(Photograph donated by the family of Johnny C. Calhoun)

The above photograph was taken, as per tradition, at the end of Jump School and just before his first jump.   The number on his helmet was assigned to him as he stood in line, in review, at the start of Jump School training. 

Name Johnny C. Calhoun
Rank/Branch E4/US Army Special Forces 
Unit Command & Control, MACV-SOG,                           5th Special Forces Group 
Date of Birth 14 July 1945 (Roanoke, AL) 
Home City of Record Newman, GA 
Date of Loss 27 March 1968 
Country of Loss South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates 161130N 1071600E (YC422918)
Status (in 1973) Missing In Action 
Category 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground Ground 
Other Personnel In Incident (none missing)

MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and
Observation Group). MACV-SOG was a joint service high command
unconventional warfare task force engaged in highly classified
operations throughout Southeast Asia.   The 5th Special Forces
channeled personnel into MACV-SOG (although it was not a Special
Forces group) through Special Operations Augmentation (SOA), which
provided their "cover" while under secret orders to MACV-SOG.  The
teams performed deep penetration missions of strategic reconnaissance
and interdiction, which were called, depending on the time frame,
"Shining Brass" or "Prairie Fire" missions. 

Corporal Johnny C. Calhoun was assigned to Command and Control,
MACV-SOG in Vietnam. On March 27, 1968, he was the team leader of a
strategic reconnaissance team that was operating one and one-half miles
south of Ta Bat in the A Shau Valley in Thua Thien Province, South
Vietnam.  The team was awaiting exfiltration when it was attacked by a
numerically superior enemy force.  CPL Calhoun provided covering fire
for the rest of the patrol while ordering the other five members to

The second in command stated in the board of inquiry that he saw CPL
Calhoun hit by at least 3 rounds in the chest and stomach, fall to the
ground and not move.  The interpreter, Ho-Thong, stated that when
Calhoun slumped to the ground, he pulled the pin from a grenade, and
clutched it to explode among advancing enemy.  Calhoun's ultimate fate
is unknown because of the rapid retreat of the survivors.  It was not
known if the grenade exploded on Calhoun's position. 

The survivors of the team were extracted about 20 hours after the initial
contact.  Because of hostile threat in the area, a further search was not
made.  CPL Calhoun was classified as Missing In Action until September
3, 1974, at which time he was legally declared dead for lack of positive
information that he was alive. 

The MACV-SOG teams performed exceedingly dangerous and strategic
missions.  Johnny Calhoun probably knew that because of the nature of
these missions, he would be a valuable capture, and accordingly,
determined that he would not be captured.  If he did not die, and was
ultimately captured by the advancing enemy, he knew the chances were
slim that he would ever be rescued. 

Tragically, evidence mounts that hundreds of the nearly 2500 Americans
still missing in Southeast Asia are still alive, awaiting their freedom. 
One of them could be Johnny Calhoun.  He jeopardized his own safety for
that of his team.

On a personal note:  I had the pleasure of knowing Johnny's daughter.
She passed away Feb 12, 2001.  Johnny's grand daughter is a friend
of my daughter and a member of her Girl Scout Troop.  He would have
been extremely proud of both of them.