the larger mountains around Ba To.  Elephant grass is a cute name for a nasty grass.  It’s 5 to 10 feet tall and the blades are huge and knife sharp.  The first four feet are enmeshed in stuff that creates the consistency of packed hay and just as difficult to go through.  The grass seems about 20 degrees hotter than eight feet above you.  No one can travel more than 10 minutes in the stuff without stopping and trying to find air somewhere. It’s suffocating.  Trampled down, it’s like walking on ice.

The third morning out, we ambushed ourselves.  We were on a narrow saddle between two mountaintops.  A trail so narrow that two feet from each side were near sheer droops of 50-100.    We were almost to the top of other mountain when an automatic opened up on us.  Bullets whapping by, slapping the elephant grass.  I was eighth man from the front, lying down now and thinking that this was a good place to ambush us. 

Another round of automatic fire came by me. Much too close.  I rolled over to the other side of the trail. Our boys got a machine gun going at last.  We couldn’t see a damn thing.  Within minutes, the firing stopped and Chinese words were shouted back and forth. 

No VC. 

It was Nungs. 

Our own men. 

We finally figured out what had happened.  Our four lead men had taken a wrong turn about 600 feet back, later realized their error and turned to try and find us again.  We had met at right angles near the top, and they, hearing troops, had opened fire. 

Later, one of our Nungs almost shot his nose off.   We stopped for a break and suddenly there was a shot and a scream.  We all dived our guns.  I went rushing through the jungle and found a Nung holding his nose with blood streaming through his fingers.  It turned out that when he stopped he had shrugged off his backpack and set his gun down against a tree a little too hard.  The gun went off while he was leaning over; he had not put the safety on.  The bullet just grazed the side of his nose.  We gave him much grief about that.


A close call

On the fourth day out, we entered a known VC village.  Planes had been shot at from the village.  Found no one and burned it to the ground.  Later, we received fire from a small village across a river and our Aussie leader decided to call in artillery (105s, I think) from camp. (I’m not sure which camp.)  The first round hit on our side of the river, and we started backing up.  The second round was even shorter, and we hit the ground. The third round – they were white phosphorous – landed 50 feet in front of us. 

If it had been an air burst, an entire platoon would have gone up in flames.  As it was, it landed in a rice paddy and went off underwater, blasting straight upward.  The Aussie was calling “cease fire” on the radio even as we moved out smartly in case they had already fired the next 3 rounds. 

Later that day as we were about two miles from camp, we made contact again. It was in the exact same area where eight men have been killed by snipers over the past three months.  We were crossing rice paddies beside a river.  Small mountains close on each side on the river.  I was in the lead platoon, and we were about to cross the river to sweep down that side.  Suddenly, a machine gun opened up on us from the jungle of green about 150 yards up a hill across the river from us.  Our Nungs were ready for this kind of shit. In less than a minute, we had four 60 mm mortars dropping shells on the hill, three of our machine guns were raking the jungle, and a couple hundred carbines opened up. 

Under all this covering fire, our platoon didn’t even hesitate but started across the river.  Within a few minutes, the VC broke off (or maybe were killed).  We brought a second platoon across the river and began to cut and crawl through the punji stakes and vines as we looked for them.  The two other platoons remained on the other side the river to cover us.  Then, the expert VC sniper struck once again. A single shot from the other side of the river.  The bullet caught a Nung in the head. Dead before he hit the ground.  In front of the Nung was the other SF medic and behind the Nung was one of the Australians. Later, I discovered that a bullet had gone through my rucksack at some point during the fighting.

We eventually returned to Ba To.  The C-team was strapped for Nungs, having sent a company out to an A-Team having a spot of trouble, so choppers came and picked up a company of ours to reinforce the C-team.  We spent another week at Ba To, running short patrols up and around the mountains around the camp.  Found little.   Returned to Danang.


Interlude in Danang

Notes from Danang:  Other 1st MFS medics and myself held sick call for our Nungs every afternoon.  We also ran medic courses for the Nung medics.  

From Aug. 10-12, VC probed the Danang airfield.  The first night, a suicide VC squad of about 10 with satchel bombs got onto the airfield that is about 300 yards just south of us.  The 3rd Marine squadron opened fire, and unfortunately across the airfield the 10th Marine infantry returned the fire.  Then Air Force security began firing at both.  Two VC KIA. One plane slightly damaged by a bomb.  We never heard about US casualties from friendly or enemy fire.


Operation near Laos – July 27-Aug. 5

This was a combat recon patrol at the Laotian border.  On this mission were 100 Nungs, two Marines, four American and one Australian, who was in charge. The Aussie was the same Mr. McFaggett who commanded our element on the longer Ba To operation.  Our mission was to enter an area only two miles from the Laotian border and sweep back through several valleys that no one, not even Vietnamese, had been in for about three years.  It was believed to be one of the entry areas into Vietnam from the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos .

 Helicopters dropped us off just after dawn in a potato patch.  The choppers circled clockwise and followed each other down in single file to shove 8-10 men out as the young Marines on the choppers’ machine guns looked a bit antsy.  The ninth chopper took the only hits of the day after it had unloaded, but limped back to safety to Danang.  Overhead, four 104 jets raked the area around us with 40-mm machine guns.  The jets weren’t bombing because, so we had been briefed, it was too close to the Laotian border.  Take your eyes off the compass for two seconds and you’re over another country.  We also had armed Hueys hedge-hopping while we landed.

As soon as we hit the ground, we began to get sniping fire.  The jets raced in and out firing at the hill from which the snipping had come.  After unloading us, the Hueys fired their machine guns practically in all directions and loosed their paired rockets at anything suspicious.  Above all these aircraft were two prop-driven spotter planes.  The planes reported considerable enemy movement out of trenches moving away from us about a half mile away. 

McFaggett moved us quickly off the LZ.  Our first real action came two hours later when we crossing the Roc Lao River .  Our lead squad crossed the river and just as they reached the other bank, they walked up on two VC.  Our boys got the drop on them and bullets hit one in the chest and leg and nicked the other. The one carried the other off into the brush.  Our Nungs followed blood for several hundred yards, but it was in the opposite direction, and we called them back.  We recovered a 1960 Russian carbine, ammunition, and hat.

Throughout this patrol, the VC fired an occasional shot at some distance.  We knew these were merely spotting rounds, letting other VC know where we were.  We paid no attention to them. However, one of the Marines was a young corporal fresh to Vietnam from the states.  Every time a spotting round was fired, he hit the ground and began crawling on elbows and knees.  We stood and watched him as the Nungs pointed at him in amazement.  After a couple days, he relaxed and got into the swing of things.


Open field ambush

We spend the night on the top of a sharp hill -- so steep that I tied one end of my hammock (created with parachute cord and my SF jungle blanket) at the ground level of one tree and the other end about six feet up a tree, in order to keep the hammock level.  Leeches were bad in the area.  At every stop, I squired mosquito repellent on them, which caused them to curl up and drop off.  Even so, blood continued to flow from where they had attached themselves. 

At one point, one of our American lieutenants called for me.  He was in a near panic.  A large leach had attached itself to his balls and his shorts were dripping with blood.  I got the leech off and poured a bit of hydrogen peroxide on his balls.  That got him hopping around,  much to the delight of the Nungs.  Then, I wrapped a handful of gauze carefully around his balls.  He walked funny the rest of the patrol.

We were high enough that the next morning we could see clearly down into the valley.  We spotted a handful of VC in the valley, too far away to shoot and moving away from us.  Three hours later, we were skirting the edge of a cleared field.  Evidence showed that these valleys were once heavily cultivated with corn, potatoes, grapefruit, and bananas.  We also found old animal traps.  But little farming in the last four years.  Perhaps a fifth of the land was being used now and it was used covertly. 

We were making a turn around a fallow field when a submachine gun opened on our lead element.  Although we were in elephant grass, we were visible from five or six sharp little hills around us.  The tall grass around me rippled with bullets as though a breeze were cutting through it.  Finally, our M-79 (grenades) man began to fire back, giving us enough cover to get organized and get those beautiful gallons of Nung bullets firing back.  I grabbed the Nung who was carrying my main medical pack and ran to the front element.  No casualties.  We caught glimpses of VC hot-footing it off into the distance. 

We were similarly ambushed three more times this day.  Each time just as ineffectual. The VC were using small caliber machine guns at a great distance and clearly needed some target practice.  They used cover beautifully, but seemed untrained in the specifics of guerilla warfare.


Night mortar attack

We camped that night again on a high hill.  And at 2 a.m. , it began frighteningly clear the VC had a good idea of where we were.  We heard a distant “whump, whump, whump.”  A mortar being fired.  I rolled out of the hammock, grabbing my carbine off my ruckscack as I hit the ground.  The first three rounds landed far down our hill.  The next three were further up the hill.  The VC steadily walked their mortar (which sounded like a 60 mm), three at a time, up the hill toward us.  There was nothing we could do.  I lay on my stomach and pulled my rucksack over my head.  The shells walked right by, no more than 50 feet away.  But with the jungle as thick as it was, we only heard the crashing explosions.

The next morning was full of rain.   About 10 a.m. , we were in thick elephant grass about half way up a small hill.  We stopped for a break.  I was pouring mosquito repellent on the dozens of leeches crawling up my boots, when suddenly a grenade exploded 30 feet away.  Before I could move, a submachine gun opened up on us from a hill directly across from us.  The bullets were a little high, whap whapping overhead. 

Again, that frustration of not seeing where the shots were coming from.  We fired haphazardly at dark spots and clumps and trees on the other side.  The VC broke off in about 10 minutes.  Our only wounded was a Nung who had caught grenade fragments in one hand.  I checked him and bandaged his hand; it was pretty torn up.  Gave him a shot of morphine. 

We crossed toward the hill where the shooting had come from, and as we were about half way up it, more serious gunfire began from the hill we had just left.  Our Nungs calmly set up two .30 machine guns and began raking the hill, giving us cover to reach the top of this hill.  After about an hour, we had the entire company on top of the hill although we were still getting occasional fire.  It became clear that VC were on 3-4 hills surrounding ours.  It was also clear that the VC were lousy shots for the most part. 


Escape from the hill

Mr. McFaggett called for Hueys and by noon , a half dozen flew in like giant mosquitoes and began throwing rockets and bullets on the hills around us.  We were higher than the VC, but as the Hueys proved we were also surrounded.  The Hueys were taking fire from all directions.  We could see, through binoculars, some hits.  Over there a half dozen VC were running through the trees just after a rocket attack.  A handful headed down that other hill. One Huey dropped us two parachutes of food supplies, although we really weren’t all that low yet. 

There was no need to conceal ourselves now, so our boys cooked big lunches as the Hueys flew around.  One side of our hill was especially thick with jungle, so that afternoon we began hacking a tunnel through the vines.  Later that day we snuck off  the mountain, having received only a few sniping rounds as we crawled through our tunnel.

The fourth day (we were about half way to the SF camp) were fairly uneventful.  At one point Mr. McFaggett and the point man suddenly walked up on a VC about 15 feet away.  They all stood there, stunned, for about two seconds.  The VC fired twice just as both McFaggett and the point man fired.  The VC was hit and flipped over the side of the trail down a ravine.  We didn’t search to the bottom of the ravine. 

The last three days were quiet.  Occasional sniping, lots of punji stakes; I treated several Nungs for punji injuries.  The closer we got to the SF camp, the more evidence we found of regular North Vietnamese Army:  several cases of Russian ammunition, a case of American .30 ammo, spare rifle parts, rice caches, and empty but new and clearly being used houses.  We were flown out of the camp by Caribous. I don’t have a camp name in my notes, but I think the SF camp was Kham Duc, about the only SF camp that close to Laos in that area.

I went on other 1st MFS missions and they were similar to these, which I had the most notes on.  --30--


Thanks to SSGT Loyd Little, B-16 and Senior Medic A-113 Gia Vuc

History Channel Mike Force video can be viewed:


The A-113 Mike force display is part of the Gia Vuc Tribute display 
which is in the memory of all USSF who served in Vietnam, 
especially those who paid the ultimate price.

This years display "2001" is dedicated to one individual SFC Charles Lindewald 
who served in Gia Vuc in 1967 and was listed MIA
while he was serving with the 1st Mike Force during the battle
of Lang Vei  A-Camp in February 1968.

For more details on the Mike Force please visit

 http://www.mikeforcehistory.org  or  http://www.homestead.com/VirgilCarter

I Corps Mike Force Facebook page
Cpt Virgil Carter has started a Facebook page, loads of stuff  and an up-coming page  looking at its content.


Go to the Green Beret website

 Steve Sherman the  archivist for 
 the Special Forces and Special Operations Associations  
 Need your help!