The Draft Lottery
01 Dec 1969
The Draft Lottery is instituted in an effort to reduce criticism of the draft as unfair.
Jim Good arrives in country. President Nixon announces “we will have peace in our time.” For I Corps, this means that the 3rd Marines finally go back to the world and we get to takeover their very nice quarters at Quang Tri. No cav hands filled any of the hundreds of sandbags. HQ moves there.
The troop returns to the DMZ from its last assignment at Cua Viet in time to celebrate Christmas and New Years.
We have moved from LZ Nancy to Quang Tri, we have a new CO. We are still short handed. We spent Thanksgiving at Cua Viet, out of the last five nights we pulled 3 AP and when you’re down to only fifteen men everyone goes.
I remember that young Lt. damned near lost his mind when 2-0 took an RPG on the driver hatch killing his driver, Monte Stamm. That young Lt. came on the radio freaking out and the Captain had to calm him down, 2-0 kept yelling,” 6,6,6,6, I have one KIA, two WIA, I have one KIA…” Does anyone remember his name? I think Lt. Perrino came in after that.
We went to Hill 162 NW of C-2 to hit suspected enemy mortar positions. 4/12 Cav, 1/61 Cav & grunts, 1/11 grunts, and 1/77 tanks. Our track was on an adjoining hill. The front line tracks got hit with mortar and RPG fire. An RPG round made a direct hit on a 2nd platoon track driver. As I remember this, it was when one damned gook popped out of his spider hole, fired either an RPG or mortar, and then ducked back in his hole. We brought in half the 5th mech., blew away a few hundred yards of hillside and quit. A bit later he’d pop out another round so we’d light him up again – he probably went back to his living room 100 yards inside the hill to smoke some dope while we landed another million bucks of ammo on the entrance. He did this several times. Before the day was over, besides all the troops we started with, we also had 2 cobras, 2 Hueys, 2 Barkeys, 1 spotter chopper and 2 jets dropping bombs on that hole. Never knew if we got him – no body count (Robert Klinsky)
When you here of someone getting hit with a RPG how many of you think of Monte Stamm? I know after Nam every time I heard of an RPG attack I thought of him. I watched Black Hawk Down and that movie made my stomach turn. Just thinking about things I thought I forgot but were just hidden. John K. 2nd PLT 69/70 A27
This is my recollection of an operation conducted by A Troop on 15 December 1969. Request you add it to the Troop history feel free to edit any typos.
A Troop participated as part of a task force under command of 1-77 Armor. Other units in the task force were C Co/1-77 Armor, A Co/1-61 Mech Inf, and maybe another Company from 1/11 Infantry.
The mission was to search the base of the mountain area located west and northwest of C-2. A Troop was the advance guard for the task force.
We left C-2 in the early morning and moved west along a dirt road that ran west and northwest to the mountains. When this road reached the mountains it made a sharp right turn and ran north along the eastern base of the mountains. Before we reached the turn in the road we began moving cross-country and deploying. The scouts of each platoon were leading their tanks sections. The mortars (formed into a provisional platoon under 19) went into a supporting firing position. The radar tracks with an engineer mine sweeping team on board initially stayed with the mortars. We were moving towards a small ridge (hill) to provide a covering position so the rest of the task force could deploy behind us and then move forward.
We approached a ridge – Hill 162 – that ran generally from southwest to northeast. The tanks went into positions to cover the advance and the scouts of each platoon and the troop command track moved to the top of the ridge. On reaching the top of the ridge we were facing northwest and could see the road to our left after it had made its northward turn along the base of the mountains. The troop was deployed from left to right: 3d Platoon (with their left flank next to the road) Troop Hq, 2d Platoon, and 1st Platoon. While the tanks were moving forward to join us on the ridge we received RPG fire into the 2d Platoon and AK fire against the 3d Platoon. The 2d Platoon Leaders track was hit with an RPG round and the driver, Monte Stamm, was killed. The 2d Platoon leader provided me a back azimuth from where the RPG came from and I had the mortars fire on the position while the artillery Forward Observer (FO) called artillery fire down behind the NVA position in case they were reinforcing or withdrawing. While this was going on the tanks came up to our position and the 2d Platoon tanks fire several rounds of main gun into the NVA position.
C/1-77 Armor deployed to our left rear to protect that flank while A/1-61 Mech deployed behind us, dismounted from their tracks, and moved forward on foot. They moved around us and to the base of the mountains were they began searching the small valleys and draws.
After firing on the NVA RPG location, the 1st Platoon scouts were sent forward on the right to check out the area behind the small ridge in front of us. While doing this they had 4 or 5 round of closely spaced artillery fire land about 100 yards from them. This was followed a few minutes later by a second volley. The FO contacted the brigade fire coordination center that told us that no artillery was being fired in our area. At the time I wasn’t sure if they were correct or perhaps ARVN artillery had been miss-directed. After what happened later in the day, I came to believe that the rounds were 130mm NVA artillery being directed by an FO along the base of the mountains to the northwest. The explosions were smaller than a 155mm but larger than a 105mm or mortar.
While out in this area the 1st Platoon Scouts found a cache of NVA mortar rounds. Shortly thereafter they were pulled back to the main position.
A/1-61 Mech had moved on foot to the base of the mountains and began searching. This search found several caches of mortar round.
While this was going on a helicopter came in and took out Monte Stamm. The radar tracks came forward with the engineer mine sweep team. The engineers went to work sweeping the road along the base of the mountains from the 3d Platoon’s left flank back to where it turned east. This required several hours and they found and dug up several mines.
Late in the afternoon A/1-61 Mech began withdrawing from the search area. Their route was through the low ground directly in front of us. As they were moving through this area they began to receive mortar fire. I happen to be looking to the northwest and saw the dust and smoke caused by the NVA mortars. They were about 1,000 meters from us and next to the base of the mountains. I had the mortars begin firing on this position while the FO began calling for artillery fire. I then contacted A Co/1-61 Mech and told them we would be firing over their heads and if any thing came close to let us know. I remember the reply was something like “Any thing you can do to help is appreciated.” Using the 50 cal on the command track I was able to mark the mortar location for the 3d Platoon tanks. They fired main gun into the area of the mortars, they were joined by several other tanks. All tanks were firing HE. Some of it was hitting in the trees, causing air burst and some was hitting the higher ridge behind the NVA position. Do not know if we killed them, but they stopped firing. The troop ceased firing and the FO walked artillery fire back and forth over the area. By then a Forward Air Controller (Barky) was on the scene and we turned the target over to him as he directed a flight of jets and some gun ships.
The order was given by the task force commander (LTC Miller, CO of 1-77 Armor) to withdraw back to vicinity of C-2 for the night. A Troop was designated the rear guard.
After everyone else had departed we began to move back to C-2. The radar track and one platoon (3d I think) moved down the road the engineers had swept to the vicinity of where the mortars had been. The mortars had displaced farther back to provide fire support. Once 3d Platoon established a overwatch position, the rest of the troop pulled out, again using the road, moved passed the 3d Platoon and established a position farther back. When this was done the 3d Platoon moved back through this position. We continued to use this rearward movement by alternating bound until we were well away from Hill 162. We then formed march-column and moved to C-2 where we spent the night.
I guess I remember this so well, as I made some notes afterwards. It was a classic use of cavalry: an advance guard, a screen for the main body to deploy behind, overwatching fire support and a rear guard using movement by bounds to cover the main body. And the troop performed it so well.
Through out my Army career I have told this story many times to show some of the things you can do with a Cavalry Troop. (Matt Spruill)
A cook released the gas pressure on a stove to close to another lit stove – fired him up. Sent back to the world but should by OK. (R. Klinsky)
Question…Christmas ’69 at C-2
Does anyone remember what brass we all had to get spit shined to meet? My memory tells me he was a 4 or 5 or maybe a 10-star general, commander of the Pacific Fleet or something. His son had been shot down over N. ‘Nam so every Christmas he’d make a pilgrimage as close to the “D” as he could – in memory. He said he’d like the privilege of shaking each of our hands. That 5 or 10 min. w/ him boosted my morale more than anything else that ever happened to me over there. (R. Klinsky)
Skee’s talking about the head squid in the AO, Admiral John McCain, the CINCPACFLT ~ Commander In Chief Pacific Fleet. His son John eventually became a powerful US senator from Arizona some years after his release from the Hanoi Hilton. ~ Pineapple
Also around Christmas, Ron Ely, the guy who played Tarzan visited C2 and shook our hands. I was impressed that he had the cojones to come up there. Also, if I’m not mistaken, Johnny Grant, the mayor of Hollywood also showed up with 2 showgirls. It was muddy as hell and my track was in the motorpool as usual for major repairs when they showed up. It wasn’t easy for them to navigate through the mud stepping on the odd pieces of board to get to us, but they did, shook me and SS’s hand, remarked something about me looking like Sal Mineo, then left. Of course, SS & I were very high at the time and must have looked pretty odd looking to them because they really beat feet to get away. (Pineapple) see below link to more of the story.