The John Nesbitt Story:

The First
Afro-Native American
MAC-V Recondo Advisor
— Part II

By John Nesbitt
All photos courtesy of John Nesbitt

Viet Nam: An account of the experiences of Sgt. John E. Nesbitt, 16-844-233,
Detachment B-52 Delta Project
From September 18 through December 1966 and
from December 1967 through May 1968
at the MAC-V RECONDO School,
From June through October 1968 at
Detachment A-401 DON PHUC, Mekong Delta,
CIDG Company 43, 44 and 46 MIKE FORCE

Editors Note: Part I of John Nesbitt’s account of his Viet Nam experiences appeared in the July, 2023 Sentinel.

The Australians

If I recall correctly, I was introduced to Msg. Cowan of the Australian Special Forces. A very special operation was in store — another water infiltration — in an area north of Hai Phong, at last light. Once in the bush, we wait and listen.

Night began to come, EENT [Ending Evening Nautical Twilight], with a final review of our direction, and we are off to the target area with the CHU HOI, NVA at second man, myself third, and other Aussies behind me. We follow a cow path to the target area; now the asset takes over and leads to a hooch with radio antennas. It is some kind of communications command post. My heart is closing in on my mouth; I can feel the sweat starting to drip; my palms are wet too. Suddenly, the asset stops and signals by hand the actual target location. The Australians move forward to prep the site, meaning to assure entrance and exit from the building.

Now, I’m up and moving with the asset into the building. I am as quiet as a mouse, weapon ready. An officer comes out from nowhere! Maybe a restroom? I only hear the crack of a burst of three rounds as the unfortunate fellow dropped like a stone; even the automatic weapons were silenced. As I enter the room, two individuals in Chinese-looking uniforms began to stand. Automatically, I place two rounds in their heads, backed up by Cowan, the team leader.

Then it’s out the door back into the night, and follow the asset to a stream, follow the stream to a small bridge which we must traverse, and continue to the shoreline. There is a farmer(?) or some late travelers; they are as astounded as we are. I looked away for a split second, and the Aussie’s dropped them immediately. We wait in hiding till first light; having sent a SITREP, the choppers will be here soon.

Aussie team preparation

No incidents getting out, I took a picture of the team while waiting. I think a picture of me was taken. Yes, I sneak a camera everywhere.

On the chopper two miles out to sea, I have time to reflect on the two men sitting at the table. In my mind’s eye, I can see them clearly, like the one who stumbled onto my foot last month. They were Chinese, not NVA. The morning began warm and cool, and the ride back was long. I had not shot people like this before. Fuck it, better them than me. We were debriefed by joint army, CIVILIAN personnel, turned in our hand weapons, and ate a big meal. We landed back in Nha Trang that night on a Chinook chopper. At the team house, BEN was sitting around telling nigger jokes. I drew my 357 and raised it to the ceiling, released a round and screamed, “As you were.”

Eye contact became very scarce with the other occupants, and a senior NCO MSG Smith started to act his rank. As I left the team house bar, I screamed to him, “NOT NOW.” He got the message and left me alone. I smoked a joint and began to cry.

Note: Because of the incident with Lt. Nuk at the debauched Reaction Force near Phu Bai, I heard I might get court-martialed if the Vietnamese command felt it was 2nd degree murder. It was a good thing my A.I.T. friend Roland Dosier at SF headquarters told me about ROTC as a safety net. I applied, and if accepted, I would be out of the country in 45 days; a court marshal would take 60 in this case. Well, I got orders to go to ARTILLERY OCS, that means I’m out of this country before Christmas, 1966.

Team mission review: Australian team, air infiltration

I had been set back in OCS for the third time because of my inability to grasp logarithms, and I was waiting to be dropped out of my class. The day I was to go resign I saw a black CID car pull up.

“CANDIDATE Nesbitt!” The first Sgt. Called, “Report to the Commander’s Office!”

I fantasized about an escape to the Wichita Mountains; I was going to get court marshaled anyway! Too late; they got me for murder in a war! I entered the room, and there were two plain-clothed gentlemen, one uniformed provost officer, and the commander of the Artillery OCS.

“Sit down, candidate, relax.” “I think you know what this is about,” stated the older CID agent. “The Army has dismissed the initial inquiry as to the possible charges that were alleged against you for the death of Lt. Nuk. It seems his family was of Chinese extraction, and it is known that the family was active and sympathetic to the Viet Minh. We also suspect that the ambush you were in was perpetrated by the family since Lt. Nuk was an LLDB [Luc Long Duc Biet, the Vietnamese Special Forces]. You don’t have to worry any longer.”

I was out of there like the sonic boom of a sound barrier wave. I went to see Lore in Indiana in my ‘55 Chevy.

My return to Vietnam was perpetuated by a phone call to Mrs. Alexander at the Pentagon. She assured me of my orders over the phone in November 1967. I’d graduated Operations and Intelligence training while in the 3rd SFG, at the J.F.K. Special Warfare Center, Fort Bragg, N.C., with a new Military Occupational Specialty [MOS], 11F4S, later translated as 96B10, intelligence analyst.

My best friend Michael Joseph and I completed intelligence school, ranked 1 and 2. Mike Jo and Johnny Anderson were weightlifters. Little did I know then that I would serve in the Mekong Delta w