“The Major Won the Croix de Guerre” Alan Farrell

 In Memorial Day weekend and in honor of MACVSOG I have decided to put up Alan Farrell's story as titled above.  It is one of my favorites.  The unit involved was really a "hatchet company"  of MACVSOG. 


Download The Major Won the Croix de Guerre



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41 Responses to “The Major Won the Croix de Guerre” Alan Farrell

  1. Doolan and Macomber, on duty in the Commo room, jerk around with the radio teletype rig.
    Take it from a pro. If they had fiddle f*cked with it instead of just jerking it around, she would have worked like a charm!
    …”by denying him the use of his rear.”
    Hmmm. We’ll just leave this line alone.
    On a more serious note, a word of thanks to all of you vets out there who gave much, much more than many of us.
    Best wishes.

  2. DT says:

    This dinkedow(sp?) piece made me remember my attitude like it was yesterday even though I was never involved in any shit like this.
    Thanks. Happy veterans day.

  3. taters says:

    Gen. Farrell,
    Sen. Chuck Hagel recently said it wasn’t generals who scared him as much as sergeant majors – to you, sir, who are both – thank you.
    wwz – Thank you for the link to a site that is absolutely overwhelming.

  4. arbogast says:

    But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate… we can not consecrate… we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.
    It’s sending men to their deaths that’s child’s play.

  5. Patrick Lang says:

    Not if you do it personally. Grant, a hard man in many ways, went into his tent beside the Brock Road and cried himself to sleep after the first day in the Wilderness. He had met “the first team.” pl

  6. John Minnerath says:

    What old memories that brought back to light! I thought they were gone forever in some old other life time.
    A twice passed over 2nd louie who showed up from no one knew where and made life miserable for us poor unenlightened souls, and then in a cruel twist of fate got his silver bars in his last chance at military fame. Mercifully he disappeared as strangely as he had come.
    And the time we were told that we would stand a full field inspection and no one from the old man on down remembered what equipment we were supposed to have or where the hell we would ever get it. Total chaos and truck loads of contraband to be hauled away and hidden till the thing was over.
    We failed the inspection miserably.

  7. Cold War Zoomie says:

    Grant, a hard man in many ways, went into his tent beside the Brock Road and cried himself to sleep after the first day in the Wilderness
    Sherman went though a rough patch emotionally, as well, didn’t he?

  8. arbogast says:

    Colonel Lang
    I was thinking a little higher up the ladder. Neither Farrell’s Greunwald nor Grant were on my mind.
    I was thinking more of the Lyndon Johnson’s, Richard Nixon’s, George Bush’s, and now Barrack Obama’s of the world.
    And needless to say, I’m not an original thinker.
    What I believe is true is that only someone like Ike could possibly know what war really was, and someone like Bush or Cheney are jokes. Bad jokes.
    And then there’s Lincoln who had tasted a little tiny bit of combat. But the discussion of Lincoln is for another day.

  9. Patrick Lang says:

    Yes, Sherman did have a hard time. And why not after what he had seen and done. Why not, and I say that from no sense of grievance toward him.
    Grant got up the next day and fought on, losing men at appalling rates against Lee. Fortunately one of them was not my great-grandfather and Maureen’s.
    Fortunately for the Union cause there were a lot of them to lose; Europeans, African Americans, etc. pl

  10. Cold War Zoomie says:

    Hi Col Lang-
    First, I wanted to verify that Sherman did have a hard time. The only time I heard of it was on Ken Burn’s documentary. And we all know how history can be distorted. In fact, I think Grant helped Sherman get back on his feet and into the fight.
    Now, old-school Atlanta isn’t too fond of Mr. Sherman for obvious reasons. Since I grew up there, I’m not real happy with Grant helping Sherman!
    On a more serious note, I think these facts effectively counter the argument that “Generals & Majors” want war – that the military is just full of warmongers.
    On a side note: looks like our families fought against each other in the late 18th century and during the Civil War. Great-great-great-great-grandfather Edward Wherry F. served in the New Bern district of the NC militia and got 100 acres for it. And great-great-grandad John F. was in an NC regiment during the Civil War. His dad, my great-great-great-grandfather Thomas, served in 1812 – got any relatives on the Brit side of that one to make it a trend?! (Chuckle)

  11. Patrick Lang says:

    The only Revolutionary War ancestor that I know of was the Brunswicker in the king’s forces that I mentioned once. He was surrendered by John Burgoyne at Saratoga and stayed here.
    I know of no War of 1812 ancestors. pl

  12. confusedponderer says:

    What a story.
    All the best to Mr. Farell.

  13. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Extraordinary story that hits on several levels. Sublimely funny, yet painful and poignant. Ironic ending cuts like a knife.
    And Godspeed to the story’s author, Alan Farrell.

  14. The Twisted Genius says:

    I offer my best wishes and prayers to Mr. Farrell. He belongs to a remarkable band of American warrior-gentlemen… the Green Berets of the Viet Nam War. As a young Infantry lieutenant, I had the good fortune to learn the craft from another member of this band, Doug Miller (the over-sized Anglo in the photo). I’m sure that’s his recon team in CCN. What I learned from Doug surely kept me alive years later.
    P.S. – It’s good to be back to SST

  15. Maureen Lang says:

    Late to this thread, but may I also add my most positive thoughts & prayers for Alan Farrell’s good health.

  16. Basilisk says:

    Alan Farrell should be required reading somewhere, perhaps even everywhere. Thanks for sharing that again. It reminded me that I have it safely on my hard drive from some earlier time. Terrific.

  17. It’s an incredible story, Mr. Farell.

  18. JimTicehurst says:

    Col.I read about Alan Farrell’s major surgery but didn’t see a follow up report on him..I Hope He recovered and is doing well…and back at Pushing Dirt around his Mountain..
    He is in My thoughts and Prayers and always has my Highest regards..

  19. Patrick Lang says:

    Jim T.
    Last I heard Alan kept the eye and is back to teaching French literature to cadets. i worry that the bulldozer will roll of the mountain at Glasgow. pl

  20. Could you please re-post the transcript of the AFF speech he often gives at memorials….I believe you had it on Sic Semper Tyrannis at one time

  21. Could you please re-post the transcript of the AFF speech he often gives at memorials….I believe you had it on Sic Semper Tyrannis at one time

  22. Could you please re-post the transcript of the AFF speech he often gives at memorials….I believe you had it on Sic Semper Tyrannis at one time

  23. Patrick Lang says:

    you will find it archived under “Farrell.” Mind the page arrows at the bottom. pl

  24. Brilliant and will stand in the memory and memories of all who read it or were there!

  25. Tyler says:

    Seems like the more things change the more they stay the same.

  26. Fred says:

    “To watch where there is no need of watching, to goad where there is no need of goading, to be, in short, where there is no need of being.”
    An existential truth that defines middle management of any organized group. But what do I know, I’m just one who is “like little children”.

  27. nick b says:

    Thank you, that was brilliant.

  28. Medicine Man says:

    I’m more than a little envious of Alan Farrell’s skill with language. His description of the heroic battle waged by those centipedes was particularly hilarious.

  29. The Twisted Genius says:

    I love this story and the story teller. And those centipedes. They were the same in Hawaii. After seeing them up close during my first week in the Kahuku Mountains, I pretty much stopped sleeping on the ground. Since maneuvers only involved blanks and artillery simulators, I slept in a net hammock blissfully off the ground and away from the scorpions and centipedes.

  30. turcopolier says:

    An animal story – When I was DATT in Saudi during the Iran-Iraq War we ran a motorized recon team out of my office to keep track of Iraq bound military shipments brought in through a military port north of Yenbo on the Red Sea Coast. The Saudis built the port for that purpose and there was a continuous stream of freighters from China and Warsaw Pact ports unloading there to supply the Iraqi armed forces. They also used Kuwait and East Coast Saudi ports but these were harder for us to reach. US national level intelligence would inform us of ships en route and we would go up there with two cross country vehicles with a lot of fuel, spare parts, food, water and LORAN. This was before GPS. As a supplement to the LORAN, we would have our office airplane fly a track parallel to us to take a series of bearing from our radio beacon and then triangulate our position for us. The trucks had winches and we could move cross country if needed by winching the truck forward. we spent a lot of time counting trucks and their cargo. The convoys went up through the Najd, and the Nefud desert and crossed the border at Ar-Ar where DAO Baghdad picked them up to monitor where they were going. I was often tied up with embassy hand holding drills and didn’t go on the first few of these trips once we got the team set up. I made room in my schedule to do one and found myself camped with the guys behind some hills a mile or so from the beach and port. We grilled steaks under a desert moon, had a couple of beers and settled down to a chilly night’s rest. The convoy we were waiting for would leave about 0900. They always did. My AARMA, a major, and the three enlisted guys from the office took their sleeping bags up on top of the vehicles. I rolled out my air mattress and bag on the ground without thinking much about it. There were vipers and camel spiders in the Saudi outback but to tell the truth I was not impressed with them. The troops said nothing. I awoke in the dawn to find the men peering down at me from the roofs. Expecting coffee brewing I looked around and spied an eight foot meat eating monitor lizard (wurral) about ten yards away. It was standing perfectly still and watching me while its long forked tongue flicked in and out. Recognizing an important leadership moment I climbed out of the bag while keeping an eye on the beast, picked up a rock and bounced it off the animal who turned and ran away. I built up the fire while they climbed down from the roofs. After that I slept on top as well on these trips. BTW these wurral lizards mainly eat another kind of big lizard that the Arabs call a “dhub” The beduins eat Dhub as well. They will take one that is a couple feet long in the body, tie it up and toss it on the camp fire. When they are cooked the skin splits and you eat it like an ear of corn. These guys would have made good candidates for Waugh’s “society for cruelty to animals.” I wonder what my Mnong Gar brothers would have thought of all this.
    They never feared the tiger, the NVA or the ARVN. They would not have feared the wurral. pl

  31. Anonymous says:

    “Recognizing an important leadership moment I climbed out of the bag while keeping an eye on the beast, picked up a rock and bounced it off the animal who turned and ran away.”
    Thus ruining the bets among the guys that sleepiness combined with embassy drills would cause the big man to approach the fat crocodile, put on a big smile and try to shake hands with it.

  32. turcopolier says:

    You are correct. The Foreign Service and CIA creatures that I dealt with on a daily basis would have made the wurral an attractive alternative. pl

  33. turcopolier says:

    FB Ali
    From what I have seen the new SF(to include Delta, the line SF units and the SEALS) are not much like the old breed. They have been rangerized to the point that they are really just commandos. IMO they have lost the faith and ought to be called something else. IMO TTG is something of an exception, but, as he says, he had an old SF sergeant as a mentor. As you know, armies do not easily tolerate romantics like Lawrence, Gant or Orde Wingate. Only in exceptional circumstances are such men allowed to be what they are. Aaron Bank’s vision and the necessities of the Cold War provided the exceptional circumstances needed for the old SF to exist. I am not surprised that Gant was rejected by the establishment. pl

  34. turcopolier says:

    Since I wrote a comment on this thread years ago I have learned from my genealogist wife that I have no “friends of the king” in my distant past. That was an inaccurate family legend as such things often are. Instead, there were many, many on US side of the war, both Continentals and state militia.

  35. Terence Gore says:

    Fell the other day riding one of those electric scooters. My right upper ribs and shoulder pretty sore.
    It hurts to laugh
    Damn you

  36. walrus says:

    Thank you for reposting this Col. Lang. I suspect that our ancestors, right down to the Roman legionary, would recognise ‘ Greunwald “ and understand and enjoy Gen. Farrells story.

  37. turcopolier says:

    Alan, for reasons satisfactory to him, now insists on saying that he is Sgt. Major (ret.) because he is retired from the USAR in that grade rather than as BG, Virginia Militia (unorganized.) For me this is a joke, but that is what he wants.

  38. A.I.S. says:

    Funnily enough I heard a similar story from a Soviet AFG vet.
    For them it was “Dermocratic” vs. “Democratic”. An enterprising Captain interpreted this as checking their Afghan allies shit, in order to establish if the afghan ally commander was actually paying/supplying his troops with what he received for that purpose from Moscow. A not unreasonable idea in theory, but a Red army outpost isnt exactly equipped with the tools neccessary to perform a chemical analysis.
    Eventually, “Due to a shortage of specialised shit analysts, a lot of shit accumulated which unsurprisingly ended in a manure explosion” (this sentence has to be delivered, utterly serious looking and stone faced, using precise late Soviet Era politically correct Russian lingo, which is kind of the opposite of how especially the enlisted Russian military actually talks, and which I sadly cant translate into English).

  39. Diana Croissant says:

    I finally found time to read the story. Thank you for posting it. I will not send it to my favorite Vietnam veteran to read. I once asked him to tell me what he had experienced.
    After writing his story, it took him a while again to get Vietnam out of his head again.
    God Bless our Veterans. And God Bless those who did not make it out of the wars alive.

  40. turcopolier says:

    Diana Croissant
    You are far too sentimental. We are not very sentimental. That is one of the things the shrinks have against us. A now retired (after 33 years) colonel who was one of my students at WP went to see the army shrinks after he returned from his second or third tour (12 months each) in Iraq. He went because the army shrinks were begging everyone to flock to them so that they could demonstrate their salvational abilities. They were the Faucistas of the time. So this man went with another colonel. After the first time they decided not to return for “treatment” because what they had told the Faucobirxians frightened them. Maybe it is different with draftees. A lot of them whined a good deal in VN. but then, a lot of them did not.

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