We've now had the honor of seeing our father interred in his final resting place, Arlington National Cemetery - hallowed ground he now shares with nearly half a million service men and women who stepped up and sacrificed for our freedoms.
HIS SERVICE, US ARMY SPECIAL FORCES
From Robin Moore’s Book on the Green Berets, 'Ranger Bob' Golden was born, serving two tours in Vietnam for the U.S. Army Special Forces. The first was with the 5th Special Forces as an artilleryman with specialized training which consisted of Jungle Warfare Training Center down in Panama for one month of training with the 8th Special Forces Group, and then two months of Special Weapons & Tactics training at Fort Sill, and then he was off to Vietnam - for his first time.
'Ranger Bob' move up through the Army’s Ranger units and Special Forces teams, joining Mobile Strike Force Command, or MIKE Force, that operated under MAC-V SOG the Military Assistance Command-Vietnam Studies and Observation Group, or SOG (once Special Operations Group) who was a key component of United States Army Special Forces in the Vietnam War.
On his first tour in 1968-69, our father was turning indigenous tribesmen into modern mercenaries. The mission was to equip, organize and lead the Montagnards to war against the Viet Cong. These indigenous tribesmen, that still hunted with spears and crossbows, at the height of the war, grew to an army of 50,000 trained mercenaries. Their loyalty was to the Special Forces, not the South Vietnamese government.
In April of 2001, more than 2,000 men of SOG were honored for their gallantry with the Presidential Unit Citation, the U.S. military's second highest award for valor and for their heroism. Eleven of them received the Medal of Honor.
Twenty-nine years after SOG was disbanded, the units' stories are told in this book - SOG: The Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam by author John Plaster, who is also a former SOG member who once said, "I would say that this is probably the greatest group of unsung heroes of the Vietnam War."
He returned home to officially join the Army's First Special Forces based in Fort Bragg, NC where he rose to the rank of Captain, ending his service in 1972 but not before returning to Vietnam on a Special MIA/POW Mission called 'Operation Lazarus' to bring home missing members of the brotherhood.
Arlington National Cemetery Interment
We'd like to personally thank the US Army Old Guard for the service they provide to our nation, along with ANC Rep. Charles Moore. Their services are incredibly reverent, and equally impressive. My family would also like to thank the Arlington Ladies for what they do out of love for our military members and their families.
The “Arlington Ladies” are a group of nearly 200 women who are part of every funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, honoring patriots since 1948.
Dr. Janet Southby was our Arlington Lady who volunteered her time to be with us, and included a handwritten card. She is a Retired Army Colonial who served in Korea and Vietnam and promises me she will share her story with us all one day soon. Janet’s career as a U.S. Army Nurse Corps officer included teaching in the Walter Reed Army Institute of Nursing; director of nursing research; and chief, Department of Nursing, Walter Reed Army Medical Center and chief nurse of the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command. She retired with the rank of colonel in 1996. During her time in the military she completed tours in Vietnam and Korea, and she served as the first female senior military social aide at the White House. I thank you for the continued service you bring to all those buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
I want to also publicly thank our mother, who soldiered on to two raise two girls after the Vietnam War, and divorce. She sacrificed everything for us! To my sister, a real GI Jane herself, who once carried our father on her own back in medical emergency to save his life when his post war injuries were getting the best of him. Thank You to my Aunts who continue to support us as if we were their own. And, a shout out to my uncles, both Navy, and Vietnam Veterans themselves who attended Ranger Bob's final salute. My Uncle Richard Slonim was In full uniform and that meant so much, as did the special coin he left with my father to be buried along with the coveted green beret.
To Ray Oden, President of the Washington D.C. Special Forces Association Chapter 11, we can't say enough how much you mean to us. He made sure a motorcycle made it to Dad’s service as well as an impressive contingent of the brotherhood to see Ranger Bob’s final mission complete. Although, as long as his Daughter’s are alive, I believe those missions will live on, in different ways, that we will continue to share.
RIP Dad, you deserve it.