I'm still not convinced that Mad Dog died that day, since there was a huge bounty on his head, why would they (COSVN, NVA VC, who gave him the moniker, Mad Dog ) not have gladly publicized his demise? A mystery to me.
Brown, Jim Morris and John L. Plaster, with Paul Longgrear
ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may
not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to
share this book with another person, please purchase an additional
copy for each person. If you’re reading this book and did not
purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please
return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for
respecting the hard work of this author.
If you read much
fiction about Vietnam, or even watch movies about it, chances are
you’ll frequently bump into a character who has become a stereotype
of the subgenre. This stereotype was rarely, if ever, seen in film or
fiction before Vietnam.
The character is
eccentric on his good days; psychotic the rest of the time. He is
almost oblivious to regulations, protocol, rank and military
traditions. He wouldn’t last a day in a professional military
force…if he wasn’t such an effective killing machine in the bush.
He is almost a
super-soldier when in the field. He’s got the hearing and smell of
a dog, the vision of an eagle and the lives of a cat. His instincts
are far beyond Sgt. Rock’s “combat antenna.” He’s fearless in
battle, probably because there’s nobody as scary as him on the
battlefield. He’s rarely seen in garrison, but when he is, he’s a
peacetime/rear echelon sergeant-major’s nightmare.
In short, he’s not so
much a soldier as a warrior. And he’s probably as insane as the
Vietnam War itself. At least he seems so to your average civilian.
Turns out this
stereotype had an archetype…or prototype, if you will.
character is strikingly similar to (or perhaps a caricature of) the
real-life special operators on the SOG teams and various
reconnaissance projects in Vietnam. And the most legendary (and
archetypal) of those operators was Jerry “Mad Dog” Shriver.
Paul Longgrear, who
served with Shriver and wore his Montagnard bracelet for years after
Vietnam, says, “To have met Shriver did not necessarily
mean you KNEW Shriver.”
Often the cold mo-fos
in combat are milquetoast or even couch potato-looking individuals.
But Mad Dog’s eyes tended to give people an accurate impression of
his personality. Longgrear went on to say of Shriver, “I figured he
had an Oriental mom. His dad was retired AF. His eyes were squinty
and hollow, almost cold blooded.”
This was not the
“Thousand-Yard Stare” you may have heard about. Mad Dog wasn’t
spaced-out or oblivious to anything going on around him. By all
accounts he remained sharp and focused right to the end. But more on
that a little later.
Earlier in 2012 I read
Above and Beyond, a novel of Vietnam written by Special Forces
Vietnam veteran Jim Morris. I encountered another of these
whacked-out warrior characters while reading it, this one named
“Shoogie.” In a subsequent interview with the author, I asked who
Shoogie was based on. That’s how I was introduced to the legend of
It’s a legend worth
passing on. I’ll start with a dialog, of sorts, between me and Jim
JIM: …I was surprised
to learn that you were unacquainted with the legend of Mad Dog
First let me put this
guy in context:
In the Spring of ’68
I was IO (PAO) of the 5th SFGA in Nha Trang, RVN. A couple of guys
came into my offices to visit one of my NCOs. I had never met
soldiers quite like them. Added to their basic uniform was the oddest
collection of gear and barbaric ornamentation I had yet encountered.
They were lean and rangy. Their berets clung to their heads at an
angle that screamed “Fuck You!” Multiple Montagnard bracelets
clinked up and down their arms as they moved about.
One had a beaded Sedang
necklace tight around his neck. Their watches were mounted on black
leather cuffs with a black cover snapped over the face of the watch
to prevent its glow from giving away their position. One wore a
locally purchased Bowie knife hammered out of a truck spring that was
the size of a small machete.
Turned out they were
from SF recon Project Omega at Ban Me Thuot. They were hard dudes and
projected a very clear don’t-give-a-shit attitude. All my
subsequent contacts with recon were somewhat peripheral.
(HANK: For those not
familiar with the acronyms, jargon and military breakdown, RVN was
the Republic of Vietnam, or simply “South Vietnam.” The US Army
was and is an enormous organization, all built around its chess
pieces, or “combat arms”: infantry; artillery; armor/cavalry;
engineers; aviation; etc. Then there were the elite Airborne units
for special missions. Within the Airborne were units like the LRRPs,
Rangers, and “Green Berets.” 5th SFG—Special Forces Group—was
the unit in which both Jim Morris and SFC Bob Krahn [best damn
platoon sergeant I ever knew, to whom I dedicated my first novel,
Hell and Gone] fought in Vietnam. 5th SFG was special in both name
and mission. They practiced unconventional warfare; and pretty much
unconventional everything. They were not just elite warriors, but
intelligent men in units that valued their intelligence rather than
trying to crush it out of them. If the Special Forces mission wasn’t
dangerous enough for you, you could step up yet another notch to a
recon unit such as Project Omega, or the SOG teams which followed
Charlie and the NVA across the borders of Laos, Cambodia and North
JIM: I was assigned as
trial counsel on a special court martial for negligent homicide. It
was generally agreed that the defendant had got his break already
with a special court. But, while I nailed him with a guilty verdict,
factors extended in mitigation and extenuation resulted in a sentence
of a two-grade bust and a two hundred dollar fine. That’s pretty
light for murder.
The defendant was an
SFC (Sergeant First Class), recon guy at CCC (Command and Control
Central, a SOG project) in Kontum. He had been drinking in the club
all afternoon with some chopper pilots and had gone to get his pistol
to drive them back to town. Just as he was passing the screened
window in the passage that connected the barracks area with the club,
the victim, also drunk, had driven up, got out, pointed at the
defendant and said, “HAW! HAW! HAW! You cudn hit shit w’that
To which the defendant
replied, “I could hit you, motherfucker,” and promptly drew and
blew his lights out.
He insisted that he was
sure he didn’t have a round in the chamber and that he had been
aiming to the side of the defendants head, and was vastly surprised
to have killed him. It was also entered in extenuation and mitigation
that the defendant was pending a direct commission at the time. And
that it was the custom in CCC at that time to sit around in the club,
get shitfaced, and shoot rats out of the eaves with automatic
weapons. Welcome to recon.
HANK: That’s pretty
Wild West—sounds like a Billy the Kid story. I did some pretty dumb
stuff, but thankfully I never talked trash to shitfaced operators
with loaded weapons.
JIM: At a later date I
was in the A Shau Valley with Project Delta’s reaction force when
we discovered some commo wire and sent for a recon team trained in
wiretap which came from CCN (Command and Control North), another SOG
project, in fact the most dangerous of all the recon projects, with,
at one time, a 115% annual casualty rate. The two Americans with the
wiretap team, were, of course, crazy people, but their indige were
from another planet.
Their leader, a warrant
officer, was very together, but one of the others was playing the
role to an amazing degree, having dyed his patrol hat black and
starched it so it looked like Jack Palance’s hat in Shane. He also
wore black leather gloves at all times. Another of the indige was
badly pockmarked and giggled incessantly. They were all highly amused
by the reaction company I was with because we wore helmets, and there
were too many of us to make it worthwhile to paint our faces. We got
in firefights while they were with us and lost people, but the recon
guys treated the whole thing as a lark.
HANK: A lot of people
might assume it was the war that turned those guys into lunatics, but
I wonder if they weren’t that way already, and the war just gave
them opportunity to turn their wolf loose. This is not an original
thought, of course. Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now mused something
similar about Chef, for instance. Guys like Shriver really make me
JIM: I never met
Shriver, but I did meet a staff sergeant who looked to be about
fourteen at a party at the Nha Trang Mike Force one evening. We were
talking tactics and I guess something I said impressed him because he
kissed me on the ear and said, “Y’know, motherfucker, I like
As a captain I found
this surprising. Later I figured out that he was Baby-San Davidson,
Shriver’s assistant patrol leader.
HANK: This Davidson
sounds a lot like your Shoogie character, actually.
JIM: Almost every recon
team leader was a legend of sorts. Dick Meadows, who later
infiltrated Tehran to recon the ill-fated Iran raid, was one. Another
was MOH winner Bob Howard, who once jumped out of the jungle at night
to run alongside an NVA truck convoy and lob a claymore into the back
of a truck with about fifty NVA in it, crank it off, and dive back in
the jungle. He got no award for that at all, just a bump in his
But Shriver was the
recon man’s recon man, their living legend. Well, he was that for
years, then he was just their legend.
HANK: With his
permission, I’m including an excerpt from John L. Plaster’s book,
SOG: The Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam, which tells
Jerry Shriver’s story.
THE UNTOLD TRUE STORY
OF MAD DOG SHRIVER:
Mad Dog led dozens of
covert missions into Laos & Cambodia until his luck ran out.
By Maj. John L.
Plaster, USAR (Ret.)
There undoubtedly was
not a single recon man in SOG more accomplished or renowned than Mad
In the late 1960s, no
Special Forces trooper at Ft. Bragg even breathed those top secret
letters, "S-O-G," but everyone had heard of the legendary
Studies and Observations Group Green Beret recon team leader,
Sergeant First Class Jerry Shriver, dubbed a "mad dog" by
Radio Hanoi. It was Jerry Shriver who'd spoken the most famous
rejoinder in SOG history, radioing his superiors not to worry that
NVA forces had encircled his tiny team. "No, no," he
explained, "I've got 'em right where I want 'em -- surrounded
from the inside."
Fully decked out, Mad
Dog was a walking arsenal with an imposing array of sawed-off shotgun
or suppressed submachine gun, pistols, knives and grenades. "He
looked like Rambo," First Sergeant Billy Greenwood thought.
Blond, tall and thin, Shriver’s face bore chiseled features around
piercing blue eyes. "There was no soul in the eyes, no emotion,"
thought SOG Captain Bill O’Rourke. "They were just eyes."
By early 1969, Shriver
was well into his third continuous year in SOG, leading top secret
intelligence gathering teams deep into the enemy’s clandestine
Cambodian sanctuaries where he’d teased death scores of times.
Unknown to him, however, forces beyond his control at the highest
levels of government in Hanoi and Washington were steering his fate.
The Strategic Picture
Every few weeks of
early 1969, the docks at Cambodia's seaport of Sihanoukville bustled
with East European ships offloading to long lines of Hak Ly Trucking
Company lorries. Though ostensibly owned by a Chinese businessman,
the Hak Ly Company's true operator was North Vietnam's Trinh Sat
clandestine cargo of rockets, small arms ammunition and mortar rounds rolled overnight to the
heavily jungled frontier of Kampong Cham Province just three miles
from the border with South Vietnam, a place the Americans had
nicknamed the Fishhook, where vast stockpiles sustained three full
enemy divisions, plus communist units across the border inside South
Vietnam -- some 200,000 foes.
Sihanouk was well aware of these neutrality violations; indeed, his
fifth wife, Monique, her mother and half-brother were secretly
peddling land rights and political protection to the NVA; other
middlemen were selling rice to the NVA by the thousands of tons.
Hoping to woo Sihanouk away from the communists, the Johnson
Administration had watched passively while thousands of GIs were
killed by communist forces operating from Cambodia, and not only did
nothing about it, but said nothing--even denied it was happening.
And now, each week of
February and March 1969, more Americans were dying than lost in the Persian
Gulf War, killed by NVA forces that struck quickly then fled back
Combined with other
data, SOG's Cambodian intelligence appeared on a top secret map which National
Security Adviser Henry Kissinger studied aboard Air Force One at
Brussels airport the morning of 24 February 1969. Sitting with
Kissinger was Colonel Alexander Haig, his military assistant, while
representing the president was White House Chief of Staff H.R. "Bob"
Haldeman. During the new administration's transition, President Nixon
had asked Kissinger to determine how to deal with the Cambodian
buildup and counter Hanoi's "fight and talk" strategy.
While President Nixon
addressed NATO's North Atlantic Council, those aboard Air
Force One worked out
details for a clandestine U.S. response: The secret bombing of
Cambodia's most remote sanctuaries, which would go unacknowledged
unless Prince Sihanouk protested. When Air Force One departed
Brussels, Kissinger briefed President Nixon, who approved the plan
but postponed implementing it. Over the coming three weeks, Nixon
twice warned Hanoi, "we will not tolerate attacks which result
in heavier casualties to our men at a time that we are honestly
trying to seek peace at the conference table in Paris." The day
after Nixon's second warning, the NVA bombarded Saigon with 122mm
rockets obviously smuggled through Cambodia. Three days later, Nixon
turned loose the B-52s on the Fishhook, the first secret Cambodian
raid, which set off 73 secondary explosions.
A Special SOG Mission
Not one peep eminated
from Phnom Penh or Hanoi and here was a fitting irony: For four years
the North Vietnamese had denied their presence in Cambodia, and now,
with U.S. bombs falling upon them, they could say nothing. Nixon
suspended further B-52 strikes in hopes Hanoi's negotiators might
begin productive discussions in Paris, but the talks droned on
To demonstrate that
America, too, could "talk and fight," President Nixon
approved a second secret B-52 strike, this time against a target
proposed by General Creighton Abrams with Ambassador Bunker's
endorsement: COSVN, the Central Office for South Vietnam, the almost
mythical Viet Cong headquarters which claimed to run the whole war.
An NVA deserter had pinpointed the COSVN complex 14 miles southeast
of Memot, Cambodia, in the Fishhook, just a mile beyond the South
The COSVN raid was laid
on for 24 April.
Apprised of the
upcoming B-52 strike, Brigadier General Philip Davidson, the MACV J-
2, thought that instead of just bombing COSVN, a top secret SOG
raiding force should hit the enemy headquarters as soon as the bombs
stopped falling. He phoned Colonel Steve Cavanaugh, Chief SOG, who
agreed and ordered the Ban Me Thuot-based Command and Control South,
CCS, to prepare a Green Beret-led company of Montagnard mercenaries
for the special mission.
At CCS, the historic
COSVN raid fell upon its most accomplished man, that living recon
legend, Mad Dog Shriver, and Captain Bill O'Rourke. Though O'Rourke
would command the company-size raiding force, Shriver equally would
influence the operation, continuing an eight-month collaboration
they’d begun when they ran recon together.
Mad Dog -- the Man and
There was no one at CCS
quite like Mad Dog Shriver. Medal of Honor recipient Jim Fleming, who
flew USAF Hueys for SOG, found Shriver, "the quintessential
warrior-loner, anti-social, possessed by what he was doing, the best
team, always training, constantly training."
Shriver rarely spoke
and walked around camp for days wearing the same clothes. In his
sleep he cradled a loaded rifle, and in the club he'd buy a case of
beer, open every can, then go alone to a corner and drink them all.
Though he'd been awarded a Silver Star, five Bronze Stars and the
Soldiers Medal, the 28-year old Green Beret didn’t care about
But he did care about
the Montagnard hill tribesmen, and spent all his money on them, even
collected food, clothes, whatever people would give, to distribute in
Yard villages. He was the only American at CCS who lived in the
Montagnard barracks. "He was almost revered by the Montagnards,"
companion was a German shepherd he'd brought back from Taiwan which
he named Klaus. One night Klaus got sick on beer some recon men fed
him and crapped on the NCO club floor; they rubbed his nose in it and
threw him out. Shriver arrived, drank a beer, removed his blue velvet
smoking jacket and derby hat, put a .38 revolver on a table, then
dropped his pants and defecated on the floor. "If you want to
rub my nose in this," he dared, "come on over."
Everyone pretended not to hear him; one man who'd fed Klaus beer
urged the Recon Company commander to intervene. The captain laughed
in his face.
"He had this way
of looking at you with his eyes half-open," recon man Frank
Burkhart remembers. "If he looked at me like that, I'd just
Shriver always had been
different. In the early 1960s, when Rich Ryan served with him in the
7th Army's Long Range Patrol Company in Germany, Shriver’s buddies
called him "Digger" since they thought he looked like an
undertaker. As a joke his LRRP comrades concocted their own religion,
"The Mahoganites," which worshipped a mahogany statue. "So
we would carry Shriver around on an empty bunk with a sheet over him
and candles on the corners," recalled Ryan, "and chant,
'Maaa-haa-ga-ney, Maaa-haa-ga-ney.' Scared the hell out of new guys."
Medal of Honor
recipient Jim Fleming says Shriver "convinced me that for the
rest of my life I would not go into a bar and cross someone I didn't
But no recon man was
better in the woods. "He was like having a dog you could talk
to," O'Rourke explained. "He could hear and sense things;
he was more alive in the woods than any other human being I've ever
met." During a company operation on the Cambodian border Shriver
and an old Yard compatriot were sitting against a tree, O'Rourke
recalled. "Suddenly he sat bolt upright, they looked at each
other, shook their heads and leaned back against the tree. I'm
watching this and wondering, what the hell's going on? And all of a
sudden these birds flew by, then a nano-second later, way off in the
distance, 'Boom-boom!' -- shotguns. They'd heard that, ascertained
what it was and relaxed before I even knew the birds were flying."
Shriver once went up to
SOG’s Command and Control North for a mission into the DMZ where
Captain Jim Storter encountered him just before insert. "He had
pistols stuck everywhere on him, I mean, he had five or six .38
caliber revolvers." Storter asked him,"Sergeant Shriver,
would you like a CAR-15 or M-16 or something? You know the DMZ is not
a real mellow area to go into." But Mad Dog replied, "No,
them long guns'll get you in trouble and besides, if I need more than
these I got troubles anyhow."
Rather than stand down
after an operation, Shriver would go out with another team. "He
lived for the game; that's all he lived for," Dale Libby, a
fellow CCS man said. Shriver once promised everyone he was going on
R&R but instead snuck up to Plei Djerang Special Forces camp to
go to the field with Rich Ryan's A Team.
During a short leave
stateside in 1968, fellow Green Beret Larry White hung out with
Shriver, whose only real interest was finding a lever action .444
Marlin rifle. Purchasing one of the powerful Marlins, Shriver shipped
it back to SOG so he could carry it into Cambodia, "to bust
bunkers," probably the only levergun used in the war.
And the Real Jerry
Unless you were one of
Mad Dog's close friends, the image was perfect prowess -- but the
truth was, Shriver confided to fellow SOG Green Beret Sammy
Hernandez, he feared death and didn't think he'd live much longer.
He'd beat bad odds too many times, and could feel a terrible payback
"He wanted to
quit," Medal of Honor winner Fred Zabitosky could see. "He
really wanted to quit, Jerry did. I said, 'Why don't you just tell
them I want off, I don't want to run any more?' He said he would but
he never did; just kept running."
The 5th Special Forces
Group executive officer, Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Norton, had been
watching SOG recon casualties skyrocket and grew concerned about men
like Mad Dog whose lives had become a continuous flirtation with
death. Norton went to the 5th Group commander and urged, "Don't
approve the goddamn extensions these guys are asking for. You approve
it again, your chances of killing that guy are very, very good."
But the group commander explained SOG needed experienced men for its
high priority missions. "Bullshit," Norton snapped, "you're
signing that guy's death warrant."
Eventually 5th Group
turned down a few extensions but only a very few; the most experienced recon men
never had extensions denied. Never.
"Mad Dog was
wanting to get out of recon and didn't know how," said recon
team leader Sonny Franks, though the half-measure came when Shriver
left recon to join his teammate O’Rourke’s raider company. And
now the COSVN raid would make a fitting final operation; Shriver
could face his fear head-on, charge right into COSVN’s mysterious
mouth and afterward at last call it quits.
Into COSVN’s Mouth
The morning of 24 April
1969, while high-flying B-52s winged their way from distant Guam, the
SOG raider company lined up beside the airfield at Quan Loi, South
Vietnam, only 20 miles southeast of COSVN's secret lair. But just
five Hueys were flyable that morning, enough to lift only two
platoons; the big bombers could not be delayed, which meant
Lieutenant Bob Killebrew's 3rd Platoon would have to stand by at Quan
Loi while the 1st Platoon under First Lieutenant Walter Marcantel,
and 2nd Platoon under First Lieutenant Greg Harrigan, raided COSVN.
Capt. O'Rourke and Mad Dog didn't like it, but they could do
Nor could they do
anything about their minimal fire support. Although whole waves of
B-52s were about to dump thousands of bombs into COSVN, the highly
classified Cambodian Rules of
Engagement forbade tactical air strikes; it was better to lose an
American-led SOG team, the State Department rules suggested, than
that U.S. F4 Phantoms had bombed this "neutral" territory.
It was a curious logic so concerned about telltale napalm streaks or
cluster bomb fins, but unconcerned about B-52 bomb craters from
horizon to horizon. Chief SOG Cavanaugh found the contradiction
"ridiculous," but he could not change the rules.
The B-52 contrails were
not yet visible when the raiding force Hueys began cranking and the
raiders boarded; Capt. O'Rourke would be aboard the first bird and
Shriver on the last so they'd be at each end of the landing Hueys. As
they lifted off for the ten minute flight, the B-52s were making
final alignments for the run-in. Minutes later the lead chopper had
to turn back because of mechanical problems; O'Rourke could only wish
the others Godspeed. Command passed to an operations officer in the
second bird who'd come along for the raid, Captain Paul Cahill.
Momentarily the raiders
could see dirt geysers bounding skyward amid collapsing trees. Then
as the dust settled a violin-shaped clearing took form and the Hueys
descended in-trail, hovered for men to leap off, then climbed away.
Then fire exploded from
all directions, horrible fire that skimmed the ground and mowed down
anyone who didn’t dive into a bomb crater or roll behind a fallen
tree trunk. From the back of the LZ, Mad Dog radioed that a
machinegun bunker to his left-front had his *(Greg Harrigan and I had
been boyhood friends in northeast Minneapolis.) men pinned and asked
if anyone could fire at it to relieve the pressure. Holed up in a
bomb crater beneath murderous fire, Capt. Cahill, 1st Lt. Marcantel
and a medic, Sergeant Ernest Jamison, radioed that they were pinned,
too. Then Jamison dashed out to retrieve a wounded man; heavy fire
cut him down, killing him on the spot.
No one else could
engage the machinegun that trapped Shriver's men -- it was up to Mad Dog. Skittish Yards
looked to Shriver and his half-grin restored a sense of confidence. Then they
were on their feet, charging -- Shriver was his old self, running to
the sound of guns, a True Believer Yard on either side, all of them
dashing through the flying bullets, into the treeline, into the very
guts of Mad Dog's great nemesis, COSVN.
And Mad Dog Shriver was
never seen again.
The Fight Continues
At the other end of the
LZ, Jamison's body lay just a few yards from the crater where Capt.
Cahill heard bullets cracking and RPGs rocking the ground. When
Cahill lifted his head, an AK round hit him in the mouth, deflected
up and destroyed an eye. Badly wounded, he collapsed.
In a nearby crater,
young Lt. Greg Harrigan directed helicopter gunships whose rockets
and mini-guns were the only thing holding off the aggressive NVA.
Already, Harrigan reported, more than half his platoon were killed or
wounded. For 45 minutes the Green Beret lieutenant kept the enemy at
bay, then Harrigan, too, was hit. He died minutes later.
Bill O'Rourke tried to
land on another helicopter but his bird couldn't penetrate the NVA
veil of lead. Lieutenant Colonel Earl Trabue, their CCS Commander,
arrived and flew overhead with O’Rourke but they could do little.
Hours dragged by.
Wounded men laid untreated, exposed in the sun. Several times the
Hueys attempted to retrieve them and each time heavy fire drove them
off. One door gunner was badly wounded. Finally a passing Australian
twin-jet Canberra bomber from No. 2 Squadron at Phan Rang heard their
predicament on the emergency radio frequency, ignored the fact it was
Cambodia, and dropped a bombload which, O’Rourke reports, "broke
the stranglehold those guys were in, and it allowed us to go in."
Only 1st Lt. Marcantel was still directing air, and finally he had to
bring ordnance so close it wounded himself and his surviving nine
One medic ran to
Harrigan's hole and attempted to lift his body out but couldn't.
"They were pretty well drained physically and emotionally,"
O'Rourke said. Finally, three Hueys raced in and picked up 15 wounded
men. Lieutenant Dan Hall carried out a radio operator, then managed
to drag Lt. Harrigan's body to an aircraft. Thus ended the COSVN
A Time for Reflection
Afterward Chief SOG
Cavanaugh talked to survivors and learned, "The fire was so
heavy and so intense that even the guys trying to [evade] and move
out of the area were being cut down." It seemed almost an
ambush. "That really shook them up at MACV, to realize anybody
survived that [B-52] strike," Col. Cavanaugh said.
The heavy losses
especially affected Brig. Gen. Davidson, the MACV J-2, who blamed
himself for the catastrophe. "General," Chief SOG Cavanaugh
assured him, "if I'd have felt we were going to lose people like
that, I wouldn't have put them in there."
It’s that ambush-like
reception despite a B-52 strike that opens the disturbing possibility
of treachery and, it turns out, it was more than a mere possibility.
One year after the COSVN raid, the NSA twice intercepted enemy
messages warning of imminent SOG operations which could only have
come from a mole or moles in SOG headquarters. It would only be long
after the war that it became clear Hanoi’s Trinh Sat had penetrated
SOG, inserting at least one high ranking South Vietnamese officer in
SOG whose treachery killed untold Americans, including, most likely,
the COSVN raiders.
Of those raiders, Lt.
Walter Marcantel survived his wounds only to die six months later in
a parachuting accident at Ft. Devens, Mass., while Capt. Paul Cahill
was medically retired. Eventually, Green Beret medic Ernest Jamison's
body was recovered. But those lost in the COSVN raid have not been
forgotten. Under a beautiful spring sky on Memorial Day, 1993, with
American flags waving and an Army Reserve Huey strewing flower petals
as it passed low-level, members of Special Forces Association Chapter
XX assembled at Lt. Greg Harrigan’s grave in Minneapolis, Minn.
Before the young lieutenant’s family, a Special Forces honor guard
placed a green beret at his grave, at last conferring some
recognition to the fallen SOG man, a gesture the COSVN raid’s high
classification had made impossible a quarter-century earlier. Until
now, neither Harrigan’s family nor the families of the other lost
men knew the full story of the top secret COSVN raid.
But the story remains
incomplete. As in the case of SOG’s other MIAs, Hanoicontinues to deny any
knowledge of Jerry Shriver. Capt. O'Rourke concluded Mad Dog died that day.
"I felt very privileged to have been his friend," O’Rourke
says, "and when he died I grieved as much as for my younger
brother when he was killed. Twenty some-odd years later, it still
sticks in my craw that I wasn't there. I wish I had been there."
There remains a popular
myth among SOG veterans, that any day now Mad Dog Shriver will emerge
from the Cambodian jungle as if only ten minutes have gone by, look right and left and
holler, "Hey! Where’d everybody go?" Indeed, to those who
knew him and fought beside him, Mad Dog will live forever.
Vietnam vet Richard Hambley writes this about Mad
"I had the honor/pleasure of meeting Jerry
Shriver only one time at the Special Forces club Water Hole #3 in
Pleiku late in 1968. One afternoon while I was having a bite to eat
and a few drinks he happened to stop by while in transit to only God
knows where. His Montagnard soldiers struck up a conversation with my
two Mike Force scouts and he noticed me observing the meeting. He
pulled up a chair next to me and we began discussing the problems of
VC infiltration of the Mike Force units. It was common knowledge that
5 to 10% of our outfits were VC sypmathizers or enemy spies and we
both knew it. His concern was my safety and he offered me some good
sound advice on dealing with this issue.
"I have read many stories by other veterans
of how cold and distant Jerry Shriver could be at times but to me he
was just another soldier trying to help a fellow G.I. survive this
war. I will be forever grateful to him for his counsel and helpful
tips on dealing with and fighting next to the Montagnard Tribesmen.
His legacy will always be that of the consummate soldier as that is
exactly what he was."
HANK: I'm dumbfounded
at the ignorance to the moles inside SOG. Hadn't we learned by then
that the ARVN couldn't be trusted with anything?
JIM: The official story
was that the ARVN were our noble allies. When I was at Kham Duc we
had a requirement to hand in all our proposed patrols a month ahead
of time. I sent in the report, but I never went where I said I was
going to go.
HANK: How did Mad Dog
get from a recon unit in Germany to a SOG operation--was it as easy
as just a transfer? Did he have to go through the Q-Course first or
was he never even tabbed SF?
JIM: I've wondered the
same thing, how he got from Germany to SOG, but I don't know.
HANK: Maybe somebody
who knows that part of the story will read this and leave a comment
or something to fill that part in.
PAUL LONGGREAR: Jerry
was a Killer, not a fighter. There is an incident where he went up to
CCN on R&R and was challenged and dared to fight, off and on, for
a couple of hours. He totally ignored the guy like there was nothing
to it. People who witnessed it were flabbergasted. Most people
associate killer with bad all over, but it wasn't so with Jerry.
HANK: A fascinating
individual, to be certain. I should add that, in addition to the
characters I’ve read about or seen in films ultimately inspired by
Jerry Shriver, I knew a “Mad Dog” myself once at Bragg. Also,
Charles W. Sasser had a friend called “Mad Dog” during his time,
according to his autobiography. Perhaps his legacy is, in some small
way, a continuing inspiration in reality as well as fiction.