Top photo: Larry Crowder on right and bottom photo Bob Hope during a USO tour.
Larry has sent us some more stories about his time in service, not all directly SOG related but I think still very interesting and give a good picture of the mood of the time. The first interview can be seen here and a second interview can be seen here.
Modern Forces: Its been a while since we spoke but you have some more stories to tell, would be great if you could share with us.
Larry Crowder:There are now some decent pictures on my album of some of the guys I was in SOG. If you can go through it pick out the ones of interest and I tell you who is who.
In the group picture you will find you will see MSGT John A. W. Rokis at the end of the table. The most impressive marine I ever met. Next to him is Tom Gaughan. We were pal, had a big fight, Gonzalez and Geiger pulled me off the top of him believe it or not then took my M16 from me just before I shot him, then they lied to protect him because he attacked me for no reason. The officers couldn't believe he lost a fight to me.
What happened was when he attacked me I fell on top of him and either broke some of his ribs, or winded the heck out of him, because by the time he could breath again, the rest of him was in real bad shape, and I was locking and loading my weapon going to finish him off. My so called pals then covered up for his coming in ranting about missing his ride to work.
He was on the SS Maddox during the Gulf of Tonkin incident and was at Khe Sahn during the siege. He never could understand afterwards when the guys told him that when I was going to download on him if he ever so much as spoke to me again. He kept apologising and saying how sorry and what a good soldier I was and he wanted to clear it up.
He came in the BEQ dining area and sat down the day I left. I walked right by him without one word. Rokis was okay, but they got my cousin killed at Danang and I hated marines.
Some of the other pictures might have a better face behind them.
Modern Forces: So what are the stories behind the other pictures in your album?.
Larry Crowder:The picture of the SSO group was taken in the USAID Building restaurant. It not only had very exquisite food served by some of the most exquisite looking waitress in Saigon.
Our personal favorite was one we all dubbed "Pocahontas" because she wore her hair in a style that made her seem to be have the appearance a western American Indian princess. She took the name as her working name after we told her the story of Pocahontas.
One night, MSG John Rokis, SSgTom Gaughan, Marines, Tsgt Ron Biehl, a long time Air Force veteran, Steve Gieger and I were eating ther together and in walks Rick Jason.
i don't know if you ever saw the American TV series Combat! that ran back in the 60s. it top two stars were Vic Morrow and Rick Jason, who starred as two American WWII soldiers in Germany fighting the Germans. I t was a heck of a show and guys like Geiger and I grew up loving it.
We both spotted him and saw him as his character Lt Hanley! We both dropped our forks like we had see a ghost.
Rokis, who was a bombastic, and the type to speak up right away when someone seems to be dying in place said loud enough for people seven tables away to hear, "What is bothering you two little p--ys now?"
I don't know which one of us spoke, but both of us stood ups, and said, ''Hello Lt Hanley.''
And Mr Jason smiled and stopped, "Oh a couple of young Combat!fans I see, I'm Rick guys.'' He looked surprised when he noticed the differences in rank and services. We invited him to sit with us and bought him a drink. Two hours later Rick Jason had a better understanding of the Vietnam war. He was going to get the tour of his life that night because Rokis told us to take him over to House 10 and introduce him to a few of the guys in from the field.
House 10 was a safe house located on the compound that SOG used for it's motor pool. We could get on it anytime of the day and we later took the actor to a place he probably really had no idea of the significance of.
The guys there probably didn't know who the heck we were, but they knew him and we had a heck of a party for the crest of the night. He called some ''round eyes' (actresses and stewardesses) and told them to get ready to come to a great party. We sent some ''embassy vehicles".. SOG vehicles) and we had one heck of a good time. It lasted all day and into the next morning. Geiger and I got into major trouble.. I don't think either of us got another day off for a couple of months.
Gunny would roll his eye and mumble ''Dumba-- lightweights. Don't know when to call it a night." I think he talked the major into not giving us Article-15s and turning us into door gunners.
We just hope that Rick Jason enjoyed his rendezvous with SOG. The only the lacking was we wished he had broght Vic Morrow and the rest of the cast.
Modern Forces: So stayed in the army after Vietnam, you were stationed in Germany I recall. Any stories from that period?.
Larry Crowder: Watched a movie I thought was a rather misguided attempt a portraying a group of murderous parasites as radical extremists effort into make changes in an uncaring society.
If the world of today finds any of the Baader-Meinhof Complex, a tribute to a group of Robin Hoods robbing from the rich to give a better life to the poor..balderdash.
Oddly, I have a connection... somewhat.
in 1975 this group of worthless interlopers on society kidnapped a German business man running for mayor of Berlin named Peter Lorenz. Upon his release from captivity Lorenz had to be treated for a bleeding ulcer. There was an emergency need for blood. The German authorities made a request for AB negative blood at Tuefelsberg.
Four such a rare blood type, you Brits had four with it and we had three, one of was me, and one of the others was one of my tty ops, a guy named Rusko.
As it turned out the only ones out of that group whose blood type mismatch up with Herr Lorenz was a young female tty op from the British com center named Sarah, ( I forgot her last name, but it wasn't Ferguson) and me. The others were given breakfast,60 marks for their trouble, the rest of the day off and taken back. Sarah and I were taken back to the infirmary where our blood was taken. After we finished we also were given the same as the others and we both refused the money.
A German lady arrived as we were departing and an English speaking doctor hailed us. He asked us to wait a minute. The German politzie escorted us into a room and the woman spoke to us in German and was very emotional.
We both were new arrival in Germany and understood no German.
The doctor made his translation. It apparently was Mrs. Lorenz. Despite the unmentionable amount of stress she had been and was under she had come to thank us for our thoughtful donation of blood. She said it was a donation that meant life for his husband and she was beyond words to thank us enough. She stood tall and proud as she spoke and tried to be strong for the moment and succeeded.
When she departed Sarah summed it up when she gave out a deep breath and said ''Lord God I just met one of the strongest souls I ever will. And she thanked us"
Sometimes you go places and get to take part as a small cog in major turn of events. It is simply an amazing thing to look back on events and rialize you met that person.
Those "urban terrorists'' were just bugs, that lady impressed me.
Modern Forces: It seems the 1970's were turbulent time, did this have a big impact on your service?
Larry Crowder: We were discussing the Baader Mienhoff gang earlier, and my reply would not transmit.
In 1972, they bombed USAEUR HQ, located in Heidelberg, they killed one officer and injured 13 others.
That officer was LTC Paul Bloomquist, a decorated Vietnam veteran, and father of two, who bled to death on the floor of the officer's mess.
An unworthy death for a man who deserved more.
Wiesbaden AB in Frankfurt was the site of their next bloody attack.
25 were injured and 2 were killed in another cowardly bombing attack. Captain Clyde R. Bonner's body was severed into two peaces by the force of the explosion.
They gained excess to the base by murdering an unfortunate off duty soldier by the name of Edward F. Palmental, a 20 year old SP4, who left a Wiesbaden nightclub with one Brigit Hogefeld, after she promised the foolishly naive soldier a night of sexual liaison.
What he got was shot in the neck in a wooded area for his identiy card, which they then used to gain entrance to the base.
None of those anti-social reptiles gave any of their victims a remote chance. None of their so called social actions did anything other than maim, kill, and destroy property.
None of them should be considered anything more than listless antisocial scofflaws, to arrogant to get an honest job, to ignorant to see what their idle mischief actually caused, and not worth the time spent on chasing even one of them
What they did deserve is what happened to each of them to many, death and stiff prison sentences to the rest. For a movie to trumpet their cowardly actions is a crime in itself.
Once again, someone who considers himself an artistic movie maker, has chosen the wrong people to center a "historical" movie about. We all glamorize the Jesse James and other uncivil bandits, making heroes out of zeros.
That movie, giving them another 15 minutes of fame sickens me.