In July of 1978, Major L.H. “Bucky” Burruss divided his Delta Force squadron in half at the assembly area. Bucky had served in Mike Force during Vietnam and had also attended SAS selection at Beckwith’s request (Burruss, 252). First troop moved out to take down an aircraft while second troop was assigned to breach a building and rescue hostages being held by “terrorists” inside. There was a lot riding on this one, as this was Delta Force’s final validation exercise. Both targets were hit around 4 a.m. on Camp Mackall.
Approaching from the tail end of the decommissioned National Guard AC-121, first troop silently moved up to the two hatches they had decided to breach. “Padded ladders were softly laid on the fuselage. Two hatches had been selected. In the time it takes to suck in your breath, both doors were blown and the plane taken” (Beckwith, 160). Meanwhile, second troop breached the windows of their target building, cleared away the glass with steel pipes, and flooded the structure with operators. “Within seven seconds, the terrorists had been taken out and the hostages freed” (Beckwith, 160).
Although there were some hiccups with the validation, the Army had no idea how to evaluate counterterrorist operations at this time. Delta passed the test, receiving high praise from General Mackmull and General Meyer, the latter being the deputy chief of staff of operations and plans for the Army.
“Blue Light seemed now, after our evaluation, to be redundant. Delta Force had filled the gap and we could be put on alert. If anything went down, we were ready to handle it” (Beckwith, 163).