During the Vietnam War, a special group of Americans and commandos launched a bold operation.
The target of the operation was the forward headquarters and its commander. The North Vietnamese Army’s 559th Transportation Group was within the Ho Chi Minh trail complex.
It went from North Vietnam all the way to South Vietnam, going through Laos and Cambodia. General Vo Bam was stationed there too.
A top general, Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, was supposed to be in the area. The special operations unit was tasked to kill or capture him.
A highly secret unit, Military Assistance Command Vietnam-Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG), was operating in Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam. Their existence was a heavily guarded secret, especially since U.S. administrations said troops were not outside South Vietnam.
In total, 3.2 million soldiers were in the Southeast Asia area during the war, and 20,000 were Green Berets, with 2,000 assigned to the SOG.
The SOG only took the very best. In their missions, you needed luck and supreme vigilance to survive.
Oscar-8 was 11 miles from Khe Sahn in the northern area of South Vietnam. The jungle was all around the area. A unit of 100 went in for the specialized mission, including special forces and Nung mercenaries.
B-52 Stratofortress bombers were to go ahead before the SOG’s arrival. They would flatten the area, and the Hatchet Force would come in and sweep the area, killing survivors and demolishing equipment. Finally, they would locate Giap and capture or kill him.
In total, they had three CH-46 Sea Knights helicopters to take the Hatchet Force in while four UH-1 Huey gunships remained close by plus A-1E Skyraider aircraft, four F-4C Phantom fighter jets, two H-34 choppers, and two forward observers.
Mission Goes Sideways
Nine B-52 bombers rained down 945 unguided bombs on the headquarters of the North Vietnamese. But the enemy has escaped the onslaught.
Sgt. Maj. Billy Waugh, a Special Forces operator, radioed to abort the touch down of the Hatcher Force helicopters. It was too late. The two were shot down along with two UH-1 Huey gunships, plus the H-34 chopper.
Eventually, many of the other aircraft were shot down too, and none of the mission objectives were achieved. Sgt, First Class Charles Wilklow was captured, but he escaped and was rescued five days later.