Holy Crap Batman!

There have been times that I was scared speechless.  Mostly even then my training kicked in and I couldn't just sit there and do nothing.  Yes, I know the old saying about don't sit in a foxhole with a hero.  It was just that I hated to have someone shooting at me and not to be able to shoot back.  

One evening when we were on a Mountain Top LZ, the smart guys somewhere got tired of us being mortared and not being able to shoot back.  They brought in a Quad 50 and sat it down on our fire base.  I had never seen one ground mounted, only in the back of trucks for convoy protection.  This gun arrived with a crew of four and a pallet of ammo.  Most of us thought that it looked neat but weren't sure how it was going to work with out a power supply from the truck.  One of the new team put a small generator next to the gun. It had also been on the pallet with the ammo.  They got out their rags and cleaned the dust off the gun and unloaded the ammo. They spend a few minutes getting all the ammo unpacked and ready.

The Quad 50 was four 50 caliber machine guns that were mounted on a turret that could move by the command of the gunner inside.  Each gun had an ammo can with at least 50 linked rounds and they were all bore sighted on a point about 200 meters out.  We were very curious to see what the heck they were going to do.  About that time, the gunner started to fire that sucker at a tree line down the hill from our position.  In no time flat, that gun acted like a buzz saw and cut those trees off like a giant with a chain saw was mowing grass.  The team reloaded and moved the gun to a different part of our position.  Next row of trees was on the list and they continued that until we had 360 degrees line of sight clear around that LZ.  After that, the mortars stopped but then things got hairy. 

The chopper came in the next afternoon and the quad 50 was lifted to somewhere far, far away.  It was kind of like a cold beer on a hot day.  You didn't care where it came from, or where it went when it was finished. We enjoyed it while it was there but an empty is an empty.

Just about 4 PM in the afternoon, I went down into the XO bunker to grab a quick bite to eat.  The Chief of the Firing Battery was outside and just as he came in, there was a loud boom.  For some reason, the Chief of the firing battery could not find his flack jacket or his web gear.  We had a system that one of us would be on the guns and one in the bunker if we got hit.  It was his turn to be on the guns but when the rocket hit the hill, his shit fell apart.  I was sitting on my cot with my helmet on and my jacket and web gear right there.  I grabbed it and told the Sergeant to get on the phone with the Fire Direction center.  I arrived at a gun pit just as a rocket slammed into the sand bag bunker on the front side blew apart.  The Gun chief rallied the crew to move the gun into position to return fire and to put a round in the tube.  We fired a round without really knowing where the hell the rocket had come from.  The reason was to screw with his aim when he fired another round.  "Boom" our tube went off and right after that he fired his second round.  It went right over our heads and impacted on the parapet of the gun on the back side of the hill.  I watched right over the top of the tube to see where the flash had come from and we made a couple minor corrections and fired our second round at him.  For a few minutes, he shot at us and we fired back.  

While I was watching, I saw an RPG coming in and hit a pile of wooden pallets right there in the parapet by me.  For some reason, not one splinter of wood or that round came my way.  The next round we shot must have hit as close to him as his round did by us as he stopped firing.  We didn't...  About 5 rounds later, the FDC gave us a fuze setting to set the round off right over the crest of the hill we were being shot at from and we shot at least 5 more rounds with the rounds going off right on top of that hill.   When I finally checked fire, I noticed that the entire parapet around our position was blown down from the impact of his rounds and the concussion of our gun going off.  Damn Plastic Sandbags.

The entire gun crew had minor wounds from the shrapnel but no one was hurt bad enough to med evaced out.  the Medic picked out small fragments from the wounds and we sat down and conducted an after action review.   I think we sat down because no one had the energy left to stand up.  Man you burn your energy banks dry with adrenalin and a lot of us had the shakes.  Even those that didn't smoke appreciated the calming effect of a cigarette.   

When we all got our acts together, the section chief said he appreciated that I had run over with a couple of rounds from the ready round bunker right there in the middle of the firefight.  I kind of remembered grabbing a round under each arm and running back the 15 feet to the gun.  It was about then that I noticed ny knees were sore as hell.  It seems that I had actually run on my knees to stay low.  I then looked for the tree stump I had ducked down behind when that round hit near me.  The only thing I could find that stuck up above the ground was a 2 inch high tree stump.  I guess when you are going full bore, your perspective gets all screwed up.    This all happened about a month prior to coming home.  

Within a couple of days of that action, I was asked to come over to the Fire Direction center to talk to the Battalion S-1 on the radio.  He called to ask me if I wanted to extend in Vietnam for a month or two and get discharged when I got back to the United States.  If if didn't extend, they wanted to send me home a couple of weeks early so not all the people that came over to Vietnam with the 6th Bn, 84th FA would all come home the same week.  Lets see, stay there for 60 more days or go home early and have to serve at Fort Carson, Colorado for about 4 months.  Colorado, Colorado Colorado is my new home.  

I had no idea that the Rocket Attack was written up for an award to me.  I wrote it up for all of the other guys and let it go out of my mind.   As I was leaving the battalion, the Battalion Commander held an officer's call and they awarded me the Bronze Star award.  Most of the officers that served in Vietnam were awarded that award unless we managed to screw up in a big way.  Little did I know that nothing about that award was written in my file and when I got to Fort Carson an order for the award arrived and they also held an awards ceremony to pin that one on. 

It was almost four months after I got out of the Army that I got a package in the mail.  It was an Army Commendation medal with a "V" device.  for the actions of that damned rocket attack.  Oh well.



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