From a man who was there at the beginning

By on November 6, 2011 in Memories
by Pass “Doc” Meza

A short course on the formation of the LRRPs for 1965. Ron Bourne and I were there, we did not read about it, as proven, the first totally all American LRRP Operational Patrol was run by the members of the 1st Bde (Separate), 101st ABN. DIV.

I know that other elements seemed to want to claim this title but the truth of the matter is that Gen. Westmoreland’s favorite “Fire Brigade” was the 1st Bde, 101st ABN Div. He commanded the Division and was very instrumental in the formation of the RECONDO School at Ft. Campbell. This was his brainchild for the LRRP inception in Vietnam and placed his career in jeopardy by authorizing the formation of the LRRPs concept into action. When the 1st Bde ran its first missions, Gen Westmoreland was there at Phang Rang to welcome the patrols in and made the statement to that effect. Had the LRRP concept not worked, the Washingtonian Bureaucrats would have had a field day crucifying him!

Additionally, our training came from Project Delta, B-52, 5th Special Forces Group (ABN), who provided cadre for the initial training however when they discovered that most of the “Original LRRPs” were Ex-Special Forces, Ranger Course and RECONDO School (Ft. Campbell) graduates, they acted in an advisor and consultant capacity. B-52 was fielding LRRPs since June of 1965 but they were mixed patrols manned by SF Troops, Nungs/Cambodian and Montagnards. This Team B-52 was commanded by LtCol. Charles “Charging” Beckwith who I had served with in the 7th SF Gp (ABN) back at Ft. Bragg. Our teams were set up to mirror a Split Special Forces A-team and to operate very much in the same manner.

The 1st Air Cavalry came in after the 1st Bde, 101st ABN DIV as we secured An Khe for them until they assumed responsibility for their TAOR from us. There were many visitors from the 173rd, 1st Air Cavalry, 4th Inf Div, 25th Inf Div and 1st Inf Div to observe the 1st Bde’s LRRPs training and operational techniques at Phang Rang. They were there to observe, learn and to take back to their respective units the knowledge that they obtained from the 1st Bde’s LRRPs. It was not by accident that they were there to observe and to learn but directives from the MACV/USARV HQS from Gen Westmoreland directing them to do it.

Why? Because the successes of the 1st Bde LRRP’s was known throughout the country. All of the unit Representatives that visited the 1st Bde LRRPs told this to Lt. Stephenson and to several members of the 1st Bde LRRPs. The other units had several documented evidence of total LRRP teams being lost or annihilated due to being poorly trained or not having the experienced corps of NCO to lead the teams.

I am not trying to discount anyone participation or services to their country but this can be substantiated through research or even talking to Lt. Stephenson or any surviving members of the 1st Bde’s S-2 Staff or Bde. Command Headquarters. The truth of the matter is that the other units failed to used experienced and battle tested NCOs to lead their patrols. In some instances, the men selected were the ones that the line units did not want so they got rid of them. The true professionalism of the 1st Bde’s LRRPs can be and is documented by the fact that during our first year of operations, we only lost one man friendly KIA and no other LRRP unit of that time frame can claim that same professionalism. We operated in the same areas that other supposedly LRRP units operated in and we came away unscathed.

In doing research for my book, I have a lot of documentation that can back up this claim. For if we were not as successful, why would others come a calling to learn from us? We became the Show Case for the Bde. because of our professionalism, and dedication and we even turned around and supported the 5th SF Gp (ABN) with LRRP Operations at their request. Noticed that I said at their request, they could have asked for anyone but they asked for the 1st Bde’s LRRPs.

So this is our testament to the men of the “Original LRRPs” and a claim that I don’t make lightly. Not because I am one of them but because the 1st Bde LRRPs were truly elite and did prove during their tenure. Our young men that followed in our foot steps continued to uphold this fine tradition but as the evolution in missions occurred they were subjected to varying missions that at times they were not equipped to performed thus placing them in Harm’s Way more so than they should have been. Even than they performed admirably but they were at times misused by the higher authorities without thought to their well beings.

Again, please don’t misunderstand me, I applaud all LRRP/LRP/RANGERS for their services to our country! The abuse and neglect that all of us were subjected to and the hatred encountered upon our return from a disenchanted American Public for the prolonged involvement in Vietnam.

History has a way of bringing to light the truth and it shall as to the 1st Bde’s LRRPs were second only the B-52, Project Delta LRRPs. We were the first totally All-American field maneuver element to do so and that is a fact.


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From a man who was there at the beginning

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