Our latest interview is with Tim Clough who ran as Assitant Team Leader with RT Viper & RT Krait
Modern Forces: What made you join Special forces and then apply for SOG, did you know what it was before you joined?
Tim Clough: I was influenced by an SF recruiter during basic training and decided to change my enlistment MOS and accept the SF challenge. I did not know about SOG until I was “in country” and sent to FOB#4 in DaNang realizing that this was not a traditional “A” Team situation! The team was assigned to 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.
Modern Forces: Which teams did you run with and in what role?
Tim Clough: RT Viper, RT Krait: asst. team leader
Modern Forces: Can you recall a mission that stands out?
Tim Clough: October 30, 31, 1968 in the tri-country area. See attached WIA 31 OCT, 1968 document (see below)
On the night of 30 October 1968 after completion of their primary reconnaissance mission and after establishing an observation post on a rock mountain peak overlooking the “Ho Chi Minh Trail” near the Laotian border while preparing a night defensive position to await extraction the following morning. An hour later, team leader SSgt. Thomas B. Tompkins, Sgt. Timothy W. Clough and 4 VN mercenaries were discovered surrounded and attacked by a 40 man North Viet Nam Army platoon seriously wounding the team leader.
During the attack team leader SSgt. Tompkins and 1 mercenary were shot and severely wounded and Sgt. Clough, assistant team leader, immediately took control, rallied his team and forced the enemy off of the mountain peak with land mines, heavy volumes of automatic weapons fire and grenades that repulsed all enemy attempts to overrun their position.
Throughout the night Sgt. Clough attended to the wounded medical needs with multiple shots of Morphine and other Special Forces first aid training that saved SSgt. Tompkins and the other mercenary’s lives, while encouraging them and the 4 other mercenaries to “fight for their life” for extraction the following day.
But early the next morning (31 OCT, 1968) the enemy launched another determined assault against the team’s position. Reacting to this situation Sgt. Clough rallied his team and when the assault began it was quickly halted with a devastating volume of return fire. During the battle, while calling for a rescue/evacuation, Sgt. Clough was severely wounded with a Communist hand grenade that destroyed his PRC25 radio and the remainder of his team was also severely wounded while he was helping and physically covering SSgt. Tompkins with his body while under a heavy attack. After the initial shock of being wounded and realizing that all of his team was also seriously wounded, Sgt. Clough rallied the team, radioed for an evacuation on the emergency radio and then called for and directed air strikes to the enemy, killing 40 VC on the spot, which were very close to their position.
Although extremely weak from the loss of blood from the hand grenade wound to his head, Sgt. Clough continued to direct air strikes against a 40 man VC platoon and guided a medical evacuation helicopter onto the mountain top and personally carried 4 of the 6 man team up the hanging ladder and onto the hovering helicopter during heavy enemy fire. Sgt. Clough’s devotion to duty, bulldog tenacity and extraordinary heroism in the face of heavy odds is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, MACV SOG, the 5th Special Forces Group and the United States Army.
FOR THER COMMANDER
U.S. ARMY VIETNAM
Leo B. Jones
Major General, US Army
Chief Of Staff
ED V. HENDERSON, JR.
Modern Forces: Were your indigenous team members Montagyard, Nung or Vietnamese?
Tim Clough: I believe they were Nung
Modern Forces: Did any of them make it out to the States and if so have you ever been in touch?
Tim Clough: Not made aware of any indigenous personnel activity after movement from 71st Medevac Hospital in Kontum, VN I was told that several members of the team were later KIA.
Modern Forces: Did you have a weapon choice or preference?
Tim Clough: CAR-15 or any weapons that were light and powerful.
Modern Forces: Did you ever test any experimental equipment or weapons?
Tim Clough: No
This picture was taken at a Special Forces camp in Pleiku VN as our team was returning/dropped off from a mission enroute back to CCN FOB#4 DaNang with my buddy from Co. A 6th SFG in Ft. Bragg, Roger Dorcas, was preparing to leave on a mission with his Mike Force.
Modern Forces: Did you ever carry a back up weapon, if so what was this?
Tim Clough: No
Modern Forces: Did you or your team ever carry any foreign weapons, AK47 or RPD? And if so how were magazines/drums/belts carried?
Tim Clough: Yes, team members carried foreign weapons and additional magazines and ammo
Modern Forces: Did you have a standard equipment set-up in your team?
Tim Clough: Yes, but I cant remember each item; Claymore mines, toe-poppers, grenade launcher, 2 radios, Automatic Weapons, medical equipment. food rations, water
Modern Forces: Did your team have any unique traditions or quirks in its equipment set-up?
Tim Clough: Some traditions were practiced by several team members during set-up.
Modern Forces: Did you have anything to do with any of the SOG HALO or Static line jumps during the war?
Tim Clough: No; but asked about and wanted to. Insertion by helicopters were large moving targets.
Modern Forces: Did you carry a side arm and if so how was is carried, you often see them in books but can’t seem to see any holsters (hip or shoulder) in the pictures I have?
Tim Clough: No sidearm, I packed “fairly light”
Modern Forces: Its well known that SOG used black spray paint to camouflage uniforms and equipment I have seen a picture of RT New York in Frank Greco’s second book that appears to show gear camo’d with green and black spray paint. Did you ever see this type of green/black spray paint in use?
Tim Clough: Yes, some teams camouflaged their gear that way, some didn't
Modern Forces: What did you do when you left the army, was this a career for you?
Tim Clough: I left in 1970 and went on the road as a musician for over 10 years to really “see the country I had fought for”. Then settled down and raised a family and have a son that fought in Iraq with the US Army.
Modern Forces: Any narrative or stories to share? Note – we don’t have a limit here, if there are things you want to say feel free
Tim Clough: I’ll always remember October 31, 1968 (Halloween Morning), the following Award Citation describes that day.
AWARD OF THE DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS
1. TC 320. The following AWARD is announced.
CLOUGH, TIMOTHY W RAXXXXXXXX SSAN NVAL SERGEANT United States Army, Special Operations Augmentation (Command and Control North), 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, APO 96240
Awarded: Distinguished Service Cross
Date Action: 30 and 31 October 1968
Theater: Republic of Vietnam
Reason: For extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam: Sergeant Clough distinguished himself
by exceptionally valorous actions on 30 and 31 October 1968 deep in enemy-held territory as assistant team leader of a reconnaissance team composed of four Vietnamese, himself and the American Team leader. The team was inserted be helicopter on the side of a mountain and after five and a half hours it reached the summit where a defensive perimeter was established. An hour later an enemy platoon assaulted seriously wounding the team leader. Exposing himself to a hail of bullets, Sergeant Clough fired his CAR-15, threw grenades and directed his men until the attack was repelled. After he had treated his team leader's wounds and began calling in air strikes, a second attack was suddenly launched only thirty meters from his position, but claymore mines and grenades stopped the communist advance. During the ensuing fire fight, he personally killed five of the aggressors and performed an emergency tracheotomy on one of the Vietnamese team members who were seriously wounded.
Throughout the night Sergeant Clough directed flare ships, keeping the foe downhill. At daylight, as the team was waiting to be extracted, the enemy attacked in force from three directions. Sergeant Clough fired his CAR-15 and hurled grenades, killing three hostile soldiers before directing his men to pull back to a landing zone on the edge of the cliff. He covered the withdrawal by firing a grenade launcher and smoke grenades, and carried the team leader to the pickup site. Soon after he directed an air strike on the communists, they made a final rush on his position. Sergeant Clough shielded his team leader and killed another enemy soldier with his CAR-15, but was himself wounded in the face by a hostile grenade. Despite his injury, he used his radio to call an extraction ship and the team safely evacuated. Sergeant Clough's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.
Authority: by direction of the President, under the provisions of the Act of Congress, approved 25 July 1963