I attended my 50th class reunion at New Mexico Military Institute a couple of weeks ago. After a memorial ceremony for classmates Hugh Michael Staver and Monte Orr, we talked a bit about Randy Suber who is interred at NMMI.
I heard lots of different stories about Randy and the circumstances around his death. I wanted to set some straight. This may not be news to many but for others how and what happened.
Randy was assigned to CCN. Command and Control North, MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observation Group). MACV-SOG was a joint service high command unconventional warfare task force engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia. The 5th Special Forces channeled personnel into MACV-SOG (although it was not a Special Forces group) through Special Operations Augmentation (SOA), which provided their “cover’ while under secret orders to MACV-SOG. The teams performed deep penetration missions of strategic reconnaissance and interdiction which were called, depending on the time frame, “Shining Brass” or “Prairie Fire” missions. Randy was a member of Recon Company and One-One (second in command and the second American) on RT Rattler. RT Rattler was a Nung team. Ethnic Chinese, these Nung soldiers were best-known for their loyalty to US Special Forces and had a reputation as the most-feared fighters of all the minority groups trained by the Americans.
CCN recon teams normally worked in Laos and it was there Randy along with team mate and One-Zero Ron Ray became MIA when their team was over run by elements of the NVA (North Vietnamese Army).
On November 13, 1969, their team was about 15 miles inside Laos in Saravane Province when they were attacked by a numerically superior enemy force at 1600 hours. In the initial fire, 3 indigenous were killed, and Ray sustained chest and arm wounds and fell to the ground, groaned and became silent. One indigenous team member, Nguyen Van Bon, checked Ray and shook him, but obtained no response. Ray’s weapon was smashed. Bon stated that he last saw Suber trying to establish comms on his URC-10 emergency radio, then pick up his weapon and aim at four approaching hostile soldiers, but that the rifle did not fire because it became jammed, and that Suber was hit immediately afterwards and fell to the ground. Bon called to him, but he did not move or answer. Their position was overrun by enemy forces and Bon evaded capture and was ultimately rescued. Even though the report given by the indigenous may lead one to assume Ray and Suber are dead, the Army classified them as Missing In Action. [Taken from pownetwork.org]
Randy was declared dead October 30, 1978 as a Sergeant First Class.
Even though the report given by Bon may lead one to assume Ray and Suber are dead, the Army classified them as Missing in Action. There are a number of reasons to support this determination, including mistrust of indigenous reports. If Ray and Suber had merely been incapacitated, many Army personnel would say that the indigenous would look to his own safety first, disregarding the fate of the wounded American’s.
As a general trend, the Army didn’t accept indigenous reports that were in conflict with or unsubstantiated by other information. [Taken from Togetherweserved.com]
When a team was in trouble or did not come up for their communication check, a SOG Brightlight team was formed and inserted into the target area to find, locate, assist and exfiltrate them from the area of operation. While I don’t have any record of this, it was SOP so someone went in or tried to.
RT Rattler would have been inserted by helicopter on a predesignated LZ. Once inserted the choppers left and they were on their own.
If things turn to shit you try establish comms and declare a “Prairie Fire.” Then all available assets in the area (some may be many minutes away) would be used to support and pull the team out. Fast movers, Spads (Douglas A-1 Skyraider) from Thailand, Cobras. Whatever flies and shoots.
We had teams overrun from time to time. We had teams inserted and never heard from again. That was the way it was.