Long Range Recon Patrols in the Vietnam War
In the digital age, surveillance and reconnaissance functions are usually performed without direct “eyes on” contact. Miniaturization of cameras and recording devices, combined with wireless transmission of digital signals, allow any of us to be observed and recorded with ease, usually without our knowledge or consent. Many of us are, in fact, greatly concerned about the degree to which government agencies utilize this technology to collect data on the individual citizen in direct violation of our Fourth Amendment right to privacy.
The complexity and definition of digital technology for military purposes far exceeds that available to private individuals. The use of high resolution cameras in satellites, drones, and small implantable devices and the ability to share the data in secure networks allows for the collection of essential information without endangering human personnel. The ultimate safety is the use of this sensory input by operators in our country to guide drone attacks in war arenas on another continent.
Over the course of military history, all military commanders have recognized the necessity of obtaining information about the enemy to achieve victory in battle. Many ingenious tactics have been used, but each one involves putting human “spies” in harm’s way. This was especially true when messages had to be hand-delivered prior to the invention of the radio. Undeniably, intelligence gathering for military purposes changed the course of human history, but those missions always posed a risk of capture, torture, and death to those involved.
During the Vietnam War, a small group of officers received training in stealth patrol tactics and led Long Range Patrols (LRP) and Long Range Recon Patrols (LRRP) into enemy territory to gather information on the Viet Cong and North Vietnam Army. In 2000, Gary Linderer, noted author of books about Vietnam, wrote a fascinating book (Phantom Warriors: LRRPs, LRPs, and Rangers in Vietnam) detailing actual reconnaissance missions often behind enemy lines based on reports and interviews of soldiers who participated in those missions during Vietnam.
My guest on Freedom Forum Radio is Major (Ret.) Randy Allen whose book Season V is a first-hand account of one such mission into North Vietnam to rescue American POWs who were being transferred from the south to the infamous Hanoi Hilton POW prison. Their mission began with a nighttime HALO jump of 32 soldiers into North Vietnam with trucks for evacuation, medical supplies, and arms into North Vietnam. All landed safely, in and of itself quite an accomplishment for that era, but they were surprised to find a large and unexpected enemy presence at the POW holding compound. Twenty-four American soldiers were killed by enemy fire. Randy Allen and seven other survivors began a seven week journey back to South Vietnam using every stealth technique they had been taught to survive and avoid capture.
Dr. Dan’s guest on Freedom Forum Radio this weekend is noted author Major (Ret.) Randy Allen. Topics of discussion include Allen’s military background, the qualities of leadership, and what it takes to be an American soldier.
Allen is a retired Major in the United States Army. He served his country for thirty-nine years in Army and the Army Reserves. Joining the Army in 1970, he began his career as a private. After eight years of enlisted service, he received a direct commission and served the balance of his career as an officer. As a Reserve officer he served in Desert Storm and in the Global War on Terrorism. While in the Army, Allen served three tours as commander of various units.
Allen began officiating high school football shortly after his first tour of duty and has called for forty-two years. He has officiated semi-pro football in the Carolinas and Virginia for over twenty-five years, and he currently serves as a clinic leader of the high school football association which meets locally. As a clinic leader Allen is responsible for leading the preparation of his group of officials.
Major (Ret.) Allen has been fortunate enough to watch some of every Super Bowl game with one exception, Super Bowl V, which was played while Major Allen and the other seven survivors were trying to return to South Vietnam. Therefore Major (Ret.) Allen named the account of his trek, Season V.
Major (Ret.) Allen currently resides in his hometown, Salisbury, NC. He is married to his wife of forty-two years, Carol Allen. They have two daughters and a granddaughter. Randy has a special friend, his service dog, Sparkles.
Don’t miss this engaging and fascinating three-part interview. Part one of this interview will air this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, June 10-11, on WJRB 95.1 FM and streamed live over the Internet. Part two airs Saturday and Sunday, June 17-18. and Part three will air the weekend of June 24-25. All programs are available by podcast following air time here.