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War & Peace 2010: Photo-Shoots
RT Montana: Life Around Camp 1970
RT Idaho: 1971
RT New York
RT Wyoming BDA Mission 1971
MACV-SOG HALO Teams 1970 -1971

RT Montana 1969
RT Viper One-Zero 1971
RT West Virginia One-One 1971
RT Maine 1970
RT Iowa 1969 - The Golfcourse

MACV-SOG Equipment:

Individual Equipment
Team Equipment
Personal Gear
Original MACV-SOG Gear

Australian SASR
Seal Team 1

Nick Brokhausen: RT Habu and RT Crusader

An exclusive interview




Nick 3rd from left in the photo (the only non-indig) and with RT Habu and what seems like some monkeys for dinner. Note the SOG "flat black" truck in the background.

Our latest interview is with Nick Brokhausen who wrote one of the best books describing the SOG experience,We Few, it's hard to get hold of now but the interview below gives a snapshot of how Nick writes (reminds me of Hunter S,. Thompson)

Modern Forces: What made you join Special Forces and then how did you end up with SOG?
Nick Brokhausen: I was sitting on the side of a road contemplating reenlisting when I saw this gent with tiger stripes and a whole passel of montagnards that looked like Terry and the Pirates. I asked what they were and was told that they were called a Mike Force. I also asked where their officers were and was told that these indig troops were led by NCOs, no officers. Bingo I was hooked. I got to SOG because I trusted an Irish to do a simple task, like carry our orders down to the desk at the repo depot and to call Nha Trang to make sure we didnt get grabbed by the leg press gangs for the line infantry. I and he, had orders for the II Corps Mike Force, he was supposed to call and make sure we got on the plane to Nha Trang. Instead he came back with some confab about it being all volountary, yada yada,hype. After that its pure peer pressure and terror. This is why the Irish are always involved in the fight, they hear all the noise and think its a wake.

Modern Forces: What was your position on the team?
Nick Brokhausen: I was originally the 13 I think when Snake Adams went back to the US cause his Momma was sick, and Horton took over . After the Brightlight to try and recover Doc Watson and Baby San Lloyd, Mac took over and Jimmy Johnson took his own team and I was left as the 11. I stayed as the 11 of Habu until I nominally took over Crusader as the 10 just before I left country.Mac and I were together the longest of any team as 10 and 11. We clicked and Habu was a heavy team so other teams wanted us as Brightlight and we became very good at it.

Toward the end (71-72) we no longer were using the Hatchet force as Brightlight, unless it was multiple teams getting hammered and sometimes we just used two heavy teams since the hatchet force had nowhere the experience as we did. The drill was you went to the launch site, became the Bright light for anyone on the ground until your rotation for insertion came up. Usually you didnt get Brightlight after you were extracted but that was subject to the tactical situation.

Nick and team at Marble Mountain

Modern Forces: What kept you and the other team members going over the fence knowing the odds were so stacked against the teams?
Nick Brokhausen: Peer pressure and pride. You wanted to quit, God you wanted to be able to walk in there and get reassigned to the Donut Dollies, but you didnt want anyone to think you couldnt hack it.  You also develop a sense of  fatalism and the sooner the better, for until you just dont give a shit about hanging on to your mortal coil, thats one thing more that will distract you from staying alive.

Modern Forces: Were your indigenous team members Montagyard, Nung or Vietnamese?
Bill Barclay: All our team members were Bru, who are from the  Northern area of South Vietnam. We also had  a couple of Sedang. mixing team  ethnics was not a good idea so we usually stayed with the same tribe.

Modern Forces: Did any of them make it out to the States and if so have you ever been in touch?
Nick Brokhausen: Two of the young ones are living in North Carolina. Most of the older Yards either were outright executed after the war, died in rehabilitation camps or later in the fighting with the Vietnamese after the war.

Modern Forces: Did you have a weapon choice or preference?
Nick Brokhausen: Depending on the Mission it was a mix. I preferred the Car15, but also had a sawed of RPD that I carried when we ran DM targets or had a Brightlight. We normally kept all our armamment, grenades, special equipment etc in the hootch, which is why they were spectacular displays of cooking off munitions when the NVA overran the camp in 68 and tossed satchel chrges in the hootches trying to kill those inside.. For hand to hand nothing beats the old entrenching tool. especially if your nervous system is wired up for terror  and adrenalin. It acts like a bloody battleaxe.

Modern Forces: What’s A DM mission?
Nick Brokhausen: DM target is a Demilitarized Zone target DM ten was the worst of the lot. Mac and I ran it four times and our total time on the ground was less than two hours. We got shot out each time. We started inserting right at Pac time ( afternoon siesta) so we would have enough time between their being rudely awakened by a rack of two fifty pounders and some napalm, so that we could have enough time to grab some terrain for the pissed off afternoon murder session. It was at the conflux of two major trails and ran through an old cauldera, bad place, full of bunkers and pissed off rice burners.

Modern Forces: Is that a Randall knife you are carrying in the group shot?
Nick Brokhausen: That is a Randall and is in the private collection of a close friend. The Smithsonian and the Higgins armor museum are romancing him for his collection.  He has two of my knives. We sometimes pick a Marine or SF guy heading for the Rockpile or back to the Sandbox and he has a stable of custom knife makers who make a special knife for the service member, who carries it for his tour and returns it with the necessary providence. To tell you the truth the only time I ever had to fight it out hand to hand I used an entrenching tool. Sharp as a razor and fueld on sheer terror it makes bloody work in close and there were more than one and I wanted to scare the bejesus out of them, because I sure as hell was.

Nick and Mac 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?
Nick Brokhausen: I carried the sawed off M79  with a CAR15 as the primary many times. When I carried the M79 it was in a slide holster in the small of my back, the rounds I carried in  the back two canteen covers, you can get eight HE and two CS in each pouch.. We used to take the CS grenade plastic sheaths and tape them together in a Vee, attach a wire coat hanger as a hook . Lay det cord down the Center and stuff each of the empty cylinders with two mini grenades with the pins pulled and the spoons cut down to 1/2 inch. Cap with a claymore  detonator and carry all a used claymore bag. Throw it out while your running and when you get to the end of the 25 meter wire hit the clacker.  The det cord blows the mini grenades out and up  and if you are still running, not on top of you, thats twelve mini grenades going off  on the ground, in the air etc. Great little contact breaker if the other side is pushing too hard...

Modern Forces: Did you or your team ever carry any foreign weapons, AK47 or RPD? And if so how were magazines/drums/belts carried?
Nick Brokhausen: We carried all soviet at times and dressed in NVA kakis. You had to have good intel though because the NVA had different shades of kakis, green, blue, tan etc depending on who was in the area. You might have green kakis being worn by the troops who maintained the rest areas and trail, whilst the units traveling south might be wearing tan kakis. If and when we wore and used all sov it was for a reason. like a ten second edge or a prisoner snatch. The weapons were better suited for our type of fight.

We carried two RPGs on the team and everyone carried an extra rocket for them in their ruck along with an extra round for the 60mm mortar if we lugged that along. You saw the barrel off just far enough up that the bore riding safety pin on the WP round can engage. Some guys sawed them off too short and had to manually pop the spring loaded pin, but with the PD fuse that could get real dicey.  

We used the RPD because it was deadly as hell and fully loaded with a 100 round drum it weighed less than an M60 with no ammo in it. It was also easy to maintain and reliable. The only bad thing was that the Sovs use a non disintergrating belt and these were hard to get, so I always carried a slinged sack that I could stuff the links in as I fired each belt. Cumbersome as hell a bloody nuisance when  you are in a fire fight. We solved that in late 71 when Castillo and I found an entire conex container left by the Fifth Mech that was stuffed full of belts and other NVA equipment that someone had been hoarding. ( Yes we stole it...and a truck to haul it away.)Castillo had been all prissy because he wouldnt loan me his extra belts so Mac and I slipped him a MIckey and he woke up going into the Ashau, him and his precious belts. The other reason for using their weapons is that we didnt sound like meat eating gringos when the fire fight started, it isnt much but Im here and a bunch of Nugyens didnt make it to be a grandfather.

Nick at Marble Mountain, note modified CAR-15 with forward grip

Modern Forces: Did teams at CCS have different SOPs to CCC or CCN or was knowledge shared around?
Nick Brokhausen: Each area was different thus different SOPs. Baby san Davis and some of the guys who came up with him never made the transition from CCS to ours and died because of it. We had the hottest AO of any of them. CCC likes to brag about COSVN and how topugh their targets were, and they were tough targets. In 71 we had a bunch of teams get wiped out  and they asked for volonteers from CCC to come up for a 10 conference in the hope that some would  stay and help shore us up. Forteen 10s came up and fourteen got back on the plane for Kontoum. I think that was the first time I really started thinking that maybe we were crazy.

Modern Forces: Did you have a standard equipment set-up in your team?
Nick Brokhausen: Yes we had an SOP and that was modified every time we went out to some degree. I noticed in the pictures on your site that the enacter is carrying his magazines lying down in the canteen pouch, ALL our magazines had a taped tab at the bottom of electrical tape so you could pull it out. We always carried the magazine with the bullets facing away from the body. Real important if a round hits your magazine pouch. Five 20 round mags and one thirty rounder to a pouch and six more thirties in an AK vest under the Stabo rig.

Modern Forces: Did your team have any unique traditions or quirks in its equipment set-up? Did this change with the change between different teams?
Nick Brokhausen: Every team was a reflection of its Americans. You have to remember that with an eleven man heavy team Habu could take on an NVA company and maul it, which we did many times. Our first reaction to contact was murderous agressive assault. We would hit them so hard and fast that they would back off and call for help. That gave a us a few minutes to grab some decent terrain or try and slide off and run hard and fast to get distance. This became harder when they started deploying anti recon units against us. these guys were seasoned and would  clap onto your ass and stay there until you killed them or they killed you.

Modern Forces: Have you got a forward grip on your CAR-15 in the Marble Mountain shots?
Nick Brokhausen: That is a cut off CAR pistol grip bolted onto the front handgrip. We tended to use a lot of ammo quick and the guns would get so hot they would burn you through a glove so I came up with the forward handgrip as  solution. The Cuban  attached the wide mouth of an oil funnel over the end of his because it made a really deep sound and spat a three foot long flame that scared the shit out of everybody. Of course he is also the one who took an airhorn  in and blasted it off, I think Plaster also used that as a technique. It only works once, maybe twice then they would get on the learning curve. If someone had given me a mini nuke I would have taken it in and sworn it was kids playing with matches.

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?
Nick Brokhausen: The Americans carried maps and the senior two yards had one. these were normally six k by six k 1;50,000 with a ten k border around the target area. No markings unless they were in grease pencil. We always carried ours in the right hand cargo pocket, that way it was a quick grab in case the guy was dead or wounded.

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?
Nick Brokhausen: I never threw a thirty round mag away. They were too hard to get. Twenties? I have to admit I littered but normally I stuck them back in the ammo pouch at some point. You train yourself to load and reload rapidly so its an unconcious thing..hard to remember. I dont recommend throwing hot magazines inside your shirt and they do get hot, the Brits do that because they are too cheap to buy enough to go around, or maybe they just like having a hot iron applied to their nipples when they are fighting.

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?
Nick Brokhausen: 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?
Nick Brokhausen: Mac and I always carried either a silenced 22 High standard or a PPK with a silencer in a shoulder holster I sometimes carried a Browning Hi Power or a sawed off 12 gauge double barrel in a sleeve at the small of my back . I could rebelt the RPD with one hand and use the sawed off as a defense. I carried 00 buck and slug for it. I used to take the 00 buck apart and replace ten with the vietnamese five Dong coins. Real real lethal at close range, and all our fights were in that range. Nothing more embarassing than to be unarmed when someone blows you out of your knickers.

Modern Forces: ts 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?
Nick Brokhausen: Green and Black? Well Frank always was a bit of a fashion slave.. The idea of the paint is to break up the outline. It is SPRAYED on The best effect is to spray it on after you have twisted the pants and shirt rumple them up and spray it. If  not we sometimes used a window screen to help break the spray up. In the bush you become a shadow.

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?
Nick Brokhausen: We had starlight scopes, we used them when we had a static mission. I used a meta scope a few times, not worth the bulk and you had to make sure your face wasn't back lit by the reticle.  We ate a lot of carrots or just had really good night vison. When I was twenty I could bloody near see in the dark, because my eyes were dilated to the size of saucers because I was scared shitless.

Modern Forces: Any narrative or stories to share, that I haven’t covered here?
Nick Brokhausen: Lots, but most are in the two books. Some ( indictable ) are best left out, although Mac and I nearly got an Article 15 for burning down a whorehouse ( I was supposed to start a diversion because we couldnt pay the bill. I threw a smoke grenade and the place went up like tinder.) It turned out that one of the HQ SMAJ's girlfriend worked there and as a result she was unemployed.

Modern Forces: Are you in contact with any other SOG or Special Forces veterans (other then Bill of course) who would be willing to share their knowledge?
Nick Brokhausen: Get Tilt to take you to the SOA as a guest you can get a bunch of stories in one afternoon, mostly about having narrowly escaping some disaster or another by a hair, or if they start drinking cognac  horrible morose, bullshit . Hang out with those octagenarians from Delta.No one wants to hang around with them still except the guys from CCN who share a brain cell with them.

Modern Forces: What did you do after SOG?
Nick Brokhausen: After SOG, I went back to SF. Dai Uy Butler ( curse his black hearted soul, he is my brother in law now.) managed to get most of Recon Company up to Devens where a few went back to laser tanks for the B 52s and airstrikes and when the war shut down  we were a major speed bump in the way of VOLAR and the new touchy feely  affirmative action bullshit. A good lot of us ended up being the first anti terrorist  unit in Europe until Beckwith charmed up his cardboard rendition of the SAS. A lot of my peers went there and were the initial nuclei of it.  
I got out in 82 with sixteen years in with a back injury and a desire to do not train. I went to Africa for a while, even was a super cargo on a 1200 ton Boom working the coast from non traditional ports. Nice lot of Gambian and Ubros with an odd blackamoor for polish. Did mostly security and military work...long before there was a market like now. Spent some time in the USSR after the fall and Kazahkstan as well. I did kidnap recoveries for a bit. Did five in Mexico, One in Colummbia and one in Chechnya ( I will never let cash tempt me like that again) There are some populations that have no redeemable qualities. Chechans, Somalians, the arabs as a whole, and liberals are on that list.

Oh and I am cured for life of ever dating redheaded women, or even making eye contact with them. It isnt that I am bonkers over them, they find me as some sort of training aid, I just dont have the deranged state and body fluids for that exercise anymore.