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The Ether Zone: U.S. Army Special Forces Detachment B-52, Project Delta
The Ether Zone: U.S. Army Special Forces Detachment B-52, Project Delta
by R. C. Morris
Edition: Paperback
Price: $20.49
48 used & new from $3.82

120 of 126 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars When Writing About Real Events Accuracy is Critical, February 8, 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
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 7, 2014 10:16 AM PDT

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