By Clifford Davis
… Retired Col. Jack Tobin, the national president of the Special Forces Association, served with Healy there [in Vietnam] in 1969 on what was known as a MIKE force, an acronym for the mobile strike group command. Tobin was a sergeant at the time and said the group was in total disarray when Healy arrived to take command.
“We thought they were going to disband us,” Tobin said. “Then he walked in … and the world became a wonderful place.”
MIKE forces were quick-reaction forces made up of U.S. Special Forces advisers and multiple indigenous tribes. “We were the fifth MIKE Force, but each corps had one to react in their area,” Tobin said. “If it was really a horror story, we got it. We had 50 Americans, 2,500 Montagnards, 400 Chinese Nungs and we usually went out in company size.”
The groups normally faced daunting odds, he said. “If it was a really bad area, the entire MIKE force went and we’d take on divisions,” Tobin said. “We normally fought in 3-to-1 or 4-to-1 odds. It was a joy.”
The men fought like lions, led by their commander “Iron Mike” …
But “Iron Mike” had a heart, a big one according to those who know him — especially when it came to his men. And as Healy received the award [two years ago], he grew emotional.
“This is the highest honor that I have ever received, but it’s not really mine,” Healy said as tears rolled down his cheeks. “This honor belongs to every soldier I was ever honored and permitted to serve with. All the times that things would go very bad, another soldier stood by me.”
Healy said he thinks of the men he lost not monthly or weekly, but daily.
“They gave me their hearts and a lot of them, their lives,” he said. “I never forget them. Every night I speak to them.”
He mentioned some by name and rank.
“I am not an emotional man, but I’m not a damned bit ashamed to cry for what I love,” he said. “And I loved them, my boys.”
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