In May of 1969 Recon Team Illinois was infiltrated into Cambodia to conduct a Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) on the latest airstrike as a part of Henry Kissinger’s so-called “secret” bombing campaign. This was the third bombing of Operation Menu, this time targeting the North Vietnamese Army’s 27th Infantry Regiment’s base camp.

On the ground that day as RT Illinois One-Zero (Team Leader) was Staff Sergeant Ben Thompson, One-One John Plaster, and One-Two, George Bacon.

George Washington Bacon: MACV-SOG Operator, CIA Para-Military Officer, Mercenary, and Genius

George had to fight just to get to the fight. Trained as a Special Forces medic, the brass at Command and Control North (CCN) in Da Nang outright refused to allow him to participate in combat operations. CCN, CCC, and CCS were the three major commands within MACV-SOG, Military Assistance Command-Vietnam-Studies and Observations Group.

SOG was officially denied, and their mission top-secret. Known as the hairiest assignment in Vietnam, SOG recruited heavily from Army Special Forces but also from the other services, assembling a crack unit that conducted classified cross-border operations into Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam.

In a unit that had over a 100% casualty rate, the decision was made that Special Forces had invested too much time and money to lose a medic like George on one of SOG’s extremely dangerous reconnaissance patrols, so he was kept on the base.

A committed anti-communist, George found this situation unacceptable and went AWOL. Making his way south, he linked up with Command and Control Central (CCC) in Komtum and got himself put on some some patrols.

RT Illinois hit the ground just twenty minutes after the B-52 airstrike and was soon in contact with the enemy. The Recon Team had hoped to find some NVA who were still shell shocked, kill them with suppressed weapons and leave one alive to take as a prisoner. Instead, they made contact with an NVA unit and got into a running firefight, enemy gunfire ripping through the jungle around them.

Two of the indigenous soldiers, “little people” as they were affectionately known to the SOG members, were seriously injured in short order. Sergeant Thompson began dragging them to the LZ while calling for an extraction. John Plaster and George Bacon stayed behind to effect a delaying action, slowing the enemy down to give Thompson time to save their team mates.