Military background and exposure to the Dega -- I was commissioned an Infantry officer in the US Army in 1967. After finishing Army fixed-wing flight school, I began my combat tour as a reconnaissance aviator with the 185th Recon Airplane Company, Third Platoon "Pterodactyls" based out of Camp Coryell, Ban Me Thuot, Darlac (Daklak) Province, II Corps, RSV in June of 1968. The Pterodactyls flew the tough-as-nails "little brown airplane," the O-1 "Birddog" (Cessna L-19). Assigned the callsign Pterodactyl-33 while stationed in Ban Me Thuot, I later became Pterodactyl-27 in early 1969 when transferred "TDY" to Cheo Reo in Phu Bon Province. The TDY lasted the duration of my "life in the year."
Who's building The Dega Photo Gallery? Pterodactyl-33 and -27
Stephen L. Harrison
aka: Tuco, Scurvydawg, Pihayso
As alluded to on the main welcome page of this web site, the background image very typically approximates a Pterodactyl's view of the Central Highlands. At 85mph, treetop level was a lot safer than the "recommended" 2,000 feet. Think relative speed to the would-be shooter. Likewise, at any higher altitude triple canopy just looks like treetops. To do the job at hand, we had to get down and dirty. It was an interesting cat-and-mouse game.
The role of a Army recon aviator was largely undefined, unregulated and unhampered by much of any ROE. Rarely assigned an actual "mission," the typical routine could be described as: "Be available -- and in the meantime go out and find something or somebody." The radio frequencies of several ground units were monitored and if the call for assistance went out there was a good chance an Army Birddog was in the area and would respond. Most of the close-in work was with Army Special Forces teams of various sizes, but mostly small units -- A-Teams. And most of these LRRP (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol) teams involved indigenous Dega, aka Yards, aka Little People.
It was during my almost daily visits with SF and MAC-V troops back at their basecamps -- they all had at least a two-rut scrape they could call a landing strip -- that I met and learned most about the Montagnards, as well as the high esteem in which the SF troops held them. Base camps and compounds In my AO, including both Special Forces and MAC-V, were Boun Ho, Boun Ea Yang, Ban Don, Tieu Attar, Duc Lap and Ban Blech. It is my understanding that the principal Dega tribes in and around Darlac Province would have been Rhade, Jarai, Mnong, Bahnar, and add Drung to include Phu Bon Province.
This "Dega Phogo Gallery" is offered as a belated but heartfelt "Thank You" to our most loyal and noble allies, the Dega - Montagnards. As I believe every Special Forces "snoop 'n poop" I ever spoke with might put it, the Yards were "Little People" only in physical stature. In matters of courage, honor, character, loyalty, warrior spirit and resourcefulness they were sizable, indeed.
Steve Harrison, Captain, USA Infantry
US Army 1966-71
Air Medal w/ "V" Device, 1 Purple Heart, 1 Attitude w/ Hemorrhoid Cluster
Retired a 22-year career as a water quality professional to become a full-time Webslinger and water treatment consultant owner of ESD in 1999.
Other sites built and/or hosted by Pterodactyl-33 / -27:
The Pterodactyl Index -- Books, music, artwork by military veterans
Environmental Systems Distributing -- Drinking water and water treatment systems
The CASBar Patch Wall -- Unit and other patches of combat pilots (hosted)
Capitalist Swine -- (in development)
Yankee Air Pirates (in development)
Trayer Trash (in development)
Send your "Yard" pics attached to a e-mail to