May Assigned to 20 as gunner
May Assigned to 20 as gunner, no more mortar track. General and Colonel
stated that the 4/12 was the best outfit in the 5th Div. (Taylor)
4 May 1970
The National Guard kills 4 students at Kent State.
From Klinsky’s War Dairy:
6 May Pedro:
18 hit another small mine – it’s 3rd. No one hurt.
7 May Pedro:
66 hit a small mine.
14 May Pedro:
Watched a LRP team from a couple klicks away getting fired on by some gooks last night. Cobra came and hosed the area around them. We went in to extract them this AM. Pete (my driver) spotted 8-14 uniformed NVA. We were set up in a horseshoe formation so the direct fire who could see them couldn’t fire w/o hitting our own so 6 had us fire them up from 700m out. A tanker watching thru a scope saw our 1st willy pete marker land in the middle of 3 who’d split off from the rest. We dropped 75 and fired for effect working the creek bed over pretty good. A later sweep found a spider hole in the creek bank where they’d holed up. Never saw them (or bodies) again but recovered 3 of their rucks, medals and certificates, bloody pants and an NVA radio – on our push!!
27 hit small mine.
May 18 back out in field (Taylor)
I’m (Skee) now officially TC of 49er.
May 25 Blocking force, platoon only (Taylor)
27 May Happy Birthday to me.
AM; Sgt Smith and Lee had a short fight. 05 later, Coble picked a fight w/ Lee.
2:30 PM, a jet caught fire and crashed within 500m of Quang Tri rear gate. Monster smoke ring. The pilots must have bailed w/ 02 ’cause we’d given up watching for them in the sky when someone finally saw the speck of their chutes.
4:30 PM Sgt Mac came out drunk cussin’ and threatnin’ to kill Georgia, Minchey and a few others for trying to get Coble and Smitty busted. 3rd herd’s getting’ flaky!!! WE NEED A STANDDOWN!!!
May 31 track broke down, in Quang Tri (Taylor)
It was the summer of 1970, I don’t recall the month. We were southwest of Quang Tri, in the “Backyard” area between the combat base and the river Photo Quang Tri River. I think LT Schorp was on leave, and don’t remember who was calling in the DEFCONs. We may have had a FO with us, but it was probably the platoon sergeant. The area was fairly flat and open, not a lot of brush or trees to stop shrapnel. I don’t recall the round being all that close when it went off. Seems like it was just a fluke that one, a lone, big hunk of shrapnel flew a lot farther than usual. The arty guys may have goofed up somehow – extra charge bag, wrong azimuth or deflection, or the guy calling it in may have been more aggressive than he intended, but it really didn’t seem especially close. At any rate, we were spending a typical night in the field. All the claymores, tripflares, RPG screens, etc. had been put out. Most of the guys were just loafing, or visiting with friends around other tracks, and not really paying a lot of attention to the DEFCONs. Today, if there were 155mm artillery rounds going off just over a half mile from your campsite, you would be going nuts. In Viet Nam it was just another evening. As I recall Morris Smith telling the story, he was thinking about his upcoming R&R in Hawaii where he was going to meet his wife for a week away from the war. He said that he was trying to determine how many days he had left until leaving on R&R and he raised his left arm to count on his fingers when “Whap!” the hunk of shrapnel hit his left side, and he let out a moan that everyone heard. If he would have had his arm down by his side, he might have lost it. Later, someone found the piece of shrapnell on the floor of his turret. Seems like it was about 6 or 8 inches long, and 2 inches in diameter. It split his side open from just under his armpit to just above his hip, but fortunately didn’t cut very deep. Just split the skin, and the shrapnel didn’t penetrate him. I can’t remember if he had on a flack jacket or not, but I tend to think he didn’t. We quickly shut down the artillery, and called a dustoff. Photo of dustoff with Smith onboard Doc Lagnese may recall some of the details, as I assume he put Smith on the medivac. Smith didn’t even stay in the hospital at Quang Tri very long. I remember a few days after the incident we were in the rear, and he was resting at “B Med,” Company B, 5th Medical Bn, which was the 5th Mech’s organic medical unit, and which served more or less as an outpatient clinic and minor convalescent center. I think Smith only stayed there a very few days before returning to the unit. He probably stayed in the rear on light duty until going on R&R, but eventually he returned to the field with the 3rd Platoon. Just by the grace of God his wounds were relatively minor.
Summer 1970 continued…this is a conversation on the commo net in late Feb 2008
If it was in 1970 near the Rock Pile, it may have been that big fire at the start of the Bai Long Valley when we went on Task Force 1/77 Armor.
Lots of artillery, the Cav, 1/77, 1/61 and probably other units as well. Seems like it was June or July of 1970. After taking a large artillery unit to Van der Grift and setting up a temporary firebase there for a week or so, we returned to Quang Tri by way of the Bai Long Valley. The first night we got a big grass fire which nearly got into our perimeter. An attached engineer bulldozer was outside the perimeter trying to cut a fire break between us and the flames. The fire got to some of the claymores and set them off. Interesting night. After that, things were relatively quiet going back through the Bai Long, but everyone was on full pucker factor because we were the first U.S. unit to have been out there for quite a while. LT Zero may offer more details — not that he caused the fire or anything. 🙂
Jim is right that the fire in the Ba Long valley occurred in mid-‘70 – in mid- to late-July. It is the source of two of the most memorable images that I recall from my time with the Troop. We had been at Firebase Vandergrift as part of an “artillery raid” that the Brigade had conducted, in which they moved 175mm and 8-inch artillery pieces out there in order for them to be in range to do harassing and interdicting fires on the Ho Chi Minh Trail complex (see entry under 9Jul further down in this history). Once that operation was concluded the artillery and other units returned to Quang Tri or Dong Ha Combat Bases, but we were sent south through the Ba Long valley. We set up our first NDP in a huge, grass-filled meadow; I’d estimate (after looking at Google Earth) that it was a mile or more long and a half-mile wide (at about 16deg. 37’ 54”N, 107deg. 01’ 41”E, I think). A few ancillary activities that afternoon were sending a team to blow up a dud bomb (big sucker!) that we had passed and allowing folks to wash up in the river (some “fishing with hand grenades” occurred, as I recall). As Jim says, later on a grass fire started outside the perimeter, started by a smoke grenade, I think. We had an engineer crew with a bulldozer with us; once we saw that the fire was getting serious, those guys went outside our ring of claymores and cut a firebreak around the NDP. That was right about at nightfall. So the first memorable image, from a while later on, was the whole valley full of grass burning in the dark, except where we were – like something out of Apocalypse Now! The other memorable sight occurred when the sun rose. By then the fire had burnt itself out, so there we were, in a little muddy, grassy circle surrounded by black in all directions. [Bob Richards]
John, I checked the Cav website history section and in July of 69 we were near LZ Angel. A marine tripped on of our flares and started a fire. Almost burned our tracks. I only remember it because I wrote home back then and mentioned it in the letter. Pineapple put it on the history section.
Bob Taylor, 2nd Platoon, 69-70
Hey John, the only fire I remember was our first mission to the DMZ (out of good old
LZ Nancy) and this was July or August of 1969. Capt. Robinson was in charge of the
Troop and we would go thru the bush using pop up flares and C-4 (yes, that C-4)
to start fires and deprive the bad guys of cover.
Thought we would burn down the whole DMZ at one point but of course that never happened.
Turtle I’m sure we were on some kind of move and got into some high dry
grass. I know we were tired but had to go on. I know we went by the Rock
Pile and some of the older guys told us that the Marines took it on
John were we set up on line during the day watching it burn? Or was that our
tracers starting a fire in the dry season????? Damn it’s all so jumbled.
Sure wish I’d have kept a journal.
Turtle I am not sure any more but I think maybe summer time. John
John, do you remember about what time of year that was?
Bob do you remember what we were in when we got caught in some valley at
night and there was a fire coming our way or was it around us? I
remember it was some where past the Rock Pile. I also remember it was a
long night and mission. I guess if you can’t remember maybe Turtle can.
Take care. John K. 2nd PLKT. 69/70– It was in 1970.