Fighting Guerrillas And Befriending The Locals: A Special Forces Soldier In The Mekong Delta
Gary Fields was born in November 1944 and grew up in Asheboro, North Carolina. As a boy, he played baseball and basketball. In 1965, he enlisted in the National Guard. He had a great Platoon Sergeant who told his trainees, “I’m going to have the best platoon.” After seeing Special Forces Soldiers conducting Robin Sage training, he decided to become a Green Beret as well. He switched from the National Guard to Active Duty to have a shorter service obligation. Overall, he considers training for Special Forces one of the most challenging things he’s done, and learning how to work with and understand people was particularly useful. He wanted to become a demolitions expert but was assigned as a radio operator, and in that role he learned Morse code. When he deployed to Vietnam, he was assigned to team A411 in the IV Corps region. He describes typical patrols and missions, including search and destroy missions and the time they were hit at night in a mortar attack. He also recounts watching a C130 “Spooky” gunship fire at night. One interesting figure he mentions is Nguyen Lac Hoa, a Chinese Priest who led his followers in the fight against the Viet Cong and spoke English “like a professor.” He recalls interacting with some of the local civilians and getting emotional when he left. He describes fighting against the guerrillas and working with the local CIDG (Civilian Irregular Defense Group) volunteers and ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) Soldiers. He notes that Tet changed everything; before the Tet Offensive, he could walk around without a weapon, but after Tet, everyone carried one. At the end of the interview, he reflects on his service and supporting the Montagnard community in Asheboro, North Carolina.