Bill with Silenced Sten and wearing a 1-0 jacket. All photos provided by James (Jim) M. Brzozkiewicz.
We have been speaking to another SOG veteran, this time Bill Barclay of RT Krait who were part of CCN. He was at CCN, August 23, 1968, when it was hit and they lost the most men Special Forces had ever lost in one engagement, to this date. For the best account of this tragic event its worth checking out John "Tilt" Meyers website and reading is great books. John has done a great job in documeneting this infamous evening.
He then went onto Recon Team Krait, and later became the One Zero of RT Krait. He left Vietnam in July, 1969. He then went back to Fort Bragg, NC, and was an Instructor at the SF Officer's Course. When he got out of the Regular Army, 20th Special Forces found him and he stayed with them until 1993, in B Co, 3rd Bn, FLANG. He retired as an E-8 but stayed Active Reserve and last assignment, 1997, to USASOC at Fort Bragg. So a career Special Forces soldier.
Modern Forces: What made you join Special forces and then apply for SOG, did you know what it was before you joined?
Bill Barclay: I was an Art Major in college and got into argument with professor as to what Art was and constituted. So thought I would go into the Army and go into photography. So the recruiter told me the photography MOS was filled. I asked him if I could go into the Infantry as my Father was an Infantry Officer during WWII through North Africa and up through Italy. Of course I could go into the Infantry. It was 1967 and President Johnson was building up the troop strength in Vietnam. Then I asked him if I could go into the Airborne and jump out of airplanes. Hell yes. Off I went. 9 weeks of basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia then off to Fort Gordon, Georgia, for Advanced Infantry training. At Fort Gordon, I volunteered for leadership training which consisted of two weeks of condensed training of the next 9 weeks. I was assigned as a platoon leader. After another 7 weeks of training where you couldn't put your hands in your pockets, count cadence while marching, the entire Battalion of about 1,200 men, were called into an auditorium. There we were, sitting and waiting for a guest speaker. Out walks this Sargent Major with jungle fatiques on, jungle boots, a green beret canted slightly to the side and his hands in his pockets. I turned to my best friend and asked him how the hell do we get into that Army. The SGM, told us what they did, kind of, and that if we had a GT score, like IQ, of at least 116, passed two written exams and a psychological evaluation, we could go to school and try to become a "Special Forces" soldier. My buddy Tom and I, along with about 43 others passed the test and got through Airborne training. Off to SF school we went. Only Tom and I passed all the schooling and training and off to Vietnam we went together. When we landed, we went to NaTrang, 5th Group HQ's. There they asked for volunteers again. Tom and I decided that's why we got into SF, let's go see what this is. First thing they asked is who had tatoos. Out of the 15 of us nine did not have any tatoos so the others were excused and off to CCN we went.
Modern Forces: What kept you and the other team members going over the fence knowing the odds were so stacked against the teams?
Bill Barclay: PRIDE and Patriotism. We felt we had sufficient training to overcome anything the bad guys could throw at us. After seeing what Communism was about first hand, nobody wanted any part of it. Better to kill the Son of Bitches.
The Vietnamese members of RT Krait
Modern Forces: Were your indigenous team members Montagyard, Nung or Vietnamese?
Bill Barclay: I had Vietnamese. The two best men I had were only 18 years old and already had 10 years of combat, of which, 7 yrs of that was with the NVA as they were taken from their families and forced to fight for the NVA. They had NO love for the NVA.
Modern Forces: Did any of them make it out to the States and if so have you ever been in touch?
Bill Barclay: All my Vietnamese were killed after I had to turn them over to South Vietnamese officers who took my place when I left.
Modern Forces: Did you have a weapon choice or preference?
Bill Barclay: Yes: I had a Silenced Sten, Silenced Greese gun and Swedish K 9mm sub machine gun with silencer.
Bill relaxing on his cot at CCN
Modern Forces: The sawn-off M79 seems another classic SOG weapon, did you carry this? If so how did you carry the weapon for easy access and how did you carry the grenades?
Bill Barclay: I carried a full size M-79 as well as my CAR-15 on bad targets. Most carried the sawed off M-79 on a snap link on their web gear. Where it was carried was personal preferrance of the man carrying it. Usually the first round was a "shotgun" round for close contact.
Modern Forces: Are you in contact with any other SOG or Special Forces veterans?
Bill Barclay: Yes. Go to the following web site:SOG CHRONICLES.com John "Tilt" Meyers has written two books on our adventures with basically After Action Reports of the teams from the men on the ground themselves.
Modern Forces: Is the photo above you, I assume so as there can't be two Bill Barclays at CCN. Did you use the Silenced Sten on any missions?
Bill Barclay: You're right there. I was the only one. Probably pictures that good friend Jim Brezevich, still can't spell his name, took while he was at CCN. Yes I did have a Silenced Sten, along with a Silenced Greese Gun "45 caliber"
Modern Forces: Did you or your team ever carry any foreign weapons, AK47 or RPD? And if so how were magazines/drums/belts carried?
Bill Barclay: I didn't like the AK-47 and still don't too much. Reason: A friend of mine, had an AK round hit the receiver group of his CAR 15 and took it out. He had just killed an NVA so he ran over got his AK web gear on and picked up the dead guys AK. As he stood up, an NVA ran out of the jungle and fired a 3 round burst into his chest. The 3 AK magazines in the NVA web gear stopped the bullets. He still has those magazines mounted in a box on his wall. A 223 round would have gone right through those magazines.
Modern Forces: Did teams at CCN have different SOPs to CCC or CCS or was knowledge shared around?
Bill Barclay: All the camps had pretty much the same SOPs but it was up to each One Zero as to what his team's SOP would be. Take any SOP from any Army in the world and throw it away. Study the enemies SOPs and use their own SOP's against them. CCS ran Cambodia. CCC ran the border of Cambodia and Laos and CCN ran Northern Laos and North Vietnam. WE still argue which camp had the most dangerous AO's. But we don't fist fight anymore. Most of the time anyway.
Modern Forces: Did you have a standard equipment set-up in your team?
Bill Barclay: Individual equipment depended on how much each man could carry. Everybody carried at least 3canteen covers with 7 - 20 round magazines in each cover. Each magazine loaded with 18 rounds and the 3rd from the bottom a tracer so you knew when you needed to change mags. One cover for the indig with5 - M-26 fragmentary grenades in it. Strobe light for each man and two claymores per man. and an 5 quarts of water per man minimum along with 7 days of PIR's, Personal Indiginous Rations. Each American carried 6 quarts of water and a thousand rounds of 223, 3 claymore's, 4 2lb blocks of C-4, and I carried the PRC radio with spare batteries, hand set and antenna. Then the URC-10 downed pilot radio, signal mirrow, pen flares and various other miscellaneous shit and then whatever specialty stuff we took in for that mission.
Bill off for a swim at CCN beach
Modern Forces: Did every member of the team carry a map and if so was this marked up with intel or left sterile in case of capture?
Bill Barclay: Each American had a map that was 10 x 10 grid squares, not the entire theater, covered with ascetate on both sides. NEVER mark on a map anywhere or in anyway. Everything was sterile, uniforms, weapons, no serial numbers, no dog tags, nothing.
Modern Forces: Empty mags...after emptying a mag during contact did you guys swap it back into a pouch or shove the empties down the front of your shirt? When training we favor the latter when re-enacting and its what the British Army tend to do?
Bill Barclay: In heavy action, the idea was reload and fast. Forget those mags, drop them besides that, they're hotter than hell.
Modern Forces: Did you carry a side arm and if so how was is carried, you often see them in books but can’t seem to see any holsters (hip or shoulder) in the pictures I have?
Bill Barclay: Most everyone carried a sidearm of somesort in a holster. It's just that we had so much equipment on that they're hard to see.
Modern Forces: It's well known that SOG used black spray paint to camouflage uniforms and equipment I have seen a picture of RT New York in Frank Greco’s second book that appears to show gear camo’d with green and black spray paint. Did you ever see this type of green/black spray paint in use?
Bill Barclay: To this day think it's the best cammo for jungle of woods. Take the green jungle fatiques, ligtly spray them accross the uniform and it would hase the green and make dark lines. I have had NVA 3 meters away to 2 meters and they didn't see me. I thought they could hear my heart though. Had one stick his SKS bayonet almost in my face but didn't see me.
Modern Forces: I have read reports that SOG and 46th Special Forces Company used early forms of night vision equipment, did you ever use or see any use of night vision or other hi-tech devices in use?
Bill Barclay: The only thing we had were the Starlight Scopes. The longest shot I ever made was with a Starlight Scope, permanently mounted on a Model 700 Remington match grade rifle with bull barrel. Scope had cross hairs and was zeroed at 500 meters and cross hairs up to 950 meters down to 100 meters. Shot I made was 875 meters at night.
Modern Forces: Any narrative or stories to share?
Bill Barclay: My best friend from child hood. My Father and his Father, were stationed in Ansbach, Germany from 1949-1954. I was only two when we got there and 7 when we left. That was during the "Occupation" time in Germany. We lived in confinscated German official's houses, and the Nurenburg War Crime trials were still going on. The only American kid my age was a kid named Art Driscoll. We were best friends as children.
As time went on, our parents continued to correspond and visit each other but I never saw Art. When I got to Fort Bragg, NC, for Special Forces, my parents wrote his parents that I was in Special Forces Training at Fort Bragg. Art's Father had just retired as the Provost Marshall at Fort Bragg. His parents wrote back and told my parents Art was in Special Forces training also. We looked each other up and we were in not only the same training Company, but same platoon. Our personalities clicked again and we became good friends again. He graduated 4 months before me and was assigned to the 3rd SF Group who's area of responsibility at that time was the Continent of Africa. Of course when I graduated, two weeks later, I was in Vietnam.
When CCN got hit on the 23rd of Aug, 1968, we fought from 0030 hrs to 1030 hrs before killing the last NVA inside the camp. Camp was a disaster. About 1/3 was burning, bodies were everywhere. Some were still in the burning buildings. We lost the most men that Special Forces lost in one engagement that night to this date. 18 Americans killed and 30+ wounded. We also lost about half of our 1200 mercenaries. Myself and a Sgt. pieced a radio together and put an antenna up to radio 5th Group HQ's that we had been hit. Since we did not have any cripo for NaTrang, we had to broadcast in the clear. That mint we didn't want to put on the radio just how badly we had been hurt. So asked for reinforcements immediately as we were still being "probed" on our perimeter. At dusk, one 2 1/2 ton truck rolls into camp with our reinforcements. There were 5 Americans. That was it, but one was Art Driscoll. We are still good friends to this day. He was assigned to RT Krait under a SFC, Tompkins. They ran one mission and had pretty severe contact and actually ran out of ammo. They hit an NVA Battalion with their 7 men. But a Hatchet Force Platoon came in, went on line and attacked the Battalion of NVA and they broke and ran. A Hatchet Force Platoon was 40 men against about 600 NVA. Each 12 man squad carried two M-60 machineguns and every man in a squad had 200 rounds of linked ammo for the M-60. They go in to fight.
So Art was sent to MACV Recondo school. While he was there, Tompkins had a new lieutenant he was training and went on a mission into Laos. They hit a very large force and the fight was on. 6 men against about a thousand. The Indig team leader took a bullet in his left eye and blew out part of the eye socket but was still alive. The lieutenant was blinded by a handgrenade and Qui, was also head shot, but able to stay awake. Tomkins took 7 rounds of Ak fire to his chest. We took turns talking to Tomkins to keep him awake. Qui, pulled the heads of the wounded into his lap, pulled the pins on two grenades and held them for 18 hours before the entire team climbed a rope ladder up to a chopper to get out. No one was killed on the team. Two choppers had been shot down trying to get them out and Tompkins told them not to come and get him. Qui actually released the spoons on the grenades as the NVA made one last attemp to over run them and Tompkins yelled NO to him. Fortunately, one of about4 words Qui knew in English. The grenades killed approximately 7 or 8 NVA before they started climbing up rope ladder. That's why I made Art and I made Qui our Vietnamese Team leader. When Art came back from Recondo school, he was made the One Zero of RT Krait. I had to go to the Colonel, Jack Warren, to request permission to go onto Art's team. Later Art went onto a Hatchet Force Platoon and I became the One Zero of RT Krait. Art and I are still very close.
Modern Forces: What’s the story behind the NVA steel helmet (see above), is that something you captured?
Bill Barclay: That's not an NVA hemet. We did capture that, in Laos inside a Battalion size hospital complex. That is a SOVIET helmet and we tried to find the SOB who was wearing it because the Soviet Union said they didn't have anyone there. We got his chrome plated 7.62 pistol too and bloody bandages, but didn't find him.