“I know I am just the warm-up act, and this is the real show, right here,” LG Braga effused, by way of introducing the Originals Panel. “This is what inspired me to go into special operations… I never thought I’d get this opportunity to actually interact and listen to some of the actual Originals. Never even dreamt that, when I was a young adolescent reading all these war books, and stuff like that,” he added.
The generals’ idols — COL (ret) Vahan Sipantzi, MAJ (ret) Clyde Sincere, 1SG (ret) Henry Bertrand and former SSG Richard Simonian — did NOT disappoint. The four men in their 80’s and 90’s — kept the audience glued to their every word.
“Eventually, I found out it was a new organization. All he’d (the recruiter) said was, ‘It’s the 10th Group.’ There was no indication of anything else,” SF Original Henry Bertrand began. He’d been bused to the 82nd ABN Replacement Company at Ft. Bragg after completing jump school at Ft. Benning.
“I’m sitting around with my duffel bag, and we’re waiting and waiting. I go outside, and there’s this guy walking up and down the street, in front of the building. He said, ‘Hey, are you Bertrand?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I am.’ He says, ‘Well, get in the vehicle, and we’ll take you over to Smoke Bomb Hill’,” Henry Bertrand explained. “Well, the vehicle was a sedan. And I’m thinking, I’m a PFC — and they sent a sedan to pick me up… Man, this is my kind of organization!”
SF Original Richard Simonian agreed.
“The Korean War was already going at that time. I didn’t want to (get drafted to) go to Korea, so I volunteered to join the Army, and volunteered for Airborne and went to Ft. Ord. Two sergeants gave us a presentation about joining a unit that they could not tell me anything about. There was no names, no numbers. All they said was, ‘We can guarantee you will be a Sergeant,’ so I raised my hand,” Richard chuckled, “Promised something good!”