The 1/92nd Field Artillery
Association - Vietnam

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Sit Rep

In Search of the Holy Grail
or In Search of the Written Record

By David Powell

By the time I finished healing from my wounds. I looked back the way I came and realized 30 years had slipped behind me. No this is not a "Pink Floyd" song… but along with the fading scars and memories I realized that I still had the need and desire to know everything that had happened the night I was wounded and without being in touch with anyone from my Gun Section, there was only one way to find that information.


   At the time I started the "Quest" I didn't know where to start to look for the information so I probably went about it all wrong. So this is to any and all who are interested in requesting copies of the official records for their own "Tour of Duty" and like me don't know where to start.

  There are two places where you might find the records for which you are looking. One is the U.S. Army War College where they study the records and lessons learned for ways to improve training and ways to make sure what was learned at great cost in American lives doesn't get repeated by future generations. The other place is the National Archives and Records Administration where they are stored for study by the rest of the world when they are faced with what to do with week or two of free time on their hands… for it used to be, the way to obtain these copies was to go there and photo copy them yourself.

  There are good things about 30 years passing and the Internet coming onto the scene. The ways of obtaining the records have improved and in another 20 years they will probably be available online. Most of the records held by the Army War College have been studied and returned to the National Archives and the other people who have gone in search of the records are willing to share their experiences about dealing with an organization that quite literally operates behind many checkpoints and glass walls… very little is allowed in and even less is allowed out. I have read accounts from people that have spent weeks within the National Archives walls and have come out empty handed. A couple of things you must know before you begin are:

  • To what unit were you assigned and what was the parent organization? I have made this information very clear for all Artillery Units and you can find it located at the following link ( The command structure in Vietnam was very different from any other theatre of operation and therefore the reporting and recording structure followed the same outline. Until you know this vital piece I do not recommend starting the search.

  • What records are you going to request? For what time period? Be aware, you could ask for and get the wrong records because you don't know what you are asking for… the Archives is not going to tell you, they are going to take your money and send you what you ask for, right or wrong. Most mistakenly think that since they or a friend were wounded in action (WIA) or that their buddy was killed in action (KIA) that they are looking for After Action Reports. So lets spend some time up front and discuss forms and reports in greater detail:




AAR's1. After Action Reports (AAR's): are just what the name implies, a document drawn up after the action has occurred and usually goes into greater detail than the normal records. They typically include hand drawn maps with enemy and friendly locations. Arrows show movement of troops or thrusts against perimeter defenses, etc. Not all action warrants the creation of After Action Reports… case in point, the night I was wounded there were 13 WIA and 1 KIA, 1 HERB FAC was shot down and counter battery fire techniques could not be utilized because of close proximity of an RF/PF night location. They were 100 meters from the enemy mortars and didn't bother to get involved… they didn't even answer the radio calls and there were no AAR's filed. In the case of Artillery Units most AAR's are incorporated into the official records and are not separate documents.

ORLL's2. Operational Reports-Lessons Learned (ORLL's): This set of documents (roughly 40-50 pages) is where you will find just about anything you ever wanted to know and then some. For the 1/92nd the records were sent to and compiled by 52nd Artillery Group Headquarters. If your unit was under 52nd Group (see link above) you will find your stuff here. ORLL's were published every quarter (3 months) and 52nd Group ORLL's ran from February thru January not January thru December as you may think. ORLL's contained ammo expended by type and size and by unit. They contain significant operations, the units that were involved as well as the movement from firebase to firebase and in some instances the grid coordinates of the firebase. Some of them contain lessons learned about how to and how not to airlift PSP sections and or ammo. They will contain dates for significant items, which will help, narrow the search prior to requesting additional documents. Depending on when you there (some BN commanders sent more or less than others or maybe Group just published more) you might find the number of Malaria and VD cases by unit along with Article 15's and Courts Martial numbers.

3. Situation Reports (Sit Reps, pictured at top of page): For most historian uses, this information is pretty ill-defined and almost code like but when used in context with tStaff Journalhe ORLL's it can sometimes shed light onto what you are trying to clarify. Be warned though, when I asked for Sit Reps for a 5-day period (30JAN71 to 3FEB71) there were 47 pages to copy… so know what you want before you ask.

4. Daily Staff Journals: These items are like the basic logbook for phone and radio calls to the office. When you roadmarched for example Group was notified and it was noted on the log by date and time and who called it in and who took the call. When you arrived in your new home another call was made and logged with what time you arrived and what time the unit (Btry, (-) or Plt) was laid and ready to fire. The grid coordinates were generally noted for the battery center when relocation was called into Group. Sit Reps average 2-3 pages per 24-hour period.


  • Now that you know what you are going to request it's time to request it. One other note here, if you know the date that a particular event/incident happened on and that is what you are interested in requesting records for then it is beneficial to ask for records a couple of days before and after the incident to gain a clearer picture of events leading up to and following the event/incident in question.

    Writing the National Archives
    The following letter has been changed from the original one I used in August of 1999 to reflect what the National Archive and Records Administration will be looking for and uses in their response to you. If all goes well you will receive a letter from NARA within a month stating what they have that fits the criteria you specify. They will also send you an order form showing what they have, how many pages there are and the cost to reproduce (photocopy) and send to you. There will also be an instruction sheet on how to order and pay for the records. Just fill in the personal information at the top (and bottom) of the letter, don't forget the "Dates of Action," sign it and send it off.


  Your Name
Your Street
Your City, State and Zip Code
Your Home Phone
Your Work or Daytime Phone

Month Day, Year

National Archives and Records Administration
Modern Military Records
Textual Archives Services Division
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001


  Please verify the following records are available for research:

Army Command: USARV
Group Command: 52nd Artillery Group
Corps Command: 1st Field Forces (IFFV). II Corps Tactical Zone (IICTZ)
Unit: 1st Battalion, 92nd Artillery
Dates of Action:





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