Thomas Groll’s Special Mission Force (SMF) insignia.
Thomas M. Groll served two tours in Vietnam. His first tour was in 1967 with the 101stAirborne Division until he was Wounded In Action (WIA) and medevaced to CONUS. He returned for a second tour in 1971 with Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observations Group (MAC V SOG), Task Force 2 Advisory Element (TF2AE / CCC), Recon Company assigned to Recon Teams: Minnesota, New Mexico and New York. During the transition from MAC V SOG to the Strategic Technical Advisory Directorate Advisory Team – 158 (STDAT-158) the veteran volunteered for the Special Mission Force (SMF) where he remained until reassigned to the Individual Training Group (ITG).
Staff Sergeant (E-6) Groll processed out of the Army in March 1974 after 6 years 3 months service.
In early 1972, Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observations Group (MAC V SOG), OPS-35 (Ground Reconnaissance) element was deactivated and the bases were turned over to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). The newly created and expanded Strategic Technical Directorate Advisory Team – 158 (STDAT-158) had to have ground units to perform specific missions and created the Special Mission Force (SMF). The unit’s US and Indigenous personnel were recruited from the former Command and Control Central (CCC) / Task Force 2 Advisory Element (TF2AE), Recon Company. The unit operated in Platoon size elements and were involved in three major missions they were commended for: (1) The first was to locate and recover a MAC V SOG Blackbird that was shot down on June 5, 1972 in the Kontum Province. 2. Was to recover the remains of civilians that were on a Commercial Air Liner that had exploded over the Kontum Province (bomb aboard). 3. The third was to recover the body of John Paul Vann the Senior American Adviser in II Corp whose plane was lost in a storm.