B Battery Stories

The 1/92nd Field Artillery
Association - Vietnam

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The Bird Dogs KIA


By Jeff 'JD' Danielson


It was just another registration mission. We fired them on a predetermined, fixed target to make adjustments to our GFT's, Graphical Firing Tables or just our Slide Rules. A target was selected like the intersection of two streams, a top of a hill or a fixed point on a trail. Something that we could pick out on the map and a FO in one of the small “Bird Dog” single propeller Piper Cub type aircraft could get a visual fix on.


We could determine the difference between where the GFT's told us to fire without any corrections and where we were actually firing. We would fire and the FO flying overhead would adjust the fire by a series of over and unders until we pin pointed the target. We would then pencil mark the actual data to hit a target on the plastic slide of the slide rule. This along with meteorological (weather) MET corrections would give us the most precise fire data. If you didn't understand that it's okay. You'll follow the rest anyway.

Our FO would usually fly around the target and adjust our fire until we were dead on. During this particular mission every time the pilot flew over one spot on his circular path he took small arms fire. When the registration mission was over the FO took his plane over the area where he received fire.

Sure enough he got fired on again and was taking hits so he called in an actual “Fire Mission” giving his target as an enemy firing position. We fired first round smoke and he called back saying he was hit and losing fuel, “end of mission, I'll try to make it back to base!”

So we wrapped that one up and went about our other duties when about 45 minutes later the same pilot/FO called us on the radio with another “Fire Mission, enemy small arms position!” Then gave us grid coordinates and requested first round smoke.

What had happened as we found out later, was that he made it back to base on fumes and was so PO'd that he hopped in another plane and came back to get the guy or guy's.

Following proper fire mission protocol we let him know we were ready, there was a pause while he positioned himself and told us to fire. We called back with “Shot, over!” and he returned with “Shot, out!” After a few seconds we called back with “Splash, over!” and he replied with “Splash, out!” Splash just gave him a heads up that the round would be on target in about 5 seconds so he would be ready to observe and make corrections.

There was an unusually long time before he came back on the air. His next words kind of perplexed us. He said “End of mission!” then another long pause and he came back with an end of mission report of the results. “End of mission, one enemy KIA!”

This of course floored us. We weren't sure we got it right and called back for clarification which he provided with the same reply, “End of mission, one enemy KIA!” Well, we dutifully recorded the mission and results like all other missions Although it was rare to get an end of mission report we recorded it and filed it away, and he flew away back to base camp.

Later our curiosity peaked we tried to find out what had happened. We finally got word back that the enemy came out from behind a tree firing just when the smoke round went off right


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