All posts by DetASnake

TAPS – James E. Robinson

Gil Turcotte just notified me of the passing of James E. Robinson on 1 September 2015. Jim was in Detachment(A) Team 6, from 1977-1979. More information forthcoming as it becomes available.

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Tom Powell, Jim Robinson, Steve Santoyo, Bob Kuenstle, Rich Herpers, Juan Renta, Frank Clausen, Jimmy Reeves, John Liner, Gil Turcotte, Ron Braughton (seated)
Tom Powell, Jim Robinson, Steve Santoyo, Bob Kuenstle, Rich Herpers, Juan Renta, Frank Clausen, Jimmy Reeves, John Liner, Gil Turcotte, Ron Braughton (seated)


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TAPS – Mike “Magic Man” Akre

Michael Anthony Akre, passed away at Mt. Carmel West on June 3, 2014. Mike was born on June 2, 1942, in San Francisco, CA. Mike retired from the U.S. Army in 1979 after serving 3 Tours of Duty in Vietnam and with Detachment”A”. He was a great magician and loved everything about magic. Mike is survived by his loving wife of 30 years, Mary Anne; his favorite niece, Laurie Krauss Burgess; brother-in-law, Robert E. (Lissie) Krauss; and many nieces, nephews and friends.

From Dennis Hebler.

TAPS – Richard “Jim” Laritz

Richard “Jim” Laritz, SOA #1301, 81, passed away on 20 April, 2015, in Boise, ID.  Jim enlisted in the Army in 1951 and served in combat in Korea earning several valorous awards.  After Korea he volunteered for the newly formed 10th Special Forces Group and served with the 10th and 77th SFG’s until 1957. He went to Officer Candidate School in 1959 and returned to the 10th Special Forces Group, Detachment A, Berlin Brigade.  In 1963 he joined the 5th SFG and went to Vietnam until 1966.  He served with the JCRC in Thailand from 1970 to 1973.  He was an advisor to the 19th SFG in Salt Lake City from 1979 to 1983.  He had served 40 years when he retired in 1990.  He held numerous awards and decorations including several Purple Hearts. He was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge with Star, Ranger Tab and Army Aviator Wings.  He retired to Idaho to be closer with his family. He purchased some land on the Snake River where he worked full time building ponds, planting trees and cultivating a beautiful oasis.  He is survived by his wife, Kathy; sons, Rick, Brian and Kish; daughters, Kathrin, Patricia and Rochelle. He is also survived by 17 grandchildren.

TAPS – LTC Raymond Rau

LTC Raymond Rau passed away 12 April 2015.

Charlie Corneilson representing Detachment-A, was present at the Interment of LTC Rau which was held at Arlington National Cemetery on 13 August 2015.   Here is what he wrote:

Just back from the LTC Rau service at Arlington.  His gravesite provides a good view of DC across the Potomac.

LTC Rau rated a horse drawn caisson with two riders and at least one outrider (I had to follow the procession in my vehicle so my view of the caisson procession was marginal/heavily blocked), a firing detail, a flag detail, a general escort platoon (minus) and a platoon (minus) sized band…all in all somewhere in the amount of sixty or so troops from the 3rd ID.  The 3rd ID element was commanded by a CPT with several subordinate officers and senior NCOs assisting.

I tried to speak with the attending Chaplain to get the verses he read, but I was unsuccessful as he departed immediately for another service (sorry). He delivered a very convincing homily that touched on the voluntary service given by LTC Rau that was exceptionally above what is to be expected from most men and how LTC Rau had more than earned the right to be at Arlington.

The band played a hymn (unrecognized, but familiar to me) at the casket caisson transfer ceremony and ‘America The Beautiful’ at the actual graveside ceremony.  The bugler that played ‘Taps’ performed it in the most cleanly dignified and spine-tingling manner I have ever heard (I have performed this myself once in an emergency in years past…this Bugler was an outstanding musician with the proper military soul for the moment).  The flag detail performed all actions with unforced dignity…with purpose, but slowly…appearing almost reluctant to remove the flag from the casket and LTC Rau (with none of the BS snap/flash/’disco slides’ that had been previously observed in recent years).

I can not stress enough how respectfully and dignified this was all collectively performed. I have been to a number of Arlington ceremonies over the last few years and though all have been professional and dignified, there was nothing perfunctory about this ceremony like some have ‘almost’ seemed to be.

Clearly this was a ceremony of demonstrated honor that we can all be proud of one ours receiving.

Weather could not have been nicer…sunny, very light breeze, temp in the upper 70’s and most rare of all for this time of year for DC…no humidity.

I spoke with Mrs. Rau at the following reception held at the Fort Meyer Officers Club, identifying myself as an unofficial Det A rep.  She really brightened at that and spoke at some length as to how much LTC Rau enjoyed that assignment and that he had continued to talk about the Det guys years after he left the unit.  She sends her regards to the Det members and wishes you to convey that to all.

To the best of my knowledge, I was the only Det guy present.

One other SF guy was there (readily identified by the SF unit crest lapel pins which we both wore).  He and LTC Rau were in the same ROTC class in college and were subsequently Ranger School buddies and ongoing, lifelong friends.  I did not get his name fully but it was something like STOL IC or SKOLIC (sorry, too much background noise for my oversized but now bad ears and I had no opportunity to try and get it/write in down accurately).  He was an officer and said that he entered SF in ’62, starting out in Panama. He was with B-52 in ’66…got there just as Beckwith was leaving. He also mentioned at some point in time having had an “A” camp about 25 klicks southwest of Danang (dates and exact camp UNK). He also worked at the schoolhouse at Bragg/MacKall (ran air ops training). He said he spent about nine years total in SF between the 5th, 7th, 8th, and Bragg schoolhouse. Still a formidable, hard, and very in-shape looking guy (I hope I look half that good in 15-20 years).  He was visiting LTC Rau up to the very end. He drove up from San Antonio just for the Arlington service (that says a lot right there!).

As best as I can tell, we where the only SF reps present.  Most everyone else was clearly a retired aviator, though there were several young serving officers of various Army branches present (LTs and CPTs)…family and family friends.  One other guy of note…a former Infantry Platoon Leader, Company Commander and (I think also) Bn S-3 from the 173rd (Nam era) with extensive Ranger assignments that served somewhere/sometime with LTC Rau in Vietnam and became a subsequent life long family friend.

I did not start out to write a spot report, but I did wish to convey a bit of the ceremony and my writing got away from me. So be it…it is what I experienced today.

This was the absolute best military ceremony I have witnessed at Arlington or anywhere else, hands down (to very much include the funeral details I personally organized and ran for my SFA 65 stay-behinds at Tolz when I was last in 1-10 at Stuttgart).

Though I never served directly with LTC Rau, it was very much my pleasure and honor to represent my former team-mates and the many others that did.


COL Raymond Rau, former Commander of Detachment(A) Berlin period 1976, passed away on 12 April 2015. Ray had a distinguished military career as a US Army Officer.  Decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross.  Funeral services were held on 19 April 2015 in Woodland, Texas.

For full details click here.


Taps – Norman “Clyde” Felker

Norman “Clyde” Felker, 82 passed away Thursday, July 31, 2014 at his home after a prolonged illness surrounded by his loving family.

Clyde was a well known and well respected member of Detachment “A” having served from 1968 through 1971.

Clyde was a U.S. Army veteran serving in the Korean War from 1952-1954. He reinlisted in 1962 and served in the Vietnam War from 1967-1968. Clyde was a 5th Special Forces Green Beret Paratrooper, having over 200 jumps and was a sharpshooter and demolitions expert.  He was also a recipient of the Bronze Star.  He ended his military career and retired in 1980 as a Recruiter.