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“Crack the Sky, Shake the Earth”

— North Vietnamese coded message launching the Tet Offensive

Fifty years ago today, the Viet Cong broke its own back by launching the “Tet Offensive” against Saigon, Hué, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Pleiku, every provincial capital (36 cities), and all major US bases in South Vietnam. Between 30 January 1968 and 10 February 1968, when one straggling group of VC attacked Bac Lieu in the Mekong Delta, some 50,000 Viet Cong backed by about 35,000 North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regulars launched waves of attacks ranging in scope from simple rocket and mortar attacks on 64 district capitals and their airfields to suicide assaults on the U.S. Embassy in Saigon to full-fledged urban warfare in an attempt to seize and revolutionize the former imperial capital of Hué.

ARVN in Saigon, Tet 1968

South Vietnamese Army of the Republic of Viet Nam (ARVN) forces, in most places and most cases, eventually drove the Communist attackers away or killed them, aided by the VC lack of coordination, which spread their attacks out so that mobile reserves could defeat the assaults in detail. The dithering reluctance of U.S. General Westmoreland (who somehow talked himself into believing that the whole nationwide offensive was a feint intended to divert American forces from the ongoing siege of Khe Sanh) nearly handed the Communists the tactical advantage anyway, even as the complete failure of U.S. and South Vietnamese intelligence to predict the attacks handed the Communist forces strategic surprise.

However, even General Westmoreland couldn’t change the objective correlation of forces. American reinforcements took the cities back, clearing the VC out of Saigon city center by dawn on 1 February. Fighting continued in a few other locations: in Dalat until 15 February, in Kon Tum, Buôn Ma Thuột, Phan Thiết, Cần Thơ, and Bến Tre until the end of the month, in Cholon, the Chinese neighborhood of Saigon, until 7 March, and of course in Hué itself where the Communist cadres had formed a revolutionary committee and begun executing class enemies (2,800 to 5,000 of them) as the American artillery and bombs slowly reduced the “Fragrant City” to corpse-smeared rubble. (65% of the city was destroyed in the fighting.) The ARVN and USMC finally cleared the last Communist forces out of Hué on 2 March 1968.

At the end of the Offensive, the Viet Cong had lost as much as a third of its fighting strength, allowing Hanoi to fill the gap with NVA forces and take control of the insurgency from the locals. The Tet Offensive gut-punched the American effort in Vietnam almost as badly: the Washington establishment began looking for the exits in earnest, and nobody wanted to give Westmoreland the troop numbers he was now screeching for. The American media in the person of Walter Cronkite declared that Tet revealed the war to be stalemated and unwinnable, President Johnson refused to seek re-election rather than wage the war he had blundered into, and the American public eventually saw no reason to disagree with either of them.

Operation ODDBALL

The Tet Offensive takes DELTA GREEN by surprise just like it does the rest of the American national security establishment. DELTA GREEN Agents and teams in country respond to the attacks on 30 or 31 January, drive them off, and then return to barracks where they find a message: “In honor of the New Year, join us in a day at the races.” DELTA GREEN decides to use Tet to launch as many operations as they can in the first week of February while the country is in chaos: any needed damage, looting, arson, and so on can be concealed in the VC onslaught. Every program op on the planning boards in South Vietnam gets a “free fire” approval to welcome in the Year of the Monkey, all rolled up in one.

During this country-wide Operation ODDBALL, individual DELTA GREEN teams of Agents might launch their own harebrained, half-planned op or move on any of these leads:

  • South Vietnamese and American military police stationed in the resort town of Da Lat in the Central Highlands report that the VC seem fanatically insistent on capturing the Pasteur Institute there, founded by the bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin in 1936. DELTA GREEN has determined that Yersin uncovered the extraterrestrial and unnatural Black Fever from research in French Algeria and possibly even cultured it during his work on the plague in the 1890s, the same time as a Black Fever outbreak in San Francisco. Unfortunately, the same CDC asset that provided this intel also provided it to MJ-8. A MAJESTIC operator (from MJ-10) is also on the case, because Black Fever probably sickens and infects the Greys; the Agents’ mission is to find that one vial among the millions stored in the Institute, and destroy it by fire.
  • The Kuen-Yuin cult smuggles weapons, medicine of extremely dubious nature, and propaganda for both Mao and Tsan-Chan in and out of Cholon as part of a Maoist cadre in the city, and devotes the rest of its activities to mapping Saigon’s geomantic nexi using the local xin stone as a focus and lens. The xin stone is actually the foundation stone of a wharf, and its xin field rapidly energizes during the cruelty, barbarism, and suffering of the campaign.
  • The USMC retakes the Khai Dinh Museum in Hué on 5 Feb. Shortly before that date, DELTA GREEN inserts a team into Hué with the mission of clearing out the entire museum’s supply of Cham artifacts, art, and archaeological records for ARCHINT analysis by the program. While they’re there, they should look out for anything else implying Cthulhu cultism or other unnatural activity in the past. Of course, they will have to drive off the Viet Cong cadre currently occupying the museum. The program mounts similar actions at the Museum Henri Parmentier in Da Nang and the Blanchard de Brosse Museum in Saigon, as well as the Saigon offices of the École Francaise d’Extréme Orient on Hai Ba Trung Street … next door to the French Embassy.
  • Taking advantage of the ARVN garrison’s redeployment into Saigon, a Dao Sâm cadre (reinforced by VC fighters) has taken over the archaeological site at Óc Eo in the Mekong Delta. Óc Eo was a major port for the empire of Funan in the 6th century A.D., an empire centered on the Cambodian jungles. The Dao Sâm seeks to awaken whatever loathsome swimmer their lord Angka, the Black Buddha, sent to guard his empire’s gateway to the outside world. The program seeks information on Dao Sâm practices, and operational intel on their connections deeper inside Cambodia.

“Just as it is almost impossible to be an agnostic in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, so it is difficult to keep from being swept up in the beauty and majesty of the Task Force Alpha temple.”

— Leonard Sullivan, Deputy Director of Defense Research & Engineering, in 1968

There are, in fact, lots of other things happening around the world in the 1960s besides the war in Indochina, but just like the Johnson Administration I find it nearly impossible to tear my attention away from Southeast Asia as I write The Fall of DELTA GREEN. And when the Johnson Administration hands you a multi-billion-dollar above-top-secret surveillance-and-interdiction facility on the Mekong River, you by God make lemonade, son. You’ll need it in the jungle, though not, as it happens, in Task Force Alpha.

Southeast Asia’s Largest Air-Conditioned Building, And Other Miracles of the Age

NakhonPhanomRTAFB1960s

Task Force Alpha is the compound in the lower right (northwest) of the picture.

Both the North Vietnamese and the Americans extended their war into the neighbors’ yards. North Vietnam supplied the Viet Cong with arms and materiel along the “Ho Chi Minh Trail,” which ran through Laos and into South Vietnam. The United States flew combat missions, reconnaissance missions, and every other kind of mission in between out of Thailand. Specifically, out of the Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base just across the Mekong River from southern Laos, a WWII-style airfield scraped out of the paddies by Seabees in 1962. The planes flying out of “NKP” were prop-driven WWII-style (and even WWII-vintage) planes, for the most part: C-47 Skytrains, A-26 Invaders, and A-1 Skyraiders. NKP also hosted a large collection of multi-role helicopters in support of MACV-SOG and other covert ops as well as battlefield evac and air support, and a weird assortment of quasi-civilian aircraft such as Cessnas and the like.

One such plane taking off from NKP was a modified P-2 anti-submarine patrol bomber, which (along with its squadron-mates) dropped 20,000 acoustic, seismic, and magnetic sensors along the Ho Chi Minh trail. (Sensor dropping eventually became the job of Sikorsky HH-53 “Jolly Green Giant” helicopters from the 21st Special Operations Squadron.) Camouflaged to resemble plants and often hidden in the thick brush, the sensors sent a radio signal when they detected noise, movement, or metal in their radius. An electronic-warfare EC-121R Batcat on continuous station overhead picked up the signal, boosted it, and transmitted it to the antenna farm in an isolated corner of NKP. (In 1970, modified Cessna drone aircraft replaced the EC-121 on this station.) This complex was just called “The Project” during its construction in 1967, although eventually it got designated “Task Force Alpha.”

Each sensor’s signal fed into a massive complex of two (count ’em) IBM 360/Model 65 mainframe computers, the same models that plotted the Apollo missions. The Task Force Alpha complex centered on the computer center, inside a cavernous (and necessarily air-conditioned) building kept at positive pressure to escape the omnipresent Thai road dust. Contractors from Harris Corporation and IBM maintained the communications and computer systems, and assisted intelligence officers (including a number of female Air Force officers) in creating a nearly real-time map of NVA operations along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. One witness describes seeing “trucks roll down the Trail in full color, on screens three stories tall.” If this is an exaggeration, it’s exactly the kind of description that both Robert S. McNamara and Fall of DELTA GREEN Handlers can agree to exaggerate together.

Once a convoy of trucks could be plotted with reasonable certainty, Phantom IIs staged from carriers such as the USS Kitty Hawk (often carrying radar-assisted navigation and fire control systems controlled from Task Force Alpha) delivered strikes on target. Except when the system didn’t work, or the NVA played tape recordings of trucks near sensors they’d found, or the strike came too late, or it was a peasant with a water buffalo. The whole operation, called IGLOO WHITE, cost something like $7.5 billion dollars, and destroyed between 15% and 35% of the Viet Cong’s motorized logistics, not enough to prevent the Tet Offensive of 1968 or the Easter Offensive of 1972. (That said, the system worked much better as a fire control “mastermind,” directing as much as 40% of the artillery and airstrikes at the siege of Khe Sanh.) The Easter Offensive, and the general Nixon policy of Vietnamization and retreat, ended IGLOO WHITE in 1972, and Task Force Alpha got disassembled in 1975, its computers unplugged and flown back to the States with who knows what secrets in their 2 megabytes of memory and their miles of magnetic tape and punch cards.

I encourage the interested to pursue the matter further into the Internet’s own Ho Chi Minh Trails, beginning perhaps with this site dedicated to the USAF 553rd Reconnaissance Wing, which has some glorious photos that I wish were free to use because this one is just perfect RPG material. More great photos and information (including oh joy of joys a map of NKP) appear on another site, excitingly and aptly titled Nakhon Phanom During The Secret War 1962-1975.

IGLOO WHITE meets DELTA GREEN

Every secret team in Indochina apparently staged out of NKP at one time or another, from the “Gray Berets” of the USAF 10th Combat Weather Squadron to Operation Phoenix assassins to MACV-SOG to Lansdale’s psychological warfare squads. So of course DELTA GREEN runs operations out of “Naked Fanny,” a.k.a. “the end of the line at the edge of the world.” But how might DELTA GREEN make use of IGLOO WHITE?

  • When microphones along the Trail pick up the sound of inhuman chanting, or Mi-Go buzzing, or any other unnatural noises, a subroutine deep in the computer system alerts a DELTA GREEN team to go in after the airstrike. I cannot emphasize this enough: after the airstrike.
  • Do those strange civilian types with mysterious DoD clearances check the data banks for sounds of the unnatural? Do they keep copies of spells, True Names, or the hateful music of chaotic flautists handy on magnetic tapes for future MAJESTIC acoustic research? Can DELTA GREEN delete those recordings without degrading the operational efficiency of Task Force Alpha — and without getting caught?
  • All those antennas and radar dishes don’t only listen for EW aircraft transmissions. They also pick up strange exhalations from the skies and weird echoes from the ancient hills of Laos. Perhaps there’s a dedicated DELTA GREEN antenna out in the field of masts, one tuned for frequencies of the known unknown, or perhaps the unnatural signals wash out the human sounds of the Trail and DELTA GREEN has to stop them — or gather enough recordings from enough directions that the computers can mask them out going forward. Either way, someone’s going up into the hostile karst cliffs with a lot of cumbersome and delicate equipment — and night on the way.
  • So we have a huge array of sensors hearing the unnatural, transmitting it to the most powerful electronic brains in the world, brains designed and programmed to correlate their contents. Does the call of COBOL turn into something else? A hypergeometric intelligence nestled inside Task Force Alpha, learning to spy on humans, kill humans, call more powerful human weapons to kill still more humans — this can only end with the DELTA GREEN field team dodging cannon fire from a drone-piloted Phantom II while they desperately try to upload a pentatonic kill code through a balky and malfunctioning ACOUSID sensor.
  • Nakhon Phanom makes a great place for DELTA GREEN agents to meet some sort of super-soldier, a real gung-ho type who knows that really understanding the natives, going out into the jungles light and deadly, is the key to winning the war. This puts them on the list to resolve his situation when he inevitably goes rogue at the head of a cannibal Tcho-Tcho cult or worse. No better time for the apocalypse than now, after all.

“The Air Force seems inescapable, like the Eye of God, and soon, you imagine … all will be razed, charred, defoliated by that searching gaze.”

— Mary McCarthy, 1967

“The General is another matter. … In his fifties, he is mild, pleasant, soft-spoken, and not bad-looking … but he has hollow eyes. I don’t know quite what I wish to say here. They are not weak eyes, but they do not have any light in them.”

— Norman Mailer, Harlot’s Ghost, 1991

lansdale_pictureWhen one first encounters the oeuvre of Edward Lansdale (1908-1987), the hard part is deciding what to use for a game scenario. Myself, I’m not sure I could resist bringing him all the way into the Fall of Delta Green campaign as a recurring sage-enigma-antagonist-namedropper in a sort of “is he or isn’t he” role — Delta Green friendly? Majestic-12 field commander? Devotee of the neon memetic gods of America’s id? Let’s take a tour with some of his highlights.

Lansdale begins, like all great dubious GMCs, as a heroic OSS agent fighting the Axis. After the war ended, he stayed on in the Philippines as a liaison between the U.S. military (he switched his Army major’s rank for an Air Force captaincy in 1947) and the Philippine government, eventually using his advertising skills (Lansdale had been a successful ad man in Los Angeles before the war) and a few million CIA dollars to shepherd the virtually unknown Ramon Magsaysay into the Philippine Presidential palace. Lansdale also wound up assisting the Philippine government’s counterinsurgency effort against the Huk rebels from 1949 to 1953, when the CIA transferred him to Vietnam.

Lansdale spent four years running similar psychological warfare ops in Vietnam, where President Diem ignored his advice on plausible vote-hocusing (earning himself the nickname “Colonel Landslide” after Diem “won” 98% of the vote) and the CIA and the Army ignored his advice on counterinsurgency. (Or so he claimed later.) After a stint at the Defense Department (ended when he resigned rather than help plot the overthrow of his old pal Diem), he rotated back to Vietnam in 1965 as an ill-defined “minister” in the U.S. mission in Saigon. He left Vietnam in 1968. His personal papers and library burned (conveniently?) in a house fire in 1972. In the 1980s, he played mentor and connector to Oliver North, John Singlaub, and other key players in the Nicaraguan contra effort. He died of heart failure in 1987.

Among Lansdale’s many many greatest hits:

  • To remove entrenched Huk guerrillas from a strategic jungle, he first suborned a famous soothsayer to predict “death in the jungle” for that region. Then, he spread rumors that an aswang — the Philippine vampire — operated in that area. Then, the coup de grace: his commandos snatched a Huk guerrilla, strung him up, punched two holes in the man’s throat, then left the bloodless corpse where his fellow Huks were sure to find it. (In a Night’s Black Agents agent’s backstory, maybe Lansdale didn’t fake a vampire attack …)
  • Huk guerrillas on a mountaintop used a nearby village for food and supplies. Lansdale’s psywar team captured a Huk courier from the village and tape-recorded his confession, which was, in Lansdale’s own words, “made to sound as if his voice emanated from a tomb.” [Aaaaah! –KH] The courier was then [I bet. –KH] killed, his body dumped near the village. After the villagers buried him, the psywarriors infiltrated the cemetery and set up sound equipment, to play the eerie “undead confession” of the courier at full volume, at night. The villagers evacuated their haunted town, and the Huks starved.
  • When his Philippine patrol killed and beheaded a Huk sympathizer, Lansdale picked up the head and began shouting questions at it, slapping it when it “refused” to answer. Eventually, his men told him “He’s dead, he can’t talk,” to which Lansdale replied “He’d talk soon enough if you hadn’t cut his damn head off!” Lansdale later claimed this was to prevent his men mutilating the dead, at least in a non pretend-vampire capacity.
  • In Vietnam, the Diem government wanted to encourage mass migration from the Communist North to the South. Lansdale assembled an almanac full of horoscopes and predictions, all forecasting bad things for the North. One prophecy targeted at Vietnamese Catholics urged “The Virgin Mary is going South.” To make sure his targets took the almanac seriously, he gave orders not to give it away but to sell it for the local equivalent of about 50 cents: what people buy with their own money, they’re more likely to value and thus to believe.

Along with necromancy and fortunetelling, Lansdale was a big fan of the power of projected images. He made successful propaganda films, selling the war to both Vietnamese and American audiences. His teams showed Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck cartoons to the children in the Philippine villages they entered. While attached to the anti-Castro Operation MONGOOSE, one of his (unproduced) brainwaves was to holographically project the Second Coming of Christ above Havana to terrify the Communist soldiery. Lansdale became larger than life, almost literally: the model for “Colonel Terryman” in Jean Lárteguy’s Yellow Fever and “Colonel Hillandale” in Lederer and Burdick’s The Ugly American. He thought (mistakenly) that he was the model for Alden Pyle in The Quiet American, and subtly redirected the film’s director Joseph Mankiewicz into detourning Greene’s novel into support for the anti-Communist effort.

But it gets even better. One “Philip Jeckyl” wrote pornographic spy stories starring “Lansdale, of the Army Air Force,” and Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia wrote, directed, and starred in a 1968 spy movie in which he defeated and killed an American agent named “Lansdale.” (The name of the movie, by the way, is Shadow Over Angkor, for anyone looking for a campaign title.) Sihanouk based the film on an attempted coup against him by governor Dap Chhuon uncovered in February 1959, two weeks after Lansdale had visited Chhuon on a no-doubt unrelated matter. In 1991, Oliver Stone depicted Lansdale in his film JFK as “General Y,” one of the “three tramps” on the grassy knoll and a key player in the assassination.

So it’s this sense of immense, hidden iconic figures working behind the scrim of the Cold War that makes me pick this last one as my best-of-all Lansdale story.

Their Eyes Were Watching God And Vice Versa

eye_of_lansdaleAs early as World War I, fighter pilots would buzz the enemy positions and shout threats at the soldiers below: “We see you, and we’ll tell the artillery where you are.” During WWII, Lansdale headed a team that looked for Japanese proverbs which could be redirected jujitsu-style into airdropped leaflets or radio broadcasts: “The man who makes the first bad move loses the game” was a favorite. But an even more personal touch was better.

In the Philippines in 1951, Lansdale read a report from one of his operatives in the field, a psywar officer in Colonel Napoleon Valeriano’s 7th Brigade Combat Team, the wonderfully named “Skull Squadron.” In a Piper Cub above an escaping Huk detachment called Unit 17, the quick-thinking operative grabbed a bullhorn and shouted down at the Huks, calling them by name (“yes, you, Pepe, and Ramon, and Carmelo, and Baby”) and repeating details from the various briefings he’d received about that unit’s background. Then he completed his call-out with “And to our friend in Unit 17, our thanks for your helpful information!” Unit 17 held a number of fatal self-criticism sessions shortly thereafter, and Lansdale decided to expand the methodology.

Lansdale’s version of the story is a wonderful combination of Walt Disney, Dan Draper, and Aleister Crowley:

“The name of this technique, the ‘eye of God,’ reminded me of the ancient Egyptian practice of painting watchful guardian eyes over the tombs of the Pharaohs. … Recalling its appearance, I made some sketches until I recaptured the essence of its forbidding look [Aaaaah!! –KH] and I handed over the final drawing to the Philippine Army with suggestions for its use.”

Political officers would drive into towns that had an active Huk underground, and announce over the loud-hailer that “God sees all traitors,” or something similar. That night, the psywar teams would enter the village and paint or posterize the walls with Lansdale’s Eye design, in the best case only hitting the walls opposite the homes of suspected Huks. Ideally, every Huk sympathizer would awake to see an All-Seeing Eye staring in his window. As Lansdale put it in his memoirs: “The mysterious presence of these malevolent eyes the next morning had a sharply sobering effect.”

No doubt.

Lansdale must have lost connection with the Eye at some point. Possibly his South Vietnamese intelligence protégé Pham Xuan An stole it — An, it turned out, was a Communist Vietminh agent. (An also went to community college in Orange County from 1957-1959, perhaps his own attempt to back-trace the secret to Lansdale’s Hollywood goëtia.) Lansdale’s career in Vietnam is full of these weird Lovecraftian-via-Tim Powers details, a sorcerer trying desperately to return to power. (Even in WWII, he made a point of interviewing ichthyologists, which has to set Cthulhoid alarm bells ringing.) Lansdale began training dogs to watch for disturbances at houses under surveillance, and studied traditional Vietnamese geomancy. From 1965 to 1968, he asked his visitors in Saigon to sing folk songs for him, recording hundreds of hours of tape. This is where the Agents come in, tools for Lansdale’s attempts to find a new Key. He doles out (Doels out?) lore and hints, perhaps provides a ritual or two, and sends them into the jungles or up the mountains to look everywhere … until they see Something looking back.

In the shadowy world of The Fall of Delta Green, you never know who’s got clearance, not to mention who’s got your back … and who’s got your back in his sights. The Company man – the man from the CIA – might fit any of those descriptions, or any other. That’s kind of the point, after all.

The point of this piece, then, is to give you a few more Company men to introduce into the campaign, if not to introduce to the player characters – just yet. All these figures are historical CIA agents during the 1960s, and all of them are either field operatives during that decade or station officers with considerable field experience. They can show up to drop intel, or stay back to drop bombs with equal aplomb. And of course some of them just might have DELTA GREEN clearance themselves.

N.B.: Darker Secrets may not be historically accurate.

Operation_Phoenix

Lucien Conein (b. 1919)

A Paris-born former OSS operative who worked with the French Resistance in Corsica and Paris, and with the French military in Indochina, Conein ran saboteurs into Eastern Europe and trained paramilitary forces in Iran in the 1940s. In 1954, the CIA sent him to Saigon to set up stay-behind arsenals and cadres in Vietnam and train indigenous Montagnard guerrillas for insertions into North Vietnam; he worked under the legendary CIA psychological warrior Edward Lansdale. In 1962 Lt. Col. Conein becomes the CIA liaison with the Vietnamese junta, serving as bagman for the 1963 coup against Diem. In 1968 he resigns from the Company but remains in country running an import-export business.

Darker Secret: In Corsica during WWII, Conein joined the Union Corse, the premier heroin traffickers in Europe. He is a key linchpin in the CIA-run heroin connection.

 

Miles Copeland, Jr. (b. 1916)

Copeland served with the US Army’s Counterintelligence Corps in WWII and joined the CIG (CIA’s precursor) in 1945 in London. While stationed in Syria in 1947, his Scottish wife Lorraine (a former SOE operative) became a leading archaeologist of the Paleolithic Middle East. He ran coups against the President of Syria (1949) and Prime Minister of Iran (1953), organized the Nazi cadre of Nasser’s secret police in Egypt, and monitored Kim Philby in Lebanon until the traitor’s defection in 1963. Based in Beirut under NOC (Non-Official Cover), Copeland continues to run deniable assets, write up game theory, and plan operations all over the Middle East and Africa, including the 1966 coup against Nkrumah in Ghana.

In the 1950s, Copeland ran what he called the “Cosmic Operations Bureau” for the CIA, better known as OHP, or Occultism in High Places: a program to infiltrate astrologers, gurus, and Scientologists into the inner circles of world leaders known to be susceptible to such things. The OHP is ongoing, likely with Copeland’s continued participation.

In 1977, his son Stewart becomes the drummer for the Police.

Darker Secret: Copeland is also heavily involved with MKULTRA, the CIA mind control project. His interests in psychedelics, “cosmic operations,” primordial Egypt, and amoral game theory betray a certain dark, pharaonic outlook.

Larry Devlin (b. 1922)

WWII veteran Devlin joined the CIA in 1949. After service in Belgium, he becomes Chief of Station Leopoldville in the Congo when it becomes independent in 1960. Ordered to assassinate deposed leftist premier Patrice Lumumba in 1961, he delays the operation until Lumumba’s political rivals kill him instead. He remains Chief of Station Congo throughout the civil war, running a CIA-contracted air force and navy staffed by Cuban exiles and foreign mercenaries; short staffing means he runs assets and operates in the field. In 1967, he becomes Chief of Station Laos, going from a station with 10 CIA operatives to one with 300. He manages the secret war against the Pathet Lao and North Vietnam.

Darker Secret: Devlin learned the secret of cannibalistic immortality from the Anziques in the Congo the CIA used as deniable militias during the war. He requested the transfer to Laos to study with Tcho-Tcho masters.

Carl Elmer Jenkins (b. 1926)

WWII Marine Corps veteran Jenkins joined the CIA in 1952 as a paramilitary and SERE trainer. He trained cadres in Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, and the Philippines; he ran infiltrators into Malaya and Indonesia through 1959. In 1960, he joins the Cuba Project and trains anti-Castro guerrillas until 1963. In 1962 or 1964 he serves a tour as Special Warfare Advisor to the US Army’s I Corps in Da Nang, Vietnam. In 1965 and 1966 he trains cadres in the Dominican Republic; in 1967 he joins the secret war in Laos, rising to Chief of Plans and Training for the CIA’s Laos operation in 1969. Throughout, he commands mercenary, paramilitary, and other deniable operations for the Company.

Darker Secret: Jenkins encountered the cult of Cthulhu during the Southeast Asia Project in 1958-1959. He runs a ratline smuggling artifacts, texts, and high priests of Cthulhu from country to country to facilitate their plans and meetings – basically the same thing he did with the anti-Castro Cuban leadership for AMWORLD.

Félix Rodríguez (b. 1941)

An upper-class Cuban driven out of the country by Castro’s revolution in 1959, Rodríguez joins the CIA-backed Operation 40 (which carries out targeted assassinations of Castro officials) in 1960. Positioned in Havana ahead of the Bay of Pigs, he repeatedly volunteers to assassinate Castro or Che Guevara, but is ordered to stand down. Rodríguez trains anti-Castro militias in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and with the Green Berets trains a Bolivian cadre in 1967 to hunt down Che. (He accompanies the Bolivian army unit, and takes Che’s Rolex as a trophy.) He joins the US Army in 1969, and flies helicopters for Project PHOENIX – basically Operation 40 in Vietnam on a much larger scale.

Darker Secret: Rodríguez owes his preternatural luck, physical skills, and gift for killing to youthful initiation in the Palo Mayombe sect of Cuban Santería. He is susceptible to possession by outside forces at a time of Their choosing.

Frank Sturgis (b. 1924)

Born Frank Fiorini, Sturgis served with distinction as a Marine in the Pacific Theater of WWII. He joined the Army in 1948, working as an intelligence officer in Berlin; his Hungarian actress lover was a Mossad operative. After a stint managing nightclubs, he ran guns to Castro’s rebels; Castro briefly put him in charge of Cuba’s casinos until Sturgis broke with Fidel. The CIA recruits him in 1960 from a freelance Mafia anti-Communist operation; he flies a B-26 bomber in the only air strike of the Bay of Pigs. Sturgis later runs a number of independent anti-Castro ops during the decade, including a botched 1968 attempt to hijack a Soviet intelligence trawler. In 1969, he ostensibly retires to sell aluminum siding in Miami.

Darker Secret: A trained Operation 40 assassin and Marine sniper outraged by the betrayal of the Bay of Pigs, Frank Sturgis shot and killed President Kennedy from the grassy knoll in Dallas.

Bruce Walker (b. 1932)

After graduating from DePauw in 1953, Walker served two years in the Marines and then joined the CIA in 1956. From 1960 to 1968, Walker serves as trainer (at Camp Hale in Colorado) and liaison with the Tibetan rebels operating in Nepal, Sikkim, and Tibet against the Communist Chinese. The CIA tries to keep the STCIRCUS operation focused on intelligence gathering, although the Tibetans wish to launch an open rebellion with US backing. Walker speaks Tibetan and gets along well with the rebels, the Nepalese, and the Indian intelligence service. He collects Tibetan artifacts and religious scriptures.

Darker Secret: Walker is actually running the Tibetans as a cover operation to explain CIA presence in the Himalayas. His actual purpose is to negotiate a treaty with the Mi-Go on behalf of the MAJESTIC-12 group.

 

rockape

“Knowledge was knowledge a hundred thousand years ago, when our especial forbears were shambling about Asia as speechless semi-apes!”

— H.P. Lovecraft, “The Last Test”

It’s a new year, and time for the “Call of Chicago” column to seamlessly shift from endless iterations of Stuff We Left Out of The Dracula Dossier to endless iterations of Stuff We’re Probably Not Going To Have Room For in The Fall of Delta Green. You won’t even notice the difference!

The various peoples of Indochina tell national origin myths in which a hero displaces inhuman rulers – and inhabitants – of the land. The kings of Funan in Cambodia and Champa in central Vietnam both succeeded (and intermarried with) naga rulers, multi-headed snake beings. In northern Vietnam, their hero overthrew the Hung Kings, descendants of dragons and “mountain fairies.” In Laos, hideous giants laid down the Plain of Jars before being driven out. But what if some of these monstrous inhabitants remained for thousands of years, only to be started from their jungles by the new warrior heroes from Hanoi, Hue, and Houston? Might they not leave tracks in the historical record? Might they not leave … footprints?

Of the Reptile Kind

Or perhaps they leave trails … serpentine trails. We’ve already covered the ophidian naga and the almost as telling “dragon” of the Hung Kingdoms. These might refer to Cthulhu spawn of one or another kind, or to the Valusian serpent-people. The latter seems more likely when we read about a 1970 encounter about 30 miles south of the DMZ. A US squad on patrol discovers ruins of Cyclopean architecture (“stacked large stones and boulders”) near the entrance to a cave that seems artificially cut into the rock. A foul odor and opaque mist flood out, and the patrol waits until the serpent folk emerge:

“As it stood up from a crouch it stood at least 7 foot high and started to look in our direction. At that time, another similar-looking creature was moving out of the cave. They were making hellish ‘hissing’ sounds and looking directly at us.

The only way I can describe these beings is that they looked like upright lizards. The scaly, shiny skin was very dark – almost black. Snake-like faces with forward set eyes that were very large. They had arms and legs like a human but with scaly skin. I didn’t notice a tail – though they wore long one-piece dark green robes along with a dark cap-like covering on their heads.”

During the ensuing firefight, the two Reptoids vanish, perhaps turning invisible, rotating into another dimension, or rapidly eating and shapeshifting into two of the men. Eventually, the patrol close the cave entrance with explosives and return to base.

Explorers of Vietnam’s Son Doòng Cave (discovered in 1991 and opened to tourism in 2013) also report sighting reptilian humanoids (or humanoid reptiles) and similar “devil creatures.” One person has vanished in the cave, perhaps abducted by the things. Or perhaps just lost on the way to red-litten Yoth: Son Doòng is one of the largest cave systems in the world.

Furry Pre-Humans

US forces encounter “rock apes” numerous times in country, with varying results. Rock apes are reddish-brown, furry, upright humanoids, between three and five feet tall. They make “a noise that sounded just like dogs barking.” Some cryptozoologists believe they are gibbons, snub-nosed monkeys, langurs, or even (very lost) orangutangs; they may in fact be ghouls, voormis, or some unknown breed of Tcho-Tcho.

Some prime rock ape encounters include:

  • Near Chu Lai, June 1966: Marines ordered not to fire and expose their positions engage in a rock-throwing contest with “hairy, bipedal humanoids.”
  • A Shau Valley, 1967: Repeated attacks by rock apes emerging from caves on Firebase Rockpile.
  • Dong Den near Da Nang, May 1968: Marines and rock apes battle hand-to-hand after gunfire doesn’t stop the furry attackers. (Date also given as “early 1966.”)
  • Nui Mo Tau ridge, 1969: Hundreds of rock apes (“ghostly images swooshing around in bush and trees”) attack a 101st Airborne patrol. After the Airborne open fire and drive the rock apes off, “I searched the site and but found not a drop of blood, which totally amazed me given the amount of firing that had gone on.”
  • Quang Nam province, 1970: Another rock fight breaks out between a Marine Force Recon unit and at least 20 rock apes. “Those Apes started to come at us and we ran as fast as we could and we didn’t stop until we were out of the jungle.”

The rock apes’ more elusive cousins, the nguòi rùng (“forest men”) may be Lemurians, voormis, or just bigger ghouls. Their brown fur tends toward gray or black, not red; they are much taller (6’-8’) and generally less aggressive. Significant sightings occurred in 1947 and 1969, a Special Forces patrol in 1968 find one cut in half, and two sets of nguòi rùng footprints (11 inches and 18 inches) appear in 1970. In 1971, tribesmen from Dak Lak province capture a batutut, as they are also called. They haunt Vu Quang Forest in North Vietnam.

The Shining Ones

Another cluster of sightings seemingly has nothing in common – except that the bogeys all glow. They may be mi-go or mi-go constructs, servitors of the Shining Trapezohedron or the Shining Moon-Thing of Muria and Chau-te-leur, shoggoth extrusions, or imagos out of space or out of Dream.

The most salient Shining One sightings include:

  • Mekong Valley, December 1964: A squad of Special Forces on river patrol encounter three large (7-8 feet tall), yellow, glowing apelike beings “with flat faces, slits for noses and snake-like eyes.” The creatures have three clawed fingers and three clawed toes. The unit fire on the beings with weapons up to a Browning Automatic Rifle, with no effect except “twitching.” The US team retreat to their boat, but “before leaving they saw a strong powerful glow on the riverbank as if dozens of the creatures had gathered to watch them leave.” (The report no doubt mistakenly gives the year as “1974,” the year after US forces withdrew from Vietnam.)
  • Near the DMZ, late 1966: During a Viet Cong ambush of helicopter landing, an 8-foot tall giant “dressed perfectly” and wearing a sort of helmet kills a VC guerrilla, saving a US crewman. It has “an aura,” and speaks to the crewman in English (or telepathically).
  • Near the DMZ, October 1967: A six-man Long-Range Recon Patrol encounters a being with a long face and black eyes, emitting an eerie glow. One soldier fires a burst into its head, and “a brilliant blue syrupy fluid splattered the trees.” Using a Starlight scope, the patrol spots three lights in the sky. All the witnesses but two died in Vietnam.
  • Near Da Nang, summer 1969: Three soldiers on a bunker see a mysterious apparition above them:

“It looked like a woman. A naked woman. She was black. Her skin was black, her body was black, the wings were black, everything was black. But it glowed. It glowed in the night—kind of a greenish cast to it.

There was a glow on her and around her. Everything glowed. Looked like she glowed and threw off a radiance. We saw her arms toward the wings and they looked like regular molded arms, each with a hand, and, fingers and everything, but they had skin from the wings going over them. And when she flapped her wings, there was no noise at first. It looked like her arms didn’t have any bones in them, because they were limber just like a bat.”

The glowing moth-woman buzzes the team, as low as seven feet overhead, and then flies off after three minutes.