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Old 04-27-2014, 10:11   #46
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3/5 SCUBA

Echanis ran with primarily Jakovenko's SCUBA team (594, I believe) and Andre Smith's.

Chuck Sanders was on Jake's team and it was through Chuck that Mike met Jake.

Echanis was sent down to Panama to teach H2H to the SCUBA folks there with Group. Underwater H2H techiques. Chuck assisted.

It is my understanding Andre Smith, after leaving the Army, passed away while attempting an extremely deep water dive.

Photo is of Echanis during his recovery / rehabilitation from the wounds received with C Co, 75th Infantry (RANGER) while outpatient from Letterman Army Hospital. We first published it in Black Belt Magazine, August/September 2013, as part of the story about Mike's journey as a Wounded Warrior.

My sincere appreciation and thanks to the Echanis Family for their invaluable help in properly researching their son/brother's life and service.

The writer fee for this article ("Hwa Rang Do's Immortal Warrior") and the article announcing his induction into the Black Belt Hall of Fame this same year were donated directly to the Green Beret Foundation in Mike's name.
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Old 04-27-2014, 11:03   #47
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Probably so...

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Originally Posted by Kasik View Post
....Chuck Sanders' brother, Jim Sanders, helped both Mike and Chuck teach at Bragg during that time period........
Most probably so.....and that might have had something to do with the "trouble".

Mike and his time at Smoke Bomb Hill is an interesting example about the circle of knowledge. While there he had a more intimate relationship with Jake, his team and a few others. Others, like Richard, trained with him and his techniques. Still others, like myself, were there, knew all the people involved but didn't interact because we were doing other things.

During that time period 3/5th did two Sub-Ops. Joint operation between the three teams getting about 18 divers each trip. I'd really have to dig through my dive logs to find out everybody who went but IIRC the first was built around Jake's team and the second was built around B Co's team. Andre Smith came from the SCUBA Locker for the second one.

So it was a pretty small circle of known people.

What was your connection to Mike?
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Old 04-27-2014, 12:08   #48
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Connection

I am a close friend of the Echanis Family...particularly Mike's mom, Pat.

Now nearly two years ago the family chose to allow me to help set the record straight about Mike.

An effort which, among other things, led to seeing him successfully inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame.

They, and others close to them, felt it was time to put and end, if possible, to all the negative, misleading, false accounts and stories about Mike and Chuck (and Bobby Nguyen). And to claimed relationships meant to profit from primarily Mike's name, image and legacy or to dishonor / denigrate him for less than honorable personal agendas.

It was and remains a great, great honor to have been of service to them in this manner.

Pat Echanis passed away on December 29th of last year. She remained with us long enough to see her son's life properly accounted for and to see him honored by induction into the Hall of Fame.

I lost a very dear friend when she passed on.

Attached is my favorite picture of Pat and I last year. We are in the backyard of where Mike grew up, recovered from his wounds and last solo trained in his Art before returning to Nicaragua for the last time.

Thank you for asking.

VR,

Greg Walker, Author
"At the Hurricane's Eye - U.S. Special Operations Forces VN to Desert Storm"
SFA - Life Member
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Old 04-27-2014, 14:24   #49
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SGT Charles "Chuck" Sanders

Chuck Sanders grew up with Mike Echanis and the two were the closest of friends.

Sanders was immensely talented in the Art of Judo and competed in this art while attending the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon, before enlisting.

On September 8, 1978, both were killed in an aviation crash near Lake Nicaragua along with former South Vietnamese commando and Airborne officer Nguyen "Bobby" Ngyuen.

On September 16th, 1978, Sanders and Echanis were laid to rest in Ontario, Oregon. Bobby Nguyen was laid to rest on the 17th. He is buried next to Mike per the Echanis Family's wishes and efforts.

Special Forces provided formal representation at the services per GEN McMull. This honor guard was led by then MSG Valdimer Jakovenko and selected members of his ODA, Company C, 3rd BN, 5th Special Forces Group (ABN) to include SSG James Lally, SSG Roger Bascomb and SFC Thomas Powell.

Charles Wilfred Sanders joined the Army on September 10, 1973.

He ETS'd on September 9, 1977 and joined his childhood friend and fellow Soldier, Mike Echanis, in Nicaragua.

Chuck's military education included the USAAHS MedCorps school, USAAHS MedSpec course, USAIMA MedSpec course, "Q" Course (1974), SF UnderwaterOps course (1975), USAIS Basic ABN course (1973) and USATC SLPP course (1973).

He was assigned to teams at both B and C companies, 3rd BN, 5th SFG(A).

His awards and decorations include the Soldier's Medal.

The citation narrative reads:

Sergeant Charles W. Sanders - United States Army - for heroism:

"Sergeant Sanders is cited for heroism while conducting mountain climbing training at 1100 hours, 12 May 1977, at Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah.

"While participating in a "free climb" exercise on a mountain approximately 1500 feet high the third man (MSG Nail) slipped on a smooth granite slope. The climbing party was at the 1200 foot level above the base of the canyon with an 800 foot drop to the nearest rocks below.

"Master Sergeant Nail immediately yelled for a rope from the second man on the party, Master Sergeant Jakovenko. Master Sergeant Jakovenko threw a rope for Master Sergeant Nail but to no avail since he was already slipping at a high rate of speed to the nearest rocks 800 feet below.

"When Sergeant Sanders heard Master Sergeant Nail yelling he immediately looked up and saw him sliding towards his death 800 feet below unless he could be stopped.

"Completely disregarding his own safety he ran across 15 feet of dangerouslyl steep granite slope and threw his hands up in an attempt to stop Master Sergeant Nail's fall.

"He placed his right hand underneath Master Sergeant Nail's left foot and held him stationary while balancing himself. His and Master Sergeant Nail's complete weight was balanced on a one inch ledge being supported by Sergeant Sanders' toes.

"After staying in this precarious position for 7 minutes, Master Sergeant Jakovenko and Sergeant First Class Anderson lowerd a rope to the endangered men which they used to pull themselves to safety.

"Sergeant Anderson then lowered himself Sergeant Sanders; however, Sergeant Sanders refused to be assisted until Master Sergeant Nail was safely enroute to the top.

"The heroic manner in which Sergeant Sanders risked his life to save Master Sergeant Nail from sure death, with utter disregard for his own safety, makes him truly deserving of the award of the Soldier's Medal."

Chuck Sanders was awarded his black belt in Hwa Rang Do by Grandmaster Joo Bang Lee, 1st DAN, on April 10, 1975 (75-0653). Mike Echanis would be so acknowledged on the same date, his black belt number 75-0652)

On November 10, 1978, Grand Master Lee would posthumously award both Michael D. Echanis and Chuck Sanders their 3rd DAN "black sash" in Hwa Rang Do.

Two days prior to his passing he and Miss Susie Thomas, of Fayetteville, NC, were married in Managua, Nicaragua. Susie became close to the Sanders and Echanis families and remained in contact with them long after her husband's death.

Chuck is survived by his two brothers and two sisters. His parents passed away after their son.

Rest in peace, Chuck.
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File Type: jpg Sanders.jpg (99.8 KB, 53 views)
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Old 04-27-2014, 15:35   #50
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Nguyen "Bobby" Nguyen

Bobby Nguyen passed away on September 8, 1978.

He was killed along with Michael Echanis and Chuck Sanders in an aviation crash near Lake Nicaragua.

Dr. John E. Padgett, who knew Bobby well, wrote an excellent memorial article about his friend in the October 1982 issue of Soldier of Fortune ("May Buddha Bless Bobby".

Dr. Padgett is a Special Forces Vietnam era medic (http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-padgett/34/215/a2).

Dr. Padgett last visited with Bobby Nguyen when the two of them were in Managua, Nicaragua. Doc Padgett was overseeing the provision of health services for over 100 rural clinics - Bobby was working with Mike Echanis on behalf of President Somoza.

Bobby Nguyen, orphaned as a child, was adopted at age 11 by a Special Forces A-Team in Vietnam. He became an inerpreter. He remained with SF and worked a number of projects to include recruiting and training Mike Force troopers out of Qui Nhon.

The only known photo of Bobby appears in John's article and was taken during this training.

Upon SF leaving Vietnam and the peace accord signed, Doc Padgett writes "Bobby joined the one unit where he still had an opportunity to aggressively take the fight to the enemy; the ARVN airborne. He worked up from NCO to warrant officer to lieutenant and was commanding a company that held out for as long as possible at Ton Son Nhut airport.

"Surrounded and cut off in a nation that had given up, Bobby then led the remnants of his company in a break-out. They fought their way to Vung Tau, taking advantage of the confusion, and "liberated" a fishing vessel which they sailed out to meet the Seventh Fleet.

Bobby was sponsored by a church group in New York and went to work at a restaurant on Long Island. Soon after he relocated to Fayetteville where he worked at the Sheraton as head chef.

He reunited with the SF community, specifically Master Chief Bob Nissley then the senior naval special warfare liaison at Center, and was later recruited to join Echanis and Sanders in Nicaragua by Cuban Expat and senior advisor to President Somoza, Raymond Molina (http://news.google.com/newspapers?ni...g=4074,4365104).

When the remains of Echanis and Sanders were returned to Oregon, Bobby's were, as well.

The Echanis Family did not know Bobby nor were they informed the State Department was sending his casket along with Mike and Chuck's to Ontario for burial.

Still, with the direct help of Master Chief Nissley (Retired), they believed their son would want Bobby buried with him. They provided Bobby with one of the Echanis family plots at Sunset Cemetery.

Bobby's headstone was originally Pat Echanis' mother's marker. They had replaced it and now had the original marker refinished and engraved for Bobby.

They had to receive permission from the local Catholic church for Bobby to be buried in the catholic cemetery. As Frank Echanis, Mike's dad, recalls he went to the church and asked for permission. As no one knew if Bobby was a Catholic or not Frank, knowing many Vietnamese were Catholics, felt he just as easily was as was not and attested this to the Church.

Permission for burial was granted.

The announcement of Bobby's service was made in the Ontario local paper (Argus-Observer). It reads:

"Nigoyen Van Ngoyen, 32, of Nicaragua died September 8 at Nicaragua. Graveside services were conducted today at 3 p.m. at Sunset Cemetery in Ontario by Rev. Cletus Kirkpatrick, under the direction of Bertelson-Lienkaemper Chapel in Ontario.

"He was born in 1946 in Vietnam and entered the Vietnamese Army when he was 11. He served for 15 years and moved to the United States in 1975. He lived in North Carolina and worked as the head chef at the Fayetteville Sheraton Hotel. He was one of the highest decorated men in the Vietnamese Army and was expert in karate."

Bobby was not a U.S. citizen at the time of his death. He was traveling back and forth from the U.S. to Nicaragua on his refugee papers. Still, the US embassy on September 13, 1978, attested that "Viet Van Nguyen, citizen of the United States, who died at RIVAS, Nicaragua, on September 8th, 1978...".

The embassy document was signed by Ms. Mary M. Daniel, Consul of the United States of America, Managua, Nicaragua.

Bobby was buried the day after Mike and Chuck (September 17, 1978).

The Echanis Family tends to his grave to this day as does the small Vietnamese community in Ontario.

Until last year Dr. Padgett believed his fellow warrior and friend was in an unmarked grave in Nicaragua. When contacted and told the above he expressed his gratitude and great personal relief.

Rest in peace, Bobby.
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Old 04-28-2014, 08:27   #51
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I remember reading about Echanis in SOF magazine in the early 80's. IIRC he killed himself and a couple others by trying to throw a live hand grenade out of an airplane in Nicaragua. He was also one of the people involved in the men who stare at goats thing.
I did quite a bit of research on Michael and his accomplishments, etc. I heard that he was becoming too rogue and pushing the envelope of what he was involved with-maybe stepping on toes. Heard that the helicopter he and a couple others were in was rigged with an altitude sensitive explosive device and that's what killed them, although he was the target. Funny how so many theories/"facts" arise to complicate the truth. Who knows...?
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Old 04-28-2014, 14:37   #52
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No Helo

He and the others were not in a helo. Another myth.

No altitude device, either.

See this link - the Wiki page is spot on - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Echanis
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Old 04-28-2014, 14:40   #53
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Echanis In Puerto Rico

Here is the promised photo of MDE and then MSG Jakovenko after their H2H demo in Puerto Rico as decribed earlier on this thread.

Jakovenko can be seen over Mike's right shoulder.
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Old 04-28-2014, 15:04   #54
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Major Josepth Echanis and MDE

The Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario, Oregon, also features the town's Veteran Memorial Park.

All of the Echanis Family members who have served the Nation have bricks on the walkway.

Major Joseph Y. Echanis (http://taskforceomegainc.org/e002.html). He was listed as MIA at the time.

He was Mike's cousin.

It was for this reason Echanis enlisted as swiftly as he legally could with the expressed intent (of a 19-year old who grew up in a Basque family in eastern Oregon among family members who were vets dating back to WW2) to find out what happend to Major Echanis.

To Mike, according to his family, it didn't matter to him how he got there...SF or otherwise...as long as he did.

Both were reunited when their names were engraved on the same brick in the memorial walkway by the family.

Many years ago Master Chief Nissley (Retired) placed bricks for MDE and Chuck at the UDT/SEAL Museum walkway in Florida. This to honor their training of ST-2 operators at A.P Hill per then ST-2 CDR Richard Marcinko.

"No Fallen Comrade Left Behind".
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Old 04-28-2014, 18:17   #55
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Appreciate the Thread / Opportunity

Just a quick note -

To offer appreciation for the thread from JimH -

All that needs to be said, has been said -

Anyone futher interested can check on the Wiki page on Echanis -

It is detailed, referenced, objective and accurate as possible to date -

EOM - Out
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Old 05-17-2014, 09:34   #56
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Identification help, please?

Can anyone further assist in identifying the folks in this picture?

Back row I've identified Mike Echanis, Chuck Sanders, CW Evans, Jimmy Jackson.

Seeking to ID (possibly) Paul Glasser, Gary O'Neal and those others in back row.

Front row, kneeling, Master Chief Bob Nissley and Bru. Does anyone recognize the Marines, please?

Thank you!
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File Type: jpg MDEBragg.jpg (82.2 KB, 112 views)
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Old 05-17-2014, 10:06   #57
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Wasn't Randy Wanner a protege of Michael's? I believe he is in several books on Michael's usage of the knife and stick.

Last edited by MAB32; 05-17-2014 at 10:16.
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Old 05-17-2014, 10:19   #58
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Wasn't Randy Wanner a protege of Michael's? I believe he is in several books on Michael's usage of the knife and stick.


Woops, should of read the the wiki article first.
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Old 05-17-2014, 23:14   #59
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Aviation Accident

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Originally Posted by Brush Okie View Post
Did they ever determine why the airplane crashed? Shot down, mechanical failure, pilot er etc? I know down there things are not always investigated like they are here, just wondering if the cause was ever determined.
After 16 months of research, interviews and FOIA/Presidential Library requests / documentation review -

On September 4, 1978, President Somoza declared open warfare on his government's opponents - http://news.google.com/newspapers?ni...g=3128,1063611

Raymond Molina, quoted in the article, was also the recruiter for Echanis, Sanders and Bobby Nguyen. Molina, a Cuban-American and veteran of the Bay of Pigs, was a member of the inner circle of President Somoza and GEN Ivan Alegrett.

Echanis was recruited to form and run an intelligence fusion cell that reported to Molina and President Somoza alone. Their information, if and when deemed appropriate, was then passed to the US embassy in Managua via the MilGrp.

Former US Army attache to the embassy in Managua, then Major Juan Montes, recommended Echanis to Molina when the latter contacted his childhood friend at the embassy looking for names. Montes, former company commander at the 5th Group where he knew and was close to Echanis and Sanders, is SF/RGR qualified and a retired colonel today.

On September 8, 1978, the US embassy contacted Molina and advised him a force of Sandinistas had crossed the Costra Rican border with NIC. This force was headed for the southern town of Rivas. the assault was part of the Sandinista "final offensive" for September 1978.

Molina met with Somoza - they called Alegrett - Alegrett offered to fly a recon in his Aero Commander 114-A - Alegrett called Echanis and asked him to fly the recon with him.

Echanis and Sanders were driven to Alegrett's office by Bobby Nguyen. Molina had agreed to fly with them. However, this did not occur and Nguyen took the vacant seat.

GEN Alegrett, nicknamed "El Loco" for things like dropping live grenades placed in glass jars from his aircraft (he was a helo pilot, as well), flew toward Rivas.

Arriving just south of the town they spotted Sandinista fighters and proceeded to recon / drop grenades from the plane.

An EEBI (Home of the Infantry Training Center) patrol witnessed this. They were patrolling near "los Pochotes". The aircraft suffered an explosion inside the aircraft and crashed near the mouth of the Sapoa River.

The EEBI patrol radioed news of the crash and was the first to arrive at the scene. They recovered all four bodies. Echanis, Sanders and Bobby's were taken to El Retiro Hospital in Managua. Due to the number of NIC KIA in the morgue because of the past several days of fighting the three were placed on the morgue's floor.

2nd LT Oscar Mienienta and CPT Juan Rivera, both from the EEBI, were at the morgue that day looking for EEBI dead. They knew the Americans from the EEBI. They discovered the three on the floor and called the EEBI commandante, President Somoza's son.

He contacted his father, the President.

President Somoza called then AMB Solaun at the US embassy.

Solaun sent Telegram 7482 to the Department of State.

"President Somoza informed ambassador this afternoon (Sept 8) and we have heard same reports from other sources in the GN that an aircraft pioloted by GEN Alegrett with three US CITS ONBOARD crashed in Lake Nicaragua south of Rivas and that all aboard are dead. GEN Alegretts' passengers reportedly are Michael Dick Echanis, Charles Wilford Sanders. The third dead passenger was Bobby Lee, a South Vietnamese who, we understand, was recruited at Fort Bragg, North Carolina."

The EEBI patrol leader on site stated "...que habia habido una explosion dentro de la aeronave algo asi como la de una granada fragmentacion, la que causo las explosion del aparato."

US Naval Attache at the US embassy, now retired SEAL Skip Crane, affirms the first reports he heard was that grenades were being dropped from the plane. Crane would be the first American from the embassy to identify Echanis' remains. This at a secure hanger at the international airport.

Crane and CPT Rivera knew each other, as well.

The officlal cause of death on all three's NIC death certificates reads aviation accident - in Echanis' case (Certificate #107432) as an example - "...Michael Echanis, soltero, sin asistencia medica, de accidente aero." Time of the accident is given as 1300 Hours, September 8, 1978.

Additional NIC GN / Medico documents support the cause of death for all three.

US embassy documents signed on September 13, 1978, by Mary Daniel, counsel to the embassy in Managua, affirm the deaths having occurred near Rivas on September 8, 1978.

Embalment and custom caskets were ordered by President Somoza. The caskets were flown from Managua on September 13, 1978, to the United States on La Nica Airlines which Somoza owned.

Early reports of the Aero Commander having been hit by a SAM 7 are false. This story came from Keith "Jack" Idema long after the fact.

Soldier of Fortune published an interview with an alleged OSN officer who claimed Somoza ordered Alegrett be assassinated. Ray Molina, close to Somoza since 1972, says this allegation is absurd. Even SOF said in its article none of what they were told could be supported independenty.

There were, despite a claim otherwise, no Americans at the crash site and no American assisted in the body recovery operation. One American who has claimed otherwise offers he has photos of the crash site and the recovery ops...however he has never produced these over the years. His own given location in NIC when the plane went down places him too far away to have arrived - even by air - before the bodies were dragged from the plane's wreckage and trucked back to Managua.

He, his wife (also American) and two other Americas working as trainers at the EEBI fled the country on the same La Nica flight carrying the dead.

In short, Echanis, Sanders, Nguyen and Alegrett died as the result of a fragmentation grenade detonating inside the plane.

The NIC GN stopped the offensive in brutal fighting by using aerial bombardment of the major cities under attack. Somoza would hang on to power for roughly one more year before abdicating and fleeing first to the US - where he was rebuked and declared Persona non grata - and then to Paraguay.

There he wrote a book about his fall from grace, mentioned Echanis and Alegrett with great praise, and was later assassinated by a Marxist Argentine hit team using submachine guns and RPG-7s.
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Old 05-19-2014, 14:13   #60
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Can anyone further assist in identifying the folks in this picture?

Back row I've identified Mike Echanis, Chuck Sanders, CW Evans, Jimmy Jackson.

Seeking to ID (possibly) Paul Glasser, Gary O'Neal and those others in back row.

Front row, kneeling, Master Chief Bob Nissley and Bru. Does anyone recognize the Marines, please?

Thank you!
The SGT in the very center of the front row looks like a guy I was in 2d Recon Bn. with named Gibson. He went to 2d Force Recon Co. in 1978ish? Could be wrong, about every Recon unit did MTTs in El Sal or Honduras during the late 70s- '80s. And looking at the barracks, its possibly Rosie Roads or Veiques. I'll run this picture through FRA.
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