The Ether Zone: U.S. Army Special Forces Detachment B-52, Project Delta Paperback – 15 Jul 2014
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About the Author
Raymond C. Morris was born in Jefferson City, Missouri and entered the Army at 17. He served in Vietnam from 1964-1970 and retired from active duty in 1985 after 26 years in the military. In 2005, he was commissioned by the Project Delta members to write their story.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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
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.
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
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!
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"
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