John Branom Smith; phony MIA, phony Special Forces

| November 16, 2015

John Smith2

Someone sent us a link to an article about this character, John Branom Smith, who told Tulsa World about his time in Vietnam;

John Smith article1

John Smith article2

John Smith

Someone put the 18-year-old “Green Beret” out on a observation post 10 miles from his base, all by himself and he got lost in a fog. For some reason a helicopter was supposed to pick him up, but the fog prevented it. So, he E&E’d (Escape and Evasion) from the Viet Cong for 90 days until he found a road 60 miles in the wrong direction from where he started and hitch hiked back to his base. Then he finished his 21-year career at Fort Hood, Texas. Amazing story, huh?

Well, the truth is that he did two years in Army, one of them in Vietnam as a grunt – he earned a CIB and an ARCOM and made it to Specialist E-4. After two years, he transferred to the Reserves. Then he joined the Navy, but that only lasted five or six months. But, still, he had an honorable career in Vietnam, according to his records. He went straight from his infantry training at Fort Knox, Kentucky to Vietnam – a much better story than the one he told. I guess the truth wasn’t good enough;

John Branom Smith FOIA

John Branom Smith Assignments

At the link to the story above, Tulsa World is trying to get in touch with Mr. Smith to ask him questions about his article. Now they don’t have to. I don’t explain ’em, I just report on ’em.

Category: Phony soldiers

Comments (89)

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  1. GM2 (SW) says:

    The Dutch Rudder Club has been growing at a breakneck pace, lately.

  2. Bobo says:

    I used to put my LP/OPs in an area where I could cover their withdrawal with SAF from the PB, and I’m pretty sure that my TA-312s didn’t come with 10 miles of spooled wire, but what do I know.

    • OldManchu says:

      splices baby…. splices. And roll upon roll of high speed tape.

    • CLAW says:

      Oh. Hell Yeah. It’s so easy to lay 10 miles of WD-1 from a helicopter. We did it as a matter of routine almost every other day.

      All you need is either four each DR-5’s or 10 each RL-159’s. Then fly, stop and hover while splicing, then fly, splice, etc. etc. until you reach the OP.

      That’s where the old saying of “I’d crawl through 10 miles of broken glass just to hear her fart over a field phone” came from.

      It was easy, so simple even a cave man could do it.

    • OldSarge57 says:

      Dammit! Where are the spare BA-30’s?

      • CLAW says:

        Dunno. Check the Colonel’s and Sergeant Major’s flashlights. I bet they have some extras just laying around.

        Or better yet, check with the S-5 guy. I know he’s got plenty of them stashed.

        • Hondo says:

          Nah, those flashlights would be filled with BA-3030s. (smile)

          • CLAW says:

            Yep, nothing but the best updated alkaline technology batteries for the CSM/COL’s flashlights. The line grunts get to deplete the new old stock of batteries left over from Vietnam.

            But back in olden times, when the Army was still riding around on dinosaurs and mules, the BA-3030 was known as a just plain old BA-30.

            Not sure when the number change occurred. Maybe about the time that the DOD supply system converted from Federal Stock Numbers to National Stock Numbers cause we ran out of numbers. That was in either 1975 or 1976 if memory serves. (Smile)

            • Hondo says:

              Can’t say when the BA-3030 entered the inventory. But it was definitely distinct from the BA-30. Believe it was originally introduced for Arctic service (better low-temp performance), but I’m not positive.

              Both were D-cells. However, the BA-30 was zinc-carbon (today’s “heavy duty” battery); the BA-3030 was indeed alkaline.

              • CLAW says:

                And just to throw a little more confusion into the mix:

                In the old Navy, the Army’s “D” cell sized battery was known as a “Type C” battery.

                Intra-Service nomenclatures will bollix up the works every time.

        • sapper3307 says:

          Don’t forget to get some PRC-E8 from the First Sergeant.

    • Pat says:

      I had totally forgotton about those spools of wire, lol. Cutting edge technology, those BA312s, cutting edge.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      Could any of you speak English? Or do you only know Alphanumeric?

      Did I tell you twinks I used to use an 18W, and now I’ve changed over to a 16R? Sometimes, I can even squeeze in a 14S, too.

      No? Awww, shucks!

      • NECCSEABEECPO says:

        PH2, in plan terms a field telephone that uses ground wire or cable. They can be sound powered but the best way is bat’s. What they are saying is laying wire out to 10 mile’s can be done hut hard to do. The other big thing if you do that and can’t keep an eye on or check the cable the bad guy can splice in and listen. I hope that is plan text for you. I’m ok with Army speak but being a Navy ground guy we use the same stuff.

      • CLAW says:

        Yes we can. Here it is in Army Commo Speak:

        TA-312: Cranked field telephone
        WD-1: Black telephone wire
        DR-5: A big (and I mean BIG) reel of WD-1. This reel has 2.5 miles of wire on it, weighs as much as the forklift you would need to load/unload it from a tractor trailer.
        RL-159: Contains one mile of WD-1 commo wire (still a fairly big reel, most of the time the commo wire is laid from a RL-39 reel which holds a quarter mile of wire.)
        BA-30: common “D” cell flashlight battery used in the TA-312 field phone.

        EX, Did you know a 16R (Vulcan ADA Crewman) most often was called a “Gun Bunny”?

        Hope this helped.

        • CLAW says:

          Actually, I don’t think the DR-5’s were ever moved again once they were set on the ground. Only the highest levels of Signal outfits would have them and the RL-159’s and RL-39’s were refilled off of them.

          I never was in a Signal outfit, but I’m sure sj as a Signal Officer would know a lot more about them than I would.

          • CLAW says:

            And there is also a DR-8 involved in this too.

            The DR-8 contained one third of a mile of WD-1 wire and was most commonly used by the down to ground units.

            The RL-39 is the hand held reeling machine used to both lay and then pick back up the WD-1 wire.

            • Hack Stone says:

              Is the DR8 the canvas bag with a spool of slash wire?

              If you want to get real old school, how about a TA-1?

              • CLAW says:

                The DR-8 could have a bag associated with it. Most of the time I only ever monkeyed around with an RL-39 for my M577 track and the commo guys always set up the TA-312’s and drug the wires around.

                As for the TA-1, no experience with those at all. Actually never heard of nor seen one.

        • Ex-PH2 says:

          No, I did not know any of that. Thank you all for enlightening me. I can see that, for some of my stories to be even more mysterious, I will be more authentic if I concoct a compendium of confusing codespeak.

          I shall get to work on it.

  3. sj says:

    Wonder if he ran into SLuUrPpQueEFf41 while he was out wandering around the jungle?

    • HMCS (FMF) ret. says:

      Probably did… they slurped down many, many bowls of Cream of Sum Yung Guy soup made by Lon Duc Dong…

  4. GDContractor says:

    Wow… a “Mike Johnson” and a “John Smith” taken down in the same day. What are the odds of that considering that Muslims increase in population at the rate of 400 million per very 12 hours (give or take).

    • Hondo says:

      Think yer math on population increase may be a touch off, amigo. (smile)

    • sj says:

      Is that a figure Lar’s came up with?

      • GDContractor says:

        At 10:48 PM EST 14NOV Lars posted the world population of Muslims to be 1.2 Billion.

        The following morning, Jonn posted a quote from Slate Magazine that the world population of Muslims was 1.6 Billion.

        Lars is never wrong. Slate Mag is never wrong. Therefore it follows…

        No ducks required.

        • Skippy says:

          wait Lol…. the Clinton News Network is on record saying 2 billion! ! !
          but we know how bad that data is Lol…

  5. GDContractor says:

    From what I can read of his 2-1 (and I have made mistakes before) he was assigned to D-Troop, 7/1 Air Cav Squadron from 12OCT1970 to 30OCT1971.

    From the 7/1 Air Cav website

    The Black Hawks were a self-contained air cavalry squadron, made up of troops HHT, A, B, C and D in Vietnam from Feb 1968 – Apr 1972. From arrival until early in 1969 they were assigned to the 9th Infantry Division. When the 9th pulled out, they continued with 1st Aviation Brigade, supporting ARVN troops in the Delta region. They remained assigned to the brigade until their departure. The 7/1st operated mostly in the 44th Special Tactical Zone near the Cambodian border. Their job was to interdict supplies and troops crossing the border. In Jan 1971 they assisted the ARVN 9th division in rescuing a beleaguered Special Forces team at Ta Bec Mountain, the last action by US ground forces in IV Corps.

    Troop D was the “legs” of the 7/1st. The mounted ground reconnaissance unit performed a wide array of missions; including route recon, convoy escort, perimeter defense, and search and destroy missions.

    Here is an article about a D-Troop mission from Fall of 1970.

    • CLAW says:

      Yep, nothing wrong with his service record.

      Fort Knox Basic, then down to Fort Polk for 11B AIT, then off to RVN for a tour.

      Completed the tour with an ARCOM, no reportable wounds that required a Purple Heart (take note posers and embellishers,you can go through a tour and not get a PH), then back to Fort Hood (unit move?) for his remaining time on active duty.

      All perfectly good and honorable. Up until the point now when he starts telling stories about having to hitch-hike his ass back 60 miles on a water buffalo to base camp after being left in the “fog” to die.


      • Perry Gaskill says:

        Claw, were you ever around the Red Cross? The only time I ran across them was one day with a small element of 173rd Airborne when they flew a Huey in with about six round-eyed Red Cross ladies for a short meet-and-greet session. No coffee, no donuts, apparently they had instructions not to feed the animals. After about 10 minutes, they flew away again, and everybody’s reaction was sort of what was that about?

        • CLAW says:

          Nope, never around someplace where there might have been a Red Cross element.

          I “think” I saw a Donut Dollie one day clear across (half mile away) the Phu Bai airstrip over by the 85th Evac Hospital. That was about the closest I ever got to seeing a roundeye while I was there. But it could have been a male nurse in drag for all I know.

          • GDContractor says:

            Anne Margaret and Raquel Welch stories are always welcome.

          • 3/17 Air Cav says:

            Claw…….can’t remember if I told you the donut story or not. Anyway, back in the day operating out of Phu Loi, one of our pilots came into our mess hall needing crew for a flight. So I went. Turns out, he needed crew for a flight to pick of a Red Cross gal. We picked her up, brought her back to Phu Loi. On the way back she pops a bottle of Champaine, passes it back to me in a Red Cross cup. Turns out our pilot picked her up so she could spend the night with our pilot. Totally unauthorized flight. big trouble if he had been caught. Gotta love those fly boys, right?

            • CLAW says:

              Oh, Yeah, those pilots always got all the round-eye chicks. Don’t believe it? Just ask a pilot, he’ll tell you the truth every time.

              Upon reflection, I guess I did see a couple of round-eye gals (although from a pretty far distance) when some of us were able to go to the Bob Hope Christmas show at Camp Eagle in late December 1971. Not sure who was all in the show that year, I just know we didn’t have to fly any missions that day. Rode from Phu Bai over to Eagle in the back of a 3/4 Ton. Whoo-Hoo, road trip.

              • CLAW says:

                A little research reveals that the “stars” for Bob’s show at Camp Eagle were Jim Nabors, Vida Blue, and maybe? Lola Falana.

                Guess that’s why I don’t have any slap me in the face memories of the show.

                • 3/17 Air Cav says:

                  Claw…..from Dec. 5th 1971 to Jan. 16th 1972 I was assigned as a rifleman with Company D 2nd Battalion 327th Infantry Regiment deployed somewhere around Phu Boi. I could have gone to that same show. I instead just laid around and duffed the whole day.

  6. CB Senior says:

    Being a Navy type I am not full on with all Army Stuff, but from what you GB’s and Rangers have said. Is not Land Nav part of Ranger School the hardest section and a must pass. So a GB getting lost in the fog? Then being stupid enough to actually admit it in public????

  7. Green Thumb says:

    I cannot believe the article has a picture of Lee Roy Selmon on the same page as this maggot.


    I wonder if he had his taint tickled while hitch hiking?

  8. Tony180a says:

    Yup he’s legit. First thing they teach you in SERE is hitch hiking skills / walking on roads.

  9. Skippy says:

    way to FLUSH a good service record down the toilet

  10. Ex-PH2 says:

    I think you are all TW12s. No spikka da nummercodes. Need translator bot. Send. Hurry.


    This Dumb ass couldn’t make it in the Navy. Looks like he joined then they sent him to a SeeBee Battalion NCB62(Gulf port, MS)as Undesignated striker no MOS. I would like to see his Navy paper work I bet he got booted on a other than discharge.


      Sorry meant MCB they are now NMCB and it looks like he didn’t even do one deployment back then they did 7&7 7 months out and 7 months in.

  12. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    The dumbassed fuckbucket of an inbred Swamp Donkey had plenty to be proud of BUT NOOOOO, he just had to open his yap to shit all over it, himself and his reputation, Fa’ kheem!!


      Look’s like his Army stuff was good to go until the lie, but I think something is up with his Navy Services. That is always the thing they fucked up some were in life so they fabricate a new life fro them selves.

  13. Bernie Hackett says:

    Is this guy Chuck Norris’ love child?

  14. B Woodman says:

    I looked at the images and yep! it said Specialist Four.
    Now. .. I’m wondering. . . if I remember correctly, the infantry branch promoted up through the leadership ranks (Cpl), as opposed to the non-leadership ranks (Spec 4). What happened?

    • CLAW says:

      Nothing bad happened. Lots and lots of Spec4 11B’s in Vietnam.

      Automatic promotion from PFC to Spec4 for just about everybody regardless of MOS. An individual had to be truly outstanding to do the PFC E-3 to Corporal E-4 routine.

      Most of the honest to God card carrying Corporals I ever saw (which were not many) were either FA Gun Chiefs or MP’s.

      • B Woodman says:

        Kam Sam Ne Dah. (Thank you – Korean)

        I was just a humble 31E Field Radio Repairer in support of same Infantry at several of my assignments.
        Trying to remember. . .. I went from PFC/E3 to SPC4/E4. Now, I think I then went to SGT/E5, I don’t remember doing the SPC5. But then again. . . .
        And I definitely went to SSG/E6, never did the SPC6 thing, that was phased out by then.

        • CLAW says:

          I went from SP4 to SP5 and stayed a SP5 for six years before I made SSG.

          On the other hand my brother alternated between SSG and SP6. He was a 91B/C medic and depending on what type of unit he was assigned to, could be either one or the other. If he was in,say a Battlefield Clearing Company as a Platoon Sergeant, he wore SSG stripes. But when he was assigned to a dispensary or as a hospital ward master, he wore SP6 stripes.

        • Hondo says:

          Would depend on career field and when you made E5. SP4 stayed around a loooong time. SP5 and SP6 went away in the mid-1980s (1986). When that happened, SP4 became SPC.

          SP7 (mostly band and med/dental, but maybe a few other MOSs as well) went away in the late-1970s (1978). SP8 and SP9 technically existed on paper at one time, but it’s doubtful that anyone ever actually was promoted to those ranks. Reportedly they were discontinued when CSM was created in the late 1960s.

  15. TheCloser says:

    Another reporter who failed math (and geography): ‘17,000 miles from home at age 18’

    • Hondo says:

      Yep. Since the earth’s circumference is 24,902 mi at the equator, barring leaving the planet it’s kinda hard to be any farther away from any point on earth than approx 12,451 miles.

  16. Mark Lauer says:

    A one man OP 10 miles out with no communications capability, and the only way out is by helo.

    Yeah, I believe that.

  17. Squizzy >T. says:

    Just how many Special Forcer Blokes got lost in Vietnam walking around in a fog??? Like our S.A.S, we had some thing in the order of 4 or 5 thousand troopers over there. about 4.800 more then the administration knew they had at any one time.

  18. Green Thumb says:

    It just dawned on me.

    This turd could be Rowdy Anderson’s dad.

  19. omgitshim says:

    Wow ! Almost as good a story as the time US Black opp’s sent me to the secret underground base at Dulce, NM where i was to find the reptilian leader and assassinate him. Where i single handily wiped out a company of the aliens along with 2 of their saucers. They couldn’t put it on my 214 though because it was a top secret mission. But I was made an honorary General. Yep those were the good old days.
    “Nurse….Nurse Rachet…is it time for my pills yet?