The next couple of Weeks

Right after the sun came up, it was pretty clear to me that we had more tires flat than we had still full of air.  The entire bunch of survivors in the battery were just as flat as the tires.  I think I managed to get about 3 hours sleep prior to the attack and the adrenalin had long been burned out of my body.  I am pretty sure that I couldn't have been excited by a ground attack.  The shell was empty, the tank was empty and I was just numb.   There was no one left to be in charge if I went over to battalion for an officer's call so I just stayed in the battery area.  I was not the least bit surprised when  early in the day the Battalion S-3 came over to tell me we were to move out that day to three separate positions.  My battery was to move about five clicks (Kilometers) up the road by that evening.  

Shit oh dear, we could manage to have enough tires to move one gun truck and one gun at a time.  I put the maintenance section working on fixing tires and I went over to the new position.  It was right on the edge of an Arvin Compound and had been where a battery of 105's had been for a while.  It was a pig stye but it was behind the wire of a camp.  Actually, there was a double apron of wire running right down the middle of the camp and the guns would be split with a row of wire right down the middle of the battery.  to get from gun one to gun two, I would be forced to go back around the wire.  

When I got back over to the old position, the maintenance team had actually fixed enough tires to get two gun trucks with their tires fixed and I took the two trucks and two guns to the new position.   By the time I got back with the two trucks, (and the tires off the two guns) they had a third truck with their tires fixed and  we put the good tires on three guns and moved them over to the new position.   That work stayed pretty constant until by mid afternoon we had all our rolling stock in the new area.  

About that time, I really looked at the map and the coordinates the battalion survey section gave me.  I got on the horn to the Battalion FDC and checked with them to see if the coordinates they had were different.  We were about 5oo meters off highway 1 and about a kilometer in off the road was a set of train tracks.  By just doing a simple map spot, the coordinates we were given were a Kilometer off.  I asked Herb to get the S-3 to send the Recon Survey Officer down and let me show him his mistake.  I sure as hell wasn't going to fire anything until it was fixed.  About 15 minutes later a young Lieutenant showed up mad as hell.  He argued with me that I was full of shit and he was right.  No matter how much map spotting I had learned at Fort Sill, he knew his coordinates were right on the money.  

About that time I talked to our FDC that was now located with battalion and they asked me to fire a Defensive Concentration for our sister battery down the road.  I told them that the coordinates were off and I had no intention of firing an error.  The Survey officer was standing there and told the Battalion FDC that I was just a tired 2nd Lieutenant and was wrong. I am pretty sure that he said something about my lack of recognition between my asshole and a hole in the ground.  Finally, I got them to agree that if the Survey officer would sign off on the first round, I would be glad to shoot a smoke marking round down by the other battery.   Boom,  the next words over the net were "Check Fire, Check Fire, Check Fire.."  It seems that my smoke round was right next to their guns and had I fired a high explosive round it would have managed to kill a bunch more of my fellow cannoneers.    In about 10 minutes, the Battalion XO and the S-3 showed up and wanted to know what happened.  I showed them the map coordinates I was given, showed them a map and where the railroad was located and where I thought we were.    I had even made the Recon Survey officer sign a C-Ration bot top flap that he was responsible for the round and off everyone went all pissed off.  

After about an hour, the Battalion FDC called and told me that my new coordinates were about 50 meters from where I map spotted them and I was given a whole new mission down the road.  Shot out, smoke rounds on target and I thought I had heard the last of that problem.  That was until the next day, 

Wait, who is that Full Bull Colonel and what the hell is he doing pulling into my position. There was a jeep with two radio's in the back and the tail end of mortar rounds on the tips of the antennas.  That spit shined Colonel looked like he had just come from the parade grounds at Fort Sill and I was dirty, wrinkled and probably smelled as bad as I looked.  About the time his jeep stopped moving forward, he jumped out and shouted that he wanted to see the idiot in charge.  I walked over, mostly because I didn't have the energy left to run, and reported.  He chewed my ass for about five minutes about my battery firing into my sister battery position.  No self respecting officer would have ever let that happen.  I didn't have a chance to tell him my side of the story.  Then without stopping to take a breath, he looked at the mess the battery position was in and he just threw a fit and ate my ass for throwing my trash all over the place.  My mother would have told me to take a deep breath and back down.  I never suffered fools gladly and this ass hole was one of the biggest fools I had ever seen.

NOTICE - This paragraph is pretty much what I said and I was tired, pissed off and there were no ladies present.    You can skip it right here if you are sensitive to profanity .     "Now wait a God Damned  minute you son of a bitch.  You came in here all pissed off and I am not going to stand for one more stupid word out of your mouth.  First, the coordinates given to me were wrong and I told battalion of that and they insisted  I fire the round down by my sister battery.  In fact here is the God Dammed coordinates and a c-ration box top signed by the recon survey officer  that he was responsible for the first round fired.  Second, any self respecting Artilleryman would recognize that trash as coming from a 105mm Battery and this is a 155mm battery.  The God Dammed  mess was here when I started moving this cluster fuck in and I was not going to start cleaning anything up until I had overhead cover for my men to go to sleep in so I wouldn't lose any more of them.  And third, you picked the wrong day to come rushing in here and trying to east ass when you should have come here to see what you could do to help.  I don't need a short ass hole trying to motivate me, I need help.  If all he could do was show his ass to me and my men he could just get back in the jeep and go talk to the battalion.  Until he did, I was in charge and no one would talk to me like that in front of the men.  He stopped and said in a quiet voice that "You have a very unprofessional attitude Lieutenant".  By that time, three of the Section chiefs were standing there and they walked between us and one of them asked the Colonel to leave.  He did.  I figured that I was done, finished, stick a fork in me over and I didn't care.  I calmly went over to the land line to battalion and told them what happened.  I know their end was on a speaker and I could hear laughter.   I didn't think there was any adrenalin left in my system but I was shaking like a hound dog in a peach orchard trying to shit out the peach seeds he had eaten.

We continued to get our act together and no one went to bed that night or the next night until everyone was under overhead cover.  I had been awake going on 72 hours and I was one tired son of a bitch. We finished fixing the tires, then we cleaned up the trash out of the wire and sometime that afternoon a jeep pulled up and a 1st Lieutenant got out and introduced himself and announced that he was the new battery commander and I could go get some rest.  he said by the looks of my eyes it had been a couple of days since I had any sleep.  There was a big hole at the rear of the battery position and I went over there and went to sleep.  The next morning, I woke up about the time the sun was coming up from the, well shit the sun doesn't come up form the west.  I went over to the guns and the Senior Sergeant from the guns said there was a problem.  He thinks the guns were not laid properly and I checked.  I set up the second aiming circle and the guns were all lad wrong.  It was a consistent error but wrong. They were well over 400 mills wrong.    I went over to the 1st Lieutenant and asked him who had relayed the guns.  He said he had changed them the evening before because I didn't know what the fuck I was doing because I had been so tired.   For some reason, I still had a copy of the Fort Sill XO's handbook and it showed how to align the guns or to lay the battery correctly.  I got a C-ration box top and did the numbers by the book and then how to set up the aiming circle by the book and my numbers were different than they were on all the guns.  He tried to show me how the 175mm battery was done and I calmly asked him if that looked like a bunch of fucking 175mm guns?  No, I guess he was wrong and we did change the guns to the right data.  The battery had fired all night and no telling where the rounds had gone.  For some reason I just didn't care enough to go call battalion and report that arrogant ass hole.

Bright and early the next morning, I was told by battalion to have my gear all together and to report to their location by noon.   There was a program called infusion and I was on the list to be sent over to the other Artillery Group far away from the Colonel that couldn't say my name without spitting.  I was so damned glad to get out of that sorry assed unit that it wasn't funny.  No more 6th Bn, 84th Artillery and 41st Artillery group for me.

Tomorrow I will tell you about how I met and served in one of the finest Artillery units in Vietnam.  The 1st Bn, 92nd FA in the 52nd Artillery group was a breath of fresh air and I was sent there for a new lease in life.

MUD - In transit and loving it.


1 comment:

  1. When I returned to the unit after being gone for about 12 days, you were probably already infused out. I was not put back in A Battery for some unknown reason, but was assigned to Battalion FDC. Crazy move because I had very little FDC training and certainly not capable of being useful to that section. I spent the next month or so being completely ignored. No one trained me on a thing and I was barely spoken to by either the enlisted men or officers. Battalion FDC still travelled with the 18 guns. We made some moves, and were sent on a two day , one night move south and than west into the mountains to support a ROC (Republic of Korea army) operation. We drove through some of the most beautiful villages I ever saw during my tour, but also drove for miles on a road where all vegetation on both sides for about 25 yards.were nothing more than black lumps. Of course no one knew it was agent orange that had done the job, but at the time on the road it was a god send. We drove past an artillery location where the night before the VC or NVA had breeched the perimeter and blew up FDC among doing some other damage. During one night location we had Snoopy or Spooky firing around us. Amazing sight, as was the Dusters and Quad 50's that fired the night we were on LZ Crystal.
    We settled on the top of a mountain and had ROC's on our perimeter. It was from this location that I was infused to C/7/13th, 105 unit. At first I was somewhat disappointed to leave the 84th, but the infusion proved to be a good move for me. This unit had been in VN longer than the 84th and the officers and NCO's were very capable.