Hello all you Vets in the Fight, this is David Miller, with your weekly Special Operations Speaks, Vets in the Fight SITREP.
Born on May 3, 1935, Sergeant Major (Retired) Richmond J. Nail was a living legend. He spent 53 years serving his nation, both in and out of uniform,,leading and training Airborne and Special Forces soldiers. He enlisted for three years of Airborne duty in Little Rock, Arkansas. The young man from rural America, with a GED from high school, began his long odyssey in Basic Training with the 11th Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, KY. . His tours took him from the 11th Airborne Division in, Germany, as a Forward Observer,, a Fire Direction Specialist, and a Chief of a Gun Section, to combat operations in Beruit, Lebanon in 1956. Then on to the 187th Airborne Brigade. From 1958 to 1966, Richmond served two tours with the 82d Airborne Division Artillery, a tour with the 1st Cavalry Division in the Republic of Korea, and four years with the 8th Infantry Division in Wiesbaden, Germany.
In 1966, he was serving as an Artillery NCO in the 101st Airborne Division in the Republic of Vietnam conducting duties as a Chief of Firing Section and Chief of Firing Battery being deployed in combat operations where he received the first of many combat decorations, a Bronze Star with “V” Device, for his actions on June 7, 1966. His award citation states: “When his battery was attacked by an overwhelming Viet Cong force, Sergeant Nail fearlessly exposed himself to heavy enemy fire and grenades in order to place direct howitzer fire on the enemy. He acted with calm courage when he personally dove on an enemy grenade which had landed between two of his men and threw it from the parapet before it could explode. Recognizing that his men were running low on ammunition, he braved intense enemy fire to reach the ammunition bunkers and resupply his section. After several enemy weapons had been captured, Sergeant Nail used one of the Viet Cong rifles to kill three more insurgents, repeatedly exposing himself to the enemy fire in order to do so.
In 1967, Richmond left the 101s and returned to Fort Bragg to begin his long, distinguished career as a Special Forces NCO. He joined ODA 744, in the 7th Special Forces Group and completed the Special Forces Training Course, as an 11F, on 4 November 1967.
His SF training would serve him well, when in 1969 he was back in the Republic of Vietnam, as a member of a Mike Force team, B55, a quick reaction force comprised of a few American advisors and mostly Montagnard tribesmen. On March 17, 1969, he took part in combat operations for which he would eventually receive another Bronze Star. While serving as a platoon leader with three other U.S. soldiers and 200 tribesmen in the 5th Mobile Strike Force Battalion during search and destroy operations against communist strongholds at Tuk Chup Knoll in the hills of central Vietnam This citation reads:: "Elements of the 5th Mobile Strike Force were moving in on the enemy positions when they came under deadly, intense and extremely accurate enemy sniper and machine-gun fire,, sustaining heavy casualties.
“Realizing the gravity of the situation... Nail volunteered to go for help even though he was warned that he couldn't make it because of the volume of enemy fire. Ignoring the danger, he immediately began moving through the hail of machine-gun and sniper fire until he was seriously wounded and unable to move further. Despite being in severe pain, he continued to encourage his comrades until they eventually were able to reach safety. His courageous actions and inspirational leadership were in keeping with the finest traditions of military service.” Richmond went to Japan and then to Walter Reed Army Hospital for an extended period of recover from his wounds that eventually claimed an eye and a kidney. These amazing exploits are but a brief glimpse at the amazing life of a dear friend and comrade.
I met SGM Nail in 1992 at Camp MaKall, NC where we worked together at the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) Course until his retirement in 2006 and am better for the experience. I was continually amazed at his ability to train soldiers, his never-give-up attitude and his undying love of country, family and fellow soldiers.
SGM Richmond J. Nail passed away quietly last week but will not pass from the memory of those he served with and the generations of soldiers he trained.
De Oppresso Libre, SGM.
Be Armed, Be trained, and Have a Plan
This is David Miller for Special Operations Speaks and Vets in the Fight everywhere. Keep your powder dry and your hatchet scoured. If we take a knee and bow to anyone, let it be to God Almighty and never to man, that He may keep and Bless our exceptional Republic. De Oppresso Libre.