Deja vu All Over Again

It all depends when you think the Vietnam war started, but a book I just got – “The Most Secret War: Army Signals Intelligence in Vietnam” by the Military History Office of the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, identifies the first casualty of the Vietnam war as Specialist 4th James T. Davis, of Livingston, Tennessee, who was a member of the 3rd Radio Research Unit .

On 22 December 1961, Davis was part of a Short Range Direction Finding (SRDF) team operating a AN/PRD-1 radio direction finder. The SRDF teams went into the field with the ARVN and attempted to locate the enemy by radio direction finding.

Davis had just taken a bearing about 20 kilometers west of Saigon and was in a 3/4 ton truck with nine ARVN soldiers. They were traveling on Provisional Highway 10 when an electrically controlled land mine detonated under his truck spinning the truck out of control bringing it to rest in a ditch. A group of about 20 Viet Cong emerged from the bushes and killed all ten members of the SRDF team.

The SRDF teams were formed when it was discovered that the Army’s direction finding equipment didn’t work as expected because of a poor understanding of the technical characteristics of the enemy’s transmitter signals and, in the case of the AN/TRD-4A direction finders, the effects of the humid weather in Vietnam. The Army was unprepared and misinformed in part, because they relied on information from the ARVN – which turned out to be wrong and had a total lack of good technical intelligence about the electronic environment in Vietnam.

Does this any of this sound familiar?

The ISBN for the book is: 0-16-051284-0…

But don’t try to get it from your local Government Printing Office Bookstore, because as of September 1st, they’ve all been closed.

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2 Responses to “Deja vu All Over Again”

  1. Vern Greunke Says:

    okay, if the govmt doesn’t offer it … where can i get MY own copy or a loaner to read?

    PRD-1 Operator in Vietnam 1966-67.

    heyvern@asalives.com

  2. Terry C. Shannon Says:

    I purchased a copy on 26 June 2004 at an ASA reunion event. Mint condition. It *better* be out of print, as I paid $150.00 for this 130-page history of SIGINT in Viet Nam! (I was there doing that 1970-72 as a traffic analyst).

    You can call the Govt. Printing Office at 1-866-512-8800 re: possibility of another press run, but it doesn’t seem likely…

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