There are other memories that cause this to happen too, but its this change that is the reason for this story. Its about a FNG, a f__king new guy to the FDC.
For some reason I can only remember parts of the second half of my tour and none of the new guys names or faces except for him. I remembe his face, shape, size, even the color of his hair, but not his name or where he came from. I can even tell you what kind of a person he was. Also why he should be on our Honor Roll but isn't.
So lets start with that. We were always short of personnel in the FDC until towards the last for months or so of my tour. When I came on board there were five of us counting me. Greg Lee, Charles 'Pete' Smart, James Cameron and Robert 'Alex' Alexander who was our section Chief. About two months later there were only four of us when 'Alex' was KIA and made me Section Chief by default as I was next in rank. It remained that way, just four of us, for about a month or so. 24/7, snatching sleep when we could inbetween fire missions. There was a shortage of 13E20 types (Arty Intel.). We then picked up a volunteer from the guns named Ralf Calhoun and moved to basecamp for an extended stay of about 3 weeks.
Ralf was the first of some volunteers we got when word went out that people could volunteer, go to a two week school in the TOC at basecamp on FDC procedures. When we got them we retrained them in the school of reality. They started as HCO (Horizontal Chart Operator) and VCO (Vertical Chart Operator) using charts and maps. Where they really helped was with radio 'watches' so we could catch a little more sleep.
The 'FNG' came to us from another unit outside of the 92d because he never showed up on our Honor Roll. He was probably 'attached' and hadn't formerly been inducted into our battalion. (Paperwork!) Starting with him I can't place names or faces of those who followed. I remember he was energetic. Desparately trying to be part of the section, trying to do everything to please us 'old hands'. He was only with us for about a week or two at most but always eagar to learn, do any job, volunteering, trying hard to be one of the guys.
He was a little over five and half feet tall, a little on the round side with a round face and dark hair. He was ever eagar to do anything to gain our acceptance, he desparately wanted to be recognized as part of the team, one of the guys and willing to do anything and everything to to prove himself. When there was nothing for him to do he would search out and find something. And that's what became his downfall.
We were ordered to convoy to Polei Kleng west of Kontum, stay the night then move by air to LZ Bunker Hill southwest of there. Just as we were about to move out north he came running up to my three quarter ton vehicle saying there was no one to drive a two and a half ton truck just ahead of mine. As Section Chief I gave him the nod and off he ran, hopped in and started it up. I remember he was pleased to be able to do this.
As we got to the outskirts of Kontum we went by an orphanage, another sight that keeps popping up in my mind and wakes me in the night. Lots of kids with arms and legs missing. Burns, blind and worse yet, either lost their parents or were disowned by them. A sight to sadden the hardest of hearts.
We picked up a new convoy security team when we turned west toward Polei Kleng. I had half the FDC section in my vehicle last in the convoy except for an APC with a .50 caliber on the top. The other half were up towards the front of the convoy for security reasons and so we could shoot a gun from either end of the convoy if we had to, which has happened before.
I don't recall how far we went towards our goal for the night of Polei Kleng but it was a few 'klicks'. We came around a rise which sloped down with a truck high 90 degree bluff on one side and jungle on the other. It was just a one vehicle track to narrow for anthing but one vehicle to get through. The memory of that place and the events that took place are stuck in my memory forever.
There was a loud explosion that made me look up to see the 'FNG's truck sail up, twisting to the the side, then coming down hard in a cloud of dust. After that I remember the events but can't seem to put them in any sequence. I do know I ran up to his vehicle first to see how he was. I had by now had practice at not reacting to the wounds persons get and I did well with the 'FNG'. I quickly took in the extent of his wounds at the same time I kept talking to him in a controlled confident manner telling him lies. "You're doing good", "you're going home", and asking him questios like "where are you from?", "do you have a girl friend?", I kept talking and getting him to talk. I was also watching for shock and getting him to focus and move his eyes. He seemed coherent but slow on speech. This all happened in a short time as I had many other duties that needed to be taken care of.
We couldn't just lift him out of the truck. The command detonated mine blew up right beside the right side of the engine before the firewall. His legs were very badly injured with shards from the firewall and floor imbedded in his legs. What I noticed was the lack of blood which confused me. We had to extract him piece by piece from the vehicle while waiting for a medivac. He did well even before the morphine.
I was all over the place after checking him out and leaving him to the tender hands of others. I called in a medivac on a PRC 25 figuring out and giving our position in nautical miles and on a compass point from Kontum. I remember getting some men going on clearing a spot for extraction. I didn't really have to say much, the others started in with matchete's and blew a few trees with C-4 and grenades. I remember worring about our right flank and directed a few guys up the bluff with their weapons. I also walked back towards the APC with my hands out in a pushing motion. He quickly took the hint and backed up the curved slope to cover us and the top of the bluff with the .50 Cal.
It seemed like things were happening rapidly and at the same time in slow motion. I remember being all over the place with a stop at the 'FNG's truck to see how it was going ever few minutes. I helped in the extraction of his shredded legs while talking to him and keeping him from nodding off. He did good. He was very brave. He was one of the 'guys' and I told him so in so many words.
With a crude LZ cut out the medivac came on the radio and I popped smoke at his request. It was a little tricky getting him guided in through the trees but the pilot didn't hesitate. At about the same time we had managed to get him out of the truck and I believe a medic had made it back to us by then. We carried him to the chopper covering his face from the prop blast of dust, loaded him on and off he went to the 71st Evac at Arty Hill, and to Doc Cich.
We managed to drag the truck ahead and off to one side and continued on our way. I heard years later that we were actually in a foiled ambush and I do remember seeing gun ships up ahead firing towards the north side of where the lead of our convoy was. I don't know if we were or not.
We were told that the 'FNG' was doing okay later in the day but I knew he at least had to lose his legs.
Some many years later I heard from Doc Cich. He told me he never made it. He was KIA. He remember him well.
Why they blew his truck instead of mine, I don't know. Who he was I'll never know. Where he came from I can't tell you. But I can tell you that he became one of the 'guy's that day and he belonged to us. He belongs on our Honor Roll.
Jeff 'JD' Danielson