April, 24th, 1969
Quan Loi Airfield
South Vietnam

Adjusting his olive drab skull cap, he pushed another .38 revolver between his utility belt. Shouldering the trusty M3 greasegun with its long silencer, he gave a quick tug to the multitude of grenades cinched at various points on his torso. Feeling them secure; he inspected the rest of the teams’ gear as they stepped on the skid and pulled themselves aboard the Huey.

The last on, he listened to the engines begin their low whine, rising in decibels as the blades rotated ever faster until the helicopter’s distinctive chop echoed among the dozens of green buildings and barracks that served as one of S.O.G’s launching pads.

SFC Jerry Shriver
SFC Jerry Shriver

The Huey nudged its way into a gentle hover then rotated to the right, dipping its nose, rising over the perimeter fencing into the morning sky, carrying with it a Special Forces legend who’d ran countless missions as these and defied the odds.

So much and so well, in fact that Radio Hanoi dubbed him ‘Mad Dog.’

Green Beret Sergeant First Class Jerry Shriver knew the luck that always seemed to accompany him departed the moment the Huey left earth.

Today, as the chopper joined with others heading toward the insertion site just across the border in Cambodia, the men of the “Hatchet Force,” a 100 man group of American and indigenous personnel of the super secret S.O.G. (Studies and Observation Group), knew this mission held special meaning. Because within this target area hid COSVN, the Central Office for South Vietnam, the communists massive underground complex that ran combat operations in the South.

Shriver understood the elusive prize of COSVN had evaded planners for years. Called the “Pentagon of the East,” it held mythical status among bigwigs in Saigon and Washington. If destroyed, the ramifications of such a feat would far exceed the effort made to remove it.