Team 97 Cao Lanh

MACV Team 97 – Cao Lanh.

This Page is intended for the discussion of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam Team 97 located in Cao Lanh.

44 thoughts on “Team 97 Cao Lanh

  1. Terry,

    That was Team 97’s office building! We were about 5 clicks upriver from Cao Lanh in Ap Tan An, right on the banks of the Mekong (or in it during rainy season). If you’ll send me an e-mail address (mine’s rthmn49@optonline.net) I’ll send you some photos, including one of the concrete MACV patch. It’s unfortunate that we can’t post photos here.

    There was also another team in Cao Lanh – Team 50 which was the district team. You may want to look at their site(s).

    Allen

  2. Much appreciation, Ba van Ho and Allen! The last contact that our family had from AT#97 was in DEC 1984 – as I am about to retire, I have more questions now than I did then . . . thank-you for your contact, and God bless you and your families!
    Skip Masterson

  3. I was assigned to team 97 in Jan 1968 , which means after Cpt Mike was killed. I think Mr Khai, who was the senior interpreter of the team knew everything but I do not know where Mr Khai is living now. Maybe he is now living in the USA, or maybe in Viet Nam. I was an interpreter at the team from Jan 1968 to Nov 1071.

    • Skip,

      I didn’t arrive at the RFTC until November 1969 so I was there after your father. I don’t think anyone on this thread was there then. You might want to try posting on the Team 50 blog. They were in scenic downtown Cao Lanh and someone on their thread may have been there in 1967.

      Allen

  4. Any remembrances of my father, CPT Milo “Mike” Preston Johnson, KIA 01 SEPT 67 with Advisory Team #97 at Cao Lahn?

  5. I served as an air force radio operator in Cao Lanh from December 1967 until May 1968. The AC – 47s that supported us at night and the infantry saved a lot of lives.

  6. Hi Lewis,
    I am interesting to hear about this. I will contact you sometime before April 2016 . I need to be ready for the trip to California. I am living in Oregon.

    Thank you

    Vinh

  7. I WAS AT TM 97 FOR A SHORT PERIOD 1970-71.. I WAS TRANSFERRED TO VAN KEIP IN 1971… I WAS ON MY SECOND TOUR-CAPTAIN COBB

    • I was one of interpreters there in that period 1970-1971. I remember there was an black captain was there in a short period but I can’t remember his name. I still keep image on him very clear, he was tough and easy smile guy. Could you give more detail about you.
      Vinh

    • Dear Sir,
      I got your email address from Capt Allen Rothman. I served in Advisory Team 97 at Cao Lanh Training Center during 68-71. My name is Ho van Ba – Interpreter. I happened to find some old advisors and interpreters in the MACV Web and met Capt Rothman and Sgt Dong Co Vinh. Rothman said that Capt Cobb served in team 97 around the end of 1970. Do you recall any people in the team? Do you remember me Sir ? I came to the team at the beginning of 1968 and left the team at the end of 1971.
      Please let me know how you and your family are now . Hope all is well. Do you know any advisor’s email address ? Do you remember Capt Joseph A Best ?
      Best Regards,
      Ho van Ba

  8. Dear Sir,
    I remember you by your name and your mustache. You were young and tall and have dark hair. There was one time you came back our Center at night by helicopter from Can Tho right? I will talk more on your address. Thank you for joining us to look back the time when we were young and have the courage to serve our country.

    • Yes, please contact me. I have a picture of me with MAJ Phong and CPT Mathews I can send you. I remember Ba Phong – she worked with SGT Palmer.

  9. When I arrived in late 1972 I was a lieutenant colonel. All the senior advisors in our group were LTC. The team was about a dozen captains and NCO’s. It’s a bit difficult to understand the reasoning behind this top-heavy staffing. It was pretty obvious at the time that we were not needed. The training center was well established and well run. We had a pleasant, if short lived, tour. Colonel Phouc and his staff treated us well and on those occasions when we were invited to dine with them they went out of their way to assure that the food would be to our liking. That wasn’t always the case. The commander of at least one other training center operated like a war lord, taxing and otherwise making life unpleasant for the farmers in his area. I think we knew when we left things were not going to go well for the Vietnamese.

  10. I came across this site while preparing to be a guest speaker to a college history class on the Vietnam War where I teach computer science. Would love to continue the conversations – rthmn49@optonline.net – live in NJ.

    I served with Team 97 at the Cao Lanh RF/PF Training Center from November 1969 to November 1970. I was the HQ Detachment Commander (G2900) and also Tactics Advisor, leaving as a brand-new CPT. (I had a mustache until MAJ Dion asked me to shave it off when I got promoted.) We had almost the Senior Advisor of the Month club the year I was there – Dodge, Hodges, Ragusa, Dion. Dai Ta Thien was the Training Center Commander; I’m saddened to hear about his fate. Around the time I was preparing to leave, FWMAF and Training Directorate were doing a study about upgrading the center from RF/PF to National under the lead of a Kiwi (New Zealander) COL. We had about a dozen advisors in a PA&E-built compound that easily house 30.

    • Dear Allen Rothman, Dear Sir,
      I am very happy to receive your mail. How flat the world is !!! I have never thought of communicating with you and Vinh by email like we do now ! And I hope we will find more friends who ever served at Cao Lanh Training Center MACV#97 before.
      Sir,
      I came to Cao Lanh before you, I was assigned there with Sgt Hong Sui . At that time ( about Jan-1968) there was no military interpreters at Cao Lanh but Mr Khai- the only civil interpreter. I don’t remember the name of the LtC Senior Advisor, who flew to Can Tho and picked me and Sgt Sui up back to Cao Lanh by helicopter.
      During 68-71 I can now recall the following names:
      -Col Hodges
      -LtC Rhode : he was colored, very nice and polite
      -Maj Blankenship : he was very strict
      -Maj Dion : He was nice and he loved Pho (vietnamese soup) He usually took me in his jeep every sunday morning to Tan An market and ate soup.
      -I recognize Capt Mc Naughton and Capt Slusser (as in the photo)
      -Capt Taylor : he looked like a cowboy in Texas…he was very fast in reaction.
      -Capt Joseph A. Best : because I worked close-knit with him so I remembered his first -middle- last name very clearly. Capt Best tried to request MACV Headquarters for me to go to the US to study but the MACV Headquaters refused saying that I belonged to the RVN Forces. I cannot remember what state he lived, maybe South Carolina or Texas or something like that.
      -Capt Niskanen: I also worked most of the time with him too.
      -In the first photo: I recognize you very well but I can’t recognize the Vietnamese beside you ? who is it ? And the Advisor next to him on the left, I think it’s Capt Matthew, is it ?
      -SFC Goss ? Was he a medic ?
      -But I don’t remember Capt Cobb ???
      No problem Sir, we will find out later.
      I remember you very clearly. You arrived after me. At that time you were the First Lieutenant , very handsome and very cheerful, your English was very clearly when you were talking with us. You knew we – the Vietnamese Interpreters -were
      average at English, that was why you spoke very carefully, very clearly and very slowly. We understood you easily and learned a lot more from you. When you got promotion to Capt, I had left the team.
      About me :
      I left the team at the end of 1971. I was assigned to Thu Duc Officer School to be trained there for 11 months on Infantry Officer. After 11 months I became a warrant officer. Then I passed the test to study armoured cavalry at the Armoured Troops School for 6 more months.
      About March 1973 , I graduated from Armoured School and I chose unit to work for. I chose the 1st Infantry Division located in Hue ( I Corps) where I had terrible combats against VC North Regular Forces, I was a Company Leader M41 Tank.
      I was promoted to second lieutenant in 1974.
      In the early 1975, VC with 6 division including Div 324 A and Div 324 B surrounded Hue continuously day and night while the South VN had only 3 Divisions, so in Mar 24-1975, I withdrew to Thuan An and Tu Hien seaport and luckily, I managed to get across the river while most of my soldiers were killed by VC there.
      I had to spend almost 30 days and nights to walk from Tu Hien to Da Nang and to Saigon . I stepped in Saigon in 17 Mar and spent the rest of my unbelievable time till the 30 April 1975.
      Many days later, I had to report the new government in order to go to prison, what-so-called Re-education Camp,
      I was in the camp for 30 months until the day when I was terrible ill almost died, VC released me because they feared that I was going to die in camp.
      -1977-1980 I tried to work all day in the rice fields to make a living, my mother,59 years old at that time, thought I should get married as I was more than 30 years old. I obeyed my mother’s advice and agreed to get married with a primary school teacher.
      -1981-1984: with my wife’s help, I went back to school, I got a seat in Saigon Language University, attended there for 4 years
      -1987-2009 : I taught English at a high school with a low salary because my bad curriculum vitae of serving for Saigon government.
      -In 2009: my wife died of a heart attack leaving no children at all.
      -In 2009 I retired and now jobless…………..
      About you
      Sir, Tell me more about you. If you are still in Army, I think you are now a General because 45 years have passed and you got promotion to Capt in 1971 or 1972 ..
      How is your family now? Hope all is well.
      I have attached a few photos here:
      -one of them I was with Vinh in 1970 on the way from Saigon back to My Thuan ferry.
      -two of them I was with Sgt An in the tower in MACV Compound and in Tan An market.
      -the others was taken when I was being trained at Thu Duc Officer School
      and some pictured taken when I was in Hue with my tank M41
      I hope you like them
      Please send my best Regards to your family and to any advisors who served in Team#97 with us.
      Sincerely Yours,
      Keep in touch !
      Ho van Ba

    • Allen,
      I was looking at this website for TM 84, the province team for Kien Phong province, which was headquartered in Cao Lanh. I was on Tm 84 though I was on a MAT team out in the province and didn’t spend much time in Cao Lanh. I guess that’s why I never new until now that there was a Tm 97 also in Cao Lanh! I see from the conversations that the team was assigned to the RF/PF training center, which I vaguely recall was in Cao Lanh. I had a friend assigned to the Tm 84 compound and on one trip in to Cao Lanh I recall I went with him over to what I recall was a training center of some kind. At some location at this facility there was a large MACV shield–like the patch– made out of cartridge casings pressed into concrete (base side up) and painted the appropriate colors. Was that at the place you served? Very strange to realize there were Americans around I never knew of!
      Terry T. Turner

  11. This advisor job was my third tour in Vietnam. I deployed in 1965 with the 1st Cav Div in 2/12 Cav. I was with that battalion only a couple of months and then transferred back to my old outfit, C/229 AHB where I was a platoon leader of UH-1 helicopters. My second tour was as CO of the 183rd Recon Airplane Company (O-1, Birddogs) in 1967-68, hq at Dong Ba Thin, across from Cam Ranh Bay. Actually my airplanes were spread from Phan Thiet to Da Nang. (I was flying on the first day of the Tet Offensive. We didn’t know what was going on for a couple of days.)

    To be honest, my memories of the people at Cao Lahn is pretty poor, but I have many, many photographs. I’d be pleased to share them with anyone.

    We might continue this directly, if you wish. My address is: robin_56@centurylink.net

  12. Dear Sir
    I am interesting in your response to our recall on Cao Lanh Training Center where we had served in the peaceful place during the Vietnam War. I left Cao Lanh in Oct. 1971 before Col. Phuoc came, so I didn’t know about him. Did you know one of your Vietnamese counterparts was Major Phong, Chief of Training section in Cao Lanh , whose wife work as typist clerk in our team office in the year 1970 to 1972. Mai. Phong didn’t escape because I saw his wife in Saigon a few years after the war. The senior advisor served in Team 97 from Sep. 1971 to 1972 whom I forget name was his second tour in Vietnam. On a TDY, while we were riding on the Jeep to Saigon, he told me his first tour duty in 1966 was a senior advisor to Vietnamese 33rd Ranger Battalion whose had a Commanding Officer later died in fighting the VC second offensive May 1968 in Saigon by gunship friendly fire.
    The team interpreter that you recalled, I guess he must be a short guy who had family in Cao Lanh Training Center. I left there a year before you came to. Do you recall any interpreter else ? During my time there, an advisor Capt. Mathew and me were invited to a small dinner by his counterpart, Weapon Section, ate a Cobra snake meat for the first time in the village nearby. One time ate ells with training officers on the small island nearby.
    In 2007, In a visiting Vietnam, I had a chance to come back the old battleground, our Cao Lanh Training Center. It became a training center for Vietnam Communist Army new recruits. I didn’t have a chance to go inside to see our Team compound, but watched it from outside in a village pub on the road side. It was so peaceful place to sit down and remember to when I was young and served there. I stayed at a hotel in the city town that day. Next trip to visit Vietnam may be in this fail, I have a plan to visit Cao Lanh once again.
    Have a good day.

    P.S. I have a picture taken inside Team compound by the command bunker near the tennis court but I lost it somewhere in my home. I will try to find it when I have time.

  13. I cannot recall the dates of my assignment to Cao Lanh, but it was not a long tour because of the pull-out – maybe September 1972 to February 1973, but that’s just a guess. Our interpreter was drafted into ARVN while I was there, As a farewell, we all were invited to his mother’s restaurant not far from the Training Center. It was one of the most memorable and wonderful meals of my life. Is it possible that you and he are one in the same?

  14. I have never had a mustache so there must have been someone serving between our assignments. Our Colonel Phouc was a real gentleman and quite different from some other
    training Center Commanders, who were really war lords taxing the local people, My understanding was that he had been a sort of vice-mayor of Saigon in years earlier. He took great care of me and my team.

    There wasn’t much to the stand-down. We were told to get ready to be evacuated by helicopter, but it was to be quite a while after that warning order before we were to leave. Finally, we mounted up and drove into Saigon. I did manage to keep our flag, which I still have.

    One minor story: I allowed all hands to take with them as much from the bar as they thought they could get into the US. I took a little Canadian Club. The Customs Officer when we landed informed me that this is not domestic whiskey and was not permitted to be brought into the country. Then he waived me through with it.

    The Vietnamese officers at the Training Center knew very well what their future would be. They were rather bitter about being betrayed – as they had every right to be. It was shameful the way our government abandoned that nation of Vietnam. We should not forget it.

  15. Dear Sir
    After April 30th, 1975 Vietnam in chaos. I have no ideal about Col. Phuoc but I have heard the fate of Col. Tran Cuu Thien , the commander before him, didn’t escape and was sent to jail (concentration camp) for over 10 years. Since I left Team 97 (as an ARVN interpreter) volunteered for XXiV Corp in Danang in Oct. 1971. I remember the most was senior advisor Major George Dion and his executive officer was Maj. Kinkaid served to late 1971. But I forgot the name of a Lt. Colonel, his successor after Oct. 1971, who has a mustache.. You must be the one who replaced him later ?
    I am interested to know someone like you who had served in MACV Team 97 (surely) Cao Lanh Regional Forces Training Center. We may recall something later. I am living in Portland, Oregon. Thanks for concerning our Cao Lanh.

    P.S: Please let me know about our team stand down in your time.

    • Hi, Phillip – Would you mind writing me at the email address below. I am researching some family history, and I wanted to check with you about the identity of the LTC with the moustache whose name you cannot recall. The man in question was a Senior Advisor at the Cao Lanh Regional Forces Training Center from August of 1971 to August of 1972, so while the times you mention don’t exactly match, and not many dates do after 45 years, I am thinking it’s possible we are talking about the same man, or at least I think it’s worth asking you about … he was indeed a LTC, and had a moustache in 1971-72. I will note that this was his 2nd tour. His first was in 1963-64, at which time he was a Captain advising the 30th ARVN Rangers in operations around the capital city. I am also researching a specific action he was involved in at that time. Details about both tours are hard to come by, even after requests for existing records (the official repositories only contain so much, and I have been searching for counterparts and others who may remember him and have memories to share); I only recently found the location of the action after piecing together the most fragmentary information from multiple sources. Regarding that action, he won the Bronze Star with V Device for Valor for his part in saving the 30th Rangers from certain destruction after being ambushed by a much larger enemy force. He passed away in 1973 (non-combat death), and so I have been attempting to fill in as much about his service as possible by monitoring sites such as this one. Thank you in advance for your time, and for your service in those days. I remain hopeful that you will contact me. Sincerely, Larry M. Belmont

      • Hi, Larry
        After reading your research on a LTC that was a Senior Advisor Team 97 from Aug 1971 to Aug. 1972, I believe it was his true story that he told me about his first tour in Vietnam. That LTC also asked me about if I knew where about his counterpart Captain commander that Ranger battalion. As I recalled in my last year comment: that Captain name Le Ngoc Tru who later became a police district chief in a Saigon area, for his valor in leading his ranger battalion fought off and cleared Viet Cong out of this part Saigon in the VC’s Tet Offensive 1968. But later he was killed in the VC’s second offensive in May 1968 by friendly fire, a rocket launched from a US helicopter gunship, while commanding the battle for his district in Saigon. A well know incident.

          • Larry, The Senior Advisor to MACV 97 in the period of Sep. 1971 to Sep. 1972 was Lt. Col. John Hopkins whose name I couldn’t recall in the previous discussion. His first Vietnam War tour with Vietnamese 30th Ranger Battalion. Exactly true base on your research and his story that he told me 45 years ago while riding on the road from Cao Lanh to MACV HQ in Saigon.

            Sincerely
            Phillip (Vinh)

      • Hi,
        I was one of the two interpreters who first arrived in Cao Lanh Training Center in 1968 (before Tet Offensive). I can recall some Senior Advisors like : Ltc Rhode, Maj Blankenship, Maj Dion, Maj Ragusa, many advisors like : Capt Taylor, Capt Joseph A Best (I worked directly with him), 2Lt Phillips, Sgt Wood.. Because I worked there with the team from 1968 to Nov 1971, I spent lot of time with all the American Advisors there, I knew Col Tran Cuu Thien . We stayed together in the MACV Compound. At the end of 1971, I transferred to Thu Duc Officer School to be trained there for 18 months and then assigned to the First ARVN Infantry Division until 1975. So if by any chance, any of you happen to know any Advisors’ email address, please let me know so that we can talk about past memories in Vietnam.
        Thank you very much,
        Mr Ho van Ba
        Email : hovanba2007@gmail.com
        Cell phone : 0916706943

  16. The team I commanded was called Mobile Advisory Team (MAT) #97. It was part of MACV. Perhaps there is another team that is just called MACV Team #97?

  17. I came upon this site through a search on Cao Lanh. I was the senior advisor to the ARVN National Training Center in Cao Lahn in late 1972-73. The commander of the Training Center was Col. Phouc. I have always wondered if he might have escaped to France since he had some connections and spoke excellent French, but I could not get any information about him after the fall. I do not recall the designation of our team, but apparently it was not Team 97.

  18. My father SFC Joseph Pestovich served as a medical advisor with Mobile Advisory Team II-97, Buon Ho District, Darlac Province, Republic of Vietnam from July 1969 to July 1970.

    • Your father served with me as my medic when I had a MAT team in Buon Ho. He was my friend and a good man.
      Lt. Daniel Byrne

      • Hi Daniel. I was excited to see your post, and find someone who served with my dad. He never really talked about his Vietnam tours after his retirement in September 1972. I find it interesting that you posted your message on the day before the anniversary of his death in 1983. I really feel his spirit is still with us to date. If you want send me an email sometime, I’d love to hear from you. My email is john.pestovich64@gmail.com. Thank you for the message you posted, the kind words about my dad, and of course your service for our country. John

  19. I was the “alpha” (team commander) for Mobile Advisory Team (MAT) 97 from approximately Nov 1970 to May 1971. MAT 97 was in Vinh Long Province during that period, primarily in the villages of Loc Hoa and Ngai Tu (Tra On District). Loc Hoa was a generally peaceful village at the time but Ngai Tu was the opposite.

    • I think this must have been the team I commanded and closed out in 1973. Do you remember, was Col. Nguyen-Huu-Phouc the center commander?

      • That name isn’t familiar to me and I don’t know what you mean by a “center commander”. Our team was located in small outposts in small villages in Vinh Long Province so we didn’t really have a “center”.

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