In 1964, the United States wasn’t yet fully immersed in Vietnam and our commitment at that time were just advisors. Roger Donlon was the Commander of A-726, a Special Forces A-Team from the 7th Special Forces Group. His team was placed in Nam Dong, a strategically placed village 30 miles west of Da Nang and 15 miles east of the Laotian border.

Donlon’s actions during a two-day battle July 5-6, 1964 would ultimately result in him being awarded the Medal of Honor. He was the first US soldier to be awarded it during the Vietnam War. There were also two Distinguished Crosses awarded as well as four Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars to the team members. Nine team members were awarded the Purple Heart.

A-726 at Ft. Bragg before deploying to Vietnam.

Later, in 1968, the John Wayne film, “The Green Berets” had a scene where a Special Forces A-Camp (A-107) was sieged by the Viet Cong. It was loosely based on the battle at Camp Nam Dong.

The camp was on a major infiltration route for the North Vietnamese along the Ho Chi Minh trail, located on a finger of terrain that extended from Laos. Donlon’s team consisted of 12 Americans, an Australian Warrant Officer Kevin Conway and an American anthropologist, Gerald Hickey who was studying Vietnam’s indigenous tribes. The Green Berets were assigned to train and advise 311 Katu Tribesman along with a South Vietnamese SF team and 60 Nung (ethnic Chinese) mercenaries at the camp.