TYR Tactical

Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Green Beret Anniversary

Monday, September 21st, 2020

On 21 Sep 1961, The Green Beret became the official headgear of the US Army Special Forces.

An Imprecise History of the US Army Security Agency Special Operations Detachments

Sunday, September 20th, 2020

Organic to each of the US Army’s Special Forces Groups are small teams of Signal Intelligence specialists operating in teams called Special Operations Team – Alpha or SOT-A. These in turn are supported by fewer still SOT-Bs. I served on a SOT-A from 1990-96 in 2nd Bn, 3rd SFG(A). The SOTs-A are the direct descendants of the United States Army Security Agency Special Operations Detachments (USASASODs).

While other SOF components have stood up SIGINT support elements over the past decade, SF has had the dedicated capability since before the Vietnam War.

Photograph: The 403rd SOD courier run – Plei Ku to Kontum – 1968 (Photo: INSCOM)

What follows is an “imprecise” history of thier existence from an ASA veteran website.


In the history of mankind, there are fleeting moments of time where, by fate or good judgement on the part of someone, a group of people are brought together at the most appropriate time and place or places to form extraordinary military units.

One such fleeting moment of history, was the formation and life cycle of an extraordinary military unit called the United States Army Security Agency Special Operations Detachment, more commonly referred to as the ASASOD.

One may ask why the ASASODs were called extraordinary and not elite. There are many elite military organizations such as the Roman Legions, Merrill’s Marauders, Rangers, Special Forces, SEALs, etc., however, there are few extraordiary units such as the ASASODs.

Why were the SODs extraordinary? Certainly, the timing was there and so were the places. But, the thing that really made the SOD an extraordinary unit was the people… good Special Forces soldiers…good technicians…loyal, dedicated, brave men…but, most of all, trusted and true friends.

The first SOD was originally formed at Vint Hill Farms Station, VA and relocated to FT Bragg, NC during the summer of 1960 with the 5th and 7th SFG(A)s. Later in 1960, units were organized and located in Okinawa with the 1st SFG(A) and Bad Toelz, GE with the 10th SFG(A). These original SODs were then designated as the 1st (1st SF), 2d (10th SF), 3d (7th SF), and 4th (5th SF) Operational Detachments of the 80th USASA Special Operations Unit (80th USASASOU).

In 1962 these Operational Detachments of the 80th SOU were redesignated as USASA Radio Research Units (RRUs); the 10th RRU (400th SOD) 1st SFG(A), and the 11th RRU (401st SOD) 8th SFG(A) was created, 12th RRU (402d SOD) 10th SFG(A), and the 13th RRU (403d SOD) 5th SFG(A).

During 1963 the units were again redesignated to the final designations we know them as today; the 400th ASASOD, 1st SFG(A); 401st ASASOD, 8th SFG(A); 402d ASASOD, 10th SFG(A); 403d ASASOD, 5th SFG(A) until Jan 64, 7th SFG(A) until Jan 65, and then to the 3d SFG(A) until the 403d’s deployment to RVN with the 5th SFG(A) in 1966.

The SODs remained the same from 1966 until the post-Viet Nam stand down of Special Forces during the early 1970s. With the stand down of the 5th SFG(A) in Viet Nam, the 403d was deactivated and was never again reactivated. On deactivation of the 8th SFG(A) in Panama, the 401st was deactivated for a short while and later reactivated with the 7th SFG(A) at Ft Bragg, NC. In 1974, on deactivation of the 1st SFG(A), the 400th was redeployed from Okinawa to Ft Bragg with the 5th SFG(A). The 402d redeployed from Germany with the 10th SFG(A) to Ft Devens, MA.

The official end of the USASASODs as United States Army Security Agency units came with the deactivation of HQs, USASA and conversion to Combat Electronic Warfare Intelligence (CEWI) organizations in December, 1976. However, even after the designation of USASA, the SODs continued to carry the ASASOD unit designations into the early 1980s when they were redesignated as Combat Intelligence Companies.

By the late 80s, the CBTI Cos were broken apart into Battalion level Military Intelligence Detachments in addition to a Group-level MID. The SOT-As went to the Bn MIDs, three a piece, along with a single SOT-B per Bn. The Group retained the TCAE.

Happy Birthday US Air Force!

Friday, September 18th, 2020

Please enjoy this recruiting song from the 1950s.

National Airborne Day

Sunday, August 16th, 2020

Several years ago one of my children asked at dinner, “Dad, what’s a leg?” I replied, “that’s your mother’s side of the family, son.”

In Memoriam – Melvin Hill, Veteran of First Combat HALO Mission

Saturday, August 15th, 2020

It has come to our attention that MSG Melvin Hill (USA, Ret) has passed away at age 81. He was not only an Army veteran but served in Special Forces and MACV-SOG during the Vietnam war where he was the team leader for the first combat HALO mission. He was awarded the Silver Star for that mission.

Melvin Hill was born March 26, 1939 in Brooklyn, New York and joined the Army in 1955. During his career he served with:

18th Regimental Combat Team (Airborne)

Airborne School – HALO instructor,

Special Forces (joined in 1964)

MAV-SOG (Two tours)

After his retirement Mel worked at the US General Services Administration, Washington, DC for 14 years.

Melvin Hill served two tours in Vietnam. His first tour was in 1966 with MACV-SOG, Khe Sanh, RVN, Spike Team Oklahoma. He returned in 1970 to MACV-SOG, Command and Control North (CCN), Recon Company, Recon Team Florida.

Melvin was the team leader for the first MACV-SOG, High Altitude Low Opening (HALO), Combat Jump. He was awarded the Silver Star for that HALO jump (28 November 1970).

Hill is seen here with Cliff Newman who also participated in that fabled jump along with Sammy Hernandez.

The citation for his Silver Star reads:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 8, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Sergeant First Class Melvin Hill, United States Army, for gallantry in action on 28 November 1970, while serving as Team Leader of a Combined Reconnaissance Team, Republic of Vietnam. At 0200 hours Sergeant Hill fearlessly led his team from the tail gate of a C-130 aircraft at an altitude of 17,000 feet on the first free fall into hostile territory in the history of the United States Army. This awesome free fall carried him through two cloud layers and light rain to penetrate deep in the enemy’s rear area. The team landed in rugged terrain, but, due to the intensive training and rehearsal conducted by Sergeant Hill, sustained no injuries. Having cached their parachutes, the team moved through the high-threat area toward their target to accomplish their reconnaissance mission. During their five-day stay behind enemy lines, the team gathered sufficient hard intelligence to mark this mission a success. As a result of Sergeant Hill’s training, motivation and fearless leadership, his team was able to accomplish a harrowing mission which testifies to his courage and moral fiber. Sergeant First Class Hill’s conspicuous gallantry in action was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Army and reflects great credit upon himself and the military service.

Biographical information and photos from Special Operations Association and Special Forces Taps groups on Facebook.

Prairie Fire Art Co Presents “The Professional” – Billy Waugh with MACVSOG in Laos

Friday, August 14th, 2020

This is Prairie Fire Art Co’s latest piece, “The Professional”. This pencil on paper was created to honor the legendary SGM Billy Waugh (USA, Ret) during his time in MACVSOG, while operating in Laos.

The artist offered this background on SGM Waugh.

Billy Waugh had a 50 year career in Army Special Forces and as a paramilitary officer. He patrolled the jungles of Laos and Vietnam. He hunted down Carlos the Jackal. He was the first to put sights on UBL and he invaded Afghanistan when most said he was too old for the mission. “Beware of an old man in a profession where men usually die young”.

The best part of this project was sitting down with SGM Waugh and discussing his missions – or at least what little he is at liberty to share. While this drawing is a tribute to his entire career, I wanted to show SGM Waugh on a MACVSOG recon mission. Deep in the jungle, moving slowly, cautiously, listening to every sound and constantly scanning the bush for NVA. At the time he was older than most on the recon teams and he told me he felt a tremendous duty to his men – to see them through each mission alive. To this day, Billy still invests in younger generations of quiet professionals.

He is the consummate professional soldier. He is a great American. Please share this post and read Billy’s book, “Hunting the Jackal”, and “Surprise, Kill, Vanish” by Annie Jacobsen to learn more about his incredible life and career of service. Thank you SGM Waugh!

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Draper Kaufman the Godfather of UDTs/SEALS

Sunday, August 2nd, 2020

On August 4 we celebrate Rear Admiral (ret) Draper Laurence Kauffman birthday. Admiral Kauffman is credited with starting the Underwater Demolishing Teams and being the first U.S. frogman. He is called the father or Godfather of the SEALS teams.

He graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1933. But because he had bad eyesight, he was made a reserve officer. At the start of WWII, he volunteered for the America Volunteer Ambulance Corp in Paris. During the German blitz of London, he severed as a bomb disposal officer. One month before Pearl Harbor he returned to the U.S. and joined the Naval Reserve. He is credited with inventing Motivation week, better known as Hell Week in Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL training (BUD/S). Just that last accomplishment is worthy of calling him the Godfather.



SCUBAPRO Sunday – Americans Navy

Sunday, July 5th, 2020

In the early 1770s, a Connecticut inventor David Bushnell started designing what would be the first submersible. It was a small egg-shaped and less than eight feet tall. Her hull was constructed from two oak shells held together by steel bands and waterproof with a thick layer of tar. It had ventilation tubes, a compass, and a device for determining depth. Attached to the exterior was a primitive bomb. The pilot entered the vessel through a hatch at the top. There were a couple of small glass windows that provided very light and visibility. It was operated by a hand crank that propelled it and a tiller that steered it. The operator also controlled the hand pump that regulated the ballast that submerged and surfaced the craft. Once submerged and the ventilation tubes were closed, there was about 30 minutes worth. It was called “Turtle” because of the two “shells” put together to make it. It is also referred to as Americas Turtle.

In the spring of 1776, about a year into the Revolutionary War, Bushnell wrote to General George Washington asking if the Turtle could be used in defense of New York City’s harbor. Washington accepted the offer. Around midnight on 6 September, the Turtle, piloted by Army sergeant Ezra Lee. That’s right, the first submarine action by the U.S. Navy was led by an Army guy.

It took Lee two hours to get to his target; a British ship named the HMS Eagle. Once he positioned himself beneath the vessel, he was supposed to drill into her hull using a bit attached to Turtle’s top hatch. Once the hole was deep enough, he would anchor his explosive device to the ship’s hull. He had about 30 minutes to get away from the Eagle before the charge would detonate. That was the plan, but Lee’s bit got stuck in a metal part of the hull. On his second attempt, the Turtle bobbed to the surface and he was spotted. As he headed for shore, Lee released his “torpedo,” which exploded harmlessly in the middle of the East River.

Even though Lee wasn’t successful in sinking or doing damage to the HMS Eagle (other than a small drill hole) it was the U.S. first attempt at underwater warfare, and it was one of the first in a very young countries Navy. Secondarily the failed attack ultimately forced the British to move their fleet of 200 ships to where they thought was a safer location. The threat of underwater attack kept the British fleet on their toes throughout the war and made them use more resources and manpower to protect their ships then they normally would have. Much like using Special Forces behind the enemy lines in modern warfare. So, it turns out it wasn’t as big of a failure as first thought. The basic principles used by America’s Turtle still remain valid in submarine warfare today. In recognition of Bushnell’s achievement, the U.S. Navy named two submarine tenders in his honor, one during World War I and one during World War II. Inevitably, the ships were nicknamed “Turtle.”