119 of 125 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2010
I just finished reading the "The Ether Zone, U.S. Army Special Forces, Detachment B-52, Project Delta". I found it to be an interesting book because it details an incident in which I was a participant. Read the book with the following comments in mind.
First, let me introduce myself. I am the "Door Gunner" referred to on page 136. In January 1966 I was a 19-year old U.S. Army Crew Chief on a UH-1B assigned to the 145th Airlift Platoon. The 145th ALP had previously been assigned to Project Delta and our mission was to support Delta's reconnaissance of the An Lao Valley. I was sitting next to Major Charlie Beckwith when he was wounded on this mission. The way that this incident is described is factually inaccurate. In fact, it is wildly inaccurate. Since the book is not properly footnoted I am unable to determine the source for the description of this incident but apparently it was one of the other SF people on board the aircraft.
I published an article in "Vietnam Magazine" in October 2003 in which I described this incident, predating the publication of this book by six years and available to any researcher on this subject. In short, when Maj. Beckwith was wounded he was not urging "his pilot to land so that he could join in" with a reaction force pinned down by a far superior enemy force in an LZ (p. 136). In fact, we hadn't even reached the An Lao Valley proper when we were hit. The sentence "Eager to be in the fray, Beckwith was wounded by a .51 caliber round as he jumped from the hovering craft, shot in the stomach" is pure fiction. Actually, he was sitting behind me when he was hit and we were nowhere near an LZ. We were flying over some rice paddies at an altitude of about 200-300 feet when both he and I were hit at exactly the same time. He was not put back "onto the chopper for evacuation" because he never left it. None of us did, until we flew back to the Bong Son Special Forces Camp. As to "The round passed through him, wounding his door gunner" is absurd. What kind of door gunner in Vietnam sits behind anyone? As I stated before, I was sitting in the left door, in front of Maj. Beckwith. I was engaged in firing my M-60 at a tree line from which we were taking fire. Maj. Beckwith was firing over my shoulder with his M-16 when the round came through the door, hit my right hand, nicked my leg, and then hit him in the stomach. While I know that in his book Maj. Beckwith said that he was hit by a .51 caliber round, this is impossible. The round that hit him passed through my right hand first and I still have a right hand with an AK-47 size hole in it. He and I were the only two people actually hit by small arms fire in the aircraft and we were both hit simultaneously. The chances that he would be hit by a .51 caliber without it hitting me and punching a large hole in the aircraft and that I would be hit with a smaller caliber round at the same time are beyond remote.
My purpose in advising of these errors is to set the record straight and alert others. Factual errors, even honest mistakes, make a book less credible and reduce the usefulness it provides to its readers. I can't speak to the accuracy of the entire book but if it has this incident portrayed inaccurately perhaps it also has other examples. The real facts regarding this incident were already sufficient to demonstrate the bravery, loyalty, and self-sacrifice demonstrated by all members of the Delta Team and by the aircrews of the 145th Airlift Platoon.
Duane D. Vincent
32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
First, let me say that as a Special Forces veteran I like reading war stories. I especially like them when they are about people I know and admire, like Hank Luthy (and others).
However, Mr. Morris' accuracy and research leave a lot to be desired. One glaring example is his repeated reference to the UH-1 "Huey" series of utility helicopters as "Hughes" helicopters. Unfortunately, Hughes Helicopter never made the UH-1, it is a Bell Helicopter product (officially the UH-1 "Iroquois"). Hughes built the OH-6 "Cayuse" light observation helicopter (commonly called the "LOACH").
Mr. Morris also seems to be unable to consistently use the abbreviations for Army awards. I get confused and I spent 20 years in the Army! A casual reader with no military experience would be lost.
The book is laid out in almost a stream of consciousness style, rather than chronologically. He jumps back and forth so much that I lost track of the years and where we were supposed to be in the history of B-52.
Mr. Morris also forgets that the casual reader has no concept of the organization, role, and mission of the US Army's Special Forces (commonly "the Green Berets"), let alone how 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and its predecessor organization under MACV (and the CIA's involvement) fit in to the overall counterinsurgency effort in RVN.
A previous reviewer also links, Project Delta or B-52 (officially, Operational Detachment B-52, 5th Special Forces Group - or the second ODB of the 5th SFG) with the existing US Army special mission unit (SMU) known as "Delta" or "Delta Force" (officially 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment D). The two are totally unconnected except for the fact that Colonel Charles Beckwith commanded both, chose the name "Delta" and had some of the old "Project Delta" hands in the intital 1980s incarnation of "Delta Force" (which is detailed in his book). Missions are entirely different and there is no operational connection / history.
Overall, this fills in a significant gap by providing first hand accounts of the superhuman feats accomplished by B-52.
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
First off, I'm a former Marine that was at Mai Loc from 1 Sept 69 to
4 Oct 69, and had the honor to be attached to Detachment B-52,
Project Delta for Operation Trojan Horse I & II. And I have to say
thank you to those SFs that I served with there. After finding out
more about this special group of Soldiers, I am very humbled and proud
to say I had the privilege to serve with them.
After wondering what was going on and who was I with for many years, this book filled in more pieces of the puzzle for me.
R.C. Morris did an excellent job in writing this book and doing the research to make it factual. Highly recommend it for reference or just plain reading to understand what was going on. It is not a dry read.
Just go buy the book, it's a hellava read.
Sleep tight, the worlds best military is protecting our freedom!
32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
BOOK REVIEW TO AMAZON
THE ETHER ZONE R.C. MORRIS
I served with Project Delta for 18 months and am mentioned in R. C. Morris' book The Ether Zone.
The book is poorly organized. The experiences of the Project Delta members were hurriedly collected, poorly edited, and not presented in a recognizable time sequence. Large gaps in the history of Project Delta are the result.
In the areas of the book of which I have personal knowledge, there are several glaring errors. Two of which are totally unacceptable.
(1) Major Ken Nauman was the Senior Advisor to the 81st Airborne Ranger Battalion in Gia Dinh. Morris reports that Captain Edward M. Young was, but Young was hundreds of miles to the north, in Nha Trang. If Morris had checked the roster of Ranger Advisors (Annex G) in his book, he might have noticed that Young was never a Ranger advisor. He also might have noticed that Nauman was the Senior Ranger Advisor during the time of the Gia Dinh action. So much for the cross checking the author claims to have done.
(2)No recon teams were wiped out in Gia Dinh, because there were no recon teams sent to Gia Din. One recon man was killed on a follow-up operation after the Gia Dinh action, not the four reported by Morris. Sergeant First Class Paul D. Spillane was killed while on operations with the Ranger Battalion, in the area known as the "rocket belt", outside of Saigon. He was the only American killed during the entire operation. He was a recon man that had volunteered to go on operations with the Rangers after they had moved outside of Saigon.
Although the author claims to have done extensive research and cross checking with members of Project Delta, the text of The Ether Zone shows otherwise. Had he made a phone call to any number of Project Delta Recon or Ranger people, these two errors would not have occurred. The author never "cross checked" anything with me.
Each experience of the Delta Project men edited by Morris, stand alone. They demonstrate the professionalism, unique expertise, and bravery of the Delta men, especially the Delta Recon men.
I will always be grateful to have been allowed to stand among the best of the best. They were and are great American Heroes.
THOMAS O. HUMPHUS
Major USA Retired
6328 Adams Park Drive
Columbus, GA 31909
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2009
Raymond Morris' "The Ether Zone: US Army Special Forces Detachment B-52, Project Delta" brings to light the extraordinary story of this elite and highly-classified Special Forces unit operating from 1964 to 1970 during the Vietnam War. The unit, a precursor to today's famed Delta Force, remained classified and little-known until its existence was declassified in 1996. Even then, the former members of this unit did not fully support allowing their highly-decorated unit (the second most decorated of its size during the entire Vietnam conflict) to come out into the open. These men had nothing to hide--quite the contrary--they had much of which they were justifiably proud. Instead, these "Quiet Professionals" preferred to keep their small unit's exploits out of the public eye... to remain "below the radar" where they were most comfortable operating.
Overcoming this initial reluctance of Delta members to tell their story, Morris does a masterful job of combining his research of the organizational history and structure of Delta with the vivid reminiscences of its soldiers. Drawing primarily from interviews, Morris weaves together a compelling story. Broken down into short and highly-readable chapters, he provides a gripping series of stories from a close-knit group of warriors not inclined to highlight their personal exploits. Instead, they relate the details of others' bravery and skill. It is their fellow soldiers who are the heroes, not those being interviewed. Morris deftly aggregates various harrowing stores of combat involving small recon teams dropped off deep in enemy territory and far removed from friendly support. The reader will feel like he or she has been transported along with these brave men, trying to stay one step ahead of crack North Vietnamese and Vietcong units in hot pursuit. The result: unlike some books that hit you, Morris' crashes into you.
This book exudes authenticity. Not only are combat scenes described in heart-pounding detail, the reader will also appreciate the special sense of humor of Delta's soldiers. In addition to coping with extraordinarily demanding combat operations; they must also handle inclement weather, leeches and venomous snakes. To deal with the incredible stress, Delta members rely on practical jokes, pranks and "serious partying" at the Delta Club during their short breaks between their assignments "in the hole."
Ether Zone will also appeal to the serious student of the military and particularly of the SpecOps community. Morris provides detailed lists of personnel, units and important dates in the Delta Detachment's history. Hence, Ether Zone is a veritable unit history and a valuable resource.
Morris, mirroring the veterans of Delta, also reserves special respect for the various units (US and Vietnamese) who were a part of, or who regularly participated in, Delta's combat operations. The Nungs, Montagnards, and especially the 81st Vietnam Ranger Battalion are given a prominent place in the narrative. Morris also points out the exceedingly close relationship between Delta Detachment's members and the aviation units upon whom they had to rely (even in the hottest of LZs) for insertion and extraction.
The Ether Zone is well-written and thoroughly enjoyable. I highly recommend this book.
Reviewer, Military Writers Society of America
Award-winning author of "Delta 7"
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
In the preview it is incorrectly stated that this unit was operational model was precursor for the renowned Delta Force. This is an armature mistake to the understanding of the history of Delta Force (CAG). I am sure this is a good account of the operations of Project Delta in Vietnam, but it should stick to that. Everyone in the Special Ops community knows even though Charlie Beckwith commanded both units, they have no actual connection other than that. Beckwith attended the British SAS course and that was the operational model he used. And that the precursor was the 5th SFG unit called Blue Light. Blue Light members were intended to be grandfathered into Delta, but all but one stood up and walked out on Delta's first CSM Forest K. Forman in Delta's inception brief held at the Ft. Bragg Theater. This was because Beckwith had such a bad reputation after Vietnam from getting so many of his Special Forces men killed needlessly, that none of them would ever serve with him. That caused Delta to be populated with mostly non-Special Forces men from the Rangers in their early years.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2009
I have had a blessed life with many wonderful, exciting and unusual experiences but the highlight was the honor to serve in the Recon section of Project Delta. I had no combat experience upon entry but my background and training afforded me the opportunity of an interview at a time when the Recon section was low in numbers. Those days are seldom far from my thoughts and my Brothers are always on my mind. Serving in Project Delta as a young man, surviving the experience and being fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to serve in the company of many of the true icons of Recon and the Vietnam war such as Moose Monroe, Andrea St Laurent, Joe Alderman, Delta Jay Graves, Gary Nichols, D J Taylor, Doc Simpson, Crash Whalen and many more set the bar for the remainder of my life which to date has not even been approached.
Although nothing I have experienced can equate to those times of planning ops, immediate action drills, pushing to the limit, adrenalin rush, inserting with Art Garcia and his courageous Nungs to secure a team and break contact with a larger enemy force, the terror of compromise and being tracked by dogs, insertion or extraction under fire, the sadness from loss or the laughter and craziness that got us all through those times, The Ether Zone has renewed many forgotten emotions and brought back long lost memories. To date and to the man the former members of Delta are grateful for Ray's effort in telling the story of Delta. Everyone I know is buying it for their family and friends. I highly recommend to everyone to purchase and read The Ether Zone.
Strength and Honor
Chester B. Howard
Former SSG Delta Recon 69-70
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2009
As a former member of Project Delta who was given the privilege of leading a recon team I am grateful for the care that Ray Morris took attempting to capture the spirit and skill of the men in our unit. Writing about former Special Forces soldiers and their operations is a thankless task since we tend to be pathologically private, tended to work in compartmentalized operations and activities and when not confronting an enemy we eat our own. Knowing that challenge Mr. Morris took great care to present as complete a story as he could about our unit. While many stories where left untold he attempted to provide the reader a brief look into both the minds and hearts of the men with who I had the honor serve. It is my hope that anyone asked to lead in difficult places will take the lesson's about dedication to mission, leadership, cohesion and professionalism Mr. Morris captured to heart.
Jerry D. Estenson
Professor of Management
Proud former member of Project Delta
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is one that my VietNam era Special Forces vet husband really enjoys. He is mentioned several times in the books himself as well as knowing and having worked with many of the guys in the book and the author. A truly interesting account of a little known aspect of the VietNam war....
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2014
I am disturbed whenever I see persons who were in the same battles, tell materially different accounts.
So many instances of inaccuracies are being reported about this book from credible first person sources.
I also served in Vietnam as a Sergeant 11B40. We ran night ambush patrols for periods of 4 to 9 days and nights at a time. I have begun to read some of the literature that is emerging from the enlisted grunts, the guys who put their boots on the ground , and their hearts on the line every day. I notice in some of this literature a tendency to do just as reported here.
I am deeply grateful for these corrections by first person experience.
I realize that each one of us brought a different background of training, education, age, and life experiences into the combat arena. So I allow for different interpretations of an actual events within specific combat scenes. But when basic material facts are so clearly distorted and could so easily have been corrected, then I feel we are not serving well either ourselves or the memories that we pass on to the next generation.
Telling our truth just as it happened is sufficient. That truth alone speaks powerfully of the valor as well as the horror of war.
Perhaps the most accurate and straightest shooting account I have yet read of Special Forces operations is found in John Stryker Meyer's books, "Across the Fence" and "On the Ground." Both books are available at Amazon and at his own website. John was a Special Forces Team Leader and RTO. He knew his ground strategy as well as what was coming down from upper command. He knew when he had solid support at his back and when he had a REMF at his back.
Start your foundational reading with the plain truth spoken from the heart by a well informed team leader.
I also marveled at the differences in tactics that he used when compared to our night ambush tactics. His unit was so much smaller and operated "across the fence" -- beyond the borders of Vietnam -- where there was little or no immediate support from the powerful artillery, gunships, and 500 pound bombs which we called in so readily.
I also learned more than what I wanted to learn about the operations in the Cambodian sanctuaries, where we went in on foot in May - June 1970. His brief accounts of these 1967 operations fit neatly with some grim discoveries we made there -- three years later!