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The 1/92nd Field Artillery
Association - Vietnam

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Flares Over 62nd Maintenance

By Tom Kanis

I was killing some time at lunchtime today, and looking at the 7/15 FA's website. I came across some snapshots from the Artillery Hill area in Pleiku, one of which was labeled "Flares over the 62nd Maintenance Battalion, July 4, 1971. "
When I saw that, my jaw dropped. I knew that particular mission verywell, 'cause it almost got me into BIG trouble.

The mission, which was called by the 62nd because their perimeter light generators failed, was cut down to 1 gun and then reduced to one round an hour because they kept reporting to us that they were "getting our trash". I repeatedly explained that the "trash grid" where the empty projos would land was at least 3 Km outside their perimeter.

At first light, I drove over to the 62nd with an unfired 'jo to show them what Illum "trash" looked like, and they showed me all the damage caused by baseplates. The baseplates were landing in the parking lot at 62nd maintenance. Three went through the roof of the finance building and one went through the floor of the 62nd Commander's jeep. Most of
rest were stuck, edge-on, in the asphalt of the parking lot in front of Finance. The bases of the 'jo's were about 2" thick and 6" in diameter, and weighed about 20 lb. These things were falling from the height of the burst (650M) into the 62nd area. Imagine the effect of 20 lb.of steel dropped onto a tin roof from 2100 feet up! The illum rounds were
popping so close to our guns (only about 1200M) that the baseplates of the rounds were not flying on with the empty 'jo's.

Maj. Hill, the 92nd's XO, cooled off the 62nd's CO by telling him "that's why they call it battlefield Illumination" . I wrote up the problem and sent it to Ft. Sill's gunnery department. Several weeks later they replied that when Illum rounds were used on "the ascending branch of the trajectory" (English translation: while they are still headed upwards), the base plates may not land where the rest of the spent projo does.

Wow, I remember that just like it was last week!

Tom Kanis

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