Fire Base Sandy
We spent most of last month up at C2; except for about a week at the first of the month at Fire Base Sandy. All we did was pull guard duty and AP. After leaving Sandy we went to C2, it started to rain and we didn’t do much for about a week. After it cleared up we moved out on sweeps and sitting up at night waiting for someone to hit us. Supposedly we were attempting to draw attention to ourselves so we could have a little pay back for 2nd platoon being hit hard about a week ago. About 10 men were medivac’d out of the field (2 were shipped stateside). So it became the same routine every night: pull in, dig fox holes, RPG screen up, 60’s dismounted, claymores out and then wait. This went on for a month; the last night was the only exception. About 22:00 2nd platoon had movement on their side of camp (I did not write this part down but I believe we had a mobile radar unit with us?) we lob some mortars in the area and then called artillery in. Next we sent out Recon Patrol, there were fifteen of us. On the way out I hump the radio we covered about 3 clicks. We were running up and down hills, getting caught in the undergrowth, and stumbling over everything. We called in artillery again and lob a bunch of hand grenades. During all of this I pick up a small piece of shrapnel; I believe it came from one of our frags. Went back to Nancy for the Medics to look at my leg, it hurt with them probing around in my leg than when it hit me. Upon returning C2, was told to prepare A15 for turn in. Took A15 back in to Nancy. Lost Westervelt, he was transferred out of the Troop. We are short of men now, running with about 4 men per track. Toni is supposed to take over the club soon. I put in for R&R in Feb. (Hong Kong).
November 6 At Cua Viet, received orders for CIB. Articles about Sgt D (Taylor)
The troop goes to the Cua Viet Naval Base, but spends most of its time across the river. Then the troop pulls perimeter security there and goes on nightly ambush patrols along the river.
16 November 1969
The My Lai massacre, which occurred in 1968, is revealed. Lt. William Calley is tried and convicted for his role in the massacre. This atrocity further discredits the war and gives momentum to the peace movement.
November 19 Cua Viet, the rest of the troop is coming up the 23rd (Taylor)
Thanksgiving is at Cua Viet: “We went into the Navy mess hall and got our chow, I remember paper plates, rain, and not much food was left for us. I clearly remember Big Daddy bitching and moaning about the little bit of food that was left. About a half hour later they picked a group of guys to go across the river, when the landing craft opened the front door to let us out I jumped out and landed in water up to my neck. We hiked up to a cemetery and set up an ambush site in the middle of a bunch of graves, one was open and Big Daddy and I decided that was our foxhole.”
Thanksgiving 1969 photo and captions from Pineapple
Around Nov 23rd:
Subject: Mine hit November 1969
Gerry and Warren, Per your request I will tell you what I remember about Warren Congleton, Bob Barrows, and me (Jerry Malan) hitting a mine in late Nov 1969 north of Cua Viet Naval base in Northern I Corp. As near as I can recall it was on the 23th of Nov 1969 and 1st platoon of A Troop 4/12th Cav was deployed as a blocking force north of the Dong Ha river while 2nd and 3rd Platoons were doing perimeter security for the Navy base. We had spent the night close to a village and the next morning our tank A-17 was leading the platoon south out of our NDP. This was one of the few non free fire areas where we went and as the gunner and used to recon by fire using 40mm M-79, 90mm cannon, and 30cal coax machinegun fire I was bored and told Warren I wanted to drive that day. After a bit of protest I told him I had about 8000rds of 30 cal ammo that needed to be shot out of the coax machine gun (if you were ever a driver on a tank you would know that the coax barrel was about 10″ behind your right eardrum and the noise from a 30-06cal 1919A4 machine gun going off that close to you would drive you crazy and deaf) and that if he didn’t let me drive I was going to shoot all 8000rds over his head next time we were in the free fire zone. He said I could drive after that. I pulled out of the NDP in the same tracks we had come in on the night before and had gone 200-300 meters down the trail of last nights tracks when we hit a large mine. This was sandy beach area which usually did not damage an M-48 as badly as hard/rocky soil as the sand absorbed the explosion more then the other soil types. This mine likely had some extra explosive under it in the way of dud Arty shells as the blast was much worse than the typical anti tank mine I had hit before. The mine went off towards the rear of the tank and was so strong the next thing I saw out of the drivers hatch was the sand below me. The blast lifted the 52 ton ++ tank into the air so that I was looking straight down at the ground from the drivers hatch at what I would guess was about 15ft over the ground. We had about 2 tons of extra .50cal and .30cal ammo all over the running boards of the tank and in the bussel rack that was thrown into the ait as the tank went airbourne. I remember the tank hitting the ground and then something hitting me in the head and shoulder with a heavy blow and I blacked out. When I woke my Platoon Sgt and Tank Commander SSGT Barrows was shaking me and asking me if I was alright. Other than a few scratches and bangs I was fine. Warren Conglenton was riding on the loaders hatch when we hit the mine and was thrown up into the air and landed on the 90mm main gun tube. Think the landed with the gun tube between his legs. The Tank was a combat loss and it took several days to get it back to the Dong Ha River for transport across the river to the Navy base. We tried all day to get it loaded on the boats the Navy had at Cua Viet and they were too small to carry a tow vehicle (M-48 Tank) and a pusher vehicle (M-48 Tank) and our M-48 Tank. We had to wait for an LST to come form somewhere to get us back across the river. To transport the tank back to Quang Tri required a flat bed semi truck. It was monsoon season and the road from Quang Tri was washed out and we had lost control of it to the NVA. Warren and I stayed with the tank at Qua Viet for about 30 days while the Troop moved on. Warren was in some pain for several weeks after we hit the mine and knowing nothing about the Navy Medical System did not know how to go to get him to sick call. Some of the Navy guys gave him some pain pills they got from sick call and after a few weeks he was better. Hope this helps…sure some of the other 1st Platoon guys remember this as well, Sending this to some other people as well…last time I want to tell this story, Jerry