Being an old hand at this I simply walked towards the half built FDC bunker, feeling remorse for my lost dinner and looking to see what the fuss was about. 122mm rockets were what the fuss was about. About a half dozen plus came down in the span of about 10 to 15 minutes. It was the second or third time I had been the target of the dreaded 122mm rockets and it really caused me no alarm. The trick with them was that you could see them, like giant pencils, coming at you. What I learned was not to duck for cover because nothing there was strong enough for any safety anyway, but to watch them come in. If you could see the sides of them a little, like an oblong shape, you were safe from a hit. If all you seen was a dot then you had to worry.
I seen one I didn't like and walked over to a parapet around one of our guns and sat down while I watched the trajectory. This is where I learned something I had never thought about before . . . never slide into cover, head first with your mouth open. Ralf Calhoun did that right next to me. After spitting dirt for a minute or so I calmly reminded him that he was no longer a "cherry". It was the first time he had been shot at and he was overly excited.
Anyway the rocket attack and the counter battery fire ceased with the only damage being a hole in the helicopter pad of SSP and Ralf's mouth cleared with a couple of drinks of water. Back to filling sandbags. Later that evening I took a walk around the area looking for anything of value we might procure and lo and behold as I was gazing blindly across where the 122 had pealed the SSP up in a mushroom shape a light bulb went on. I walked back to the FDC and being more of an instigator or procurer than out right thief I proposed to my crew that sometime after dark we "borrow" some of their landing strip. The SSP that is. So in the night my guys went out and took apart a corner of the pad, brought it over to our area and chalked "FDC" on these half dozen or so sheets of SSP and had them ready to be airlifted out in the a.m. Then it was back to sleep and radio watches till about 3 in the morning. About three hours of sleep apiece.
Next Day and LZ Bunker Hill
We all began the task of taking down everything we built earlier. Getting all the antenna's, generator, personal gear, charts and tables, etc., loaded into our conex ready with slings and doughnut for movement by air. A lot different from a convoy.
We always split the FDC whenever and however we moved with half going with the first gun lifted off and the others waiting for the last gun to go so we could shoot from either location. PRC 25's helped with this method of movement and keeping communications open all the while. The conex went somewhere in between and the earlier the better.
As soon as the conex hit the ground the advance crew began unpacking. Non-essential material was piled up and the essentials such as generator and hook up to the storage batteries, setting up the 292 and other antenna's, HCO and VCO setup, and radio communications established with our larger more powerful radios. After the FDC is setup, communications established and reporting to our liaison and basecamp that we're open for business, we start with the chore of filling a few hundred sandbags. We keep this up until we get at least a layer of sandbags around and above us. This can take all night with no sleep. We frequently got interrupted with fire missions, H & I's, enemy incoming fire, and more often than anyone would want, medevac's. Then back to filling sand bags, placing SSP and PSP in place, beams and engineer stakes for support either placed or pounded in position and interpreted with messages to be coded or decoded off and on. We called this "shackled" and "de-shackled".
On most moves we would go without sleep for 48 to 72hrs maybe with a couple of hours sneaked in here or there one man at a time. With this move, first by convoy then by air with two positions to set up we were really dragging by the time we got back to what we would call a normal routine. We still only had five personnel to man the FDC 24/7 and that could be exhausting also.
I found that the toughest thing to watch for was the maintaining of discipline. Not the men or myself getting out of line, but the disciplines of the fire mission's, shackling and de-shackling messages and H & I's, or radio watches. We prided ourselves on timely and accurate fire but we had to watch ourselves and each other when exhaustion might make us sloppy. Batteries getting too low of a charge because someone forgot to start the generators, nodding off on radio watches, even the simplest of tasks like plotting a target on the horizontal chart. The HCO should stand up and lean over when plotting a target with the grid square to insure getting the point exactly on the mark. This is a discipline. When exhausted one might stay seated and lean over to make a plot. This could be off by 50 or even 100 meters and that's the difference between landing a round on the enemy's side or the friendlies side of a perimeter.
We constantly had to maintain discipline and no one took offense when another called him on the lack of it. When "Fire Mission" was called out we had to throw a glass of cold water in our face, so to speak. It was a wakeup call and in all the time I was with B Battery we never shot out because of sloppiness in plotting, calculating, shackling/de-shackling, or radio procedure. For that I am proud of the self-discipline of the FDC crew. We were constantly double checking each other's data.
All hills are different, long, round, high, low and so on. They also have their quirks. Bunker hill had a few quirks like a great view of Polei Kleng far off in the distance. Other quirks were a "bumpy top" that is it had high spots on one end but as far as the guns were concern it didn't affect them, except for two places where there were some rather large old trees in the way which limited our firing in those directions. They had to go. It was a fairly new LZ with only one 105mm battery from the 4th Infantry there before us. Apparently they just worked around it and that isn't a good idea.
We, on the other hand, made it priority as these were large trees and much too much for us to handle by ourselves. So we made the call to the engineers to have a demolition team sent up and remove them. What an experience that was. They were quick to respond with four of the being up on the hill the next day loaded with C-4 and detonators. We were told they would use C-4 and laid out the ground rules to us but I don't think they applied the rules to themselves or they had a sick sense of humor. They explained they would blow one at a time, clear the immediate area and after setting the charges would yell "fire in the hole" three times prior to detonation allowing us to seek cover. These guys were nuts. They seemed to like using much more of the explosive than required propelling large trunks of trees almost into orbit and left everyone dodging about the hill trying not to get hit. Another "fun" thing they did was to yell "fire in the hole" once or twice and then blowing the charges and yelling the second or third "fire in the hole" afterwards.
They did finish the job, hopped on a chopper and were on their way back to their base. I have a hunch these guys sat in their basecamp getting drunk all the time until just waiting to go out and scare the crap out of someone else.
Bunker Hill was pretty quiet hill as far as incoming was concerned. I'm not sure we even got any but believe we took some mortar rounds a couple of times. We arrived on the hill on starting on the 12th of April and besides the demolition team the big excitement was the sky crane used for the move lost power during the move had to jettison one of the guns in the jungle. It was recovered the next day and the rest of guns were all on the hill on the morning of the 13th. The man who rigged the gun that was jettisoned, John "Rufus" Conely, thought for years that it was his fault, because of the way he rigged it, when the gun "fell" in the jungle. It was an amusing story but he now knows he's off the hook, so to speak.
We only stayed on Bunker Hill for four or five days then moved to the worse hill we were ever on , LZ Incoming, which we moved to on the 15th and 16th of April. From Arty Hill to Polei Kleng then on to Bunker Hill. When we got to LZ Incoming we had moved by road and air and occupied three positions in 5 or 6 days. That's got to be some kind of record.