Counteroffensive, Phase II
(07-01-66 to 05-31-67)
Partial description of Counteroffensive, Phase II
North Vietnam continued to build its own forces inside South Vietnam. At first this was done by continued infiltration by sea and along the Ho Chi Minh trail and then, in early 1966, through the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). U.S. air elements received permission to conduct reconnaissance bombing raids, and tactical air strikes into North Vietnam just north of the DMZ, but ground forces were denied authority to conduct reconnaissance patrols in the northern portion of the DMZ and inside North Vietnam. Confined to South Vietnamese territory, U.S. ground forces fought a war of attrition against the enemy, relying for a time on body counts as one standard indicator for measuring successful progress for winning the war.
During 1966, there were eighteen major operations, the most successful of these being Operation WHITE WING (MASHER). During this operation, the 1st Cavalry Division, Korean units, and ARVN forces cleared the northern half of Binh Dinh Province on the central coast. In the process they decimated a division, later designated the North Vietnamese 3d Division.
The U.S. 3d Marine Division was moved into the area of the two northern provinces and in concert with South Vietnamese Army and other Marine Corps units, conducted Operation HASTINGS against enemy infiltrators across the DMZ.
By 31 December 1966, U.S. military personnel in South Vietnam numbered 385,300. Enemy forces also increased substantially, so that for the same period, total enemy strength was in excess of 282,000 in addition to an estimated 80,000 political cadres. By 30 June 1967, total U.S. forces in SVN had risen to 448,800, but enemy strength had increased as well.
While the war in Vietnam may have slowed down for a time, the enemy would show that he was far from beaten. The US Forces and the 2/94th would not find peace that easily.
On 10 November 1966, Artillery Plateau was officially renamed Camp Carroll , which coincides with the birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. Camp Carroll was built by the 3rd Battalion 4th Marine Regiment early in October of 1966 following Operation Prairie. It was named Camp J.J. Carroll in honor of Marine Captain J.J. Carroll, who was killed on Hill 484 during Operation Prairie. Captain Carroll was Company Commander of K Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines
The Marines on Camp Carroll would feel the outgoing power of the 175’s as described below by Marine Corporal Jim Fowler, 5th Communications Battalion, Third Marine Division.
Account byMarine Corporal Jim Fowler: “Not too long after we set up at Artillery Plateau which would become Camp Carroll. A 175mm gun set up across the road from us. The barrel was actually over our bunker when they fired in our direction, which I think was toward Khe Sanh.
We had originally been attached to a Battery of the 12th after pulling back from the Rockpile. We were reassigned to 3rd Marines after they moved up. The 175mm gun crew fired a charge 3 over us before we had completed the bunker over the radio relay van. It shattered several tubes in our van. Two in the An/TCC3 telephone unit and one in one of the AN/GRC-10 radios, if I remember correctly.
The overhead light also shattered and the whole thing including the coax ripped from the ceiling of the van. We worked our butts off the rest of the day and into the wee hours of the morning getting the gear back up and completing the bunker. After the bunker was complete, we would bounce a couple of inches or so when they fired a charge 3. Better to be bounced by our own than theirs. Like so many things you got used to it and it just became another background occurrence in the daily life."
Account by Lieutenant Larry Vinyard of D Battery concerning the event above: If this is October, 1966, that Marine CPL Fowler is talking about, that was "D" Battery No. 1 piece. Yes, the Marines cussed us a number of times. However; they learned to love us, in a manly sort of way of course, when we started providing patrol support.
A brief story...one of the very first missions we fired from JJC in support of the Marine patrols was on a small group of the enemy. The Marine FO thought we fired the Battery in adjustment on the first round. When we informed the FO that we had only fired one gun, his response was "!@#$^&**** expletives delete!!!" When we fired a few rounds in effect, we had made many Marine friends. Artillerymen love happy endings.”
Article from USARV-IO: Camp J.J. Carroll- "U.S. Marines are fighting three North Vietnamese Army (NVA) divisions in Quang Tri Province with the aid of the Army’s 175mm guns.
This camp, just six miles from the demilitarized zone (DMZ), is the base for the big guns of the 2nd Battalion 94th Artillery. Since the Battalion fired the first rounds on Oct. 23, 1966, over 70,000 projectiles have been fired.
The artillery unit is the only Army unit of its type supporting the Marines. All fire missions in the area go through the 3rd Marine Division.
The Battalion has supported ten Marine operations, including Operations Hastings and Prairie and the recent fighting in the DMZ.
The 175’s move around the province so that their 20 mile range can support the Marines, Special Forces, or the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) as they are needed.
Batteries have gone to Gio Linh to fire deeper into North Vietnam.
The big guns have fired across the DMZ since February 22. Forward observers, in Bird Dog spotter planes flown by Army, Marine, or Air Force pilots, give the targets.
Targets have been SAM missile sites, anti-aircraft emplacements, staging and assembly areas of troops, and convoys."
Information Office, US Army Vietnam - “U.S. Army units in Vietnam back the Marines with Action - The artillerymen of these units along the DMZ don’t talk much about how they live in mud-filled bunkers and brave the incoming rocket and artillery rounds. They are too busy keeping the enemy busy ducking the shells and small arms fire they throw at him day after day”.
The U.S. Forces opposing the North Vietnamese Army was a composite unit. The U.S. Marines were the first to be committed. As the enemy force threat developed, the US Army deployed some of its Artillery units to reinforce the Marines and counter the growing threat. These Army Artillery units came under the operational control of the Commanding General of the III Marine Amphibious Force. The 2/94th, 1/40th, and 1/44th, with G Battery 65th Arty attached, were part of that commitment to the Marines in October 1966.
The enemy had grown from 23 main force Battalions to 52 Battalions in I Corps. The U.S. Forces were only seven (7) Marine Battalions along with the three (3) additional Army Artillery Battalions supplied to the Marines.
Article from Newspaper written by PFC Bob Kersey, Stars and Strips Correspondent: CAMP J.J. CARROLL, Vietnam -
"Thanks for the good nights sleep."
"That is the only reward expected and the only reward received by the men of the 2nd Battalion 94th Artillery, the words of appreciation from the Marines they support.
Located at Camp J. J. Carroll, just eight miles south of the DMZ, the men of the 2/94th are the northernmost Army unit in South Vietnam.
Their mission is to support the 3rd Marine Division and to protect the Special Forces camp at Khe Sanh, near the Laotian border. The Marines sleep better when the big guns keep the enemy occupied.
Why was the Army sent up here in Marine territory?
They fire 12 of the largest field artillery pieces that the United States has in its arsenal, the self-propelled 175mm gun. The 175s are capable of firing a 147-pound projectile 20 miles. They are accurate and can kill everything inside a 250-foot radius.
When a call comes in from a unit in trouble, the Fire Direction Center calculates the direction, elevation, and powder charge to be used and relays the information to the gun crews. Working often in darkness and two feet of mud, the gun crews can be ready to fire in minutes. The guns are capable of firing across the DMZ into North Vietnam, or out to sea on the east.
The Battalion was organized at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, in June 1966. Most of the NCOs were transferred from Germany to mold an entire combat-ready Battalion from men straight out of the Artillery Training School. The job was expected to take 90 days, but the men had attained combat proficiency in less than half that time.
The units arrived in Vietnam October 15, 1966 at Da Nang.
The big guns were transported by boat up the coast to Dong Ha, while the rest of the Battalion went north by truck. From Dong Ha the guns and men were driven the 18 kilometers to their present site. The unit was operational on 20 October 1966.
The 2/94th is the largest 175mm gun unit in Vietnam due to an extra Battery being attached to it from the 6th Battalion 27th Artillery. They remain only at normal strength because one of the Batteries is stationed at Chu Lai.
They make up only a small part of the complex on the plateau; Marine 105mm howitzers, 155mm self-propelled howitzers, tank and anti-tank units, and security forces also are based at the camp.
The Marines provide the main security force and run many patrols and reconnaissance missions out of their camp, while the Army guns provide the artillery support.
Usually located in the center of a camp, the 175s are also located on the perimeter. The Army gun crews man many foxholes and defensive positions 24 hours a day outside their positions.
KP and guard duty are common. The rain and mud are constant. Temperatures drop to the 40's.
They can be called any time of the day, to fire a few rounds or to help defend a unit under attack.
Suspected enemy infiltration routes, troop concentrations and command posts are common targets of fire."
On 13 November 1966, General Walt, Commander of the Third Marine Amphibious Forces, visited C Battery.
A funny military story during the visit of General Walt to the Marine emplacements by Marine Corporal Jim Fowler: “I was on watch while the other two memabetds of the team were out, and it was muddy and raining. We had set up a coffee mess and a lot of guys came by for coffee and whatever else was available. One of the First Sergeants, H&S 3rd Marines I think, would give us a health and comfort pack once a week and who ever had anything to share would put it out on the table made of ammo box boards.
I heard footsteps clomping on the entrance porch. We had covered the bunker with runway rubber (similar to inner tube rubber) and had enough left over for the floor so the bunker was dry and comfortable. We would remove our boots before entering. Thinking it was probably a returning patrol, since they would often stop by I yelled, "Take off your *!!*** boots before you come in our hooch!" I heard boots clomp as they were removed.
The poncho covering the entrance was pushed aside and there stood General Walt, CG of III MAF. He was followed by the Division Commander, the Regimental Commander and two Sergeant Majors. General Walt asked a few questions about how we were doing, communications, etc as he walked around the bunker. Just before he left he looked at the regimental commander and asked why the rest of the bunkers didn't look like ours? The Sergeant Majors looked on me with real disfavor.
I left Carroll in 67 and went to III MAF and later to Khe Sanh. The first of October of 67 I left Khe Sanh to return to Da Nang and assume duties as a Radio Relay Section chief where I remained until I rotated out on 24 December 1967."
On 16 November 1966, C Battery received eleven enlisted replacements.
On 24 November 1966, C Battery and a guest, Col Hammerbeck, Commanding Officer of Camp JJ Carroll, celebrated Thanksgiving.
Report from the Associated Press, 26 November 1966: “The war in South Vietnam has come to a standstill because of the build-up there. One of the newest arrivals in country is the 2nd Battalion 94th Artillery. It has been credited with bringing the war almost to a standstill in the areas in which its Batteries are operating. This is due to the gun’s deadly accuracy. The unit has been beefed up with one more battery, D Battery. This makes the unit the largest of its kind in Vietnam.”
On 27 November 1966 - The following units were assigned to IFFV by USARV, General Order 6524, 27th of Nov 1966, and were further attached to the 3rd Marine Amphibious Force for OPCON, administrative and logistical support, less Army peculiar administrative and logistical support.
1. 1st Bn 105 SP 40th Arty
2. 2nd Bn 175mm SP 94th Arty with B Battery 6th Bn 8” SP 27th Arty attached
3. 1st Bn AA SP 1st of the 44th Arty with Battery G (Machine Gun) 65th Arty attached
On November 28 1966, C Battery has remained at Camp Carroll to this date and expended a total of 2,417 expended rounds.
On 2 December 1966, South Vietnam’s Premier Nguyen Cae Ky and his staff paid a visit to the Battalion. The Premier was meet by Colonel Hammerback, CO of the Third Marine Regiment and Lieutenant Colonel Trefry, CO of the Battalion.
The Premier was escorted to Bravo Battery for a mission briefing. This was followed by a Firing Demonstration conducted by Lieutenant Wilmeth, B Battery XO. The Number Four gun section, Bravo Battery, gave the demonstration.
On 3 December 1966, 1st Field Forces Artillery (Forward) was established in Dong Ha. The mission of this forward command post is to act as an extension of HQ, 1st Field Forces Artillery to monitor administrative and logistical support provided by the III MAF, HQ, 1st Field Forces, and 1st Logistical Command. OPCON of the Army units is under III Marine Amphibious Force.
Account from 'Letters Home' by Lieutenant Greg Smith, C Battery FDO: (Quoted from Lieutenant G.T. Smith, C Btry FDO, in a letter dated 8 Dec 1966 from Camp Carroll:)
"All four guns in the Battery are laid on azimuth 5100 as of now. We have 840 projo's on hand along with 930 PD fuzes and 841 propellant charges. The current Battery average VE for charge 3 is +1.7. Gun 1 has fired over 1000 rounds through its tube now and is due to be the 1st gun in the Battalion to have the tube changed. The current GFT setting has a total range correction of -440 with a deflection correction of L10."
On 7 December 1966, Lieutenant Colonel Trefry commented in the Outpost; …. “Your unfailing good humor, your dedication to duty, your ability to improvise, and your conduct as American soldiers should be a source of great pride to yourselves as it is to me to serve with you.
Quote from Outpost
“Many people pray for mountains of difficulty to be removed,
when what they really want is courage to climb them.”
On 8 and 12 December 1966, A Battery, in the south, displaced from (BS636785) to support search and destroy operations being carried out by the 1st Marines. The Battery was accompanied by a reinforced platoon of Marines. A Marine Engineer squad swept all bridges for mines.
Comments on A Battery Activity in the south.
Account by Captain Jerry Heard, A Battery Commander in the South. “One Fire mission was the time a Marine Artillery battery co-located with us and was to fire support for a mission on the east of our perimeter CP. The Marines came with a Major CO and two Captain platoon leaders with 3 guns each. They were using 155 guns. Being the Fort Sill 'Red leg', and since it was my location, the CG had put my Battery in command of the mini-task force. The Marine Major was highly PO'd. We fired all 10 guns from our FDC. They march ordered quickly after the mission was finished. The A Battery guys showed them how it was supposed to be done.
The Manual talked about using some wreckers when changing tubes, A Battery had none. The chief of smoke strapped the equilibrators down and took off the old tube and put a new one on without having to recharge. We put two 8-inch tubes on about mid-term and fired pinpoint targets with them. After we burned out all our tubes one night, shooting for the Tra Bong Special Forces Camp, we used long lanyards and shot from sandbag cover off of the gun. Stuff was stripping out of the tubes but we added some elevation and just kept firing.”
Account by Captain Jerry Heard, A Battery Commander in the South: “One thing I remember about the Marines (11th Marines), they rotated their platoons in and out of A Battery; first to the bush and then our location.
Our Armorer would re-blue their M16’s, take off the ropes and replace slings, clean and oil them, and send them out with useable weapons.
One platoon had a mortar tube and no base plate, and would set it down and guess the settings for mortar fire. Scared me silly!”
Account by Lieutenant Doug Beard, who was visiting A Battery from the north: “I was down at Chu Lai with Captain Heard's A Battery for the Marines’ birthday party. We made them a cake, and since the Marines did not wear unit patches, we made one for them. It had the Corps Emblem on it and the slogan around it said;
"191 Years of Tradition Unhampered By Progress, USMC, One Good Deal
Some of them TA Marine officers sure could not take a joke. Perhaps it was because the slogan touched a nerve. They went into that war so poorly equipped that it was not funny. They had out of date radios, helos, weapons, everything.
I lived with them most of the time. I remember writing official reports to division on stationary that we bought in the PX because they did not have paper in Regimental HQ.
At least they were not short on guts, and they could party very well. They may not have had good weapons, but of course one of them was able to produce a beautiful sword to cut that damn cake.”
End of Comments on A Battery Activity in the south.
On 15 December 1966, Colonel J.P. Lanigan assumed command of the Third Marine Regiment and Command of Camp Carroll. Colonel Lanigan replaces Colonel Hammerbeck who was assigned to the G3 Section, Third Marine Division.
On 16 December 1966 at 2130 hours, C Battery fired the Battalion’s 10,000th round in Vietnam. Battery was firing at a target near the DMZ, in support of a Marine recon element.
On 19 December 1966, a 2½-ton truck from Service Battery received moderate damage when it hit a Viet Cong mine north of Dong Ha, while being used to haul sand to the Battery area. Eight men aboard the truck escaped serious injuries, two of which were thrown from the truck with injuries.
PFC Daniel Kempton was one of the first two WIA's the 2/94th would have during its stay in Vietnam. PFC Kempton would spend two months in Okinawa with a knee operation and rehabilitation. After his return to the the 2/94th he would be wounded the second time during a rocket attack at Dong Ha sometime in May or June of 1967.
The other solder wounded in the first combat event of the 2/94th was PFC Robert C. Lopp of Service Battery.
On 19 December 1966, Private Charles Seals of C Battery received a Letter of Appreciation from General Walt, USMC for his outstanding accomplishments in the Battery mess. The Letter of Appreciation was presented by the Battalion Commander.
On 22 December 1966, "Pro-Jo", the Service Battery mascot, fell dead from his perch.
Enlisted “Projo” Died while in Vietnam
Articles from a copy of "The Plateau Outpost" published Christmas Day 1966; saved by Lieutenant Martin McKnight: Outpost was a bimonthly publication by the 2/94. Editor was Captain Charles A. Adamson. Reporter Specialist George L. Pyle.
Private First Class Terry P. Pierce was swept down the Cam Lo river while washing a truck on 29 Nov 1966 and body recovered 14 December 1966 .
Captain Heard announced that Lieutenant Andy Tenis has a new daughter.
The 2/94th welcomes the popular Mike Battery, 4th Battalion, 12th Marine Artillery. The Battery was OPCON to the 2/94th on 18 December 1966, after repositioning of its parent Headquarters. Mike Battery, commanded by Captain Jim Way has acquired for itself a fine reputation and we of the Battalion are proud to have them as associates.
M Battery 4th Battalion 12th Marine Artillery
The Plateau welcomes with open arms Battery C, 1st Battalion 44th Artillery commanded by Captain R.E. Neily Jr. The Battery armed with its twin forties (Dusters) and quad fifties (Whispering Death), adds tremendous firepower to Camp J. J. Carroll. Note from Chronicler: The quad fifties were from Battery G, 65th Artillery, attached to the 1/44th.
Another new arrival to the Plateau is A Battery, 1st Battalion, 40th Artillery, commanded by Captain Lopez.
John Steinbeck, former war correspondent and contemporary novelist, honored the 2nd Battalion 94th Artillery with a too brief visit on 20 December 1966.
Christmas Message 1966 from the Battalion Commander
Lieutenant Colonel Richard G. Trefry, Commanding Officer, 2/94th
“It is natural at this time of year we pause to consider the future, and reflect on the past, while remembering where we are and why we are here. I am sure this has been an eventful year for every individual in this Battalion and for his family. I need not elaborate on your present activities.
I hope next year at this time will see you safely re-united with your families and friends in the more familiar surroundings of home.
To each of you here with the Battalion, and to your families, wherever they are. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”
On 25 December 1966, Christmas Dinner Menu - Roast Tom Turkey, Baked Ham/Candied Yams, Grilled Steak w/Mushrooms, Creamed Potatoes, Bread, Coffee, Beverage, Assorted Candies, Nuts, Fruit Cake.
(In some of the pics I have it looks like the men had some boiled shrimp also.)
Comment by chronicler: I sure do not recall that spread in 67-68!!!!
The entire Battalion celebrated the first Christmas and New Years in Vietnam with 48 and 72 hour cease fires, respectively.
Poem by 13 year old brother of Sergeant Bland, B Battery
To all the men in Vietnam
First the torch was theirs to bare,
But now the torch is passed to you.
The feelings of your hearts we share,
the feelings of your hearts so true.
Some men have perished,
But yet they exist.
Like jewels we cherish,
But yet I insist
That you keep on fighting,
and keep on living,
and do what you can with what God is giving
So to you and the men in Vietnam
I say farewell, farewell, so long.
by Curllon Bland
Comment by Lieutenant Greg Smith regarding C Battery FDC: “Traditionally in Artillery Batteries, the Exec post and FDC were separate. In C Battery, Lieutenant Andy Tenis and I always housed the XO post and FDC in the same bunker.
C Battery was designated as the back-up to Battalion FDC. In fact, for a few days in December 1966 , Battalion shut down to move into a newly constructed bunker, and C Battery took over as the Battalion FDC.
The more the Marines insisted on moving the 175mm Batteries around as though they were direct support 105mm batteries, the less Battalion FDC was involved, and FO's, Marine Recon, FAC's and 12th Marine Regiment FDC sent fire missions directly to the Battery FDC. At least that was the case in C Battery. ( I can't speak for A, B, and D Batteries.)
Battalion FFE missions were rare and most were in the first few months on Carroll. When things heated up, it was not unusual to have guns within the same Battery laid on different azimuths of fire because of the constant missions. For this reason, FO's using C Battery usually got two guns in FFE.”
Toward the end of January 1967, the Battalion began a series of Platoon and Battery displacements, which increased the firing load and consequently increased the burden of ammo resupply.
On 26 January 1967, B Battery was the first to be called upon to move. At 2350 hours, B Battery displaced a platoon of guns to a position just southwest of the Rockpile, to support an operation near the Laotian border. The movement occurred at night, the most dangerous time for movement in Vietnam and was the first such night movement of 175mm guns to date. Protection for the displacement consisted of two Dusters and a security force of 40 Marines. The mission was to support a large patrol and Marine extraction force.
Account by a Marine helo pilot: “I remember you guys!!!!!!! I was a USMC helo pilot from spring '66 to spring '67. You guys had the 175's there at Camp Carroll. But, I never took any photos because we never stopped there. We were always going from Dong Ha to somewhere west.
I remember the night of 26 Jan 1967. Our squadron had two H-46s down in Laos, just across the border west of Khe Sanh. There were 31 Marines trapped and surrounded on Phou Loutoukou Ridge. You guys moved two 175s to the base of the Rockpile so that you could reach the ridge in Laos. Once you got to the Rockpile, you fired in support of the men on the ridge all night long. THANKS-A-MILLION!”
B Battery headed back to JJ Carroll from the Rockpile along QL9
One FO party is usually kept atop the Rockpile (XD9856), located with the Marine force. This location provides excellent observation of the three major valleys south of the DMZ.
Ships Scope on the Rockpile
Account by Lieutenant Barry DeVita, C Battery FO, regarding the Rockpile and the Road to Khe Sanh: “There were Marines up on top before us and with us; but RTO Dave Bennett, call sign Peterson Charlie 13 Alpha Oscar, and I were the 1st Army guys up on top of the Rockpile to provide FO/RTO communications for 2/94, 1/40, and the Marine 155 unit (whose designation escapes me).
Note by chronicler: M Battery 4/12 155’s was OPCON to the 2/94th at that time.
When we arrived atop the Rock, the Marines were accustomed to firing at any sound, usually with magazines full of tracers, at any time of night (which both gave away their precise positions as well as made it virtually impossible to get any sleep at all - as if trying to sleep in an arched position on the ledge of your choice was any help.
I taught them to throw rocks interspersed with occasional grenades in a random sequence instead, rather than give away their locations via muzzle
flashes magnified by all those tracer rounds, particularly when they were often silhouetted against the clear (even when only star-lit) night sky.
The preferred way of dispensing with C-ration cans was to chuck them over the side, so that "Charlie" would shake, rattle, and roll on his way up - it made a fool-proof early warning system...
(This is how the Rockpile got nicknamed the "Garbage Pile" by those who spent time on top ; and also how the rats got so big and had a lustrous sheen to their fur - much like collies [from all the high protein that they got a hold of]...)
That most rudimentary of LZ's also served as the anchor point for the huge ship's scope that we used to scan the horizon for "NVA troops in the open". It had to be dismantled whenever a re-supply chopper was on the way in.
When we were there, the NVA had a 50 caliber in a cave on the Razorback. Typically, every so often they would take a few shots at us; and we'd try to stick some 106 rounds (from the Marine Ontos Armor at the forward outpost north of the Rockpile) into the cave.
I'm pretty sure we were up on the Rockpile before Christmas of 1966.
My Rockpile memories are from on top of the Rockpile not the firebase itself. . . (7-10 days / month) . . . although, one time Dave Bennett and I had to climb down and walked home (actually we hitch hiked back) to JJ Carroll. Why you ask? Because it had rained for sooo long and the ceiling was sooo low and thick that choppers couldn't get in to pick us up as we ran out of supplies (and besides we couldn't see at all. So we weren't in a position to even "suggest" a fire mission); AND THEN IT SNOWED ON US (in jungle fatigues, with a poncho liner for "warmth" and a shelter half for "cover"
. . . THAT WAS THE LAST STRAW !), so we climbed down, with a fire team of Marines (H 2/3, if I remember correctly ), who offered to provide fire support on the way down; and then they turned around and climbed back up, after a hand shake and a mutual wish of "good luck" . . . [they later took heavy causalities at Con Thien].
The COLDEST I HAVE EVER BEEN (any where at any time) was that stay on top of the Rockpile. In an alleged "jungle", where we were told "it will be either hot and dry or hot and wet. Note by chronicler: See Jim Lary Article from the Stars and Stripes 1966: “Viet Weather Just Ain’t So." Located in Reactivation.
My Call Sign was 'Peterson Charlie 13' officially. However 'Bear' was used most often by C Battery personnel and by the Marine units that Dave Bennett, RTO, and I supported. (Much to the displeasure of Battalion.)
In addition, this same FO Team was assigned to the 11th Marine Engineers, who had the task of reopening Highway 9 (QL9) to the Khe Sanh area. Task was to clear the mines, then widen the road and bypass all the bridges that had been strategically blown so that they were useless to vehicles but could still be used as foot bridges, and eventually replace the bridges.
We then led the 1st convoy through to Khe Sanh in 14 years, stopping at the coffee plantation just SSW of the Marine Compound to pay our respect to the owners and apologize for the billowing clouds of red dust descending upon their coffee trees as the convoy rolled through, to which, they graciously responded to with "damn fine" cups of coffee.
That would have been in late Jan/early February of 1967. Obviously concluded a week or two before 9 April 1967.”
Note by chronicler:The Lieutenant was severely wounded in action on 9 April 1967 and Medevac'd.
Account by RTO David Bennett referenced above: “During my tenure with the outfit, we spent several week-long stints on top of the Rockpile; and much time was spent also on the road to Khe Sanh with the Marine engineers who were rebuilding bridges, etc.
Seems I remember that this Private First Class had to wait by his ¾-ton and didn't get any of the Frenchman's coffee because a certain Lieutenant (like
the one referenced above) burned up the clutch. That same Private First Class
did however get an ass chewing for letting that Lieutenant drive.
I remember quite vividly the LZ on top of the Rockpile. Ahh let me, see a certain unnamed Lieutenant hanging off a Helicopter wheel strut up there in the air.
Then there was a large explosive devise that fell from a fast moving low flyer one night and as near as I can calculate missed hitting the LZ by just a few inches. From the location of the crater at the base of the vertical drop off I am guessing it was the south side of the Rockpile.
A Marine sniper who fired on a VC rock ape.
The kid in the only hooch up there had a Benjamin air pistol for shooting the well fed Rock-pile rats that visited him during the night.
The rats were well fed as the c-rations that were not fit to eat (selected by each individual person) had to have been opened before being chucked into the jungle. In order to provide a fool- proof early warning system.
Also remember while placing fire concentrations on the road to Khe Sanh, an errant 155 round that put us, as well as the Marine tourists who decided to watch what we were doing, scampering over the road and down the bank into the jungle for cover. That one was too close for comfort because we were on the gun target line.” Note by chronicler: RTO, David Bennett would be wounded in action after being transferred to the 3/18th as part of the infusion program.
Rockpile being re-supplied by Marine Chopper
(Not for the faint of heart)
Account by Lieutenant Barry DeVita, C Battery FO: “I would like to mention Marine Lieutenant Phil Sauer... He would often release an Ontos to trail along behind RTO Dave Bennett and myself on our travels along Highway 9, for which Dave and I will be eternally grateful. He was both a great guy and a great friend. Right after I got hit (within a week or so), I heard that he went up onto Hill 861 or one of the other nearby knolls, during the "hill fights" to offer support (as was his way) and got hit.
When I finally went to The Wall (which took 10 yrs) and found his name and Stillwagoner's, 6 rows apart (which covered only a 6 week time frame), it visibly shook me - something I'd never felt prior or since... I had always felt that I'd let Phil down, by not being there for him as he always was for me... I also finally visualized just how close I came to being there between them.”
Comment by Chronicler: Marine Platoon Commander, 1st Lieutenant Phillip Sauer, was killed in action on Hill 861, 24 April 1967. The Lieutenant was covering the escape of five other Marines that were left in the team. Lieutenant Sauer was submitted for the Navy Cross. He was a friend to the 2/94th FO team above and not forgotten.
Since the monsoon season was in full swing the air observations were at a minimum.
With the Battalion being deployed in the 3rd Marine Division area, there was no Army logistics support. Forward support elements of the 1st Logistical Command were being set up at Dong Ha and Chu Lai.
Transportation of supplies and equipment to both the Dong Ha and Chu Lai areas has been a problem. They must be shipped by air, or LCU from Dong Ha and from Da Nang using LST’s. Road networks from Da Nang to Dong Ha and Chu Lai are in contested areas.
A MEDCAP program was started and the Marines assigned 7 villages to the 2/94th. However, only two of those are in a secure area. Comment by chronicler: Wonder how that happened?
Cam Lo – YD128595
Phouc-Tuyen – YD120590
An Hung – YD125590
Dau Binh – YD121589
Tan-Dinh – YD115585
Van Ba Thung – YD114590
Van Quat Xa – YD110588
Notes and discussion from Oct 1966 to 31 January 1967,
1st Battalion Operational Report
There has been one non-battle death during this reporting period. PFC Terry Paul Pierce, Headquarters Battery, from Hopewell, Virginia.
Two men were injured on 19 December 1966, a 2½-ton truck from Service Battery received moderate damage when it hit a Viet Cong mine north of Dong Ha.
25 Men were admitted to in-country hospital.
3 Men were evacuated out of country.
2 Men contracted Malaria.
28 Article 15’s were issued and 2 Special Courts.
Mission assignments: Provide GS for the 3rd Marine Division. In addition, supporting fires for Khe Sanh Special Forces camp can be provided as required. A Battery provides GS for the 1st Marine Division in the vicinity of Chu Lai and can fire in support of the Special Forces Camps Tra Bong, Ha Thanh, and Minh Long.
Initially there was a shortage of tents and 16 personnel were assigned to an 8-man tent.
Mail was a problem, as the last CONUS duty station was APO 96291 and it was then changed to APO 96289. The Air Force at Dong Ha handled the Army mail for some time at APO 96362 until the Army finally got their own Post Office, which was APO 96269.Comment by chronicler: A number, I will never forget. Seems I remember it was APO SF 96269.
25% of the 175mm powder was deemed unsafe to fire, under existing inspection criteria, when it reaches the gun positions. Lot 63318-57 was suspended when the primer burned a hole through the igniter pad but failed to set of the charge, thus causing a dangerous hang fire. Two hundred forty-two containers of this lot were trucked 19 miles over marginally safe roads to the gun positions before attempting to fire them. The powder was dry, however lacked odor of powder.
The majority of unserviceable powder is unsafe because of mishandling in transit. Severely dented canisters from which powder cannot be extracted are found daily. The denting caused broken and flaked igniter tubes which, under present inspection procedures, must be destroyed. Some powder had been found to be wet when opened, although the amount to date has been insignificant part of the total.
Powder canisters are relatively thin and fragile containers and must be treated as such in the supply chain. Care by fork-lift operators, in particular, will help eliminate or reduce this unsatisfactory condition.
The Battalion has exercised operational control of Mike Battery 4th Battalion 12th Marines (155mm SP) since 16 December 1966.
Targeting – The Battalion has tried several different methods of targeting the enemy. The following works the best for rapid response. Using available intelligence, studying the trends of the enemy movements and his fondness for attacking lightly defended areas; some guns are aimed at most likely candidates. Other guns are aimed at suspected NVA harboring points; while some guns are aimed at infiltration routes. Guns are laid after dusk to deny the enemy fire direction.
Enemy body recovery – The NVA will try and recover their dead. Therefore this unit waits 15-25 minutes after a mission and then fires randomly into the same area with a few rounds.
The preponderance of 175mm gunfire has been expended on unobserved neutralization and H&I missions. Marine patrols or aerial observers have observed several fire missions fired upon using targets of opportunity. The usual immediate surveillance report is “Effect on Target” or Good Coverage”. Rarely, because of dense trees or thick vegetation, has specific effect surveillance been reported to FDC. IT IS IMPORTANT FOR THE MORALE OF THE GUN CREWS to give them all available surveillance reports.
Fuzes – Because of the variety of vegetation in the Northern area the selection of fuze is an important part of mission planning. See below.
Dense heavily canopied jungle: 100% delay will penetrate to ground level causing tree blow-up and wood fragmentation.
Lightly forested regions: Mixed fuze quick and delay. This causes immense damage, with tree blow-up, cratering, and depending on the angle of fall, air bursts.
Elephant grass and brushwood: Fuze quick (VT on troops in the open) produces excellent effect.
Cold weather equipment, especially field jackets and mountain sleeping bags are required for this sector of Vietnam. The temperature can drop to and stay in the 40 to 50 degree range.
The unit did not bring any tent stoves with them, as it was deemed not necessary.
Meteorological section continues to provide excellent data. From 3 to 6 met messages a day are normal.
Tubes in the electronics were a problem with the humidity and shock from the 175mm Batteries firing. Keeping the equipment up 24 and 7 rather than turning them off and on eliminated this problem. In addition, the equipment was mounted a homemade type shock platform. Also, some tube sections were converted to solid-state using SCR switching modules.
End of notes & discussion from Oct 1966 to 31 January 1967,
1st Battalion Operational Report
On 2 February 1967, D Battery displaced a platoon to the vicinity of Dong Ha to (YD228583) to support Marine operations east of Quang Tri. D Battery platoon returned to Carroll on 17 February.
On 6 February to 20 Feb 1966, gun pads were constructed in C Battery.
On 7 February 1967, C Battery displaced a platoon to the base of the Rockpile (XD983543). Movement was to support a Marine Recon patrol near the Laotian border. C Battery platoon returned to Carroll on 9 February.
3rd Marine Recon call sign was Rain Belt. The 2/94th shot frequently in support of these Recon Marines.
Marine Recon Team “Viper” leaving from JJ Carroll
2/94 was call sign ‘Peterson’ and the Marine Regimental FDC was ‘Punjab'. ‘6’ was the CO, ‘9’ was the FDC, ‘5’ was the XO; therefore C Battery FDC was ‘Peterson Charlie Niner’. etc.
Top Secret Artillery Rounds Used
On 7 February 1967,the Lang Vei Special Forces Camp close to the Khe Sanh Combat Base was over run by NVA Tanks. This was the first reported use of tanks by the enemy in the war. Reports show 9 NVA tanks were used.
Early in the morning of 7 February 1967 the Marine artillery , B/1/13 105mm towed, fired, what was a Top Secret projectile back then, COFRAM projectiles or "Firecracker Rounds". This was the first official reported use of these Top Secret COFRAM artillery rounds in the war.
According to reports this authority was requested by General Westmoreland and then approved by President Johnson.
According to a memo from General Wheeler to President Johnson 28 COFRAM rounds were fired in the first usage. COFRAM rounds, followed by HE, and then air support.
Marine John ? reports Marine Artillery units supporting Lang Vei from inside the KSCB were A/1/13, C/1/13, and W/1/13. A/1/13 and C/1/13 were firing HE. W/1/13 was firing HE with VT fuse. About daylight a check fire was called for aircraft in the area.
Marine ? Sully, W/1/13, reports Marine W/1/13 provided "Ring of Fire" 4.2 HE VT rounds with three tubes inside the KSCB. He also recalls the Army said they had NVA tanks on top of the Lang Vei bunkers.
The 13th Marine Artillery at Khe Sanh consisted of three 105mm howitzer batteries (towed) a provisional 155mm howitzer (towed) battery, and a 4.2-inch mortar battery. This totaled 24 artillery pieces.
Marine artillery would support for and estimated four hours.
Marine artillery was also under heavy counter fire and would suffer casualties during this exchange.
Comment by Chronicler: While the 2/94th was primarily all 175mm during this time period eventually this COFRAM "Firecracker" round would be used by some of the Battalion's converted 8-inch Howitzers. It seems that once the round was used it would be used with some consistency from then on. While not the primary round it would be used in certain situations.
On 9 February 1967, Battery M 4th Battalion 12th Marines displaced from Carroll to the base of the Rockpile. Movement was to support 3rd Marine operations. M Battery returned to Carroll on 21 February.
On 9 February 1967, C Battery platoon returned to Carroll from the Rockpile.
From 8 - 12 February 1967, the U.S. Forces declared cease-fire in honor of the Lunar New Year (TET).
The cease-fire was broken on the third night, 10 or 11 February 1967, when B Battery fired in support of a surrounded Marine platoon.
On 17 February 1967, D Battery platoon returned to Carroll from Dong Ha.
On 17 February 1967, B Battery displaced one platoon to the vicinity of Dong Ha (XD228583). Movement was to support the Third Marine operations.
On 18 February 1967, C Battery displaced one platoon to a firing position at the base of the Rockpile.
On 21 February 1967, C Battery platoon returned to Carroll.
On 21 February 1967, M Battery 4/12 returned to Carroll from the Rockpile.
On 22 February 1967, C Battery fired a 64 round mission into North Vietnam.
Newspaper article dated 2/24/67 from Oklahoma City Times, saved by Lieutenant Martin McKnight: On Wednesday, first shelling of North Vietnam. The 175's fired 64 rounds against AA that had fired on a U.S. spotter plane just north of the DMZ. Comment by chronicler: That would have made the firing date Wednesday, 22 February 1967. Unknown at this time if a 2/94th FO/AO called in the missions from the plane. C Battery fired the mission into North Vietnam shown below.
C Battery firing into North Vietnam, 22 Feb 1967
On 23 February 1967, C Battery displaced one platoon to the vicinity of the Rockpile. Movement was to support a CIDG patrol sweeping to the south from Ca Lu (XD013458). A reconnaissance for further movement to Ca Lu was evaluated. However the patrol was extracted before further movement was necessary.
Find and insert Ca Lu pics.
On 24 February 1967, C Battery platoon returned from the Rockpile.
On 25 February 1967, Washington Politics ‘finally gave permission’ for the Marine and Army Artillery units to fire at military targets across the DMZ into the enemies homeland.
The NVA responded to this new authority given to the DMZ Artillery units with heavy artillery barrages of their own against Carroll, Gio Linh, and Con Thien.
On 26 February 1967, C Battery displaced one platoon to the Rockpile (XD983543) to support a Marine Recon Patrol Striker. Platoon returned on 1 March.
The Gio Linh Battle
Comment by chronicler: This first displacement to Gio Linh (Operation HIGHRISE) would, in a very short time, eventually become the first major artillery duel of American Military Firing Battalions/Batteries vs. NVA Firing Battalions/Batteries of the war; for both Army and Marine Artillery. 1000’s of rounds would be exchanged before the NVA would finally withdraw. It would involve B Battery, D Battery and C Battery. This raging, on and off artillery duel would last until the 17th of July 1967 when C Battery would return to Camp Carroll as the NVA had withdrawn. It would result in both B and D Batteries being withdrawn with guns battle damaged, non-operational. This victory would cost many many Army and Marine casualties. I think it also was a learning experience for the use of Heavy Artillery in Vietnam. If you will notice as C Battery rotated up to Gio Linh they eventually moved around some behind Gio Linh and took tactile advantage of the 175mm range vs. the range of the NVA 152mm Russian piece.
On 26 Feb 1967, B Battery was the first to move in response to this new enemy activity. Displaced to Gio Linh YD218732 just two miles south of the DMZ along Route 1, as part of Operation HIGHRISE. Their mission was to fire pre-planned, unobserved targets into North Vietnam and the DMZ.
On 26 February 1967, B Battery Platoon departed Carroll at 0900 hours and was accompanied by Battery C, 1st Battalion, 12th Marines, a towed 105mm Battery, and I Company, 3rd Battalion 4th Marines, Infantry. Convoy was accompanied by Dusters from the 1st Battalion 44th Artillery reinforced by Quads from B battery 65th Artillery- attached 1/44th. After arriving at Dong Ha the Platoon joined with the Platoon that had been sent to Dong Ha on the 17th of February. The entire Battery then displaced at 1130 hours to Gio Linh (YD213741). They arrived from Dong Ha at Gio Linh on 26 February 1967 and were hit the first night with hostile mortar attack, numbering 300 to 400 rounds.
While at Gio Linh, Marine Lieutenant Colonel William Rice, 1st Battalion, 12th Marines commanded this composite Artillery group for this time period.
Account by Lieutenant Ed Smith about the first day of B Battery at Gio Linh: “The Battery moved to Dong Ha and then moved up to occupy this nice little area which was just outside the Peacekeeping Compound at Gio Linh. We got there mid-afternoon and the FDC APC was put in this trench that the engineers had dug. We didn't think much about all this as Lieutenant Jackson, Lieutenant Wilmeth and I pitched our nice little hex tent just above the FDC. Lieutenant Jackson and I were sitting outside the tent in our nice folding chairs when the first mortar attack hit us that day, just about at sundown. 700 or so rounds of incoming. Not pretty!”
Account by Lieutenant Doug Beard about the first day(s) of B Battery at Gio Linh: “My jeep was at the end of our convoy from Dong Ha. My duffel bag got peppered from the mortar round that hit our tent. Lieutenant Jackson's new 35mm Honeywell camera was destroyed. I had to stay up there about a month before I was able to get back to my beloved flight pay.
I do recall an incident in the early weeks of Gio Linh when shelling caused us to lose much of our ammo. Service Battery sent a night convoy up from Dong Ha, led by Lieutenant Martin McKnight, and it got ambushed just south of us on RT 1. One deuce and a half loaded with ammo blew up, leaving a large crater in the road. At least two from Service Battery were wounded in that one.
In another incident at Gio Linh, I was in tower #2 when the daily shelling started. There was one of our Sergeant (E5)'s up there with me taking pictures. He got down low to hug the sandbags on the tower floor. I told him to sit up and look for muzzle flashes because the shells hitting the ground could not hurt us up that high and if one hit the tower (which it did a week later) hugging the floor would not help. During the first lull, he decided to go down the ladder. A shell hit at the tower base while he was on the top step, putting about a quarter-sized piece of fragment right into the fat part of his butt. So much for my credibility. I still remember the look of disbelief on his face as I pulled him back up.”
Account by a 2/94th Artilleryman who was part of the B Battery contingent at Gio Linh: “We were proud of what we were doing during Operation High Rise. We battled the NVA 304th NVA Division and took the fight to him. We hit long NVA convoys coming down Highway 1. This red hair war correspondent comes in on a Huey late one afternoon and stays overnight in the Captain’s tent. I was also occupying the Captain’s tent. The red hair guy was easy to speak to and would listen most intensely. I had been instructed to look after this person by the Captain. I will never forget this genuine person who was friendly, spoke openly, and asked a lot of questions. This correspondent was Ted Kopple who eventually became a network news anchorman.”
Account by Lieutenant Doug Beard
regarding Ted Kopple: “I
also remember Koppel at Gio Linh during the early days of B Battery. We were his
first assignment there, and he spent the night also. As usual, we got shelled
and he got excited. The next morning he wanted to catch the first truck back to
Dong Ha to call his office in Saigon and file his story. I told him that we had
the same phone connections at Gio Linh that Dong Ha
had and he filed his first combat report from our FDC bunker."
The nights of 28 February and 1 & 2 March 1967 saw over 750 rounds in seven attacks. Intermittent mortar rounds hit for the next two weeks, with the next large scale attack occurring on 20 March 1967 when the enemy hit with increased firepower of captured 105mm rounds. An estimated 927 rounds fell that night and the Battery sustained casualties. The Number 3 Gun Chief, Staff Sergeant Neal received shrapnel wounds to the head. The entire Battery performed courageously under heavy enemy fire by returning much of the incoming with outgoing, and by exposing themselves to possible injury extinguishing fires on their guns.
While at Gio Linh, the B Battery forward observers, Lieutenant Ed Smith and Lieutenant Doug Beard participated in seven Recon patrols. While on patrol near the village of Tan Lich, Lieutenant Smith’s patrol made contact with an estimated company size enemy unit of the NVA. During a ten-hour period, Lieutenant Smith called in over 2500 rounds of 105mm artillery fire.
Account by Lieutenant Doug Beard referenced above: “I was flying two or three missions a day that summer when Ed shows up at the Dong Ha air field to do some flying. He must have needed the flight pay or maybe a few more points towards his next oak leaf cluster on his Air Medal. I was scheduled for a noon convoy cover on route 9 to Khe Sanh in an Army O1. I knew that there was a pair of Air Force O1's going North so I scheduled him into the back seat of Covey 60 (a new Lieutenant Colonel in country on his first mission).
About an hour later I was circling Route 9 near the Rockpile when I saw a large explosion at about 5000 feet, five miles north. It left an ugly orange cloud with debris falling from it. About that time, Covey 61 came up on Guard Radio to say that Covey 60 had just been hit with a SAM. I dialed Lieutenant Tommy Starks at Carroll to announce Ed's probable departure. I imagine that everybody in Bn FDC must have rushed over to Ed's tent to see if there was anything of value to be had. I think when they called down to Regimental HQ to see what happened, Ed was there. It seems that his pilot had second thoughts about this being a good chance for him to get his feet wet. I don't recall him coming around looking for more flights.
He, Ed, did almost get me killed the day of his big 2500 round patrol at Gio Linh. They came in about dark with 9 dead Marines after a day-long hellacious battle. The plan was to send another platoon sized patrol back in the morning as "bait". When it got hit, they were going to have two air mobile Battalions drop in to "trap" the ambushers. Ed personally indorsed me to lead that one. I guess that he did not want to hog all the glory. I spent most of that night writing goodbye letters to family and friends. Fortunately the powers that be "scrubbed" that operation the next morning and I didn't get to send my letters.”
Account by Lieutenant Ed Smith regarding the flight account referenced above: “I missed the Covey flight that Lieutenant Beard thought I would be on. Captain Bowen, B Battery Commander, had called me at Regimental HQ to tell me I was reassigned as the B Battery FDO, and to get back to JJ Carroll now! The pilot was disappointed that I was not going with him, since I had flown quite a few missions north of the DMZ. As I recall his name was Anderson.”
Comment by chronicler: All things considered, probably a pretty good day for Lieutenant Ed Smith.
Battalion Forward Observers
Note by the chronicler
The 2/94th Battalion Forward Observers were a vital part of the campaigns against the enemy not only on the ground but in the air also. Our 2/94th Battalion FO's went on sweep operations and maintained forward FO positions. They not only fired the 2/94th guns, but the Marine Artillery and the Naval ships off of the coast of South Vietnam. They also went to the air in fixed wing and rotor, to call in artillery and air strikes as an AO from an assortment of aircraft, over North and South Vietnam and Laos as well.
Listed below is a typical resume of a 2/94th Battalion AO taken from his log book 66-67 during the campaigns in 66-67.
Lieutenant Doug Beard, B Battery, 2/94th Artillery
Total Missions: 117 (242 flight hours)
67 missions in country
47 North Viet Nam
Air Craft flown:
O-1 C, D, E, G, U-10 (Air America), HU-1E, UH-34D, and O-2 A
Fired 42 Artillery Missions (9 with 175's)
Fired 23 registrations (all valid)
Fired 3 Naval Gunfire
Controlled or assisted with 121 TAC Air Strikes
Confirmed Kills 31 (countless probables)
Damaged or Destroyed:
12 trucks, 8 AA sites, 2 SAM sites, 4 boats, 7 artillery batteries, countless bunkers and huts.
Plane hit by ground fire 4 times with one crash landing.
Awarded Air Crewman's Wings and Air Medal with 3 oak leaf clusters.
Had the pleasure of writing recommendations for awards on three of my pilots; one Silver Star and two DFC's.
Comment by chronicler: In addition, Lieutenant Beard was awarded an ACM w "V" Device. Unfortunately, Lieutenant Beard never received the Medal nor the citation that accompanies the award of a Valor Medal.
Insert AO aerial pics here.
Account by Lieutenant Doug Beard regarding qualifications for the Air Medal Award: "I had to turn in regular journals to Captain Roger Schulze at Bn S-1 on my flying each month. Flight pay was based upon hours flown each month. I think I needed about 20 hours to get the extra $110/ month. Air Medals were based upon points (25, I think). You got one point for each Combat Support Mission (not per landing) and two points for each Combat Assault Mission in which you actually fired upon the enemy in some way (artillery, air strikes, firing from the back seat, dropping grenades, dropping urine sacks, up-chucking out the window over a hostile village, etc.)"
Account by Lieutenant Doug Beard regarding Air America:"Did anybody else have the "pleasure" of flying with Air America, or was I the lone "fool". I did a few flights out of Chu Lai and they seemed normal to me. Mostly PSI War flights that included dropping leaf-lets over villages. I was told that they didn't want to waste regular missions on a new observer that was learning the area. When I moved north to Dong Ha it was a different story.
The 12th Marines "loaned" me out to Air America for three flights. I should have smelled a rat when I got to their operations center and they gave me a bag and told me to put my wallet, dog tags and any part of my uniform that had military markings into it. We then donned generic flight suites. They also told me not to "log" any of the missions or turn in any of the hours. If I came back at the end of the month I would get my "flight Pay" in cash. After three missions, we parted company and I never went back for the "pay". I didn't care for their methods and they didn't care for an observer that regularly got air sick."
On 27 February 1967, C Battery fired its first round into North Vietnam.Comment by chronicler: There does seem to be a controversy here as the operational reports show C Battery firing into North Vietnam on 22 February before official permission was given. It is also thought that the rules were; that firing into North Vietnam and Laos was OK as long as it was not a observed mission? It is also thought there may be some semantics in play here. Whether the northern DMZ buffer area was actually considered North Vietnam. (What a way to fight a war?)
On 27 February 1967, M Battery 4/12 displaced two platoons to the Rockpile (XD983543) to support 3rd Marine operations at (XD888475) and (XD855472). Due to the weather, the operations were cancelled. One platoon returned to Carroll while the other platoon stayed at the Rockpile to support the 11th Engineer Battalion constructing bridges on QL9. The 2nd Platoon would return on 3 March to Carroll.
Account by a Marine that was around Carroll and Hill 881: “I was a 0311 with "F" 2/3 from 11/66 to 10/67. My company would rotate between Carroll and the bridge down on Highway 9. I don't know if you remember the Bridge.
On 28 February 1967, we were involved in a battle at Cam-Lo. My squad became surrounded and we had to call for fire support from Carroll. I don't know if you were there then or you may have heard that we had to call the 175 rounds on our own position. The guys up at Carroll laid those four rounds right between us and the NVA, which was only a matter of 20 feet or so. Laying on the ground and hearing Carroll launch those 175’s, knowing they were coming right at us makes me numb to this day. Having those shells rip through the trees and impact right in front of us was the most amazing, scary, bone chilling experience you could imagine. I guess the NVA figured we were crazy because they broke off from us.
There is no doubt in my mind that without those well-placed rounds my name would be on the Wall. We depended on you guys at Carroll many times to get our butts out of a jam and you were always there.”
On 1 March 1967, C Battery platoon returned from the Rockpile.
On 3 March 1967, M Battery platoon 4/12 returned to Carroll.
On 4 March 1967, M Battery 4/12 displaced from Carroll to support Marine operations. (Does not say where) Entire Battery returned on 5 March.
On 5 March 1967, M Battery returned to Carroll.
Sometime in March, M Battery 4/12 displaced two platoons from Carroll to the Rockpile (XD983543). Movement was to support 3rd Marine Regiment operations and the 11th Engineer Battalion improving Route 9 between Ca Lu and Khe Sanh. One section returned to Carroll while three sections remained in support of the operations.
By 6 March 1967, C Battery fired it’s 10,000th round and by 31 March 1967 they had fired 14,115 rounds. C Battery had used up twelve tubes in the process.
On 6 and 7 March 1967, heavy rocket attacks on Camp Carroll.
Account by Specialist Pat Lacher, a 2/94th Member who was part of the Camp Carroll Headquarters Battery contingent: “I joined the unit at Carroll on the last day of February 1967. On the night of, I believe 7 March; we took around 1000 rounds of 102mm rockets. These were called "Katysha" or "Stalin's Organs". In WWII they were fired in banks but the NVA used single tubes to fire the 102mm rockets. A total of six men were killed on Carroll and I believe at least one was from the 2/94th.”
Note by chronicler: The 2/94th soldier killed on 7 March 1967 mentioned above was Specialist Ralph Lloyd Stillwagoner from Paden City, West Virginia. He was the first battle casualty from the 2/94th Battalion.
Account from 'Letters Home' by Lieutenant Greg Smith, C Battery FDO regarding the attack on 7 March: “The attack started shortly after midnight Tuesday morning, march 7th. The first barrage was from about 00:30 to 01:05 then, there was a second attack at about 04:30, and a third near day break at 06:30. In the first few minutes of the attack, all the incoming hit near the center of Camp Carroll (where Headquarters Battery was) and then hit C Battery on the northwest perimeter. Apparently the bad guys thought our FDC; with the lights, generator noise, and 3 large (292) antennas; was a good target, because most of the stuff in C Battery landed near the FDC and the gun nearest FDC, Gun 1.”
Account by Lieutenant Larry Rollins, regarding the night of March 7th: “The night of March 7th saw our first combat casualty. That was the night my tent was hit with me in it. I was under my cot (I was thinner then) and did not get hit. I was with Battalion FDC at this time, but Lieutenant Tommy Starks was on duty. I went looking for my FDC shift people and learned that one of my chart guys was in the same bunker with the soldier that got killed. The missile had hit on the top edge of the bunker.”
Report from the Associated Press Saigon:
‘Reds Keep Shelling, But Miss Big U.S. Guns’ – Saigon (AP) – Communist mortars hammered again at the big American guns just south of the demilitarized zone today with 500 shells in three attacks as they kept up pressure on U.S. Marines operating in the area.
The shelling of Camp Carroll, latest in a series of such attacks, killed six Marines and wounded 15 but damaged none of the powerful 175mm guns with which the Marines shell North Vietnam and the demilitarized zone, a U.S. spokesman said.
The Communist failure to hit the big guns was attributed to the elaborate defenses, which the Americans on the plateau eight and half miles south of the demilitarized zone have thrown up for the artillery.
‘Secondary Blast Set Off’ - Counter Mortar fire resulted in one secondary explosion in the hills from which the Communists were firing, a U.S. spokesman said.
U.S. spokesman reported 14 Americans killed, 44 wounded, and four missing in ground actions yesterday and today, along with 61 Communist dead.
Two sizable ground clashes were reported.
“Several miles north of Camp Carroll, a Marine patrol made contact with the Communists. Several companies of Marines were rushed up as reinforcements and contact was maintained through the night, but the
enemy, believed to be North Vietnamese troops escaped this morning.” a U.S. spokesman said.
In other action…..(End of article)
Account byCaptain Lockhart taken from the C Battery archive reports: "C Battery has proved its flexibility by the manner in which they were able to displace on the occasions on which platoons were sent to the Rockpile and again in the manner in which they reacted during the attack on 6th and 7th of March.
During late February - April of 1967, the 2/94th guns on Carroll fired support for the provisional Artillery units at Gio Linh (YD218732) and Con Thien (YD113703). Like Gio Linh, the Marine base at Con Thien was under heavy artillery barrages from the NVA. Both encampments were receiving daily artillery and rocket attacks.
During these artillery duels, it is estimated that 7,500 rounds were fired from J.J. Carroll by the 2/94th.
On date unknown at this time, (early 1967) C Battery fired a lengthy night mission resulting in 485 confirmed KIA’s.
Both Con Thien and Gio Linh were thought to be manned by contingents of the 4th and 9th Marines and A Company 3rd Tank Battalion. Elements of the 12th Marine Artillery were present at Gio Linh along with 2nd Platoon, "A" Company Third Anti-Tank Battalion, and of course the Army units on the DMZ that became synonymous with perimeter defense and convoy defense; the outstanding men of the 1st Battalion 44th Artillery’s 40mm Dusters and G Battery, 65th Artillery, Quad 50 caliber Machine Guns.
Camp Carroll, the first U.S. Base to be hit by 122mm Rockets
On 6 March 1967, the first military installation in South Vietnam to be attacked by 122mm rockets was Camp Carroll. Following their initial use, these rockets were used not only against military installations, but also against urban areas, ports, and bridges throughout South Vietnam.
Attacks by these rockets were usually of longer duration than attacks by 140mm rockets, since more than one 122mm rocket could be launched from the same launch position when using the rocket launcher. The 140mm rockets were usually launched from individual launch tubes positioned on dirt or mud launch pads. These tubes were seldom reloaded for follow-on attacks.
The 122mm rocket was fin stabilized and possessed a greater range and destructive power than either the 107mm or 140mm rocket. Without the need for a thick iron casing, there can be more explosives and the 122mm rocket also has a greater punch than its equivalent 122mm howitzer shell.
Length - 75.4 inches
Weight - 101.86 lbs
Range with spoiler ring - 3,000 to 7,000 meters. Without spoiler ring - 6,000 to 11,000 meters
Warhead - 14.5 lbs explosive
Launcher length - 8.1 feet
Launcher weight with tripod - 121 lbs
122mm Rocket Crater
On or about 20 March 1967, the increased ammunition output required the Battalion ammunition section to work from dawn to dark delivering ammunition to all the Batteries, with priority going to B Battery at Gio Linh.
During the attack on B Battery on 20 March 1967, much of their powder was destroyed. The 12th Marine Regiment directed a re-supply convoy to be organized at 2400 hours. Service Battery contributed six 5-ton trucks with trailers, one ¾-ton truck, and the Battery Commander’s jeep.
Three hundred meters from Gio Linh, the convoy was ambushed, with a resulting loss of four 5-tons and trailers and a ¾-ton truck. As a result of the professional competence and the valor of the personnel of the 2/94th Service Battery, along with the rapid reaction of the Gio Linh Marine security company (I/3/4), no lives were lost.
Captain R. Powell, Staff Sergeant W. Fernandez, and Sergeant R. Zovistowski were awarded the Bronze Star with V device. Sergeant’s Seale and Poolo, and Private D.R. Woods were awarded the Army Commendation Medal with V device. Sergeant Seale was also awarded the Purple Heart as were Specialist’s Kramb and Kerns.
The Mission of Service Battery Ammo Section was as follows:
To provide an adequate amount of ammunition to our firing batteries.
Neither weather, terrain, nor Charlie will stop our delivery.
‘They Call, We Haul’ the 147 lb Cong Buster,
Which enables Charlie to give his life.
For our service is guaranteed.
We accept all challenges!
For we are the best!
Account by Lieutenant Martin McKnight, Ammo Officer, regarding Gio Linh: “We were well dug in at Gio Linh. There were even trenches with built in urinals (my Idea). We had bunkers ( just big holes in the ground for the ammo but occasionally they were hit.
We could hear the rounds fired from North Vietnam. They were little plops. We jumped to a bunker. A person can run quite a ways in 5 to 7 seconds. They got some recoilless rifles up close and then bang bang.
When things were iffy, we would park the ammo trucks on the reverse side of the hill and take in two at a time to unload. We heard the incoming when my driver and Sergeant Lough got hit. I jumped to the right and my driver, Specialist Kerns, to the left. Specialist Kerns got a flesh wound to the neck, but there were so many wounded. SpecialistKerns was Medevac'd to Japan because the hospital ships were full.
When we had not received any fire for about twenty minutes. I told Sergeant Lough that I would drive us back. He was wounded in the arm and butt. They wired him up. Silver wire so no infection caused by stitches. I cranked up the jeep and he hobbled out. When he got in, I floored it and set sail for the trucks and Dong Ha. All the while he was hollering oh my ass, oh my ass. The road was pretty bumpy within the camp.
The calves of our legs would get sore from standing on tip toe waiting for rounds. Of course this was when there was no loud noises from our people.
When Lieutenant Terry Lee was up there and I was delivering ammo one time, he wanted some ice. So I brought him a big block from Dong Ha. I was walking from where our trucks were parked on the reverse slope when we started receiving incoming. I was running with a block of ice. I thought to myself. Someone at home would not believe this."
Account by Lieutenant Martin McKnight, Ammo Officer and FDC Officer, regarding Gio Linh: "I was eventually attached from Service Battery to the Marines for about 35 days up there. We were not with our firing Battery when we were at Gio Linh. Rather we did FDC for the Composite Battalion. I was attached to the Marines, not the Battery up there at the time and I lived with the Marines. It was different. The firing Batteries or Marines had no officers to spare so some like me were sent. We worked in the Marine Headquarters. Did not see army Battery unless I was visiting. The FO's and AO's were not out 2 at a time a lot of time and could be spared for a while.
I would take two jeeps and the ammo
trucks to the ammo dump and if the Marines had forklifts working they loaded the
trucks. One of the Sergeants would be in the lead jeep and I would follow the
convoy to help if anything went wrong. When we got to the battery, the men would
unload the ammo and I would visit. When we got back I would finish my
western or science fiction novel that I had read on the way to Gio Linh or Camp
Carroll. A nice supper of steak and then write a letter to my wife. Then
one day I was sent to Gio Linh for a 35 day vacation. I think my job was
Asst S-3. Worked 8 hours and sleep as much of the 16 that I could; read and
wrote to my wife. Someone said we took over 1700 rounds of artillery, mortars
and rockets in that time. I did not stand outside and count. I cannot remember
if I relieved Lieutenant Terry Lee or visa versa. I was the one responsible for
getting urinals put in the trenches. Nothing like taking a leak and taking
incoming! The crappers were too large to put in the trenches.
I remember a pilot giving a target in North Vietnam. We fired at it. Adjusted range a couple of times and the pilot figured out it was about 30 miles away which was out of our range. We fired at a water buffalo towing a machine gun, at least that is what the spotter said. We fired a lot of H & I at night at road crossings, cemeteries, creek fords, etc.
One day a Marine Lieutenant was going on patrol. He asked for some plastic explosives or C-4. After a few days the person he got it from asked him if he had used it. He said no. When I got back I put it under your cot.
He went and checked and sure enough it was still under his cot. He was not real happy!!!!
When our Battery in Dong Ha fired a low trajectory over Gio Linh which was on a high spot. It sounded like frying bacon right above our heads. Rather exciting! Glad non of them had razor blades under the fuze. Have you ever heard of that? As they screwed the fuze down, they put double edge razor blades sticking out around the edge. The fuze when it was tight kept the blade in. Made a lot of noise!!!!"
On 24 March 1967, B Battery returned to Carroll from Gio Linh.
On 24 March 1967, D Battery displaced to Gio Linh to relieve B Battery.
On 24 March 1967, B Battery was replaced at Gio Linh by D Battery (B Battery 6th Battalion 27th Artillery attached as 2/94th D Battery) and returned to base camp at JJ Carroll. The entire Battalion had been involved in Operation HIGHRISE, the first Operation involving heavy artillery firing at targets in North Vietnam.
The firing into North Vietnam proceeded with an intense rate in an effort to stifle the enemy supply channels from the north. B Battery 6th Battalion 27th Artillery (attached as 2/94th D Battery) continued to come under enemy rocket, mortar, and artillery attacks at Gio Linh.
On 30 March 1967, the attached Marine M Battery, 4th Battalion, 12th Marines lost three men killed to a gun explosion.
Account from 'Letters Home' by Captain Charles Adamson, S2: “...The Marine "Mike Battery" who is OPCON to us with their 155 MM SP's had a 155 explode blowing the Breech Block thru the back of their SP resulting in a flash fire from the racked ammo resulting in two Marines burned and killed. The Section Chief being seriously burned and later dying at our dispensary. Two other crewmen were seriously burned.”
Comment by chronicler: Unfortunately, this scenario would repeat itself in the year I was on Carroll with a loss of three young Marine gunners. I do not recall the time frame but I believe it was early in 1968.
For those that were with me during that year you may recall my excellent hearing. When I was at the induction center in Jacksonville, FL going through the physical, I had to take the hearing test three times. For some reason my hearing was above the average on both ends of the spectrum. The data on my tests were going off the edges of the IBM cards the data was printed on. The corpsman would show the doctor and he said I was cheating. So I took the test three times in a sound proof booth. All three times it came out the same. Even better in one instance. I finally asked the doctors and corpsman what in the world I would be doing cheating anyway, even if I could? This was not a contest for anything and the reward for passing was not really something to look forward to. I would later find out how useful this gift was for me and some of the fellows I served with. Before going to Vietnam I would have to take this same test, twice more as the same thing happened at a totally different facility regarding the hearing tests.
I bring this up at this time, even though it is out of time sequence, regarding the Marine gun mentioned above.
I would be out on LP and those Marine guns on the west side of the hill would be firing at night. To kill time I would see if I could call the shots and which one would be first. Pretty dumb but it helped to pass the time away and try and stay awake. The one gun always had a different sound to it. Something about it was different. I even mentioned it to several of the fellows that it did not sound like the other ones. Maybe not a catastrophic sound but different never the less. I even changed my route to the LP exit. I use to walk along behind those guns on the west perimeter road and changed to walking down the middle road on the hill and weaving through the 105 pits to the west side. I got to where I could call that gun firing when it was even out of my sight. Whether it was intuition, pure luck, or if I could really hear something, I do not know? Not really knowing what I was listening to or for. It was the gun that blew up about three weeks later. I sometimes wonder if I should have said something? But rather than be thought the real fool, I did not. Even my own guys did not believe me until I could call that gun out of sight.
Later on, after the word in my section got out. When the new guys came in they would tell them, "When this guy heads to a bunker you better be behind him." Some of them were a real Doubting Thomas and Nay Sayers also. So after me leaving them once, and going to the bunker without saying anything, they also became believers. I would be safely in the bunker as the first volley arrived while they were still out. Real dumb on my part as I could have gotten someone killed playing a stupid game!!!! I will say this, "It only took once for them to learn."
I would find out later that I actually could hear the scream of transistor that was wounded when no else could. Or the low growl of a transformer that was shorted. I still have pretty good hearing but the 30 years of just constant ear infections have taken its toll.
In hindsight I should have said something to someone. I guess we will never know if I was actually hearing a problem or just the sounds of a wore out tired old Howitzer.
On 9 April 1967, Lieutenant Barry DeVita was evacuated and reassigned to MEDUSAHMYIS APO US Forces 96331 as a result of wounds received from hostile action while on patrol.
On 9 April 1967, Private First Class Richard W. Mackrenroth was also wounded as a result of wounds received from hostile action while on patrol.
Account from 'Letters Home' by Captain Charles Adamson, S2: “...At 12:30 we got word that Lieutenant DeVita who was about 2500 meters out of the perimeter with a Marine Patrol as a Forward Observer, was wounded. As the report goes, the patrol had 12 men counting Lieutenant DeVita and his Radio Operator, someone stepped on a Booby Trap (2 hand grenades wired together across a path) some of them took shrapnel and about that time a sniper in a tree cut loose on them injuring two more men, one in critical condition.
We later got word from Division Medical Dispensary that the five men were Medevac’d to Phu Bai and that Lieutenant DeVita was listed in good condition. He had a wound on his left ear, in the left side of the neck and one in each leg, but that he was in good shape..…”
On 9 April 1967, Private First Class James Lawrence Holroyd, C Battery Gun 2, from Roeland Park, Kansas was killed on Camp Carroll in an incident involving Gun 2 and Gun 3 of C Battery. Eight men were wounded with three being evacuated. C Battery wounded included:
Private First Class Bruce E. Cheske - Gun 2
Private First Class Jerry E. Coble - Gun 2
Private William W. Glaser - Gun 2
Private First Class Rufus L. Hare - Gun 2
Private First Class Carmelo M. Jimenez - Gun 2
Specialist James E. Cox
Private First Class Gordon L. Howard
One WIA is unknown at this time. Thought to have been wounded in the leg. Ammo Sergeant?
Gun 2 is deadlined for rewiring and a tube change. Gun 2 was back in action within a few days.
Gun 3 was heavily damaged and was probably replaced.
On 10 April 1967, Captain James D. Lockhart was reassigned to HQ 2nd Bn 94th Arty. Captain Chancey K. McCord was assigned to C Battery and assumed command.
On 14 April 1967, C Battery displaced from Carroll to a firing position at Dong Ha. Movement was to support operations around Quang Tri and Hai Lang.
On 15 April 1967, C Battery, at Dong Ha had a muzzle burst 50 meters out of the tube; no gun damage and no injuries to personnel. The VT Fuze lot was withdrawn and suspect. Foggy and high moisture content conditions in the air during firing are also suspect.
On 27 April 1967, D Battery, (B Battery 6th Battalion 27th Artillery) underwent the heaviest single attack at Gio Linh, withstanding over 1,000 rounds of incoming. During the attacks, the gun section returned the fire and destroyed two enemy artillery positions and caused numerous secondary explosions. The attacks continued nightly, and on 30 April 1967, Private First Class Leonard Martin Jr. from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was killed in action while manning his gun.
Since 26 February 1967 the Batteries at Gio Linh have gone through 22 separate attacks.
Account by former Marine Corps Sergeant, Michael Hoskins, 0811 (Field Artillery Battery man)- C Battery 1st Battalion 12th Marines, 3rd Marine Division - "Thanks Army, for standing with us."
"There is some conflict as to whether there was one or two NVA batteries firing that night, 20 March 1967. As you know, we fought from around 6:00 PM until 2:00 AM in the morning when the NVA battery was located to our northeast. We, as a battery fired 90 rounds into their position which silenced the artillery and created secondary explosions on the northeast horizon. It is believed to have been the first battery to battery duel since the Vietnamese war with the French. We have State side news paper clippings noting the same. March 20th, is believed to have been inside the five mile buffer to avoid your weapons.
April 27th was a completely different matter as they had redeployed 15-19 heavy guns, all in different locations, some out of our range, so we could not concentrate fire without being exposed to the other guns. Charlie Battery suffered heavy causalities that night and your participation in return fire was and still is noted by us.
Thanks for being there, especially April 27th when most of their guns were spread out and out of our range. I was a WIA that night as were many others in Charlie Battery.
With all the movies and stories that are told, artillery is generally ignored story wise. I am working on changing that. The grunts had a very difficult tour of duty. No one would ever question that but... It took more than guts to stand out in the open in the artillery, rocket, and mortar fire that came in on us almost daily at Gio Linh. I, for one, am proud to be a "Gun Grunt." I hope all of you carry yourselves in the same manner. You deserve to after Gio Linh.
Thanks guys for your courage and for standing with us at Gio Linh. Former Marine Sergeant Michael Hoskins; Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion 12th Marines. Semper Fi."
Account from Lieutenant Larry Vineyard of D Battery, regarding the night of April 27th: Captain Hiser, Lieutenant Lincoln, and I all survived that night. Lieutenant Lincoln was wounded in early May, about two weeks later. All four of our D Battery guns were down by about 2:30 AM. The hydraulic systems were broken from overuse or cut by shrapnel. I remember that the Marines supported one 105mm tube with lumber to keep it in action. I remember seeing the last walking Marines and one 105mm towed out the next morning on one truck. That was all that the Marines had operational. We took up positions on .50 cals after all tubes were down. I do not know how many rounds impacted in the two Battery positions, but the rounds started early and lasted well into night. The pounding was steady.
Batteries from Dong Ha, and JJC, a navy cruiser with 8 inch guns, a mini-gun air ship and other stuff shot counter battery for Gio Linh. It was not a fun evening.
I cannot remember who fired counter battery for Gio Linh, but the Marines and the Army Battery have an enormous number of Artillery Battalions to thank for saving our hides. I seem to remember some discussions that identified between 11 and 17 units that fired counter battery. For those of you involved that night (and several others in April and May, 1967), THANK YOU!
Courageous Artillery Marines Withdrawn After Making A Stand
On 28 April 1967, Marine Battery C/1/12 was withdrawn from Gio Linh and replaced by Marine Battery D/2/12. Marine C/1/12 had suffered 25% casualties on the night of 27 April 1967. In total the Battery had suffered approximately 80% causalities during its stay at Gio Linh. After many damaged gun repairs during the attacks the Battery left with one Howitzer still operational.
From the accounts of the 2/94th men that were at Gio Linh during this time period; reflect total admiration of the bravery shown by the members of this Marine 105mm Battery.
The Provisional Artillery Group at Gio Linh now was comprised of: Headquarters element of the 12th Marines, E Battery 2//12 105’s, D Battery 2/94th, one section of 1/44 Dusters along with a compliment reinforced by two squads of G Battery 65th artillery quads, and one Marine Infantry company, thought to be I Company 3rd Battalion 4th Marines.
The Commanding Officer of the Composite Artillery Battalion and U.S. Free World Forces in Gio Linh at this time is Marine Major Al Gray, 2nd Battalion, 12th Marines.
On April 28 1967, C Battery underwent a rocket attack in Dong Ha.
On 29 April 1967, Battery M, 4th Battalion 12th Marines released from OPCON from the Battalion.
Article below submitted by Lieutenant Larry Vinyard of D Battery: The authors and the sources of this story are not known. The story is lifted directly from the six pages in the 6/27 Battalion prepared publication.
The D Battery Story, Article written 1 May 1967,
(B Battery 6th Battalion 27th Artillery, attached)
Extracted from The Redleg Courier, soldier newspaper of 6th Battalion, 27th
Artillery, Phouc Vinh, RVN, Volume 1, Number 7, dated May 1, 1967.
Commanding Officer: LTC Edward C O’Connor (by 1981, Major General)
OIC: 1LT Thomas R. Stover
Editor: SP4 Paul R. Frederick
The “B” Battery Story
“ My God, my God, please get something up here!” was the anguished radio call of the leader of a squad sized patrol from the 3d Battalion, 12 Marines. His squad was surrounded by an estimated two Battalions of VC. If ever there was a need for fast, accurate artillery fire, this was it – the lives of these Marines depended upon it. The call went to “B” Battery, 6th Battalion, 27th Artillery, who responded with 60 rounds of 175mm gun fire in the next 20 minutes. Result – dispersion of the enemy force and the saving of the day.
It’s typical of the actions of Bravo Battery since its move into the I Corps area near the DMZ. Proud of their accomplishments, deadly efficient, cheerful in spite of adversity, the battery has piled achievement upon achievement. It’s the battery of firsts: the first Army unit in support of Marines in the I Corps area, the first artillery unit to fire into North
Vietnam, the first unit to fire the 175mm gun direct fire in combat, the first Army artillery unit to attack and destroy and anti-aircraft site in North Vietnam.
The “B” Battery story really began when the Marine elements first began operating in the jungles of Quang Tri Province. Right from the start it was evident that these embattled soldiers needed more artillery support. As the Marines did not have a gun as large and as powerful as the 175mm in their arsenal, it was up to the Army to supply what was needed. The Army responded with typical alacrity, issuing a call to the 6th Battalion, 27th Artillery on 19 September 1966 to prepare a heavy artillery battery for rapid movement to Saigon; and thence northward to the DMZ. Lieutenant Colonel (the Major) Edward C. O’Connor, the Battalion Commander, responded to the problem in a novel way. He created and amalgamated battery by taking the best men from Bravo and Charlie Batteries, then located side by side in Phuoc Vinh. The result was Task Force 6/27 (or Bravo Battery).
After feverish preparation, this unit left Phuoc Vinh on 23 Sept. 1966. It went to a position just south of the Song Be bridge (sp) where it remained for two days before moving on to Long Binh. It stayed at Long Binh until the 27th of Sept. There the vehicles were rechecked and the battery completely re-supplied. Early on the morning of the 29th, the battery’s equipment was driven to Saigon and loaded onto an LST (Landing Ship Transport). Altogether 26 vehicles were loaded onto the boat, marking the first time a 175mm gun was transported anywhere by LST. The boat was crewed by Japanese sailors, which created some language problems.
The voyage to Da Nang took four days. The seas were violent, causing horrible cases of seasickness among the men. The highlight of the trip was at mealtime, when “mess hall goulash,” a savory delicacy prepared by the Battery Executive Officer was served. This scrumptious feast was prepared by placing the contents of C ration boxes into a big stew. “It tasted pretty good, but not after four days of the same stuff,” said the chef, 1st Lieutenant John H. Hiser.
At Da Nang, the Battery’s equipment was transferred to six LCU’s (Landing Craft Utility) for further shipment to Dong Ha. This was necessary as the large LST’s could not sail up the Cam Lo river (sp) to Dong Ha, whereas the smaller LCU’s could. The major portion of the battery’s personnel was flown to Dong Ha and met the equipment ships there. Following unloading the battery moved overland to their new home at Camp J. J. Carroll on the “Artillery Plateau.” The guns were laid and ready to fire within five minutes after their arrival. Their first fire mission, in fact, came down only 2 hours later.
The Battery was welcomed with open arms by the Marines. These embattled soldiers really know how important artillery support was. The villagers were amazed, they had never seen such behemoths pass through their villages before. The battery’s position was at first right on the perimeter, in fact one of the perimeter bunkers was located within earshot of the Exec Post. This situation was alleviated by moving the perimeter further out.
The big threat at first was not the VC, but large poisonous centipedes, some over eight inches long. Though bites from these ugly animals were not deadly, they could inflict very painful swelling upon a man. Fortunately no one was bitten, but several men had close calls.
On 18 October 1966 the 2d Battalion, 94th Artillery arrived on the artillery plateau. “B” Battery was attached to this organization shortly thereafter, eventually becoming known as Delta Battery, 2d Battalion, 94th Artillery.
An unpopular side effect was the loss of the battery’s cherished call sign, “Redleg.” They had to adopt the call sign of the 2/94th. Considerable rivalry developed between “B” Btry and the other units of its new battalion. It is interesting to note that the 6/27th taught 2/94 a great deal about combat operations. The latter unit was newly arrived from Ft. Sill and knew very little about 6400 mil (sp) operation. They eventually adopted almost all of the standard operating procedures used by the “B” Battery Commander, Captain Gary E. Vanderslice.
The Battery received little control from the 2/94th on fire missions. The Battalion usually supplied only the coordinates of the targets to be shot. All computing and checking of the fire data was done entirely within the battery’s own fire direction center. Some missions came directly from the Marines (often “Redleg” was requested specifically).
October and November saw the beginning of the monsoon season.
Prodigious amounts of rain fell, over 80" between Nov. and Jan., including a 22” downpour on one day. This created great discomfort and considerable mud. The men were not equipped with adequate wet weather apparel, compounding the problem. On top of all this the weather turned cold (yes, it’ cold even in Vietnam), with temperatures often dropping into the 30 – 40 range. The men began to long for sunny days; at one point the sun did not appear at all for a 27 day stretch.
A major casualty of the bad weather was the battery’s building program.
Very little building was done due to the constant rain and non-availability of lumber. Eventually the 2/94th supplied “hardbacks” (wooden tent frames and floors) which got the men out of the mud at least. Wooden gun pads were also built which proved to be quite successful.
A new gun chassis arrived on Thanksgiving Day, giving the battery its full complement of four 175mm guns. It had previously fired with only three as one gun was damaged reroute.
All maintenance was done by the Battery itself. Ordnance support was negligible even in spite of the presence of a team from the 185th Maintenance Battalion. Although this team changed hands four times in 4 and ½ months ordnance support still has not improved significantly as of this writing.
The supply system was poor also. The Marines were supposed to provide supplies at first but they hardly had enough for their own men. Thus support for B Btry was negligible. With the arrival of other Army units in the I Corps area, plus improvements in the Marine’s own supply system, the present supple situation is much improved. Ammunition was always in plentiful supply. It was brought to Dong Ha by boat, and by truck from there to Camp J. J. Carroll. Ammunition runs were frequent.
Captain Albert R. Pannell assumed command of the Battery upon the rotation of Captain Vanderslice back to the states. Events picked up rapidly thereafter. On 2 Feb 67 a Platoon of guns plus the FDC section displaced to Dong Ha to support the 12th Marines on Operation Chinook. They stayed 12 days.
On 27 Feb 67 the Battery fired the first artillery rounds into North Vietnam. Almost no one knew it at the time, for it seemed to be just another fire mission on a bright sunny day. Shortly thereafter whole crews of newsmen and photographers from NBC, CBS and AFN descended upon the battery, and the secret was out. Jumping at the chance for publicity, the cannoneers really “hammed it up” in front of the cameras. “This was something we always wanted to do, to hit Charlie in his own back yard,” said Staff Sergeant Harry Dulin, the chief of the gun that was the first.
Shortly, thereafter another battery of the 2/94th went to Gio Linh to support Operation Highrise. This operation was to clear the area around Gio Linh of VC and North Vietnamese units and to nullify a village which had become so well fortified by the NVA that it resembled a fortress. It was spectacularly successful. Charlie, however, retaliated with a vengeance.
The camp at Gio Linh became a nightly target for mortar attacks. One night over 600 rounds fell onto the camp. “B” Battery, still at Camp J. J. Carroll, kept one gun constantly pointed towards Gio Linh to be constantly ready to fire protective fires for them. This was done several times.
Camp J. J. Carroll was hit hard also. On the night of 6 March 67 over 450 rounds of mortar fire were directed at the camp. Approximately 45 rounds landed in the battery area itself. Some guns and vehicles were slightly damaged and four men were wounded by shrapnel (none seriously). Several tents received direct hits and all were damaged by shrapnel. One man was in one end of a tent when a round landed in the other end. He was injured. Many of these rounds were 140mm fin stabilized rockets.
The Redleg Battery displaced to Gio Linh on 24 March 1967, relieving B Battery of the 2/94th which was under considerable strain from bearing the brunt of these mortar attacks. B Btry 6/27th was immediately subjected to the same treatment at Gio Linh; they averaged 20 incoming rounds a night for the first two weeks.
To protect themselves against these rounds, the men constructed covered foxholes to serve as shelters. These had walls and roofs made from discarded ammo boxes and were covered with several layers of sandbags. These bunkers served in lieu of tents as sleeping quarters. “They’re not as comfortable as the Waldorf, but I’m sure glad to have something over my head!” said SP4 Gail Hallmeyer, the chief computer.
On 8 April 1967, the Battery began receiving mortar rounds from an abandoned schoolhouse approx. (sp) 1,200 distant. To show the men of the 105mm battery next door that 175mm men can stand and shoot, even during a mortar attack, and because the situation warranted, Lt. Hiser, now Battery Commander, ordered his guns to shoot direct fire that the schoolhouse. With the 105mm gun crews cheering in the distance the big 175s lowered their tubes and literally blasted the schoolhouse to the ground. Only a portion of a wall was left standing. Eight rounds were fired at the schoolhouse itself, with three direct hits and one probably being scored. Eight more rounds were fired at the surrounding area. Needless to say those mortars were not heard from again.
As of this writing the Battery is continuing on in its mission at Gio Linh. It fires mostly at anti-aircraft positions and troop concentration in North Vietnam, in fact, they have a requirement to shoot 300 rounds per day to the north (once they hit 455). The Battery has constructed a 60’ tower in the Battery area from which observers seek targets and direct fire towards them. Spotter planes are not used extensively (as around Phouc Vinh), however jet pilots have been known to use their planes as spotter planes for them.
Another novel twist is the use of the Battery as a “flak suppressant.” Here the Battery fires at enemy anti-aircraft guns which at that time are shooting at friendly planes flying overhead. They fire fantastic numbers of rounds (17,470 in six months in I Corps, with over 5,400 being shot in a mere three weeks at Gio Linh). That along is quite a feat."
Find and insert some D Battery gun pics.
Account by Lieutenant Doug Beard, FO from B Battery: “The time was late April 67, and the place was Northern I Corps. The morning of April 29th, myself and my Army pilot were detailed to fly from Dong Ha to Khe Sanh to support Marine operations there. We landed at Khe Sanh to attend a briefing on the operation. I remember standing with a group of about 30 other pilots around a briefing map when I noticed a Marine Captain in a flight suit on the other side of the group who looked familiar to me. As I was copying down information from the briefing, I kept trying to place where I knew him from. I thought back to the airbase at Dong Ha and could not place him there. I thought back to the airbase at Chu Lai, back to Ft Sill, back to my days in Germany, no luck. What was even more puzzling was he was looking at me occasionally as if he were trying to place me.
The briefing broke up and we all went off to our various aircraft. As I was lifting off of the runway, it suddenly hit me where I had known him from. I had not gone back far enough in my past. I had not gone back to the Fall of 1960, my freshman year at Ohio Northern University. I was a beginning pharmacy student and Richard was the engineering student that sat next to me for a year in math class. After our first year, I would see him
occasionally around campus for the next three years. We always spoke to each other. I then dropped out of college and joined the Army.
When I realized what had just occurred at the briefing, I told my pilot about it, including Richard's name. He knew him and told me that Richard was a
Marine helo pilot assigned to Dong Ha. The next few weeks, I made an effort to track down my old college friend. I even located his barracks, but always missed him.
On May 12th, I was flying VR above a Marine operation just north of Con Thien. A Marine H34 helo was going into a hot LZ to resupply and Medevac'd. As it was lifting off, it got hit by ground fire and crashed hard into a clearing. We flew low over the crash site looking for survivors. Seeing none, we then attacked the tree line that the ground fire had come from with TAC air.
When we landed at Dong Ha, we went over to the Air Group Mess Hall for a quick lunch, since we were scheduled up again in a few hours. In the mess Hall, I was eating my lunch, and at the other end of my table were several Marine pilots talking about their friend that had just been shot down. They were concerned about any survivors. I asked them if that was the H34 that went down at Con Thien, and they said yes. I told them that I did not think that anyone had survived. It was then that one of them mentioned the pilot’s name. It was my friend Richard.
There were probably a dozen times in my tour of duty that I had witnessed American soldiers die. I guess that I was lucky that they were always strangers to me. The war had suddenly become very personal. With Richard's death, a little piece of me died. I suppose that we all have haunting memories like these that will not leave us.
Some of you mentioned your reluctance to visit "The Wall" when it first opened. I was that way. I had always managed to keep those memories way in the back of my mind, and I did not want to confront them. A few years ago, the Traveling Wall came to Akron. I remember driving out to see it, about 2 AM in the morning in the rain. I was not alone. There must have
been at least 50 others there to, standing in the rain, Vet's, Mom's, Dad's, relatives, friends. With some help, I found Richard's place on the Wall. I also found a little peace, at last. Maybe that Wall does help the healing process. I think that these nightly chats with you guys help to. If there are
any of you out there that do not think that you need healing, think again.”
Notes and discussion from 1 Feb 1967 to 30 April 1967,
2nd Battalion Operational Report
Mission assignments: Provide GS for the 3rd Marine Division. In addition, supporting fires for Khe Sanh Special Forces camp can be provided as required. A Battery provides GS for the 1st Marine Division in the vicinity of Chu Lai and can fire in support of the Special Forces Camps Tra Bong, Ha Thanh, and Minh Long.
Battalion is having a problem with equipping newly arrived personnel, either from in-country or pipeline sources. Especially with helmets, liners, and flak jackets. Some of this equipment has been borrowed from the Marines.
The frequent and number of violent attacks on this Battalion has created a shortage of fire extinguishers. In addition, some are neither suited for, nor large enough for some fires. Several of the small extinguishers, used at the same, time work well in gun fires.
From February 1967 to April 1967; B, C, and D batteries expended 38,448 rounds.
A Battery, in the south, expended 6,042 rounds.
In the process, the Battalion expended 57 gun tubes.
Because of the high output of rounds during Operation High Rise an airlift of ammunition was required. At no time was the Battalion completely out of rounds.
Battalion is under OPCON of the 12th Marine Regiment.
6 men were admitted to in-country hospitals.
10 men were evacuated out of country.
Since the first reporting period, powder canisters have been arriving with two boxes constructed around them to prevent denting. Comment by chronicler: Also made for great stacking around a conex bunker or tent.
It is has been noted that powder storage should not be covered. The powder losses at Carroll and at Gio Linh both were hit, by not being covered, minor lateral damage resulted. The bunker walls should be as thick as possible. Personnel in covered bunkers should not be affected by either explosion or debris. This should be pointed out to the troops.
Warning – a rocket with delayed fuze will penetrate any field shelter. However, there is no substitute for extensive overhead sandbagging of personnel shelters to attenuate the secondary effects. Sandbags, although torn and shredded by fragments, were primarily responsible for saving numerous lives in this Battalion.
132mm Rockets – A 2-3 second noise, similar to an aircraft, precedes the impact of the rocket. Several effects of impact are considered of significance and are of primary importance when devising personnel and equipment shelters. The surface burst is characterized by a 360-degree fragmentation pattern, which not only sprays upward, but sprays horizontally with a grass cutter effect. Prone personnel without shelter within a 50-meter radius of the impact point probably would have less than a 50% chance of survival. The rocket motor continues through the blast to imbed itself in the ground. The second major rocket effect indicates the use of delayed action fuze. The rocket penetrates the ground and explodes causing camoflet or vented camoflet 6-8 feet deep and 5-6 feet in diameter. In both types of explosion, the rocket motor has been recovered form 21 to 25 feet in the ground past the point of entry. Personnel who saw the incoming rockets described the high and low angles of fall, indicating an adjustable fin or high angle capability. Gunnery techniques were obviously of high order, since all rockets landed on or near artillery and installations, or near installations which the NVA may have presumed importance, i.e. the Mess Hall of Headquarters Battery was hit, while the FDC was untouched. Both installations were similar in appearance. The accuracy also indicated a prolonged observation and plotting effort against Camp Carroll. All rockets were fired indirectly from a northerly direction from an unknown range.
Comment by chronicler: Just before I arrived on Carroll, Marines had searched an individual from Cam Lo who use to come up to the gate and sell ice. On his person, they found a map with all the gun locations and various installations on the hill. May account for some of the accuracy and indeed the targeting itself. In addition, the bunkers that were hit in Headquarters were just offline from the mess hall from the north.
Fuze quick/delay M572 – Delayed fuze action is absolutely required to penetrate the jungle cover and extensive bunkering systems in the area of operations. Missions observed by patrols and air observers indicate that in some instances fuzes set to delay do not function properly.
VT fuzes bursting on impact – This Battalion has experienced some difficulty in obtaining the desired HOB above the target with the M514A1 VT Fuze. Until just recently, firing was limited to Charge 1 and Charge 2, as this unit did not have the M514A1 VT Fuze equipped with the Kel F plastic windshield. This discussion is based results firing VT Fuzed with Charge 2. The procedures listed in FM-6-40, paragraph 412, were followed on three different missions fired by aerial observers. In each mission the observer reported that the VT fuzes were bursting on impact. The chart range for these missions varies from 16,000 meters to 20,500 meters. During one mission, with no friendly troops in the area, the time of flight read under the elevation gage line was rounded down and 5 seconds subtracted; and an additional factor of 40/R was added, instead of 20/R, to the site determined for the ground location. The VT fuze still burst on impact. In another mission, by rounding down and subtracting 7 seconds, an airburst was obtained.
This unit is continuing to experiment with and arrive at a fuze correction from experience, that not only is safe, but also will function as designed, if and when a target is sighted where the VT fuze should be employed. Some bad lots of fuzes, the terminal velocity of the projectile, the terraincharacteristics of this area, or the angle of fall may be factors for improper functioning of the fuzes used to date. An attempt will be made to gain more information to present in the next quarterly report.
Billets and working areas, which are used at night, are to be sandbagged to provide protection during the initial phases of a rocket/mortar attack.
Battalion accuracy – excellent results have been obtained at various ranges. A system of average VE’s for each charge for each Battery are
applied in the MET+VE’s techniques for every round fired. All Batteries utilize the graphical firing scales Gun, 175mm, 175AO (REV II) HEM 437.
This unit still has the experimental models, which were obtained from Fort Sill prior to any firing conducted there in the summer of 1966. Two plot GFT settings are primarily used for any azimuth on which one or more guns are firing. With this type GFT setting, the full range of GFT may be used without regard to transfer limits. Utilizing this system, one gun from each of the three Batteries fired at a registration point at an average range of 20,000 meters. Firing Charge 2, two of the Batteries had their first rounds within 50 meters of the target and the third battery was within 100 meters. Another example, using Charge 3, occurred at a range of approximately 30,000 meters. One Battery had registered during the previous month at the about range. Firing the same Battery, but with a different gun, at a point 1000 meters from the registration point, the air observer sensed the first round as being within 100 meters of the target. However, firing at ranges below 12,000 meters, the decreased accuracy and large range dispersion prevent the 175mm gun from being desirable for adjustment type missions. At ranges less than 12,000 meters, this unit normally fires only unobserved missions with a large safe buffer zone.
Firing the 175mm gun at ranges above 12,000 meters using good MET data and by applying the MET+VE technique with a system of average VE’s for each charge, excellent first round accuracy can be achieved. With a bursting radius of 95 meters, a first round within 100 meters of the target will produce the element of surprise as well as possible casualties. There is however, a definite need to obtain a more stable propellant for ranges under 12,000 meters in order to increase the capabilities of the 175mm gun.
Comment by chronicler: Must have worked and continued to work. See Marine FO account in Counteroffensive Phase III from Hill 861.
Rounds against Camp Carroll - 343 rounds total of 132mm Folding Fin Rockets, 102mm Spin Rockets, and 82mm Mortar.
Rounds against Dong Ha - 35 rounds total of 140mm Spin Rockets.
Rounds against Gio Linh - 2,042 rounds total of 81/82mm Mortars, 122mm Artillery, 105mm Artillery, and 102mm Spin Rockets.
From 25 February to Present the unit has fired continuously for Operation HighRise.
From 20 April to 3 May 1967 the unit has fired continuously for Operation Prairie IV.
From 13 May to Present the unit has fired continuously for Operation Crocket (Khe Sanh).
From 16 May to 28 May the unit has fired continuously for Operation Hickory I.
The firing battery at Dong Ha gains some additional range into south Vietnam and also provides fire support for Quan Tri City and fires into the Hai Lang National Forest Reserve to the south.
The Battalion is under OPCON of the 12th Marine Regiment, which is organic to the 3rd Marine Division. The 3rd Marine Division is part of the III Marine Amphibious Force. This Battalion is attached to 1st Field Force Vietnam Artillery for command less operational control.
During the month of May, the Battalion conducted a one-week school for 12 enlisted personnel in forward observer positions and techniques. This instruction provided qualified personnel to man the observation post towers at Camp JJ Carroll and Gio Linh.
Individual and crew served weapon firing is scheduled once a week. Batteries attempt to send 25 percent of their personnel each week to insure all individuals fire once a month. Each individual who performs guard duty is required to fire the M60, M79, and his individual weapon within one week after reporting to the Battalion.
Casualties during this period:
Killed in Action – 3
Specialist Ralph Lloyd Stillwagoner; Headquarters Battery, from Paden City, West Virginia. Specialist Stillwagoner was killed on Camp Carroll.
Private First Class James Lawrence Holroyd; C Battery, from Roeland Park, Kansas. Private First Class Holroyd was killed on Camp Carroll.
Private First Class Leonard Martin Jr., D Battery, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Private Martin was killed at Gio Linh.
Wounded in Action – 17
Camp Carroll: Private First Class Cheske, Private First Class Coble, Specialist Cox, Private Glaser, Private First Class Hare, Private First Class Howard, Private First Jimenez
Gio Linh: Staff Sergeant Neal, Sergeant Seale, Specialist Kramb, Specialist Kerns, Sergeant Lough
Patrol: Lieutenant DeVita, Private First Class Mackrenroth
3 Unknown at this time - 1 may have been the ammo sergeant unloading powder on gun 2
Non-Battle Casualties – 1 (Unknown)
20 Article 15’s were issued and 1 Summary Court.
6 Men were admitted to in-country hospital.
10 Men were evacuated out of country.
End of notes and discussion from 1 Feb 1967 to 30 April 1967,
2nd Battalion Operational Report
Letter Dated 9 May 1967
FROM: CG III Mar
TO: CG Third MARDIV
INFO: 1FFORCEV ARTY (FWD) Dong Ha
Over the past few weeks I have become increasingly aware of the significant contribution to our success on the battlefield made by the US Army Artillery Units supporting our Marines on the ground. Please convey my thanks and appreciation to the officers and men of your operational control. Their evidenced professionalism, dedicated support, and above all their timely response to so many requests for support strengthen the bonds uniting military men in the common cause.
Signed by: Lieutenant General Walt Sends, USMC (End of letter)
On 9 May 1967, C Battery underwent a rocket attack in Dong Ha.
B Battery (from JJ Carroll) continued to do its part in Operation PRAIRIE IV by providing support to the Marines, in action near the DMZ, the Laotian Border, and for RECON elements in the field. From 16 May to 28 May 1967, B Battery fired in support of operation Hickory. In one instance during the operation, the 9th Marines had been fighting for 3 days to take Hill 117. B Battery massed fires with another Battery, each firing 124 rounds, and enabled the Marine infantry to walk up the hill without firing a round.
During the period, B Battery fired 8,942 rounds. 8,576 of which were fired into North Vietnam. They wore out 19 gun tubes in the process.
On 18 May 1967, C Battery underwent rocket and artillery attack in Dong Ha. Private First Class John Charles Gainous, C Battery, from Port St. Joe, Florida was killed during that artillery attack.
Account by Lieutenant Greg Smith, C Battery FDO, regarding the attack on 18 May 1967: "In that attack on C Battery at Dong Ha we had one KIA and several injured. We had no medics with us in the Battery area. Because it was so urgent, I called back to 2/94th Battalion FDC at Camp Carroll for help. I reported the casualties in the clear because I couldn't find my encryption book.
After many, many fire missions in support of the Marine Recon patrols, I had developed a very close relationship with a lot of the guys at the 3rd Marine Recon Battalion (call sign "Rainbelt") based in Dong Ha. I visited their HQ whenever I had the chance, when I was in Dong Ha. They had always been very appreciative of a lot of the special things we did in support of them. As you know, most of their forward observers were EM with little artillery training. They always kidded me about how they felt they "owed us one". That day I reported the casualties we took using our main fire net. Since Marine Recon monitored that frequency, they heard me call it in and rushed several vehicles with medical personnel over from their area to our area which I think was on the southwest corner of the Dong Ha perimeter. It was almost dark by then. They weren't in the Battery area very long and as they pulled out I was coming over to say thanks when I heard Captain McCord ask them who had sent them over to us because he knew I had called for help and he was expecting Army Medics. As he was pulling out of the battery area, from his vehicle, a Marine Sergeant answered back, "No one sent us. We know Lieutenant Smith and heard he needed some help". I had to turn away and walk off into the darkness because I was so choked up hearing that. It was one of the most emotional moments of my life and every time I tell that story it still makes my eyes watery. Another example of how everyone over there was fighting for and with the guy by this side.
On 28 May 1967, C Battery displaced to a firing position at Gio Linh to relieve D Battery.
During the sixty-six days that D Battery occupied the position, they had received 38 attacks. D Battery returned to Dong Ha to recuperate from the numerous hostile attacks and to perform maintenance on their equipment.
Account by Lieutenant Larry Vinyard, FDC, D Battery at Gio Linh: “When Lieutenant Lincoln was hit, we had been talking between the XO's post and the FDC in late afternoon...about dusk. We heard rounds being fired. I jumped for the FDC and he went for the stairs to the XO post. The round hit closer to him. He also had a compound fracture to his right arm.
I remember an FDO being assigned after Lieutenant Lincoln, but I cannot remember his name. I think that Terry Lee (Lieutenant Terry G. Lee from C Battery) was assigned to D Battery on 17 June 1967; came about ten days after Lincoln's departure. I remember that we operated with just one officer for about a week before someone was assigned. Things were rather hectic on the firebase. At the rate we were beginning to lose people, I tried not to get close to anyone.”
Account by Lieutenant Greg Smith, C Battery FDO at Gio Linh: “Gio Linh was the exact opposite of our training in tactics about the deployment of heavy artillery - specifically of it being in the rear behind the front lines and used in general support. At Gio Linh, there was NO infantry in front of our 175s, just NVA. Even the 105s were behind us!"
Account by Lieutenant Greg Smith, C Battery FDO at Gio Linh: “I think everyone has a ton of memories about Gio Linh. That was the most unbelievable month of the whole tour. I remember the line of guys outside Captain McCord's tent at Dong Ha the day before we went, pleading not to go.
I remember the officer calls that Marine Major Al Gray held outside, with Major Gray sitting relaxed in his lawn chair smoking a cigar and the rest of us sitting on the front 3 inches of our chairs with one ear cocked for that" sound" from the north that told you there was 2 or 3 seconds to get down before the round came in. One time we were attacked during an officers call and Gray just got up and walked (not ran) to his bunker puffing on his cigar, while the rest of us dove for cover and looked up at him from a ditch. Note by chronicler: Marine Major Al Gray would eventually be promoted to Commandant of the Marine Corps.
One of our powder bunkers at Gio Linh took a hit during one of the NVA artillery barrages. It was burning like crazy and it looked like everything around that gun was going to go. Lieutenant Tenis and I watched it from the FDC bunker and decided that the whole situation was way too risky. I think the conversation between us was something like "I'm not going out there and I'm not telling anyone to go out there." The other saying "me either". Then that Sergeant, and I can’t remember his name now, but it seemed like he felt like he had something to prove (maybe I'm wrong about that), ran out there amongst all that incoming to the fire burning by all those 175mm rounds; it looked like suicide. He grabbed a shovel and started shoveling dirt on the fire and saved everything from blowing up. Can you imagine the secondaries if that ammo bunker went? I'm sure there's an official write-up somewhere.”
Note by chronicler: Write-up is posted below.
Account by Lieutenant Andy Tenis, C Battery XO at Gio Linh, regarding Staff Sergeant Cornett: “The Sergeant was the Motor Sergeant and he had just repaired the hydraulic lines on the gun in question. When the powder started blowing, he essentially stopped the fire from spreading to the gun.”
The following entry is from the 'Plateau Outpost' Newsletter regarding Staff Sergeant Cornett: Comment by chronicler: An old copy was found by Specialist Bob Matlock in his duffle bag 35 years later.
"The Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star--our nations three highest decorations for gallantry and courage beyond the call of duty. The shades of difference between them are virtually indistinguishable. The type actions required to earn them are likewise very similar. One must place his own life in peril beyond the risk ordinarily involved in order to protect American equipment, or to assure accomplishment of the mission.
Such actions are rare, indeed, and awards of any of out of the three highest decorations are made only after close scrutiny of the action and extensive review of a recommendation. As might be expected, few are recommended for such awards and even fewer are approved.
We may be justly proud that in our ranks we have a man who has earned the Silver Star for action above and beyond the call of duty in the 2nd Battalion, 94th Artillery.
With disregard for his own safety, Staff Sergeant Hubert Cornett saved one M107 and ammunition stock, and probably several lives by flaunting enemy rounds bursting around him and extinguishing fires started by those rounds. Hurled to the ground when struck in the chest by shrapnel, he unhesitatingly returned to his task until all fires were extinguished and the equipment was safe.
Sergeant Cornett's actions were in the finest traditions of military service.
He brings great honor to his Battery, this Battalion, and to his Army comrades-in-arms. His standard of conduct in action is a splendid example for us all."
Account by Lieutenant Greg Smith, C Battery FDO, regarding the displacement to Gio Linh: “Since C Battery followed B and D Batteries, by the time it was our turn, the NVA artillery, rocket, and mortar batteries had precise firing data to every target up there. Captain Mc Cord, CO, lead the convoy in his jeep. I do not remember his jeep driver's name, but he was probably the biggest guy in the Battery (height and bulk). I had a good view of everything with my head out of the hatch of the FDC APC. We were hit right as we started to turn into the Gio Linh firebase off Highway 1.
However, the aforementioned driver of the CO's jeep jumped out and dove in a ditch when the rounds started coming in. The problem was that he left the jeep right in the middle of the road going in and effectively prevented the entire convoy from moving, and we were strung out along the road.
After a minute or two, Captain McCord had to get back in the jeep and drive it out of the way himself so that we could get the guns and FDC into the firebase.
Once in, Lieutenant Andy Tenis was busy trying to get the guns into position and laid and I was trying to get the FDC track in and the FDC set up. Obviously there's a potential for a certain amount of chaos and confusion anytime a firing battery moves into a new position, but doing so while receiving artillery incoming was particularly stressful.
I remember standing outside the FDC bunker, watching shrapnel from the incoming rounds kick up dirt around me and heard it ping off the metal of the used powder canisters that were used to shore up the bunkers, when Captain Hiser (Captain Hiser had been the OCS Artillery instructor at Fort Sill) came up on the side of me. He must have noticed the stunned look on my face as I stood there, almost overwhelmed by the sheer terror of the Gio Linh environment, when he came up right next to me and shouted "Candidate Smith!"; just like back in OCS. That quickly snapped me back to reality (I think I even instinctively came to attention). Then he offered a few words of encouragement, smiled, shook hands, and said, "It's All Yours, I'm Leaving." I believe that was the last time I saw Captain John Hiser.”
Account by Lieutenant Martin McKnight of Service Battery: “Here is one for the record books. I got a speeding ticket at Dong Ha. One afternoon, I got a call that 175 ammo was needed at Gio Linh. I did some quick calculations and knew we were going to get back close to dark. I told everyone it would be a hurry up job. We rushed to the ammo dump, loaded up, and headed north. Before we got off base, I was pulled over and given a speeding ticket by a Marine. What a way to run a war! We did make it back slightly before dark.
I also got bumped on a flight by a TV repairman. The officers at Da Nang had to see Combat on TV. Yes, they showed the old reruns of Combat. I got to see it once at a club in Da Nang.”
Account by Specialist John Green C Battery FDC, regarding a direct fire mission on Carroll plus other fire missions: “Smitty, (Lieutenant Smith) you are right about the direct fire. It was into the Razorback. I remember it was Sergeant Pugh's gun, Gun 2. We laid the barrel down on the deck, loaded up put a 100 foot lanyard on, and let fly. I think it was because of Khe Sanh getting rounds from the caves on the Razorback. They fired quite a few rounds. It had never been done before and were not sure the barrel would stay on the gun deck, but it did. Probably around the summer of 67.
As for the elephant. They were along the Ho Chi Minh trail and I think it was from a FO in a small plane. We did get secondary explosions. Sometime between June and September of 67.
I remember the fire mission we had for the unit that was someplace they shouldn't be. They ran into a big NVA unit. We had two guns on them, one firing into the NVA and the other behind them to clear the jungle so they could get to a place for pick up. I remember being on the radio with them, and when they keyed their mike, I could hear the rounds go off very plain, and thinking this guy got a set of nuts bigger than a elephant to do that with the size of round we were shooting his way. I do remember they got to the pick up and got out. I also remember when the mission started; we had trouble getting a save-a-plane to fire and a voice came on the radio with clearance of Mike/Gulf, which later we found out was Major Gray.
Major Gray showed up one day with the patrol leader who carried an American Flag in his piss pot to thank us.
Some of the fire missions are as clear as yesterday.
I remember playing records over the radio to some of the guys on patrol. Our call sign was 'DR NO'. I have some pictures of us doing that. I also have a tape I sent home that was on a reel to reel that I never heard until 25 years later. When I heard the tape, it had a voice on it that didn't make it home, THE KID -- Jimmy Holroyd. Note by chronicler: Private First Class Holroyd of C Battery was killed in action on 9 April 1967.
It was a tough one to hear after having it for 25 years. Voices like Billy Gilbert, Terry Casteel, Hinton, and Black and you could here the guns firing in the background. It was odd the day you called me, as I had just brought my pictures in to show some of the young guys that work for me what some of the life was like.”
Next Campaign is 2nd Campaign, which is Counteroffensive, Phase III
(06-01-67 to 01-29-68)
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