‘FLEXIBLE’ 

 

 Final cut at Battalion Reactivation

 

 

 

THE BEGINNING

 

"Battalion Reactivation"

 

Reactivation and Displacement to Vietnam

(06-01-66 to 10-31-66)

    

In a continuation of its long 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.

 

Note by chronicler: 

 

There were 11 newly commissioned OCS graduates assigned to the “new” 2/94th FA from the graduating class of May 1966.

 

Of these 11 original officers, Colonel Ed Smith, who served with B Battery, would later be inducted into the OCS Hall of fame.

 

In addition, Colonel Felix Mueller (another OCS Lieutenant), who served with C Battery in Vietnam in 1967, would also achieve this remarkable Army career achievement and be inducted into the OCS Hall of Fame.

 

Of the 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 battalion 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 Battalion immediately began an Intensified Combat Training Program, with field training commencing on 19 July.

 

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 stages.

 

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 were:

 

 

 

 

 

 

                            

On 9 August 1966, after completing an intensified Combat Training Program, the Battalion satisfactorily passed the Army Training Test.

 

 

Account by Sergeant James (Jim) Lary, one of the original gun chiefs with C Battery:

 

“I was 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 met 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 equipment.

 

On 14 September 1966, seven weeks after the completion of the ATT, all red TAT equipment (To Accompany Troops, but not be 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 be 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 original Officers with C Battery:

 

“The 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. 

 

We then 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.

 

Account by Lieutenant Barry DeVita, who was lucky enough to be assigned Mess Officer on the train to California for two days:

 

“The troop 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 following morning.”

 

Account by 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...!

 

So while you guys were loading the ship, I was having one last beer with family and friends!" 

 

Comment by 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, California.

 

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 original enlisted men (lost name) with C Battery: 

 

“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 puke.”

 

Lieutenant Douglas R. Beard, detailed to accompany the equipment on the Purdue Victory (noted above), 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.

 

Account by 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.

 

Account by one of the enlisted men (lost name) with 2/94th at Sill regarding his arrival at Sill and embarkation:

 

“Seven of 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.

 

When we 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.

 

After all 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.

 

The next 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.

 

The Leroy 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.

 

Speaking 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.

 

After we 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.

 

We had 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.

 

When we 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.

 

This was of course Army thinking?

 

When we 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:

 

“The USNS 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.

 

Made me wonder how the Navy did not have mutinies with regularity . . . (?)”

  

Account by Lieutenant Greg Smith with C Battery: 

 

“Regarding 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 down.

 

The 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.

 

If you 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.

 

It seemed 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.

 

Specialist 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 men (with 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.

 

Comment by chronicler: 

 

It’s 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 clothing.

 

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 aircraft. 

  

Account by 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 Prairie” area.

 

Comment by chronicler: 

 

It is 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 (having left from Beaumont, Texas with some of the vehicles and other equipment) 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 and the 1st Battalion 40th Artillery.

 

With the 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!

 

Rational for the assignment of the 2/94th to I Corps and the Marines

 

The threat - during 1965, five additional divisions of NVA infiltrated the DMZ, and by the spring of 1966, it appeared from this increase in their numbers and the improvement in the quality of 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 only the 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 regiments of the 1st and 3rd Marine Divisions were committed to the Third Marine Amphibious Force under the command of Marine Major General Walt.

 

By the end of 1966, the enemy in I Corps had grown from 23 to 52 main force battalions, and it was believed that the NVA plan was to open a large second front in the I Corps area, offering the possibility of an all out crossing in force which would allow the North to negotiate for control of the two large northern provinces in any peace negotiations that might take place.

 

With the 1st Marine Div spread thinly around Chu Lai and the southern areas of I Corps, and the 3rd Marine Div, also undermanned, struggling with the large areas of responsibility around Da Nang and Phu Bai, General Walt’s Marines were stretched to the limit.

 

Nevertheless, the 3rd Marine Div responded by moving more of its resources to the DMZ; Division Headquarters shifting from Da Nang to Phu Bai and a forward command element  being established at the 9th Marine Combat Base at Dong Ha; and with the Regimental Headquarters of the 12th Marines and 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 moves were made just a few weeks before the 2/94th arrived,

 

The Air Force had responsibility for the DMZ area, and in the beginning, artillery counter-fire 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 reversed so that 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.

 

From the outset of their deployment in and around the DNZ, the Marines were in constant contact with enemy forces in strength, even to the point of the enemy choosing to stand and fight it out; and General Westmoreland soon recognized the need for reinforcements.

 

Task Force Oregon was initially created from four separate Army brigades and tasked to take over some of the Marine responsibility in I Corps.  Later reduced to three brigades, it was utilized primarily around Da Nang and the southern 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. Americal Division.

 

In 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 that the additional firepower of all the units and the additional range of the 2/94th guns contributed greatly to 3rd Marine Division 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 total change in the enemy’s plans.

 

An additional requirement by General Westmoreland was that one Battery of 175’s be sent to the 1st Marine Div in the Chu Lai area.  A Battery 2/94th was selected, and after unloading at Da Nang, was reloaded onto LST’s and shipped south.  There they would create their own legacy with the 1st Marine Div until September of 67 when they rejoined the Battalion on Carroll to support the 3rd Marine Div.

 

Notes by chronicler: 

 

It 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 Marine Div and the 2/94th would have remained intact as a unit supporting the 3rd Marine Div from Carroll.

 

At 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.

                                                                                                                                                             On 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 and then ferried in close enough to wade ashore.

 

The equipment of the two battalions was in the bottom of the ship’s hold, and 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 reloaded.

 

The process of off-loading took five days.

  

Comment by chronicler: 

 

It 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 smaller craft.

 

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) was off-loaded 17 road miles from the troop staging area and the equipment from the Eltinge was brought to a third (unrecorded) location.

 

The rest of the equipment (that 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.

 

Comment by chronicler:

 

The remaining 2/94th equipment accounted for only a very small portion of the Purdue Victory’s cargo, so that was probably the reason that it was destined for Vung Tau.

 

 

Account by Sergeant James (Jim) Lary, one of the original gun chiefs with C Battery:

 

“Our 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.”

 

 

 

Note by Chronicler: 

 

D Battery was already operational and firing on Carroll at this time; no gun pads.  It is unknown at this time if the fire mission below was the first fired, but it’s the first the chronicler can find reference to.  It is also unknown if a single 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)

  

Account by Lieutenant Larry Vinyard of D Battery regarding the first rounds:

 

“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.”

 

On 15 October 1966 at 2200 hours, D Battery (B/6/27) fired 30 rounds HE in support of Marine FSCC.  Target was suspected NVA position 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.

  

Account by 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.”

 

 

Account by LTC Richard Trefry, first Battalion Commander, regarding the initial assignments of the Battalion: 

 

“We were 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,

 

The 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 Marine Division.

 

We stayed that way until approximately the 1st of December 1966 when General Westmoreland sent a detachment of First Field Force Vietnam north to Dong Ha and put us ADCON to them; thus removing us as a major subordinate unit from U.S. Army Vietnam.

 

We 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 Brigadier General ?--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.

 

I recall 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!

 

Although 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!

 

This 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 favorite units.

 

The 12th 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.

 

Marine 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 at Dong Ha; where upon their arrival at 1500 hours, Service Battery left the column and took up positions on the sprawling base that would be their home for the next two years. 

 

Note that the base at Dong Ha also accommodated the Ammo Storage Facility for the entire DMZ area, and was obviously, a continuous and valuable target for NVA gunners.

 

Account by Lieutenant Martin McKnight with C Battery and Service Battery: 

 

“Captain 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.”  

 

Note by 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.

 

Note by Chronicler: 

 

D 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 Division.

 

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  

 

Note by Chronicler:  

 

The 6th 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.

The 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.

 

 Account by Lieutenant Larry Vinyard, FDC, regarding D Battery: 

 

“I was 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.

 

In 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.

 

 We 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. 

 

We fired without pads and wallowed in the mud.  Our biggest problem was that chassis spades broke often.” 

 

Comment by chronicler: 

 

From 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, and even though both Dong Ha and Highway 9 to Carroll paralleled the DMZ and were well within range of the NVA gunners,  it was accomplished without any enemy contact.

 

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 tentage that would be their only shelter for the first three months.  The position they occupied was little more than a plateau of 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 and 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; almost 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.

 

 

Account by Sergeant Jim Lary of C Battery: 

 

“Sergeant Lary recalls some of the firsts for C Battery were:

 

Firing the first round for registration was Gun 3.

 

Firing north was Gun 1.

 

Firing the first direct fire mission across the valley at what appeared to be lights was Gun 4.

 

The first Battalion mass firing was on 100 meter grid squares to take the top off of the jungle.”

 

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)

Account by Lieutenant Greg Smith with C Battery:

 

“A 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.”

 

From '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

 

On 20 October 1966, A Battery left Da Nang by LST and arrived at Chu Lai after darkness had fallen.  There, it occupied a temporary position at (BT535045).

 

Account by Lieutenant Doug Meredith of A Battery: 

 

"I believe 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 a built-in roll and an equal propensity to lose either all power or an anchor.”

 

Account by 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!”

 

Article from “The Typhoon”

A publication of I Field Force Vietnam regarding A Battery

 

“Alpha’s Orphans’ find a Home with the Marines”

 

“We sort 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 175mm 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).

 

When the 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.

 

Why was “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 in this 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.”

 

Captain 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.

 

“We have 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 valuable experience.”

 

The 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:  

 

“I arrived 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" Battery, 2/94th. 

 

Sergeant 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.

 

My 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. 

 

I remember 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).

 

We shipped 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. 

 

We were 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. 

 

The 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.

 

 I 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 Ngai

 

We built one of the greatest firebases you will ever see (coordinates BS630852).  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. 

 

I must mention our Marine Liaison Officer -- Arnie Swenson, who almost shot Lieutenant Tom Starks one night when we had tracer rounds coming through the officers tent.  He spent his last two weeks in a bunker and wouldn't come out.

 

I signed 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.

 

I 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.” 

 

Note by chronicler: 

 

A Battery, as a stand-alone Battalion Battery;

Awarded the Navy PUC: DAGO 59,69 (Chu Lai). 

 

A Battery, as a Battalion Battery;

Awarded 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: 

 

“A Battery 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.  

 

Brigadier 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 charge. 

 

The convoy 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.” 

 

Battery A, 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 (BS636785).

 

Account by Captain Jerry Heard of A Battery, original A Battery Commander regarding a temporary fire support move:  

 

“At some 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 ears.   

 

I believe 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.”  

  

Account by Lieutenant Doug Meredith FO assigned to A Battery: 

 

“Since 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.

 

My best 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?

 

We found 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.

 

We then 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.

 

We then 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.

 

A Battery 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.

 

The 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 were rifles.

 

Then later 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.

 

SSG Cherry 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.

 

I stayed 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.

 

I 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 tactic developed by LTC Trefry and Captain Chelburg and became known as Mini Arc Lights.  This was in reference to the well-known B52 Arc Lights.

 

Note by Chronicler: 

 

Major Parks and Captain Adamson observed 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.

 

Note by Chronicler:

 

Where I 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 heard early-on until the Marine FO’s got used to working with the 175mm round 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, latrines and showers also 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 stuckOnly when the Seabee’s eventually came in to build platforms and gun pads for the artillery pieces was the problem alleviated.

  

 

The following coordinates were the Battalion’s locations:

 

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 Anti-Tank Battalion. 

 

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:

 

“We went back to Carroll in 1994, and it's now a pepper tree farm with a NVA statue right about where the tower used to be.”

 

 

Comment by Chronicler: 

 

A 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 tactical 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 and 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 minutes 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, the 2/94th, with its 175mm rounds, 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, coinciding with the birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps.  It 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 the operation.  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 where plateaus and peaks were often enveloped in a heavy fog, which precluded some air operations.  In addition, temperatures and conditions would range from extremely hot and dry and dusty to cold and rainy and muddy.

 

Article from the Stars and Stripes 1966

 

“Viet Weather Just Ain’t So.”  CAMP JJ CARROLL, Vietnam (S&S)-

 

Staff 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."

 

Note by chronicler: 

 

It did eventually snow at the Rockpile!  See Lieutenant Barry DeVita accounts in the 1st Campaign.

 

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 battles; 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 were sent in to rescue the stranded Batteries as they fought their way out along “Ambush Alley.”

 

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 fulfill new 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 simultaneous NVA ground and artillery attack would receive both defensive fires and counter-battery fires; thus knocking out the artillery and allowing the Marines to tend to business and repel the attacking ground forces.  

 

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, and tube and breechblock changes would set the standard for all long range heavy artillery. 

 

While many issues would arise in maintenance and tube replacement operations because of 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 is evident in an account by a Marine FO who told of pre-registering the 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, thereby averting a battle and in some cases, leaving the ground troops completely unaware that an attack had been stopped before it had begun.

  

And even at pointblank range, the 175’s would deal massive lethal blows with its direct fire capability.

 

Comment by chronicler: 

 

While in any war it seems that the exploits of the Infantry is well documented in their history and chronologythe 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 and trip flares, manning 30 and 50 caliber machine guns and using mortars in defensive concentrations, and in some cases being in the lead elements of an operation and defending against convoy attacks.

 

This reality was recognized by some of our congressmen and a Combat Artillery Badge similar to the Infantry’s Combat Infantry Badge was proposed for the Artillery.  However, this bill was never approved.

 

The Marine Corps in contrast, did change the requirements for their Combat Action Ribbon; which in the past was generally reserved for the 0311 MOS, the same as the Army’s Infantry 11B MOS.  Their point was that not just the Infantry was involved in offensive operations and offensive fire; and accordingly, those Marines who 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.

 

Comment by chronicler: 

 

This is 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.