Last Time at Mary Lou

My last visit to Mary Lou was with Battery B and I was the Fire Direction Officer.  We did a lot of H&I fires and a few missions in direct support of the DS Artillery units supporting the 4th Division.  For the FDC, it was a 24 hour a day job and it seemed like there was never enough food or rest.  I did begin to find ways to cut corners in the area of Meteorological reports that came in every 4 hours. 

After the second week, I began to compare the results by report and time of day.  I kept the hard copy of the earlier reports and compared the final results.  At first it was to make sure that we hadn't made any (many) errors and then to see if the results were different enough to spend a couple of hours doing the figuring and then changing the Met +VE settings.  Guess what? It was clear that the weather in the Central Highlands was not like Kansas or Oklahoma.  Day after day the wind and temperature stayed the same and it was only when it was raining that it was different.

Inside of the FDC, the guys had hours and hours of time and we had to work on ways to fight the boredom.  Someone found that the board game Jeopardy was one way and immediately the word went back to the States what versions we didn't have.  I am pretty sure that the families back home went through their closets and second hand stores for versions we didn't have.  By the time we finished playing the entire games with each version, they were pretty well worn out. 

The other game we played almost endlessly was Rook.  If you played enough cards, you could pretty much tell what had been played and how they cards were distributed.  I am pretty sure that later on, it made me a pretty fair bridge player.  I was never great but I had fun.

One of the nice things at Mary Lou was that there was a shower point there and hot chow.  You cannot imagine the rations of C-Rations on an endless basis.  As the FDO, I seldom got to get away for meals but someone almost always brought me a plate of something.  Even a cold plate of food was better than C-Rats on an endless basis.  You can imagine how your palate would just fade away if your breakfast was cold powdered eggs and toast that had just escaped being moldy.  Thankfully I don't even have a memory of what the lunch and dinners were.

One thing that I always feared was that the perimeter of LZ Mary Lou was set up to make sure there were no enemy allowed to sneak in.  The problem with that was the endless flow of kids that came and went like it was an open gate.  We were fortunate to never have been hit by a ground attack. But, it was always there in the back of my mind.  At least when we were out on a mountain top firebase there was almost always a perimeter guard there and they would be some help. 

I had been on R&R when the unit moved to Mary Lou.  I had no call to where to put the FDC.  It was way too close to the latrine and  I could see that if we were still there when the Monsoon season started, the hole would be a swimming pool.   We moved long before that would ever happen.  Did I mention the proximity to the latrine?   The biggest challenge each day was keeping the fly count down to a manageable level.  We killed thousands of flies each day and the body count had to be near 100,000. 

Speaking of Body counts and missions.  Each day we sent in a report of the number of rounds we fired and the results of any mission.  Most of the time there were no after action numbers on the Harassment and Interdiction fires as they just went out in to the jungle and no US troops were there.  One kind of funny mission was when we had a request to fire a round out in the vicinity of a Long Rang Reconnaissance patrol.  Seems like they were off the air and probably had the radio operator fell asleep.    We picked a grid location not too close to them and fired one round.  Pretty soon they were back on the air.  In our daily after action report I marked the one round as a Wake up Mission for a LRRP.  Man did the shit hit the fan over that comment.  I did my best to not lie but that one time it seemed appropriate to add that comment.  I had a visit from the Battalion Commander and the FA Bde Commander within the next week.  The both told me to make something up and not to use that in a report. (again)   Oh well, it was only one day and one report in what seemed like a couple of hundred there at Mary Lou.  I am pretty sure it wasn't that long it just seemed like it.

That's all from Mary Lou and I was glad to leave.


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