Final cut at Battalion Reactivation
Displacement to Vietnam
(06-01-66 to 10-31-66)
In a continuation of
history of valorous and meritorious service,
the 2nd Battalion 94th Artillery Regiment was reactivated as a 175mm (SP) unit
at Fort Sill, Oklahoma on 1 June 1966.
There were 11
OCS graduates assigned
to the “new”
from the graduating class of May 1966.
these 11 original officers,
Colonel Ed Smith,
served with B Battery, would later be inducted into the OCS Hall of fame.
addition, Colonel Felix
with C Battery
in Vietnam in 1967,
would also achieve this remarkable Army career achievement and be inducted
into the OCS Hall of Fame.
officers assigned to this outstanding Field Artillery Battalion, four are
known to have attained the rank of General Officer.
The activation marked the beginning of what was to be a long
period of service
in which the Battalion would face problems few artillery units had known in the
past. Not only was there the hot Oklahoma summer ahead, filled with the task of
building and training an entire
on a relatively
new weapon system, but
looming more ominously was
the prospect of fielding a combat ready unit on the beaches of Vietnam nearly
10,000 miles away.
The “personnel on station date” was 20 June 1966,
so with the task of
organizing and training a unit of over 600 men in a relatively short time, the
an Intensified Combat Training Program, with field training commencing on 19
The formal activation ceremony took place at the Old
Post Quadrangle on Fort Sill on 9 July 1966, with Major General Harry H. Critz,
the Fort Sill commander and later the 4th Army Commander, in attendance. During
the ceremony, the Battalion colors were passed to Lieutenant Colonel Richard G.
Trefry, who had previously assumed command of the skeleton Battalion from
Lieutenant Colonel Eugene L. Adoue, who was in command during the planning
The problems confronting the Battalion were many, but
the most serious was a severe shortage of equipment at the outset and the
piecemeal fashion of delivery that allowed half of the training period to pass
with only one gun per battery. Most of the equipment arrived prior to
completion of the ATT, but some items arrived barely in time to be shipped to
the port for loading.
Some of the personnel
issues/problems incurred prior to embarkation
and enlisted personnel stationed at Fort Sill wanted to join the Battalion for
the displacement to Vietnam, but due to restrictions placed on the deployment
by DA, the Battalion couldn’t requisition these volunteers to replace its
unfilled slots and lost personnel.
On 9 August 1966, after
intensified Combat Training Program, the Battalion satisfactorily passed the
Army Training Test.
Account by Sergeant James (Jim) Lary, one of the
gun chiefs with C Battery:
with B Battery 2/36th (8" SP) at Sill that trained the Core Battery for the
2/94th. I then moved to Battalion Headquarters as the STR NCO (Battalion
Training). A request came for staff NCO’s with 175/8" experience to join the
2/94. Since I helped organize an 8" SP Battalion in Germany they asked if I
would go with them to RVN, I said yes, and the rest is as they say HISTORY!"
The Battalion began preparation for the overseas
movement immediately upon completion of ATT.
The equipment readiness date of 29 August 1966 was
in preparation for deployment.
By 2 September 1966, all wheeled vehicles and equipment,
less that which was to
accompany the unit,
were shipped from Fort Sill to the Beaumont, Texas Port of Embarkation and
loaded aboard the USNS Drake Victory.
On 6 September 1966, the USNS Drake Victory sailed from Beaumont,
Texas bound for Vietnam with all the Battalion’s vehicles, guns, trailers, and
45 conex containers. CWO
Clyde Fleming Jr, the Battalion Maintenance Officer, is thought to have been in
charge of a detail of three enlisted personnel (unidentified) to accompany the
On 14 September 1966, seven weeks after the completion of the
ATT, all red TAT equipment (To
Accompany Troops, but
accessible during the
voyage) that would accompany the Battalion was shipped from Fort Sill to the
Oakland Army Terminal at Oakland, California.
Upon arrival, the bulk of the equipment was loaded aboard the
USNS General Leroy Eltinge.
The last combat assignment for the USNS Eltinge was its
participation in the Inchon invasion during the Korean War.
On 18 September 1966, the Battalion was notified that due to some
cargo restrictions, some red TAT equipment could not
loaded aboard Eltinge and instead was loaded on the USNS Purdue Victory. The
USNS Purdue Victory had also participated in the Korean War.
Lieutenant Douglas R. Beard was detailed to accompany
that equipment aboard the Purdue Victory.
On 22 and 23 September 1966,
the Battalion, less a 25-man advance party, departed Fort Sill by rail movement,
commercial air, and chartered air flights. All personnel arrived at Port of
Embarkation by 1000 hours 24 September 1966, and loaded on the USNS Eltinge.
The main body of the Battalion consisted of 21
Officers, one CWO, and 474 enlisted men.
Staff Sergeant Philis E. Neaves would carry the
Battalion Colors to Vietnam.
Account by Lieutenant Greg Smith, one of the
Officers with C Battery:
Battalion left Fort Sill on busses from the area just east of Key Gate and
went to the airport at Oklahoma City. We flew a TWA flight to Los Angeles and
then on to San Francisco, and boarded the Eltinge and slept there that night.
We then sailed out past Alcatraz under the golden gate bridge. I never knew
there was any other plan than to go to Da Nang. We sailed to Okinawa and
stayed there one night. Most everyone went into Naha that day.
landed at Da Nang. This was before the deep-water piers were built. We
off-loaded on smaller flat ships that took us to shore where we actually waded
ashore on Red Beach (later called China Beach). I never heard anything about
Saigon and we never went there. In fact, until we left flying out from Cam
Rahn Bay to Tokyo to Seattle. I was never south of Da Nang.
I was teaching FDC procedures to new guys all day
long on the way over there. I may also have played too much poker at night as
well. My impression was that the Marines were preparing to cross the DMZ and
invade the north and those plans were changed and we all sat there for the
duration in fixed locations as targets.”
Not all the 2/94th members were lucky enough to fly
to San Francisco.
Lieutenant Barry DeVita, who was lucky enough to be assigned Mess Officer on
the train to California for two days:
train left late in the afternoon, almost sunset and stopped in Amarillo in the
wee hours of the morning. Then rolled thru the Southwest, arriving in
Southern California (Mojave Desert) for the next sunset and Oakland the
Lieutenant Barry DeVita, regarding embarkation:
“As we got
the word to "saddle up" at HHB, I stepped into a phone booth and made a quick
"coded" call (just the one word, "Now") to Lieutenant Leo Ruth (who was [still
is] a great friend from college; and was, at that time, head of the MP
detachment at the Oakland Army Base...). He looked on "the board”; and was
able to determine which train we'd be on...; and was there to "meet" us, just
after we backed in alongside the Eltinge...
Do any of you remember the MP car with the flashing red lights that pulled up;
and asked for Lt DeVita...? Bet COL (excuse me, sir) LTG Trefry does... 'cuz;
I was "dismissed" to accompany the MPs to HQ -->> where (totally unbeknownst
to me [honest!]), Leo had assembled my brother, my Dad, my Aunt Alice and
Uncle Art, my Cousin Art and his wife Ginny as well as a girlfriend, for one
last good-bye party...!
you guys were loading the ship, I was having one last beer with family and
chronicler: Payback, even after 36 years, is still sooooo sweeeeet!
Seven weeks after the
completion of the ATT the entire Battalion had been crated, loaded, and
transported from Fort Sill, Oklahoma to the Army Terminal at Oakland,
On 24 September 1966 at 1500 hours, less than four
months after activation, the Battalion loaded on the USNS Eltinge and departed
the United Sates for the Republic of South Vietnam.
Account by one of the
(lost name) with C Battery:
had a very long and tall black guy by the name of Sam P. Cothran. Sam started
puking his guts out while standing on the pier just listening to the water
lapping against the pilings. He did not stop until we reached Vietnam. What
I do remember was the ship’s paper. Lieutenant Barry DeVita was in charge of
it and named it the Albatross. We also got lots of canned figs, large gobs of
very sweet Golden Slim. Also little pyramid shaped cartons of sterilized
milk, tasted like sour milk. It is no wonder the decks were covered with
Lieutenant Douglas R. Beard, detailed to accompany the equipment
on the Purdue Victory
was left on the dock waving good-by.
On 26 September 1966, with Lieutenant Doug Beard
aboard, the USNS Purdue Victory departed Oakland for Vietnam with the rest of
the Battalion’s equipment.
Lieutenant Doug Beard regarding the trip over:
“I was the
officer that accompanied the extra equipment on the Purdue Victory. You guys
got diverted to I Corps but my ship did not. I landed in Saigon with 40
pallets of equipment and absolutely no one knew where my unit was
located. When I figured out where the unit was, I loaded on to a Korean Navy
LST and headed up the Coast. We hit every port along the way. I was seasick
the whole way and the food that those little fellows served was very strange.
I was out of money by the time I made Cam Rahn Bay, but the slots in the "O"
Club were very generous and kept me going.”
On 1 October 1966 at 0100
hours, the 25-man Advance Party departed Fort Sill by C-130 aircraft. The
Advance Party consisted of eight officers, two CWO’s, and 15 enlisted personnel.
one of the enlisted men (lost name) with 2/94th at Sill regarding his arrival
at Sill and embarkation:
us graduated AIT as 45B20`s, Small Arms Repairmen. This was at the time of the
airline strike so we had to ride the train to Fort Sill. We really stopped at
Oklahoma City and then took the bus to Fort Sill.
got to Sill, we found out that we were assigned to an artillery battalion that
was forming up to go to Nam. As soon as we got over to the 2/94th they gave
us our gear, set us up with a rack, and then told us if we wanted leave we had
better go now or we would not have time before we shipped out.
When I got
back, I helped load the trucks on the rail cars for shipping.
the trucks were gone, we made sure all our gear was straight and packed, and
three days later we boarded a troop train for the coast. I spent three or
four of the most boring days of my life. The train passed through my town of
Van Nuys, and I could almost see my house, I was so close.
day, the train stopped on the dock. We got our gear, got off the train in
single file, marched over to the ship, and walked up the gangplank.
E. Eltinge was a troop transport from WW1 that had been converted from a coal
burner to a fuel oil burner. It had so many leaks that there was the smell of
oil all over the place, and the smell was enough to make you sick.
of sick there was one guy in my Battery that got sick going up the gangplank
and was sick the whole time till we got to Nam.
were on the ship for thirty days, they knew we were going nuts, so we stopped
for the afternoon in Okinawa for a picnic. We then got back on that damn boat
for another five more days. We docked at Da Nang Harbor, got off the ship,
got on buses, and were taken to the airport where we picked up the guns and
trucks. I do not remember any other artillery group on the ship.
lots of time to talk to everyone on board and I cannot remember any other
units. I do remember that there were about 2500 men on the ship, but I do not
know how many men are in a reinforced Battalion. I heard that after we got
off the ship it went down to Saigon, and picked up 4000 ROK Tiger troops. I
know that was tight, because 2500 artillerymen were sitting all over each
other when we were on that boat.
As I was
saying, we were bused to the airport to get the 175`s and the trucks. The 1st
of the 40th went their separate way because we never saw them again, at least
I never did. We mounted up and then we convoyed up Route One to Dong Ha.
were still at Fort Sill, we had put these large bows with canvas over them on
the SP bodies. The idea was that Charlie was not going to be able to tell
that this was a 175 artillery piece, but no one seemed to think about the
front half of a forty-three foot tube sticking out the front of the canvas
with CONG KILLER written on the end of the tube.
of course Army thinking?
got to Dong Ha, we made a left turn and went the 18 Kilometers to Camp JJ
Carroll. The Marines were real happy to see us, because it gave Charlie more
things to shoot at.”
Account by Lieutenant Barry DeVita:
General Leroy Eltinge was 0 for 4 in previous attempts to cross the Pacific,
before it was pressed into service for 2/94th (and 1/40th). That is why, as
the designated "Editor of the Ship’s Newspaper,” providing daily news to the
troops, I originally chose "The Eltinge Epitaph" (liked the alliteration and
thought it appropriate to both the Eltinge's record and our mission) for the
name of the paper. However, someone (forget who) higher up the 2/94th chain
of command said, "NO"! Thus, I chose "The Eltinge Albatross", (for the obvious
Ancient Mariner reference, which nobody in the Army hierarchy seemed to note
or at least object to), although it did NOT please the ship's captain one
little bit . . . ! (He had NO sense of humor; and noted his ongoing
displeasure daily . . .)
On a more
mundane matter, it was particularly galling that every day the troops had to
wind their way down 4 or 5 flights of stairs to eat gruel (ox tail) and drink
swill (Tang), while the officers dined on far finer cuts of meat, fresh
shrimp, etc., while drinking fresh milk, concentrated OJ, etc. . . .; but the
real pissing point was that the doorway to the officers' mess was open to the
stairwell that the troops had to descend, so that they had to endure an
unnecessary indignity daily.
wonder how the Navy did not have mutinies with regularity . . . (?)”
Lieutenant Greg Smith with C Battery:
the seasickness on the way over - the officers had cabins on the main deck of
the Eltinge and ate in a formal dining room with civilian waiters etc. All I
could do for the first week was grab some crackers and an orange to suck on
and had to pass up all the great food for fear of not being able to keep it
enlisted men were housed "below", where there were no windows to get a fix on
the horizon, slept in racks with not much vertical space between each and ate
in a cafeteria style setting. When the enlisted men went "on deck", they went
to the deck above the main deck.
were on the main deck during the first week, the one thing you did NOT want to
do was to go out on deck by the rail, because there was pretty much a steady
rain of vomit coming down over the second deck rail.
like after finally going through the vomiting stage, everyone was immune to
further seasickness, because we actually went through a pretty bad storm, with
footlockers sliding across the rooms, etc., a few days before getting to
Okinawa and I was not aware of much sickness then.
Jim Fisher and Specialist John Green were my main two guys in FDC, although
neither one originally had a FDC MOS. I pulled them off trucks at Sill and
had them transferred to FDC because of their GI and math scores in their
personnel files. I trained them on the way over. We'd sit up on one of the
Eltinge decks with firing tables, doing met messages, day after day.”
The ocean voyage must have seemed a well-deserved vacation to the
the exception of some being seasick),
who had worked hard and fast to launch their new fighting force. The pace of
work and necessity for cooperation throughout the Battalion created a pride and
unity few organizations have duplicated. Pride in their swift and sizable
accomplishment over the period of just a few months, and thoughts of the larger
tasks for which they were headed, accompanied them across the Pacific.
The 2/94th was accompanied by the 1st Battalion 40th
Artillery, a 105mm SP outfit, and an Army Finance outfit (not sure of the
size). All on the ship were to land and unload in the Saigon area. The 2/94th
was the last scheduled off the ship so its equipment was loaded first.
my guess the finance unit was the 192nd Finance Center. This unit would be in
the Da Nang area to support the Army units being sent to the Marine controlled
I Corps Theatre and when
I arrived in ‘67, they were the Army finance center for that area.
The voyage did have its problems, as the plan was to
have the laundry done at Okinawa and resulted in an extensive loss of individual
On 30 September 1966, the
Advance Party from the Battalion arrived in Vietnam from Fort Sill at Tan
Son Nhut AFB just north of Saigon by C-130
Lieutenant Andy Tenis with A Battery:
“I am glad
I was with the Advance Party. We flew to RVN on a C130; with stops on every
island. We played a lot of cards on the aircraft (pinochle). I remember Wake
Island because we stayed there for a while to fix something on the aircraft.
Anyway, the booze flowed at the local base club and all had a good time.
Wouldn't want to live on Wake Island; not much happening and the runway
extends over the water on a coral bed. When landing an aircraft, it’s like
coming down on the water. I think only the pilot can see the LZ.”
On 2 October 1966 at 1220 hours, Third Marine
Division FSCC reports: B/6/27 175mm guns (D Battery) have landed in “Operation
unclear as to whether the entry meant that B/6/27 had unloaded at Dong Ha or
had taken up positions on Camp Carroll. I suspect it meant they were
unloading on 2 October at Dong Ha. Best estimate is that B/6/27 arrived on
Carroll around 6 October 1966.
On 11 October 1966, the USNS Drake Victory
Texas with some of the vehicles and
arrived at Da Nang. It was off-loaded and the vehicles and equipment were
processed and guarded by the 25-man Advance Party Team.
On 11 October 1966, after departing Okinawa, the Eltinge was
diverted from its original destination (Qui Nhon), RG4 to Da Nang, RG3 to debark
the 2nd Battalion 94th Artillery
1st Battalion 40th Artillery.
pace of the war in the Northern Tactical Zone
increasing and the enemy threat growing rapidly, the
assignment for the 2/94th, as well as the 1/40th, was changed from deployment in
the Saigon area to that of reinforcing the Marine controlled I Corps area along
the demilitarized zone, where
the officers, the enlisted men, and their guns
would prove their combat readiness and worthiness to that Marine Battle Plan!
the assignment of
the 2/94th to I Corps and the
threat - during 1965,
of NVA infiltrated the
DMZ, and by the spring
of 1966, it appeared
from this increase in
and the improvement in
their weaponry that
the enemy was preparing for a major
offensive across and through the DMZ. (Similar to what happened in the Easter
Offensive in 1972.)
Background - elements of two regiments of the 3rd Marine Division
had been committed to
the I Corps Tactical Zone in
March 1965, with
mission of defending
the Da Nang Air Force
Base from the VC. However, as ARVN units continued to suffer grievous losses
on the battlefield and it became clear that US military might would have to be
brought to bear in order to stifle North Vietnam’s ambitions, the mission was
expanded to full combat; and over the next eighteen months, four additional
the 1st and 3rd Marine Divisions were committed to
the Third Marine Amphibious Force under the
command of Marine Major
the end of 1966, the enemy in I Corps
from 23 to 52 main force battalions,
and it was
that the NVA plan was to open a large second front in the I Corps area,
possibility of an all out crossing in force
allow the North to negotiate for control of the two large northern provinces
in any peace negotiations that might take place.
Chu Lai and the southern areas of I Corps,
also undermanned, struggling
with the large areas of
responsibility around Da Nang and Phu Bai,
General Walt’s Marines were
stretched to the limit.
responded by moving
more of its
resources to the DMZ;
from Da Nang to Phu Bai
and a forward command
established at the 9th Marine
Combat Base at Dong Ha; and
with the Regimental
Headquarters of the
some of the 11th, 12th, and 13th Marines’
artillery units also being moved to Dong Ha to support the Marine ground
troops already deployed.
Note that these
just a few weeks before the 2/94th arrived,
Air Force had responsibility for
in the beginning,
against the NVA gun batteries had to be cleared through the Air Force.
Obviously, this was not a good situation for the men on the ground,
so following the
build-up, this operating procedure was
the Air Force cleared
their air strikes
through the men on the ground
when they were attacking
positions within range of the American military counter-fire capabilities.
the outset of their deployment in and around the DNZ, the
in constant contact with enemy forces in strength, even to the point of the
enemy choosing to stand and fight it out;
soon recognized the need
Force Oregon was initially created
to take over some of the Marine responsibility in I Corps.
Later reduced to three brigades, it
was utilized primarily
around Da Nang and
I Corps, but nevertheless
allowed the Marines to move even more resources to the DMZ and their northern
area of responsibility. This task force would eventually become the U.S.
addition to Task Force Oregon, General Westmoreland committed three
separate Army battalions
of artillery to the Marines to assist in countering this ominous threat and
build-up of the enemy forces and weapons in the north along the DMZ.
The three; the
2/94th, the 1/40th, and the 1/44th with G Battery 65th Artillery attached,
were committed and attached to the Third Marine Amphibious Group, 3rd MAG and
then further attached to
the 3rd Marine Div and
OPCON to the 12th Marine Artillery Regiment;
it being the Division
Artillery for the Third Marine Division at that time.
While the value of these attached Army artillery units in
stemming the tide of the NVA advances in the north is not documented very well
in the history of the Vietnam conflict,
it is safe to say
the additional firepower of all the
units and the
additional range of the 2/94th
contributed greatly to 3rd Marine
effort in defeating and holding the
enemy in the north in check.
As one Marine officer commented, the 175’s alone, as the
defensive lynchpin, may have forced a
change in the enemy’s
An additional requirement by General Westmoreland was that one
Battery of 175’s be sent to the 1st Marine
in the Chu Lai area. A Battery 2/94th was selected,
and after unloading at
Da Nang, was
LST’s and shipped
south. There they would create their own legacy with the 1st Marine
until September of ‘67
when they rejoined
the Battalion on Carroll to support the 3rd Marine
is unclear at this time, as you will see later in the history, of the why of
this. It is almost as if B/6/27 was sent up to the DMZ area about 20 days too
soon. Otherwise, in my opinion, they would have been assigned to the 1st
and the 2/94th
would have remained
as a unit supporting the 3rd Marine
one of our reunions, it was pointed out that then Marine Major Al Gray had
requested the 175mm gun support along the DMZ. Major Gray, himself once an
enlisted Marine, would rise to
become a four-star general and the Twenty-ninth
Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.
14 October 1966, after twenty-one days of crossing the Pacific and South China
Sea, the USNS Eltinge arrived at Da Nang. Debarkation of personnel was
satisfactory, but in the process,
the men had to be
unloaded onto smaller craft
ferried in close
enough to wade
of the two battalions was in the bottom of the ship’s hold,
since other units had been scheduled
to debark first when loading was done at Oakland,
all the equipment aboard
the ship had to be
off-loaded into lighters
for transport to shore
and then much of it was
The process of off-loading took five days.
seems that the docks were either full or damaged during these few days,
so that necessitated the
transfer of personnel and equipment ashore using the
Battalion was staged at
Red Beach on the northern edge of
Da Nang, but
because of the facilities of the port, the equipment from the Drake Victory
(having arrived on 11 Oct)
17 road miles from the troop staging area
the equipment from the Eltinge was
brought to a third
The rest of the equipment
which had been loaded on the Purdue Victory at Oakland),
was still at sea and
bound for Saigon (Vung
Tau). That equipment was not received on Carroll until mid-November, after
being transshipped twice.
accounted for only a
very small portion of the
cargo, so that was
probably the reason that it was destined for Vung Tau.
Account by Sergeant James (Jim) Lary, one of the
gun chiefs with C Battery:
original assignment was to provide security for Saigon. Our advance party was
setting up the bases for each Battery when our orders were changed at
Okinawa. We had a 4-hour pass and when we got back to the ship, we were given
another 4 hours. When we left Okinawa, we were told we were going to Da Nang
in support of the Marines. We waited on our equipment to arrive from Saigon,
and then loaded on "Mike" Boats to Dong Ha and then convoyed to JJ Carroll.
THEN THE RAINS CAME. OCTOBER 1966.”
Battery was already operational and firing on Carroll at this time; no gun
pads. It is unknown at this time if the
the first fired,
the first the chronicler can find
reference to. It is
also unknown if a
gun fired the first D Battery round
or if “guns” fired the first D Battery rounds.
On 15 October 1966 at 2100 hours, D Battery (B/6/27)
fired 7 rounds HE in support of Marine FSCC. Target was lights at YD1545. (~ 8
mi SE of Camp Carroll)
Lieutenant Larry Vinyard of D Battery regarding the first rounds:
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.”
On 15 October 1966 at 2200 hours, D Battery (B/6/27) fired 30
rounds HE in support of Marine FSCC. Target was suspected
at XD8949. (~ 6.5 mi W of Vandegrift)
On 17 October 1966 at 2110 hours, D Battery (B/6/27)
fired 12 rounds HE in support of Third Marine Recon. Target was suspected VC
Battalion at YD148652. (~ 6.5 mi SW of Gio Linh)
On 18 October 1966, the first phase of the movement of
the Battalion (minus A Battery) to Camp Carroll (“Artillery Plateau”) to support
the 3rd Marine Division began with the loading of the guns and heavy
equipment onto LCU’s for transport by sea from Da Nang to Dong Ha, where they
arrived the following day.
one of the cannoneers (lost name) that made the trip above:
“I was on
the Eltinge and I don't remember that it stopped in Saigon; only remember it
stopping in Da Nang, getting off, making pup tents in the sand - then taking
an LST north. Everyone pretty much got sick during THAT little trip. Then, I
remember motoring to where we set up camp (muddy as hell!). I was in the FDC
track. Never heard the term ‘Camp Carroll' until some years later.”
LTC Richard Trefry, first Battalion Commander, regarding the initial
assignments of the Battalion:
assigned, when we first arrived in Vietnam, as a major subordinate unit of
U.S. Army Vietnam, with A Battery OPCON to Task Force X-ray of the 1st Marine
Division further OPCON to the 11th Marine Regiment. If I remember the
spelling correctly, A Battery was OPCON to the 11th Marines at a place called,
as best I can remember, Nui Vo down Route 1, south of Chu Lai,
Battalion minus was
OPCON to the 3rd
Marine Div and further OPCON to the 12th Marine Regiment with station at Dong
Ha and Camp Carroll. The 12th Marines were the Division Artillery of the 3rd
Marine Division and the 11th Marines were the Division Artillery of the 1st
stayed that way until approximately the 1st of December 1966 when General
Westmoreland sent a detachment of
to Dong Ha and put us ADCON to them;
thus removing us as a major subordinate unit from U.S. Army Vietnam.
remained in this status until the late spring, I believe sometime around the
end of April 1967, when Task Force Oregon arrived and became the Americal
Division at Chu Lai replacing Task Force X-ray. At that time A Battery became
OPCON to the Division Artillery of the Americal Division and the commander was
a Colonel named Mason Young. The Battalion commander who was given further
OPCON of A Battery was a friend of mine named Dick Livermore. He passed away
a few years ago here in Washington.
During the entire period I was in Vietnam, I basically had two bosses in the
Army. The first was Brigadier General Desaussere and he was followed by
?--Name--?, who was
visiting us at the time of the great North Vietnamese artillery attack on Gio
Linh, Dong Ha, Con Thien, and Camp Carroll.
we had visited all our Batteries as well as Khe Sanh and we had departed Gio
Linh and were eating supper when the show started. He later told me it was
one of the more exciting experiences of his life!
our TOE or MTOE called for an aviation section, we had none authorized. You
may recall, I had an exciting afternoon early in our stay with General Walt
and General Westmoreland concerning the lack of our air section and the fact
that we had not registered around Khe Sanh!
provided us some instant notoriety,
but in a few days, our friends in the 3rd Marine Division explained the
situation satisfactorily to General Walt and then we became one of his
Marine Artillery commander was Colonel Ben Read who later became the G2 of the
Third Marine Amphibious Force and who was a stalwart friend to all of us while
we were in Vietnam. Unfortunately, he passed away from cancer several years
ago. He was a great soldier and a true gentleman.
General Walt was another great soldier and a true friend and unfortunately, he
too passed on several years ago. When he came to the Pentagon on visits in
his retirement, he always came to call on me and we would remember incidents
along the DMZ.”
On 20 October 1966, after about a week on the beach;
Headquarters, B, C, and Service Batteries, less 20 vehicles and 40 men, road
marched from the Da Nang Red Beach staging area,
north on QL-1through
Phu Bai and Hue to the 9th
Marine Combat Base
Dong Ha; where upon their
arrival at 1500 hours, Service Battery
left the column and took up positions
sprawling base that would be
home for the next two years.
Note that the base at
also accommodated the
Ammo Storage Facility for the entire DMZ area,
and was obviously, a
continuous and valuable target for NVA gunners.
Lieutenant Martin McKnight with C Battery and Service Battery:
Powell was the original Service Battery Commander. He had been a carpenter
before the service, so it really helped when we were building the hardback
frames for our tents. Captain Powell was decorated when the night re-supply
to the Gio Linh outpost was ambushed.”
Chronicler: See Gio Linh ambush in 1st Campaign.
On 20 October 1966 at 1600 hours, the remaining
elements of the column, including Marine 3/12, continued west along QL-9 and on
to JJ Carroll, arriving at 1810 hours. With this arrival, and B Battery 6th
Battalion 27th Artillery being attached a full 12 gun Battalion was formed at
Carroll. B/6/27 was assigned as D Battery 2/94th. D Battery was already
located and operational on JJ Carroll at this time.
D Battery would remain attached to the 2/94th from 20
October 1966 to 13 September 1967.
Battery, B/6/27, for its “outstanding and gallant performance” would be
awarded a Meritorious Unit Commendation by the Army and a Presidential Unit
Citation by the Navy for the time period it served with the 2/94th and
supported the Third Marine
Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) 2 Oct 66 - 10 Sep 67 DAGO 73, 68
Presidential Unit Citation (Navy) 15 Oct 66 - 15 Sep 67 DAGO 32, 73
Battalion of the 27th Artillery was originally an 8-inch self-propelled M110
howitzer Battalion, but was converted to the dual 8-inch self-propelled
howitzer and 175mm self-propelled M107 gun configuration. It arrived in Bien
Hoa and became part of the 23d Artillery Group at Phuoc Vinh in November 1965,
and was posted to Saigon in June 1966.
Battalion went back to Phuoc Vinh and on to Quan Loi in January 1968. While
at Quan Loi it became part of the II Field Force Vietnam Artillery on 21
October 1969. In March 1970, the Battalion was posted to Phu Loi and there in
April 1971 was reattached to the 23d Artillery Group. It primarily reinforced
the 1st Infantry Division while in Vietnam.
by Lieutenant Larry Vinyard, FDC, regarding D Battery:
originally assigned to C/6/27 at Phoc Vinh, about 50 miles north of Saigon,
when I arrived in Vietnam on 5 August 1966. B and C/6/27 were composite
units...two 8-inch and two 175's. HHB was also on site.
mid-September 1966, a decision was made to send one Battery of 175's to I
Corps; B/6/27 was selected. Captain Gary Van Der Slice was the Battery
Commander, Lieutenant John Hiser was the XO, and Lieutenant Charles Lincoln
and I were the FDO's.
convoyed to Saigon, shipped guns, and vehicles by ship to Dong Ha, and
convoyed to Camp Carroll by 6 October 1966. I believe that B/6/27 was the
first Army unit in I Corps along the DMZ. I do recall that the Marines were
happy with the 175 range and that had something to do with 2/94th coming to
the I Corps Area.
without pads and wallowed in the mud. Our biggest problem was that chassis
spades broke often.”
the research I have done, I believe the statement is correct that B/6/27, D
Battery, had the honor of being the “very first Army combat unit” in the
Marine controlled, I Corps Theater of Operations. It is also noted that the
spades breaking was a common complaint throughout the operational reports for
six years, as they seemed to be under-designed for zone 3 firings. Several
recommendations were submitted to increase the strength of the spades as
opposed to saving weight,
but no action was ever
taken by the Army.
The move from Da Nang to Camp Carroll was conducted completely
during the daylight hours of 20 October 1966,
even though both
Dong Ha and Highway 9 to Carroll paralleled the DMZ
were well within range of the NVA
gunners, it was
accomplished without any
Arriving in the new base camp area amid torrential rains
that signaled the beginning
of the monsoon season,
the men of the Battalion set up the
that would be their only
shelter for the first three months.
The position they occupied was little more than a plateau
ankle deep mud and ahead lay the huge task of digging in and building up.
On 21 October 1966, C Battery occupied firing positions on the
northwest corner of Carroll along the perimeter
B Battery occupied
the back of the hill. D Battery, already in position and firing, occupied the
front of the hill.
Camp Carroll was to be the permanent base camp for the Battalion
until the end of 1968.
This position was strategically located five miles south of the Demilitarized
Zone (DMZ); and from
their positions at and
around Camp Carroll,
the 175mm guns of the Battalion could cover the I Corps area of Vietnam from
Laos to the South China Sea;
the entire width and length of the DMZ and well into North Vietnam itself.
The men and the 175mm
guns of the 2nd Battalion 94th Artillery at Camp Carroll would become the
“Lynchpin” for the Defense of the entire DMZ area for the next two years.
On 23 October 1966, the newly arrived Battalion
became completely operational on Camp Carroll with Gun 3 of C Battery firing the
first registration round.
Sergeant Jim Lary of C Battery:
Lary recalls some of the firsts for C Battery were:
first round for registration was Gun 3.
north was Gun 1.
first direct fire mission across the valley at what appeared to be lights was
Battalion mass firing was on 100 meter grid squares to take the top off of the
On 23 October 1966 at 1107 hours, D Battery (B/6/27)
fired 2 rounds HE in support of Third Marine Recon. Target is unspecified at
XD912529. (~ 4.5 mi SW of the Rockpile)
On 24 October 1966 at 0543 hours, B Battery fired 6
rounds HE in support of Third Marine Recon. Target was suspected VC Mortar
position at XD925481. Reports rounds on target. (~ 6 mi SW of the Rockpile)
On 25 October 1966, the final movement of the 20
vehicles and accompanying 40 personnel arrived at Carroll from Da Nang.
On 25 October 1966 at 1323 hours, B Battery fired 30
rounds HE in support of Third Marine Recon. Target was suspected VC Mortar
position at XD919470. (~ 6.5 mi SW of the Rockpile)
Lieutenant Greg Smith with C Battery:
Lieutenant Hiser was the graduate’s OCS Artillery Instructor. He would yell
at the graduates if they started dozing off, "You guys are all going to
Vietnam and you are going to need this information, so you better pay
attention." So the graduates, build the 2/94th, sail across the ocean, and
head up to Camp Carroll and who was the first person they see. Lieutenant
Hiser from the OCS School, who had beaten them over to Vietnam and was XO of D
Battery 2/94th (B Battery 6/27). Lieutenant Hiser would later become Battery
Commander of D Battery.”
'Letters Home' by C Battery FDO, Lieutenant Greg Smith:
“Lieutenant Hiser's brother-in-law was killed down by Saigon and Lieutenant
Hiser was given a leave to accompany the body of his sister's husband back to
the States. He was gone for several weeks. It must have been really hard on
his sister, especially to see him go back.”
A BATTERY IN SUPPORT OF THE 1ST MARINE
DIVISION AT CHU LAI
October 1966, A Battery left
Da Nang by LST
at Chu Lai after darkness
occupied a temporary position at (BT535045).
Lieutenant Doug Meredith of A Battery:
A Battery fired its first round on 21 Oct at 0930 hours with Gun 3 firing the
registration on azimuth 4750. Andy Tenis was pulling the lanyard, Jerry Heard
on the BC scope, and Tommy Starks in the FDC bunker calmly yelling FIRE!"
The LST that moved A Battery from Da Nang to Chu Lai was the USS
Sutter Country (LST 1150);
described as, “with
an equal propensity to lose either all power or an anchor.”
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Trefry, the Battalion Commander:
“I was on
that expedition. We loaded up over near the Da Nang pier and while leaving
the harbor for a while we lost power. It was interesting to watch the Navy
cope with that situation. When we got outside the harbor of Da Nang we ran
into what was probably a good midsize storm, we finally arrived at Chu Lai,
and of course, no one was there to meet us. We beached and unloaded and I
have never seen an LST depart as quickly as did the Sutter County. You may or
may not remember but earlier an LST had washed up on the rocks outside Chu Lai
and was there for everyone to see. It was hardly reassuring!”
publication of I Field Force Vietnam regarding A Battery
“Alpha’s Orphans’ find a Home
of stick out like a sore thumb because we are the only Army unit in the area.
But the Marines are glad to have us,” stated Captain Jerry Heard of Gadsden,
Alabama, commanding officer of Battery A, 2nd Battalion 94th Artillery.
Captain Heard’s Battery of
guns is located just south of Chu Lai. The men refer to themselves as
“Alpha’s Orphans” because their Battalion headquarters and the other three
firing Batteries are located miles away near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
Battalion arrived in Vietnam last October, there was a requirement that one
Battery go to Chu Lai, while the bulk of the Battalion would position just
directly south of the DMZ. Battery A was selected to be the “Orphans” and
parted from the rest of the battalion for its present location where it came
under the operational control of the 1st Marine Field Artillery Group.
“Alpha Battery” selected to be the “lonesome end” of the Battalion?
“Well, we like to think it’s because we’re the best and I believe we actually
are,” answered Captain Heard. “Actually we’re fortunate to be
area because we can observe more than half our missions. This is the one big
advantage we have over the other Batteries,” the Captain continued. “Their
location near the DMZ prevents them from observing their missions the way they
would like. Knowing what damage your rounds have done to the enemy is one of
the biggest troop morale factors in an Artillery Unit.”
Heard’s “orphans” have done much damage to the enemy since their arrival in
Vietnam. They have accounted for more than 800 confirmed enemy casualties.
Battery A’s thundering 175’s, which can fire as far as 20 miles, have even
received missions to destroy enemy sampans out in the South China Sea. On
several occasions, they have observed secondary explosions from the boats.
worked well with the Marines,” Captain Heard remarked. “They provide us with
a security force which we have been happy to have. They also provide a
training program for our aerial observers which really gives them some
Commanding Officer further explained that his unit gives classes in basic
artillery principles to the Marine “foot” troops in the area. He stated the
knowledge gained from this instruction could be a big asset to the Marines in
calling for artillery support.
Accounts by Captain Jerry Heard of A Battery, Original
A Battery Commander:
at Fort Sill fresh out of Europe as one of the first to be levied from 4th
Armored Division, 1st Bn, 22nd Arty. I asked for a firing Battery even though
I was promoted to Captain as I arrived. Luckily, I was able to rat out a few
of my fellow officers. Roger Schultz had been an S-1, and another Captain had
gone to supply school (Kelly?), and I was allowed to start as CO of "A"
First Class Nesbitt had some 175mm gun experience so I latched on to him and
posted him at the door where others were reporting in. He handpicked most of
the NCO’s for me.
Officers all came from OCS -- XO was Lieutenant Andy Tenis-- looked like the
Russian boxer from Stallone movies, but was great. Lieutenant Tom Starks was
FDO, Lieutenant Doug Meredith was FO, Lieutenant James Berry was FO -- all
helped train at Sill and move to 'Nam. Lieutenant Colonel Dick Trefry (later
Lieutenant General, DA IG) was our able leader.
that many of the enlisted were from New Jersey and when they went on leave
before departure; I had a time getting them all back. I had a Sergeant First
Class Bryan as First Sergeant initially. Sergeant Kozik was the supply
Sergeant (I think) and got a full conex of stuff donated by Lawton dealers (at
least I think they donated it).
out together and things went well until we got to Okinawa. Some genius
decided to let the officers go on pass but keep the enlisted at the ship.
RIGHT! They were diving off the ship!! We also pulled out with laundry being
delivered and it was all dumped in the hold for us to sort through - no one
ever got the right stuff back. My favorite story was the supply guy going
around the ship with a clipboard gathering "contraband.” We had good china,
silver, and linen when we got to 'Nam - all with little anchors on them. I
saw how differently the Navy treats Officers and EM on that trip. Had to go
down and eat cold reconstituted eggs, beef tongue, and soggy toast to see it
with my own eyes.
joined by the Battalion CO prior to arrival in Da Nang's Red Beach and told
that Gen Westmoreland had requested a Battery of 175's to support the 1st
Marine Division in Chu Lai. Lieutenant Colonel Trefry said he selected "A"
Battery for the outstanding performance in training at Sill and the experience
of our NCO’s. He beefed us up with a few extra personnel and equipment and
separated us at Red Beach. We made the first amphibious landing of a 175mm
unit when we reached Chu Lai. We shipped down from DA Nang on LST's after
surviving a night of pure hell in the first rainstorm.
gallant A Battery men played football in the middle of the night in waist deep
water. We also policed up huge amounts of coke, which had fallen off pallets
at the dock.
reported to Lieutenant General Nickerson, 1st Marine Div CG, and was briefed
as to our mission in Chu Lai. It seemed that Charlie had ringed Chu Lai just
outside the range of Marine artillery. We were to go in, set up, and blast
some intelligence targets before they realized our range. We fired from the
edge of the Chu Lai airstrip for a few days before moving south to a position
shared with the 2nd ROK Marines between Chu Lai and Quang
built one of the greatest firebases you will ever see
Navy Seabees came in, dug huge firing pits, and capped them with bridge
timbers. We could shoot in 360 degrees without getting off the pads. The
Fire Direction Center used 4 different charts and fired constantly all day and
all night. We had more confirmed kills in A Battery than the rest of 2/94th
combined (a quote from my OER by Trefry). We built super protected barracks
by staging competition in filling sand bags -- some of those guys could amaze
you. We were mortared with Chinese rockets, sniped at, and suicide rushed,
but GOD willing -- we did not lose a single man.
must mention our Marine Liaison Officer -- Arnie Swenson, who almost shot
Lieutenant Tom Starks one night when we had tracer rounds coming through the
tent. He spent his last two weeks in a bunker and wouldn't come out.
the Battery over to Captain Mike Clay and moved up to the Americal Division
when it was Task Force Oregon. I spent my last 2 months working in the FDC at
the HQS. I also got to go up as an Air Observer and adjusted my old Battery
on a couple of trucks the VC had been using in the Song Tra Bong valley.
discovered in 1975 that A Battery was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation
by the Navy and that the Battalion was too. So, all the original guys wear 2
of them -- which pisses off all the Navy and Marines.”
as a stand-alone Battalion Battery;
the Navy PUC: DAGO 59,69 (Chu Lai).
as a Battalion Battery;
the Navy PUC: DAGO 32,73 (Vietnam).
On 26 October 1966, A Battery moved to a position at (BS630852),
where they were in general support of the 1st Marine Division. (The
position was just off QL-1 and some 23 km SE of the Chu Lai airfield, or
about 12 km N of Quang Ngai city).
The Battery had been occupying a temporary position at Chu Lai (BT535045)
from 21 October 1966.
Account by Captain
Jerry Heard of A Battery, original A Battery
Commander regarding the first Battery move:
shot from the landing strip at Chu Lai for about a week and then road marched
down to what was to be our final location. I re-conned by air and then the
Marines got involved.
General Stiles, 1st Marine Division (Rear) dictated the make-up of the convoy
from Chu Lai to Quang Ngai (north of Duc Pho) We were led by a company of
Marine Engineers checking for mines. In front of the convoy were 2 amphibious
vehicles with quad 40's. Spaced in the convoy were two platoons of Marines.
We had two jets circling overhead and two helicopter gun ships. There were
two Marine 0-6's moving back and forth, but they essentially let me feel in
was so long it took two hours to travel the 15-20 miles. I was delighted to
get into position and see them leave. Politics dictated that we were the not
to be lost; since we were the only long-range artillery the Marines had.”
from its location could support the vicinity of Chu Lai as well as the Special
Forces Camps at Tra Bong (BS344880) and Ha Tanh (BS394702). To support
Special Forces Camp Minh Long (BS540518) the Battery must displace to
Account by Captain Jerry Heard of A Battery,
original A Battery Commander regarding a
temporary fire support move:
time we were given a mission to move down the road and occupy a village
location in order to fire at targets which were positioned just outside our
range from the permanent position. I took two guns and set up in what seemed
to be a soccer-field sized area in the center of the village. As we began to
fire, the huts started to fall apart around the field. Several glass cases
broke and people started running out of the huts with their hands over their
we stayed two days and one night with constant firing and then moved back to
our base camp. This was the only time we left the main area.”
Lieutenant Doug Meredith FO assigned to A Battery:
this was my third ocean crossing, I recall little other than intensive
training on the new fire mission language. I didn't see a lot of seasickness,
just a little. I'm sure Greg has it right.
memory was the departure from Okinawa. I had just gotten off my OD watch and
we were short about 6 guys, which they were not going to wait for. I don't
even recall if they were the 1/40th guys or ours. Then up comes a taxi full
of black guys naked. Somehow, they lost their clothes and wallets but conned
a cab driver to bring them to the ship. We left immediately with 100% of the
troops returning. Many of us thought we'd lose up to half of our own guys,
but then where would one hide on an island?
out the 2/94th was going north to I Corps, OPCON to the 12th Marines, Third
Marine Division. It took forever to get everyone else off-loaded so the
1/40th and we could go north on LST’s and unload in Dong Ha.
discovered we were to send A Battery to Chu Lai, OPCON to the 11th Marines,
First Marine Division, while the rest of the Battalion went to Camp Carroll.
Already at Camp Carroll was B/6/27, another 175mm Battery. At that time, the
2/94th had four firing Batteries. Bastard A Battery, to be located in Chu
Lai; while B, C, and D Batteries (B/6/27) were to be located at Camp Carroll.
started to join the "infusion" program with each Battery shipping out and
getting back in from other in-country units about half of our people so
everyone did not rotate back home at the same time.
stayed with the 11th Marines and was located in a compound with the Korean
Marines south of Chu Lai. We never understood "firebases,” as the Marines
never called them that. I rotated a month with A Battery and a month with the
11th Marine Regiment, as an Air Observer in the daytime and Regimental FDO at
night. I was "Black Coat 13" as an Air Observer. I ran as FO on a couple of
"Rough Rider" convoys up or down the coast from Dong Ha to Quang Ngai. There
were days when we had to lay on the floor of a H34 helicopter with a PRC 25 to
call in air missions.
Marines had A, B and C Batteries made up of 105's, then one Battery of 4.2
mortars mounted on old pack 75 frames (called Howtars). I think H Battery and
M Battery were a Battery of 155 towed. Then they had a Battery of 155 "long
toms" from WWII assigned to each Arty Regiment. Don't recall the range, but
they were long shooters until the 2/94th got there. Based on the distinction
made between a howitzer and a gun, technically those long-toms and our 175’s
when the Army came in with the Americal Division, we oriented their air
observers before we went up to the 12th Marines. That was when there were
more choppers available than we ever saw before. With the Marines, we were
usually with the C model Birddog fixed wing.
We had a
tube blow up at our initial site, when A Battery was assigned south of Chu
Lai. When we were down south and the Americal division was formed, we
immediately had to change two tubes into 8-inch and send some folks to Korea
to get nuclear training; which we all thought was dumb, but then they didn't
ask us! The Marines had their 155 rifles, which was why they always called
our guns "rifles,” which always raised Army eyebrows. We did need their
range, and many times, they were the only guns that could reach to support the
Special Forces Camps, or Khe Sanh later on.
had base piece. He was cool. One night in Chu Lai after laying the guns for
the night, he checked my lay and was on the way back to the FDC to let me know
it was a safe lay. I was looking up at him, walking on the road, when all of
a sudden, the biggest snake in the world stood straight up in front of him and
looked him in the eye. In a flash, he reached for his helmet, swung it, and
hit the snake in the head; killing it. We put it on the perimeter wire; it
was a 12-foot constrictor. I'll never forget his reflexes.
with A Battery and, I think, in Sep/Oct 67 moved up to Dong Ha with the 12th
Marines. We convoyed to Camp Carroll and our A Battery occupied the extreme
Western part of the hill. I later took a platoon of guns to the Rockpile to
better support Lang Vei and Khe Sanh.
had 2 tours at the Rockpile of a month or so each. On one trip, we convoyed a
platoon there and back; on the other, I was just there. Little did I know at
the time that my future boss in Florida (88-90) was the USMC commo guy,
sitting on top of “the
Pile”. It was only
accessible by chopper, so we never met back then. Small World …”
End of A
Battery Report and Accounts
BATTALION MINUS IN SUPPORT OF THE 3RD MARINE
DIVISION ON THE DMZ
On 27 October 1966 at 1550 hours, C Battery fired 22
rounds HE in support of Third Marine Recon. Target was suspected VC positions
at XD896522 (~ 5.5 mi SW of the Rockpile). At 1630 hours C Battery, fired 45
rounds HE in support of Third Marine Recon. Positions XD914525 and XD915529 (~
4.5 mi NW of Vandegrift).
On 29 October 1966 at 1915 hours, C Battery fired
unknown number of rounds HE in support of ARVN. Target coverage was good at
XD907569 (~ 5 mi W of the Rockpile).
On 30 October 1966 at 0930 hours, B Battery fired 28 rounds for
AO. Target was VC in the open at YD053707
(~ 12 mi SW of the Rockpile).
70% of target coverage was good.
On 31 October 1966 at 1315 hours, 2/94th Battalion
fired grid saturations in support of Third Marine Recon. 495 rounds expended.
Targets were VC positions (XD8750, XD8751) (XD8850, XD8851, XD8950, XD8951,
XD9250, XD9251). 2/94th Battalion S3 observed target area from air. 3 trails
uncovered. Much litter as it appeared from the air, looked like bits of square
tin and scrap cardboard. Many trees blown down (10 inch in dia) uncovering
jungle floor (~ area covered ranged from 5 to 7.5 miles SW of the Rockpile).
On 31 October 1966 at 1605 hours, 2/94th Battalion fired
saturation in support of Third Marine Recon. 348 rounds expended. Targets were
VC positions at XD9053, XD9153,
and XD9253 (~ area
covered ranged from 4 to 5 mi SW of the Rockpile).
These grid square concentrations were a
by LTC Trefry and Captain Chelburg
and became known as Mini
Arc Lights. This was in reference to the well-known B52 Arc Lights.
Major Parks and Captain Adamson
the damages done by the grid saturations from a Marine H-19 helicopter (Korean
War vintage) and
then reported the findings back to the 12th Marine FSCC.
On 31 October 1966 at 2010 hours, B Battery fired in
support of Division FSCC Forward. 9 rounds expended. Target was VC in open at
XD804474 (~12 mi SW of the Rockpile).
Some of the Third Marine Recon team names were
“Viper,” “Cobra,” “Snoopy,” “Surf,” “Galleon,” “Mustang,” “Showcase,”
“Hungarian,” and "Witty Ordeal.”
Marine Steve Shircliff was patrol leader for
Showcase, Hungarian, and Witty Ordeal.
could find the name of the Recon team calling in the fire missions, I have
included those as part of the mission chronology.
One of the sayings
until the Marine FO’s got
used to working with the
and its larger impact was
“After the Marine FO adjusted 14 times,
we had total grid saturations - only 4 rounds at a time.”
Even as the men of the 2/94th were honing their
gunnery skills, they
found that there was a lot more to being artillerymen than loading projectiles,
powder, and pulling a lanyard.
Supplies and ammo
had to be
moved from the 9th Marine Combat Base at Dong Ha to Camp Carroll and areas west
of Carroll along QL-9 (Highway 9), the only all weather road in the area.
And although the
first priority was establishing and improving the gun positions,
had to be built,
and wooden frames for the
tents that would be called home had to be erected before they would find any
relief from the torrential rains and winds and
temperatures that had dropped into the low 40’s.
The soil at JJ Carroll was clay, which
in combination with the heavy rains
produced a heavy mud in
which many guns got stuck.
Only when the
Seabee’s eventually came in to build platforms and gun pads for the artillery
the problem alleviated.
The following coordinates were the Battalion’s
Service Battery, Dong Ha YD229597
HHB, JJ Carroll YD063546
Battery B, JJ Carroll YD060545
Battery C, JJ Carroll YD058543
Battery D, JJ Carroll YD063549
It is thought that Golf Company, 3rd Battalion 4th Marines,
was located on Camp
Carroll at this time.
Among their assets were a 155mm Howitzer Battery from the 12th Marines, M/4/12;
a Marine 105 Battery, C/1/12; a Marine Mortar Battery, unit unknown at this
time; tanks from B Company 3rd Marine Tank Battalion; and Ontos from Third
A company size unit of the 2nd Battalion 9th Marines would
eventually move in to
provide perimeter and area defense for the encampment, replacing 3/4.
It is thought that these 2/9 Marine units remained at Camp Carroll until the end
of 1968 or early 1969 when the camp was closed upon the departure of the 3rd
Marine Division for home and the 2/94th moved to other locations within I Corps.
Note by a
Marine FO with 3/4:
went back to Carroll in 1994, and it's now a pepper tree farm with a NVA
statue right about where the tower used
new Marine General would take over the I Corps area after Khe Sanh in
mid-1968. The new commander had a different philosophy as to the
operations of artillery. He would close Camp Carroll as the lynchpin and
invoke a more mobile, raiding type of artillery operations in the theater.
However, this did not last long
in mid-1969, Army
Engineers re-built Camp Carroll in a smaller, heavily-fortified form
on the same plateau as the
old Battalion home. While the Battalion would never base there again,
Batteries would rotate in and out for the rest of the war. B Battery would be
the most frequent visitor.
The 2/94th would become heavily involved in the
defenses of Con Thien and Gio Linh in early 1967, engaging in massive intense
artillery duels with the NVA.
In late 1967 and early 1968, the 2/94th would engage
the enemy artillery and NVA ground units trying to overrun the hills around Khe
Sanh and the Khe Sanh Combat Base itself.
Nowhere along the DMZ could an enemy soldier find a minute’s
peace in what used
to be a common infiltration and staging area. Within minutes of being spotted
by an AO, FO, or Marine Recon,
the enemy soldier would receive a warm welcome to the south. No waiting for the
fog to clear or planes to arrive on station,
it was an immediate and
deadly rain of steel. The enemy soldier would learn to hate the big guns on
Carroll and its displacements along the DMZ; nicknamed the “McNamara Line.”
The artillery fire against the enemy soldier would be relentless
as he tried to move away;
and as noted above in
the 31 October 1966 accounts,
with its 175mm
could destroy his jungle canopy hiding places by ripping the tops out of the
jungle cover; thus
exposing his trails, his storage areas, his staging areas, and his places to
pause and regroup from the trip to the South.
The Marines had formerly called Camp J.J. Carroll, "Artillery
Plateau.” The Firebase (Marine Camp) was located at YD063545,
about 12.5 miles west of the 9th Marine Combat Base at Dong Ha
and just south of
Highway 9 between the refugee village of Cam Lo and the 3rd Battalion 9th Marine
Firebase at the Rockpile.
It was officially named Camp J.J. Carroll on 10 November 1966,
with the birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps.
was built by the 3rd Battalion 4th Marine Regiment early in October of 1966
following Operation Prairie
and named in honor of
Marine Captain J.J. Carroll, who was killed on Hill 484 during
Captain Carroll was Company Commander of K Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines.
The 2/94th would operate in
and around Camp Carroll for the next two
years. It was a hostile
environment of hills
and valleys and
mountains with peaks from 4,000 to 5,000 feet
and peaks were often enveloped in a heavy fog, which
some air operations. In
and conditions would range from extremely hot
and dusty to
rainy and muddy.
the Stars and Stripes 1966
Weather Just Ain’t So.” CAMP JJ CARROLL, Vietnam (S&S)-
Sergeant James P. Lary, 28, (C Battery 2/94th) stepped inside the maintenance
shack with his field jacket zipped to the top. “I’d like to meet the man who
said it’s either hot and wet or hot and dry in Vietnam. The temperature’s
been down to 40 degrees up here lately. It’s raining out and the mud is two
feet deep in places.” The sergeant continued, “I heard they had frost up on
the Rockpile last night.” SNOW? Not yet, but hang onto to your jackets and
poncho liners, Vietnam is not always that hot."
eventually snow at the Rockpile! See Lieutenant Barry DeVita accounts in the
Comment by chronicler:
Around Christmas time in 1967, conditions at
Carroll included a drop in temperatures to about 40 degrees, winds of 15 to 20
mph winds, and rain. Fellows from the next tent over had received some fake
snow from home and came running into our tent
with fake snow on their hats and shoulders yelling, “The
rain has changed to snow” … and all of us southern fellows ran to the tent flap and outside
into the cold rain!
12th Marine FSCC reports indicate a total of 2,176 (175mm)
rounds expended in October of 1966.
Over the next few years, the 2/94th Battalion and the Third
Marines (Reinforced) would come to know and remember the names of places and
Infantry as well as Artillery. As past warriors from previous wars, they would
remember the hard fought battles of their generation and their war. Places like
Con Thien, Cam Lo, Gio Linh, Charlie One, Charlie Two, Ca Lu, the Rockpile, the
Graveyard, Camp Carroll, Hill 950, Hill 861, Hill 861A, Hill 881N, Hill 881S, LZ
Stud, the Ridge Line, and Khe Sanh.
Later, as the Third Marines were stood down, the war
continued for the 2/94th Battalion. The Battalion would perform brilliantly and
with valor at places like; Lao Bao, Khe Sanh, Vandegrift, FSB Flexible, Lang
Vei, Barbara, Bastogne, Nancy, Sally, etc.
C Battery and an attached Battery of the 1/39th would stand alone
on the border of Laos as Operation Lam
Son 719 failed and the ARVN
forces withdrew around them. They would become NVA tank killers. For three
days, they would await
their fate facing an overwhelming enemy until the 1/77th Tank reinforcements and
a tank unit from the 9th ID
in to rescue the stranded Batteries as they fought their way
They would displace to these remembered places and
fight there, and
some would be wounded at these remembered
places and some would die.
The 2/94th Battalion, being a long-range heavy artillery
battalion, would learn to adapt and develop new procedures and processes to
mission assignments that
would probably have
seemed strange to anyone new to such an outfit. Firing to within 100 meters of
a surrounded Marine platoon, a recon team, a perimeter under attack, or a downed
aircraft at a range of 18 miles or greater
became commonplace, and anti-aircraft
gun emplacements and
NVA rocket and
artillery emplacements would feel the sting of the Battalion’s heavy artillery.
A perimeter under
ground and artillery attack would receive both defensive fires and counter-battery
the Marines to tend to business
and repel the attacking
Even the enemies hiding places would be uncovered;
with the Battalion clearing out and destroying grid squares of jungle hiding
places and NVA bunkers.
The 2/94th Battalion probably fired more long-range heavy
artillery at a sustained rate than any Heavy Artillery unit in the history of
warfare. Their number of missions fired, rounds on target,
breechblock changes would set the standard for all long range heavy artillery.
While many issues would arise in maintenance and tube
the rapid firing
rate and continuous zone 3 fire
missions, the Battalion would overcome these issues to complete all the fire
missions assigned to them. The locations of the firing batteries would enable
those batteries to put under fire the entire DMZ area,
the adjoining Laotian border area,
and well into North Vietnam itself.
The 2/94th Battalion would continually improve and strive for
greater accuracy when dealing with close proximities to friendly troops. This
an account by a Marine FO
who told of
guns and then 2 months later
having protective fires
delivered within 125
meters of his
perimeter. The 175’s would receive credit for shutting down the enemy attacks
and then destroying the reserve units, as the Marine FO would adjust the
devastating fire to meet
each new threat.
NVA ground forces detected by movement sensors would be destroyed
before they could engage our own forces,
a battle and in some cases,
the ground troops
that an attack had been
stopped before it had begun.
range, the 175’s would deal massive lethal blows with
its direct fire capability.
While in any war it seems
that the exploits of
the Infantry is well documented in their history and chronology, the
story of the
Artillery, as well as other
combat branches, is
neither told nor
documented. The 2/94th,
being a stand alone Battalion and attached to the U.S. Third Marines for such
a long period is a case
in point, and their
exploits, valor, dedication to duty, and the tremendous impact the unit made
in the defense of the DMZ is not documented at all, either by the U.S. Army or
the U.S. Marine Corps.
The Vietnam War, especially along the DMZ, was not fought like
the traditional wars in the past. The artillerymen of this war would deal with
many aspects other than normal artillerymen duties,
e.g.; establishing and
defending perimeters and
listening posts, setting
up claymore mines
trip flares, manning 30 and 50 caliber machine guns
using mortars in defensive concentrations, and in some cases being in the lead
elements of an operation
and defending against convoy attacks.
reality was recognized
by some of our congressmen and a Combat Artillery Badge
to the Infantry’s Combat Infantry
Badge was proposed for the
this bill was never approved.
The Marine Corps
did change the
requirements for their Combat Action Ribbon;
which in the past was
generally reserved for the
same as the
Infantry 11B MOS. Their point was
that not just the Infantry was involved in offensive operations and offensive
and accordingly, those
participated in offensive operations
in the defense of the DMZ and were subjected to the enemy’s continuous rocket
and artillery attacks were awarded the Navy Combat Action Ribbon.
So far, members of the Army Artillery units attached as part of
the Third Marine Division (Reinforced) are not on the list of possible
recipients. I have written to the Naval Awards section requesting those Army
units and the members that qualify be awarded the Combat Action Ribbon, (CAR).
I have received no response from the Department of the Navy,
and since this award was
made in 1991, it is doubtful, in my opinion, that the Navy Awards
members/committee even knows of the three Army Artillery units that were
assigned to the U.S. Marine Corps.
more than just a pride issue for these men of the Army Battalions assigned to
the Marine Corps that did the exact same thing, only 40 meters away from their
Marine counterparts. This becomes a Veterans Administration issue as points
are given to those men who earned combat awards. If the Army does not want
to; or fails to recognize the exact same simple facts as the Marine Corps;
then these men, that qualify under the same requirements, should be awarded
the Navy CAR. No different than these same Army units being awarded a Navy
Presidential Unit Citation. These men certainly qualify for a CAR and the
Veterans Administration points that go with the award.
The following pages are my “novice attempt” at the
“Chronology and the History of the 2nd Battalion 94th Field Artillery Regiment
from 1966 to 1972,” in the Republic of South Vietnam.
The Chronology is recorded by the Official Vietnam
War Campaign inclusive dates.