The “Original Good Deal”: A Special Forces Soldier Trains And Fights With Allies During The Vietnam War

Sam Todaro


Sam Todaro was born in 1946 and grew up in Canarsie, Brooklyn, New York. His father was an operating engineer and his mother was a housewife. In high school, he played saxophone and football and then enrolled in the City College of New York, majoring in physics and electrical engineering. In May 1966, days after his college graduation, he was drafted and reported to Ft. Jackson, South Carolina for basic training. He completed Special Forces training and found the Robin Sage portion of training the most challenging, noting that it closely simulated combat. After an immersion program in the Thai language at the Defense Language Institute, he deployed to Vietnam, landing in Tan Son Nhut Airport. He joined his unit at Nha Trang and was assigned to A402, Radio Research, intercepting Russian, Spanish (Cuban), and German transmissions. While in Southeast Asia, he married a Thai woman. Their wedding ceremony was in the Buddhist tradition. He then transferred to the 46th Company (what he calls the “original good deal”) training the Thai military, including the Queen’s Cobras, which became the Black Panthers, and later the Black Leopards. While working with the Laotian Montagnards (Hmoung), he served as General Vong Pao’s RTO (Radio Telephone Operator), calling in close air support. For a time, he lived in Pakse, Laos, training the Laotian armed forces. He served in Southeast Asia from 1966 to 1972 with brief periods stateside for courses. After returning from Southeast Asia, he served as a recruiter on Long Island, and was stationed in Okinawa working in communications. He was slated to teach at the United States Military Academy Prep School at Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey, but instead worked for the Communications Service Agency. After retiring from the Army, he worked as a program manager for AT&T. Now he is involved with the “Save the Montagnards” foundation in Asheboro, North Carolina. Asheboro boasts the greatest concentration of Montagnards outside of Southeast Asia. Sam remarks, “They were our allies, and we abandoned them in ’75.” His goal is to give back to the people he served with in Vietnam.


conflicts Vietnam War Cold War
topics Leadership Teamwork Camaraderie Military Techniques
interviewer David Siry
date 18 March 2023


name Sam Todaro
service Infantry
unit 5th Group, 1st Group, 46th Company Thailand, Project 404 Laos
service dates 1966 1986