4:22 | In the aftermath of the debacle at Desert One, an effort to plan and execute another mission to rescue the hostages in Iran got under way. Air Force special ops pilot George Ferkes recalls that new tactics and equipment were developed that served as the blueprint for the revitalization of special operations units throughout the military.
Keywords : George Ferkes pilot Special Operations Holloway Report scholarship fund Special Operations Warrior Foundation Honey Badger Iran Hostage Crisis Operation Eagle Claw Desert One
He was married and in graduate school but when his deferment no longer protected him from the draft, George Ferkes enlisted in the Air Force and learned to fly. He was assigned as a forward air controller and began training for Vietnam.
The base was at Quang Tri, up near the DMZ. George Ferkes was a new forward air controller, or FAC, whose job was to support the South Vietnamese forces in the area and their American advisors.
Operation Lam Son 719 was an attempt by the South Vietnamese forces to cut the Ho Chi Minh trail and disrupt the supply of Communist forces in the South. George Ferkes supported them by calling in air strikes where needed. The campaign went so badly that, eventually, he was calling in strikes to destroy abandoned armor.
Forward air controller George Ferkes marked his targets with white phosphorus rockets that put out a lot of smoke. He also had a Starlight scope, the first practical night vision device, but it was bulky and hard to use. He describes one memorable mission which had him supporting an ARVN unit near the DMZ which was overrun by the enemy.
When he returned from Vietnam, George Ferkes is fairly sure he saw his old hooch burning on the television when Quang Tri fell. After a couple of years he leapt at the chance to join a special ops outfit, even though, at the time, there was little interest in those units.
Special forces went through a bit of a renaissance after the failed rescue of the hostages in Iran. Never again would US special operations be caught flat footed and unprepared. Pilot George Ferkes was a part of that mission and it provided him with a purpose that guided him through the rest of his career.
There is a always lot of dry humor in military life. Special operations pilot George Ferkes recalls some moments from his career that made him laugh.
George Ferkes pays tribute to leaders who inspired him during his career in Air Force special ops. His part in the Iran hostage crisis became a catalyst for the rest of his career which he dedicated to the build up of special forces.
When the Iran hostage crisis happened, President Carter asked the joint chiefs if there was any way they could be rescued. This set off a mad scramble to put together a multi-branch operation and Air Force special ops pilot George Ferkes was right in the middle of it.
There was some good intelligence available during the planning of the Iran hostage rescue attempt. For instance, pilot George Ferkes knew that an aircraft could easily avoid the radar at the border. That was not the problem, though, once the effort got underway.
Operation Eagle Claw was the name of the attempt by US Special Forces to rescue the hostages from the embassy in Iran. The mission was aborted because of mechanical failures in helicopters and then turned tragic when eight men died in a fiery crash. Pilot George Ferkes was part of that team and he describes the events from his perspective.
Operation Eagle Claw was a pivotal moment in Special Operations history. Unconventional warfare had been ignored after the Vietnam War and three veterans of that conflict, who were also deeply involved with the attempt to rescue the hostages in Iran, reveal the inside story of the planning and tragic outcome. George Ferkes, Roland Guidry and Keith Nightingale each offer a unique perspective on the events.
In Cold War Germany, Chuck Ware was constantly in the field. Hard road marches and winter conditions were grueling, and with the Vietnam drawdown, they were drastically short of men. It was a long rebuilding process for the Army and it was necessary.
Patrick Sauer recalls some of the differences between the American medical system and the one they implemented in South Korea. After Korea, he stayed busy working in the States as an U.S. Army Recruiting Command seeking out medical recruits.
Beer and ball games. That's what retired Marine Corps General and former Air America pilot Larry Taylor enjoys these days. He remains involved in various activities related to his service and has a ready lesson available for civic groups who ask him to speak. It can be summed up as "the troops eat first."
There was a concern that Saddam Hussein's Scud missiles could be fired against Israel, so a Ranger detachment was one of the units inserted into Iraq to make sure that did not happen. As part of this operation, LTG Ken Keen was helped by the close camaraderie among Rangers, men that he already knew and men that he just met and could trust.
Engineer LTG Ely was instrumental in supporting the 6th Army's successful Pacific campaign, and once he came home, he continued a long, illustrious career in the Army. From the Pentagon to Paris, he served in a variety of administrative engineering roles.
Women, too, serve on the front lines. Angela Beltz, a veteran of Desert Storm, speaks of her work with women's veteran groups and their outreach to veterans of all wars. Especially important to her are the women who served in Vietnam. (Interview conducted at, and with the assistance of, the National Veterans Memorial & Museum- https://nationalvmm.org/)
After deciding to ETS (End Term of Service) with the infantry division, Steve Hamlet soon joined the non-deployable space operations in the Air Force Reserves. He gives insight on his experiences and his role in operations. He also gives an account of one of the more tragic experiences in which one of the space shuttles exploded on its way back to earth.
There are things you don't think about until you are there. Mechanized battalion commander Chuck Ware scrambled to get his tanks and other vehicles fueled out in the desert. The battles were fought at night and American thermal imaging technology gave them a big advantage.
The Cold War was a different kind of war in Europe. The job of a tank driver like Donald Andrezjwski was to just be there, battle ready. The locals in the town loved the Americans for being there and the soldiers loved not being shot at and having access to girls. The upside was the fun leave time and trips to Paris, but the serious business of deterrence came first.
Near the end of his tour in West Germany, Patrick Malloy was made the Troop Information Specialist, which meant he conducted classes in the Constitution, military law and tradition and the separation of the military from politics. This was made necessary by a general who crossed the line.
Ken Morgenthaler remembers his joining the military at a young age and thoroughly enjoying it. He found a sense of camaraderie with the members of his unit and respected his drill sergeants for working them that hard.
In basic training, there were city boys and there were country boys. City boy Patrick Malloy, who had no familiarity with weapons, explains why he was better at marksmanship than the country boys. He decided against Officer Candidate School and kept on marching with his college degree and bad knees.
During his first enlistment with the Army, Steve Hamlet was sent to Honduras. While there, Hurricane Mitch, one of the largest class 4 hurricanes in history, swept through Honduras and destroyed entire neighborhoods and killed over 10,000 people. He gives insight on the truly horrific images of witnessing people float down the river and describes his role in rescue and aid for civilians during this tragic event.
After his return home from his 2nd tour in Vietnam, he deployed out to Korea providing Medevac support for ground troops there. After that, he rose in the ranks of the military and ended up as Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans and Security for the Army.
Vietnam was heating up but Patrick Malloy was sent to West Germany, where the Berlin Wall and the Communist land blockade of Berlin were just as hot. He was looking forward to seeing Europe and considered himself lucky, but as time passed, he considered it a different way.
Described as his “claim to fame,” Steve Hamlet gives an account of a yearlong mission while in Kosovo, in which he tracked a supposed leader of several undisclosed groups. He was primarily responsible for stopping what would have been a disastrous attack on an undisclosed city in another country by this very same individual.
After the war came to an end in Vietnam, Henry Le made it safely over to the United States, with help from a sponsor. From there he attended flight school again but this time for the Navy, and ended up landing a job in Subic Bay. Later on, he was involved with Operation Desert Shield for a brief period of time. Eventually, he was able to return back to Vietnam to see his family,
Farm boy Bill Morris joined the Air Force Reserve, thinking it would keep him away from Korea, but his tests showed such great mechanical ability that the Army drafted him right out of the Air Force into the Army. They needed maintenance personnel for armored units in Germany, so he never saw Korea, after all.
He thought he would be going to Korea when he was drafted, but after basic training, tank driver Donald Andrejzwski was sent to Germany. The Cold War was on and it was feared Russian troops would come swarming over the border.
After his service in Germany, Patrick Sauer went on to pursue his Master's in Health Administration back in the States. Along the way, he learned a number of things, with some obstacles, that helped his health care service improve measurably.