Throughout history, there are many people who play small quiet unknown roles that link them to historical events. Barberton 1965 graduate, Dale Sungy, is one of those people. He shares a connection with the world’s first combat HALO (High Altitude, Low Opening) parachute jump in 1970 during the Vietnam War.
The North Vietnam Army (NVA) used the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Laos and Cambodia as a safe supply route from North to South Vietnam. 1965 the military was forbidden by President Johnson to attack into Cambodia or Laos. The journey was arduous taking nearly two months to complete using pull carts and mules with organized daily stops.
Special Forces Command, called the Military Assitance Command, Vietnam- Studies, and Observation Group (MACV-SOG) a highly secretive 5th Special Forces unit was assigned the covert and dangerous task of gathering intelligence along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Insertion was by Helicopters which are noisy giving away the insertion point and the desired objective of not to be heard or seen. As a result, the casualty rates were unacceptably high. It was secretive because the government publicly said the USA was not in these counties.
Some Army Command thought HALO was the solution while others did not. At this time few Special Forces were trained in HALO. It is conducted at altitudes of 20,000 ft. and above, in minus -20 to -45 degree temperatures, low oxygen, low nitrogen (BENDS), and 60-90lbs of equipment.
The Commander of the 10th SFGA handpicked 12 HALO qualified Special Forces and British SAS and assigned 2nd Lt Dale Sungy as Commanding Officer of ODA-8 a pioneer all HALO certified unit. With Master Sargent Frank Norbury, he was tasked to test methods and equipment and to train the unit to land secretly. The mission was Classified, so they trained in Spain setting a record of 3 jumps in 1 day over 20,000 feet. During a test insertion, ODA-8 unit commanded by Dale Sungy successfully proved that HALO was viable for covert infiltration. Eventually, 8 out of 17 Special Forces in 1970-1971 who HALO parachuted in Vietnam were trained or commanded by Lt Sungy. The casualty rate decreased.
1969 brought a new history role for 1st Lt Sungy. Greece was in a border issue with Turkey and asked for help from the US Army. The Army assigned him as Commanding Officer on a Classified Mission to Greece to train the Greek Raiding Forces in HALO attended by several future Generals and Greek Leaders. He earned a mentioned in The History of the Greek Raiding Forces book. In 2015, Dale was invited to the opening of a new Airborne Training Center in Arizona because he was the original Commanding Officer of ODA-8 10th SFGA which still exists. He considers that a great honor which he is not sure he desired as many others also contributed to this historical event.
Dale enlisted in the Army in 1965 as a Private. He tested high in Language ability and was chosen to attend the prestigious Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, Ca. to learn fluent Russian. He also speaks Spanish, French, and Arabic. Corporal Sungy was asked to volunteer for Infantry Officer Candidate School and likely combat in Vietnam. But the Army had other plans as 2nd Lt. Sungy was assigned upon successful completion of training to the 10th Special Forces Group A in Germany. And a role in MACV-SOG HALO History.
Luck is defined as when Preparation Meets Opportunity. A PERSON’S ATTITUDE ALSO CREATES opportunities. Dale has both. He exemplifies the principals :
- Enlist, Enroll, Employ
- Do YOUR Job
- Show up. all day, every day
- Always be Prepared
Dale was chosen because Bosses want to work with this type of person. They know he will get the job done.
History does not record the actions of people like Dale, but it is the unknown quiet professional who does their daily work that enables others to make History.