|Name:||Jerry Michael "Mad Dog" Shriver|
|Rank/Branch:||Master Sergeant/US Army|
Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observation Group, Command and Control
South 5th Special Forces Group,
1st Special Forces
Ban Me Thuot, South Vietnam
|Date of Birth:||24 September 1941 (De Funiak Springs, FL)|
|Home of Record:||Sacramento, CA|
|Date of Loss:||24 April 1969|
|Country of Loss:||Cambodia|
1140850 N 10619118E - actual
Click coordinates to view maps
|Status in 1973:||Missing in Action|
|Other Personnel In Incident:||Earnest C. Jamison (remains recovered); Gregory M. Harrigan; Paul D. Cahill and Walter L. Marcantel (evacuated/recovered)|
SYNOPSIS MACV-SOG, or Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observation Group, was a joint service unconventional warfare task force engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia. The 5th Special Forces channeled personnel into MACV-SOG (though it was not a Special Forces group) through Special Operations Augmentation (SOA), which provided their "cover" while under secret orders to MACV-SOG. These teams performed deep penetration missions of strategic reconnaissance and interdiction that were called, depending on the location and time frame, "Shining Brass," "Daniel Boone," "Salem House" or "Prairie Fire" missions.
During 1968 and early 1969, CCS had been inserting 6-man reconnaissance patrols into the Fish Hook border area between South Vietnam and Cambodia. The hard reality was due to the intense enemy presence continuously operating in the region, if a patrol could be inserted and stay on the ground undetected for three days, it was very lucky. Many teams were discovered within 30 minutes of insertion and forced to be extracted under fire shortly thereafter. Another major factor faced by reconnaissance teams, including the Hatchet Force, was locating an unguarded landing zone (LZ). Locating one large enough for a single helicopter insertion was one thing, however, finding an unguarded LZ large enough to accommodate four helicopters was quite another.
To shift the balance of power and disrupt the NVA's influence in the region, a direct attack on the North Vietnamese headquarters for operations in South Vietnam known as the Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN) was developed by Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. The headquarters bunker complex was located just a mile inside Cambodia in the Fish Hook area; approximately 14 miles southeast of Memot, Cambodia; 20 miles southeast of Quan Loi and 28 miles northeast of Tay Ninh, South Vietnam.
After receiving his mission days before the Hatchet Force was to be inserted, Lt. Col. Earl Trabue, Commander of Command and Control South, informed OP-35, MACV-SOG in his opinion their plan to attack the COSVN complex was not viable. The plan included the Hatchet Force snatching NVA prisoners as well as reporting on the effects of a B-52 Arc Light air strike against the COSVN complex that was also going to be used to cover the team's insertion. Lt. Col. Trabue fully understood the complexities of the mission and believed it to be too dangerous to insert only an augmented platoon and should be cancelled. Further, he believed the B-52 Arc Light air strike would not stun the enemy as projected.
The size of the Hatchet Force was limited as only 9 US Army Huey helicopters assigned to the 195th Assault Helicopter Company were available for the 10 minute, 20-mile flight from Quan Loi Airfield, MACV-SOG's southern launch site, to the target - 4 Huey transport insertion helicopters supported by 4 Huey gunships and 1 Huey command and control aircraft for directing the overall mission. Because of the flight configuration, only one platoon-sized force could be assigned to this mission.
On 24 April 1969, Capt. William H. O'Rourke, Jr., company commander and ground mission commander; Capt. Paul D. Cahill, assistant ground commander; 1st Lt. Gregory M. Harrigan and 1st Lt. Walter L. Marcantel, then SFC Jerry M. "Mad Dog" Shriver, Hatchet Force exploitation platoon leader; Sgt. Earnest C. Jamison, team medic; and their Montagnard soldiers comprised the augmented Hatchet Force that was to be inserted into Cambodia by helicopter 1½ miles north of the Vietnamese/Cambodian border.
All US Army helicopters were under the operational control of the air commander in the command and control helicopter. The only other air asset assigned to this mission was an Air Force Forward Air Controller (FAC) who was to call for and coordinate fixed wing air assets should their participation be necessary.
Shortly before takeoff at dawn, SFC Shriver boarded the first helicopter. As the aircraft lifted off the ground for the flight, the B-52s were to be making final preparations for their bomb run against COSVN. At the same time the helicopters prepared to takeoff, the Huey carrying Capt. O'Rourke and 5 team members developed mechanical problems and was forced to abort the mission. Because of this, Capt. Cahill, the assistant ground commander, took over the responsibilities of ground commander for the remainder of the mission.
The original plan was for the helicopters to insert the team as the air strike's dust settled. Unfortunately, when the helicopters arrived at the designated coordinates, it was the wrong location. The aircraft flew around for 30 to 45 minutes searching for signs of dry bomb craters, which would mark the correct site. When the pilots finally found three dry ones, the helicopters descended in-trail toward them and landed. After the members of the Hatchet Force leaped off, the helicopters' pulled up and away from the landing zone (LZ) for their return flight to Quan Loi.
As soon as the landing force was on the ground, the men took cover in one of two craters located side by side and roughly 30 to 50 yards from the bunker complex. Immediately after discharging their passengers, the helicopters pulled up and away from the LZ. They had reached an altitude of only 20 feet above the ground when the NVA opened fire from concrete bunkers and entrenched positions with a withering barrage of gunfire wounding or killing those men who had not reached the safety of the craters.
From his position in the western-most bomb crater, Jerry Shriver radioed other team members stating that a machine gun bunker to his left front had his men pinned down and asked if anyone could fire at it to relieve the pressure. Capt. Cahill, 1st Lt. Marcantel and Sgt. Ernest C. Jamison, who had taken cover in the center crater, reported they were also pinned down and unable to help. The air commander notified the Hatchet Force that he was bringing in the gunships for air support. Immediately he directed all gunships to use their mini-guns and rockets to attack the NVA positions. Further, to make sure no short rounds or bombs hit our troops, all attack passes were made along the bunker line, not head on into it. As the aircraft made their attack passes, one of the door gunners noted that the bunkers were made of concrete.
From his vantage point overhead, Maj. Benjamin T. Kapp, Jr., the southern launch site's senior launch officer who was also in the command and control aircraft as coordinator to assist Lt. Col. Trabue should the situation necessitate it, observed the battle site. From his vantage point, Maj. Kapp could see the platoon members in the bomb craters. According to one report, he witnessed North Vietnamese machine guns firing into the bodies of the men lying in front of the enemy positions. These machine guns also covered the open ground covered in ankle-high brown grass with grazing fire effectively trapping the members of the exploitation platoon.
Approximately 10 to 15 minutes into the raging battle, Capt. Cahill heard SFC Shriver transmit over his radio that he and five Montagnard soldiers were going to enter the tree line on the west edge of the LZ in an effort to flank an enemy position. Paul Cahill observed the 6 men as they broke from the crater and ran across the 30 yards of open ground between the crater and the treeline. As the men raced through the low grass toward the trees, Jerry Shriver maintained radio contact with the command and control aircraft and Capt. Cahill continued to monitor their progress.
As he watched, Paul Cahill saw SFC Shriver being struck by several rounds of automatic weapons fire at the treeline and fall to the ground. At the same time, radio contact between Jerry Shriver and the command aircraft was severed in mid-sentence. During the remainder of the mission several attempts were made to reestablish radio contact with the exploitation platoon leader, however, all attempts failed. Later Paul Cahill reported he believed "Jerry Shriver was dead when he hit the ground."
Also early in the fierce fighting, Sgt. Jamison left the protection of the crater to retrieve one of the wounded Montagnards. The team medic reached the soldier, but was immediately struck by a burst of machine gun fire that killed him instantly. Later in the heat of battle, Capt. Cahill lifted his head above the crater rim to evaluate the situation and was struck in the mouth by an AK-47 round that deflected upward into his right eye. This resulted in his total blindness for the next 30 minutes and the permanent loss of his right eye.
At the same time the Hatchet Force was engaged in vicious combat, several other teams were conducting reconnaissance operations from CCS's northern launch site located at Ban Me Thuot. When it became apparent that the gunships on hand did not have the necessary firepower to adequately suppress the NVA enough to evacuate the survivors, those teams from the northern launch site already on the ground were ordered to find secure positions to remain in until further notice. When the teams acknowledged they were in safe locations, the gunships assigned for their protection were sent south to rescue the Hatchet Force. Those helicopters, whose aircrews were assigned to the US Air Force's 20th Special Operations Squadron, arrived at the COSVN battle site approximately an hour and a half later.
After the contingent of gunships grew from 4 to 8, 1st Lt. Harrigan requested all gunships to press their attack with rockets and mini-guns. The increased airpower was successful in stemming the NVA ground fire, but not in halting it. After the enemy's ground fire was suppressed, Greg Harrigan reported that over half his platoon was dead or wounded, and then continued to direct the aerial attacks for another 45 minutes before being mortally wounded himself.
Meanwhile, to bolster and support the Hatchet Force already on the ground, a reconnaissance team comprised of two Americans and four Montagnards was inserted into a third bomb crater located roughly 80 yards east of the other two craters and only 10 yards west of the nearest grove of trees. Their mission was to attempt to flank the NVA bunker line in order to drop grenades into the bunkers' firing slits or rear entrances. However, after being safely inserted into the crater, the recon team reported they were also pinned down by heavy and accurate automatic weapons fire and could not move.
All the while, the 8 gunships continued to rotate between the area of operation and the mission’s launch site to rearm/refuel and drop a continuous barrage of mini-gun and rocket fire on the entrenched enemy positions. Some time later in the day, 2 US Army Cobra gunships, call sign “Blue Max,” arrived onsite to add their firepower to that already being laid down by the Huey gunships. The Cobras were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 20th Artillery (ARA), Quang Loi, South Vietnam. When it became apparent to Lt. Col. Trabue that the 10 helicopters still did not have the necessary firepower, he radioed the FAC asking him to arrange for Air Force strike aircraft to assist in the operation. Shortly thereafter, the FAC notified the overall mission commander that “jet aircraft were not available to support this operation.”
Undeterred, Earl Trabue sent his request through the launch site's communication center to CCS Headquarters and then on to OPS 35, MACV-SOG. The end result was that a flight of US Air Force jet fighters arrived on station roughly 45 minutes later. After the fighters made several attack passes with bombs, rockets and machine gun fire, the survivors on the ground reported there was still too much enemy ground fire for an evacuation attempt to be made.
Weighing all the options and weapons available to him, Lt. Col. Trabue made the decision to use napalm against the NVA bunkers in an attempt to break the communists' grip on his beleaguered men. Once the decision was made, Lt. Col. Trabue requested the strike aircraft to make their napalm run along the line of concrete bunkers instead of over the heads of the Hatchet Force. After two napalm sorties, the Americans on the ground reported a sizable decrease in enemy activity and that it was now safe for them to be evacuated.
Immediately after the last napalm strike and after some 8 hours of brutal combat, all four recovery helicopters were able to dash in to extract the ground team. Three aircraft evacuated the Hatchet Force from their two craters and one recovered the recon team from the third. The battle site was ringed by clumps of trees with only two major openings in them, one approximately 20 yards wide on the northeast corner of the LZ and the other roughly 50 yards wide on the eastern end of the south side of the battle site near the eastern-most crater. Three of the pilots' made their approach from east to west. The pilots knew that because the treeline to the west was so close to the craters that they could not clear them with a heavy load, they swung their aircraft around so the tailboom's were pointing west in preparation for departing to the east. The forth helicopter entered the LZ through the gap in the trees at the northeast corner, set down close to the last crater and also departed through the east-southeastern gap in the trees.
As the aircraft lifted off, several crewmen in one of the helicopters saw movement in the center bomb crater. The helicopter again set down near the crater and 1st Lt. Daniel Hall raced over to it to recover the survivors. On his first trip 1st Lt. Hall recovered the team's badly wounded radio operator. On his second trip, and with the NVA firing at him and the waiting helicopter, he successfully dragged the body of 1st Lt. Harrigan to the aircraft. Once 1st Lt. Hall was safely back on board, the Huey rapidly pulled up and away from the battle site under fire.
Of the 18 men inserted for the mission and the 6 later inserted in support of the Hatchet Force, only the members of the recon team were recovered uninjured. Of the original 18 members of the Hatchet Force, 10 were wounded and safely evacuated. Greg Harrigan's remains were recovered, Ernest Jamison was reported as Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered, and Jerry Shriver, along with his 5 Montagnards, was reported as Missing in Action.
After the exploitation platoon was decimated, other Special Forces personnel assigned to Command and Control North were listening to a North Vietnamese propaganda broadcast made by "Hanoi Hanna" when they heard her boast that "Mad Dog Shriver had been captured" by NVA forces. A second broadcast aired by Hanoi Hanna some time after the first stated that "they had Shriver's ears," which was a euphemism for Jerry Shriver being dead and the NVA having his body. The first broadcast was later substantiated by a US military intelligence report declassified in 1993 that acknowledged "Vietnamese voices were later heard (which) stated that one American was in the process of being captured."
In June 1969, SFC Jerry Shriver's comrades at Command and Control South, commemorated his life and the unparalleled level of esteem to which they held him by hanging his prized Chinese smoking jacket in a prominent place of honor in the camp's club. The following inscription was displayed underneath the silk smoking jacket:
In Memory of Sergeant First Class Jerry M. Shriver
Missing in Action 24 April 1969
The above is by no means meant as a vulgar display. It is meant as a humble tribute to a man who was a legend among the members of CCS. A tribute to an individual who was one of the most courageous men ever to wear the Green Beret. SFC Jerry M. Shriver spent 3 ½ continuous years in Vietnam. During his tour he volunteered for almost every hazardous, classified project run by the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). Due to the classification of the missions in which he participated, we are unable to give him the recognition he deserves. Those who knew him can attest that he personally killed over 100 enemy and the information that he obtained caused the death of thousands more. His accomplishments were so well known that Radio Hanoi nicknamed him "MAD DOG" and offered a reward of $10,000.00 for his death or capture.
Below is a list of the personal decorations he received:
At 0615 hours on 24 April 1969, SFC Jerry M. Shriver boarded a helicopter in Quan Loi for a mission that he stated the night before he would not return. The last words he was known to speak as he turned to board the helicopter were, "Take care of my boy," referring to Klaus, his German Shepard that he left behind. Klaus, the smoking jacket displayed above and a little over one dollar in MPC constituted most of his personal possessions.
SFC Shriver spoke Radhe fluently and had a deep concern for the Montagnards. He spent the majority of his pay buying food and clothing for the families of the Montagnard members of his platoon.
The smoking jacket is a biographical summary of the life and feelings of SFC Jerry M. Shriver. It not only reflects the hate he had for the enemy, but the love and dedication to duty that he had for his country. The embroidered Ogdaa means "One Good Deal After Another." A deeper interpretation is a meaning every volunteer understands, "IF you're a man, you've got the guts, and you want to fight with the best - Volunteer."
The accomplishments, courage and the attitude of SFC Jerry M. Shriver will long serve as an inspiration to those who wear the Green Beret. This jacket will remain here as a reminder that such a man did live and that he should not be forgotten ……. "One Good Deal After Another."
On 12 June 1970, a team from Graves Registration was inserted into the COSVN battle site to search the area for the 2 missing Special Forces Sergeants. They recovered human remains that were later identified as belonging to Ernest Jamison and 1 of the missing Montagnards. However, they found no trace of Jerry Shriver, the other 4 missing Montagnards or their equipment anywhere in or around the battle site.
For every insertion like this one that was detected and stopped, dozens of others safely slipped past NVA lines to strike a wide range of targets and collect vital information. The number of MACV-SOG missions conducted with Special Forces reconnaissance teams into Laos and Cambodia was 452 in 1969. It was the most sustained American campaign of raiding, sabotage and intelligence-gathering waged on foreign soil in US military history. MACV-SOG's teams earned a global reputation as one of the most combat effective deep-penetration forces ever raised.
If Jerry Shriver died in this savage battle, he has a right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. However, if he survived, he most certainly was captured and his fate, like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different. Either way there is no question the Vietnamese could return him or his remains any time they had the desire to do so.
Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE American Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.
Military men in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were called upon to fly and fight in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.
At the time he became Missing in Action, Jerry Shriver had less than three weeks left on his third tour of duty in Vietnam.