A Battery Stories

The 1/92nd Field Artillery
Association - Vietnam

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A- in May 1970 LZ Wildcat

By Robert Southern (Captain)

Two platoons from Battery A (-) in support of 4th Infantry operation Bin Try moved to the Plei Djareng air strip by road from Artillery Hill in two moves in May 1970.  The Chief of Firing Battery (SSG Max) commanded the first platoon followed a week later by the second platoon (both from Artillery Hill)  commanded by myself, CPT Southern.

The moves by road were memorable in that a promised Air Observer never appeared for either movement.  In my move, we halted the convoy at the intersection of the main road from Artillery Hill (past 4th Div base camp) and the road west into Cambodia and towards Plei Djareng.  We contacted 1/92 TOC Artillery Hill and told them there was no air observer on the frequency given us and no observer aircraft visible.  They had answered our first radio call but did not answer that one.  After a few minutes, all section chiefs were told we were going in and each vehicle was to keep the vehicle in front in sight at all times.  They were told we were to be moving as fast as road conditions would allow and that if we were attacked to return fire.  Disabled equipment other than small arms would be abandoned but personnel would be boarded on the remaining vehicles and we would keep moving.  There was a radio in my jeep in front and in the rear vehicle.  In the back seat of my jeep was a man who said he had made the trip by road once before.  We were to turn right some distance down the road (it was shown on the map) and proceed to Plei Djareng airstrip.  Hoping not to miss the road and go galumping in Cambodia we took off at as high a speed as the road would permit.  After some minutes an Army MP appeared in the middle of the road and waved us to turn right.  Thank God for the MP's.  Usually can't find one when you need one.  Void of air observers cover (promised) and convoy escorts (denied) both platoons made it safely.  I understand why the history was incorrectly stated.  It simply would not do for the truth to be known.

Each platoon left separately and went by choppers into Cambodia .  We stayed at our first locations (your narrative LZ Dragon and Spearhead) only a few days.  If they are in order of our departures SSG Max's platoon was at LZ Dragon and we were at LZ Spearhead.  On the afternoon of the last day there, we were ordered to load the afternoon/evening of the last day in preparation for the move early the next.  That night we were hit Viet Cong/NVA?  There were no casualties.

At the second locations (LZ Scott and LZ Wildcat - if your narrative is correct - I presume so - memory fails me on such details) we remained for the same number of days.  Not more than four.  On the last night there we were attacked once again, this time with sappers.  Things got kinda wild.  A bunker on the infantry company's perimeter near our two howitzers was blown by sappers killing the three or four infantrymen inside.  The LZ (if your chronology is correct - Wildcat) included a 105mm battery from the 4th Inf Div Arty, our two 155mm pigs, an infantry company on the perimeter, and the infantry company's battalion headquarters. 

When the attack came we were contacted by land line from the 105mm Btry that we were not to fire self illumination.  The Inf Bn Co was fearful of giving away our position.  Shit!  The VC/NVA probably had a map made from three or so days we had been there.  A sapper ran into one our gun pits across the berm, placed a satchel charge under the tube in front of the equilabrator and ran back over the berm towards the previously blown infantry bunker.  The sapper was seen coming into the gun pit by one of the cannoneers who put his M-16 on full auto and splattered everything (except the sapper) in the gun pit.  Jock strap and all, the sapper may still be running.  Smilingly it was suggested to the cannoneer that the next time he take a good kneeling position and on semi auto, aim carefully, and fire one or two times (maybe more if needed).  The howitzer was destroyed.  It had been their only reason for the attack.  All personnel (I think three maybe four) infantry in the blown bunker were killed.  The only casualty among the 1/92 FA was a Vietnamese interpreter.  One of our personnel, early in the attack saw him running across the position.  Knowing only in the dark the running person was an oriental, the man tried to fire but his rifle jammed.  He then grabbed it by the barrel and swinging it as a baseball bat clobbered the interpreter as he went by.  The Vietnamese interpreter survived.

The next morning we were informed the 4th Div ADC Maneuver was coming in to survey the damage, including our destroyed howitzer.  When I spoke to the gun chief to tell him of the visit, the gun chief asked me if he could tell the ADC about the marijuana he and other members of his gun crew had smelled coming from the direction of the blown bunker the night before, prior to the attack.  I told him he could tell the ADC anything he wished.  When asked by the ADC what happened the gun chief told him all, including the marijuana.  The ADC maintained eye contact with the Gun Chief all during the telling, as did the gun chief.  I had looked only at the eyes of the ADC who glanced in my direction once in the last instant before he left our position.  He said nothing.

The Infantry Battalion Commander was relieved of command.

We were airlifted from there back to Vietnam during which I had the pleasure of riding in a CV-2 Caribou with the Infantry Battaion Commander.  After we landed in Vietnam I went to him, stuck out my hand, and shaking his told him what a distinct pleasure it had been serving with him.  We both smiled broadly.  The asshole.

After landing I was met by my Bn XO, MAJ Jose Riovo.  I was sitting on a log wondering what next when he, driving his own jeep, stopped and asked if I needed a ride.  He walked over and handed me a cold beer.  I sat on the log and took a long drag.  I had been gone over a week, was covered with dirt and dust, and the only clearn spot on my body was my face where I taken a swallow of beer.  He took a picture.  I still have it. 

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