This is the most horrendous combat story I have ever read. Just to put that in contest I have read about 1500 of them, in the course of editing around 200 and writing seven. I have heard but not read two that rival it, either on the phone or leaning on a bar. I mention that to point out that those two were both SOG stories as well.
Most of this book is taken up by a description of Operation Tailwind, undertaken 100 km deep into Laos, about four times further than SOG had ever gone before, intended to draw pressure off a CIA operation deeper into Laos. The force was a company size Hatchet Force from Command and Control Central in Kontum, about 120 Montagnards and 16 Americans, commanded by Captain Gene McCarley, a seasoned SOG veteran, Tailwind succeeded in that, siphoning about two regiments off that op and refocusing them into an attempt to destroy Tailwind, forcing Tailwind into a four-day running gunfight. Before it was over the 16 Americans accumulated 33 Purple Hearts. Gary Mike Rose, the medic, was wounded twice the first day, effectively converting his CAR-15 into a cane, so he could continue to walk on a boot held together with green tape.
On the second day the company took a large NVA logistics center, with a big cache of document, plans, maps, everything needed to make an intelligence analyst’s heart go pitter-patter. And a lot of money. While they were in the headquarters a phone rang. One of McCarley’s NCOs picked it up and said, “Fifth Special Forces Group. How may we help you?” The reply, if there was one, is not reported in this book. But a lot of harmless fun may be
had imagining the reaction on the other end.
About thirty wounded were evacuated on the second day. Being the only American medic Rose refused to go with them. In 2017 he received the Medal of Honor for his actions on Tailwind. Air strikes to take the pressure off were danger close. McCarley, who has a gift for picturesque speech, said one SPAD flew so close he could tell whether the pilot had shaved or not. He didn’t say whether he had, possibly to spare the embarrassment of being gigged for five-o’clock shadow.
The exfil on the fourth day was an action movie last minute save. A huge weather front was closing in. If they hadn’t gotten out then they wouldn’t get out. On the first LZ mountains were too high and well populated for the Marine CH53Ds to get in. Relocation to the second LZ was not a casual stroll. And that LZ was no secure location either. Boarding was a hand to hand rear guard action.