A total of two hundred and eight American soldiers served with the 400th USASA SOD (Abn) between 1962 and 1975. The US Army Security Agency assigned the men of this unit both Top Secret classified and covert missions. Their operations were conducted under surreptitious conditions for security reasons. All of the 400th ASA SOD members were three time volunteers: first of all, they volunteered for their U.S. Army assignments; secondly, each had to volunteer and successfully complete the US Army Airborne Training School; and thirdly, each had to volunteer to serve with the new ASA Special Operations Detachments. A majority of the enlisted men selected for assignment to the 400th ASA SOD were from the top five percent of all U.S. Army enlisted soldiers. Also, each man had to pass a comprehensive personal security clearance investigation conducted by government agents prior to attending any of the classified ASA training programs.
The members were physically conditioned from preparing and completing the arduous airborne training and the physical testing required of all special operations units each year. The first Commanding Officer of the 400th ASA SOD (Abn) unit was 1LT Lewis "DEAN" Kirk. One of his first actions was to initiate a tough training program for the first two-dozen 400th SOD troops assigned to the new unit. He started with long forced marches with full rucksacks in the hot and muggy Okinawa spring and summer months up in the northern training area. The unit performed morning runs of up to three miles too. He encouraged his soldiers to participate in a variety of specialized training programs such as the following: the 1st Special Forces Group (Abn) SCUBA course; the Cold Weather and Ski Training Course up in Hokkaido, Japan; the Jump Master training course; the advanced HALO parachute course; difficult infiltration and extraction training from an USN submarine; extensive weapons training with a variety of American and foreign weapons; and serving as Cadre for the 1st SFGA Airborne Course on Okinawa.
Extensive participation in volunteer academic training was also encouraged for all of the enlisted troops. Some examples are cross training as Special Forces radio operations specialist; training in various foreign languages such as French and Vietnamese; enrollment in the Special Forces Qualification Training Program; and classified ASA extension courses (off-duty) were taken to enhance their professional military knowledge, skill and efficiency. Their participation in these extensive training programs assisted the enlisted soldiers of the 400th ASA SOD (Abn) in getting promoted ahead of many of their peers. This was especially true in the enlisted ranks up to Staff Sergeant E-6 rank.
So these extraordinary soldiers progressed to rate among the most highly trained and proficient enlisted men not only in the U.S. Army, but soldiers in foreign armies. One pertinent fact that stands out about the 400th SOD soldiers is over seventy of the one hundred eighty-eight enlisted troops served with two or more of the four ASA Special Operations Detachments during their careers. Another impressive fact is the large number (over 60 per cent) of 400th ASA SOD soldiers who served six years or more on active duty. Many of these 400th soldiers transferred to the regular Special Forces Groups after their ASA SOD tours were completed. Some took assignments with other airborne units like the 101st Airborne Division and 173rd Airborne Brigade and served in Viet Nam with those units. These enlisted soldiers were proud American warriors and served their country with distinction and honor. A review of their Meritorious Service Profiles included in this book will demonstrate their exemplary service to America. The ASA SOD units suffered only five Killed-in-Action (KIA) deaths from the many hundreds who served in Viet Nam during 1963 through 1975.
This book was written to preserve the Legacy of these unique and brave soldiers and to identify their many contributions during the Viet Nam era. A total of 107 out of the 208 membership served America in Viet Nam during the war. Their impressive collection of quality Service Awards and Badges demonstrates the exceptional performance of duties and accomplishments of assigned missions by this group of US Army soldiers.
400th USASA SOD (Abn) THEME QUOTE: "Here is to us, there are damn few like us, and they won't forget us."
Johnnie E. Malone joined the US Army on 1 August 1958. He served a tour in Germany with the 279th ASA Detachment. After being discharged, he joined the 3rd Force Recon Company, USMCR in Mobile, Alabama. When he learned about the new USASA Special Operations Detachments being established, he reenlisted for the Far East and Vietnam service. He later served with Company B, 1st Special Forces Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Abn), ARNG for several years. His decorations include: Combat Infantryman Badge, US Army Parachutist Wings, Special Forces Tab, Vietnam Service Medal, National Defense Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnamese Parachutist Wings, Republic of China, Taiwan Jump Wings and SCUBA badge.
After completing both a BSBA and an Accounting degree, Johnnie went to work with the Department of Defense as a GS civil servant. He retired with 37 years of Federal Service in November 2002. Johnnie and his wife Carmen returned home to Mississippi. He is currently completing his second novel entitled "Yakuza Mama San".