In 1967 “Rap” Peavy of Venice Acres was attending the University of South Florida in Tampa when he had to drop out of school because his stepfather suffered a heart attack and he had to get a job to help his family out financially. He lost his draft deferment and became 1-A for the draft. So he decided to enlist in the Army before he got drafted.
He took basic and advanced military training at Fort Benning, Ga. and then flew to Vietnam in 1968. “Rap’ landed at Cam Rahn Bay and wound up in the 5th Special Forces Group MACV SOG (Military Assistance Command Studies and Observation Group). They worked for the Department of Defense. SOG’s missions was to de-escalate the Vietnam War before it reached the border of South Vietnam.
“I was sent across the border into Laos to a communication station atop a 5,500-foot hill in jungle country 30 miles inside the border,” he said. “My job was to provide radio
communications for our troops who were trying to stop the North Vietnamese Army from coming into South Vietnam.
“One of my missions was to provide communications for small reco-teams who were sent into enemy territory for a week or so to spy on the NVA (North Vietnamese Army), “Rap” explained. “We were the only communications you had other than choppers when they were in the field on one of their missions.
“Probably the biggest mission I was involved in was ‘Operation Tailwind’ he said. “This was an operation run by the CIA. It took place in 1971 as a diversionary mission in Laos performed by Company-B, Command and Control Center. This was the outfit I worked for.
“‘Tailwind’ operated north in Laos from where our communication center was located,” he said. “The U.S. sent in Company-B to divert the NVA away from several CIA operations. The American unit was spotted by the enemy and they were shot up pretty good.
“Gary Rose, the medic serving with Company-B attacked by the NVA, received the ‘Medal of Honor’ in the last couple of years, years after the war.” ‘Rap’ said. “He was hit several times by
enemy fire, but still keep going out and patching up the wounded. He should have gotten the medal back then, but he didn’t.”
The other operation he can recall was an intelligence mission in Laos on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
“A good friend of mine , Curtis Green, was killed in that operation. I was on the radio with Green when he was shot in the chest and killed. He was in a six-man recon team they were trying to extract from enemy territory that was surrounded on the top of a hill in Laos by a much larger NVA force.
“By the time they made it to the hill the NVA had cut off their radio communications until they reached the top and reestablished communications again. Green and his unit was able to talk to a couple of rescue helicopters from our facility.
“We always had another American unit along the Vietnam-Laosan border ready to be sent into to rescue Americans in situations like this. But this time the situation on the ground was too hot.
“A 22-year-old captain on the ground who was running the operation called in during the height of the shootout and said, ‘This is ‘Fox.’ My face is gone. We are about out of ammo. Can you do anything to help us?”
His plea for help was picked up by a “Cobra,” attack helicopter circling over his landing zone. He told the wounded captain on the ground, “This is ‘Panther 1-2. I’m going to make one more round above you. What do you need?
“Can you give us some fire to the southwest as you’re coming up over the ridge?” the wounded captain radioed from the bush.
“The pilot of the ‘Cobra’ helicopter kept his mike opened. You could hear the mini-gatling gun firing as he flew over the NVA enemy below.”
Of the six who went into enemy territory, eventually two Green Berets got out and two
Montagnards were also rescued. Green and a Montagnard were left behind because the firefight was too heavy.
During the 19-months, eight-days “Rap” served in Vietnam, most of his time was spent running radio communication in the central highlands of Laos, 30-miles into enemy territory. They went into the bush with a few Americans and the rest were indigenous people who hated the Vietnamese and were happy to kill as many enemy troops as possible.
“I flew back to Fort Lewis, Wash. from Vietnam in August 1971,” ‘Rap’ said. “The reception we received from the civilians in the USA was lousy. They spit on us and called us ‘Baby Killers!’
“When we arrived at Fort Lewis we had to sign a waiver that prohibited us from talking about anything we did in Vietnam for 25 or 30 years.”
A short time later he was discharged from the service.
“Before I went in the Army I sold cars at my uncle’s car lot in Orlando. I got out of the Army and began selling cars with him again. Then I opened my own car operation in Atlanta. After that I relocated to Panama City Beach with a car dealership I called: ‘Big Boys Toys.’ I spent 45 years altogether selling cars.
“I shut my dealership down in Panama City Beach in December 2016. My wife, Mary, and
I moved down to Venice Acres in 2018.
This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Monday, June 24, 2019, and is republished with permission.
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