While at the medivac site, I got snagged by an infantry officer. He ordered me to guard a VC prisoner. The prisoner appeared to be about 12 years old. I was chewed out royally by a major for taking my eyes off the prisoner for a second. After those incidents, I can only recall one other for that night. I was heading back to the bunker and was passing Captain Ray's bunker. While passing, Captain Ray called out to me. He asked who I was and how everyone was doing. I told him that Dixon was going to all the bunkers, making sure that we had plenty of M-16 ammo. Knowing Captain Ray was wounded, I told him that a medivac would be coming for him soon. He said not to worry about him, but to make sure the other wounded were medivac'd out. I talked with him for a few more minutes, but I don't have a clue about what was said.
(Photo - Bill Davis in his hooch - FSB 6)
The next morning, we saw gooks hanging on the wire. They had been cut in half with a 50 caliber. Later on, Greg Steiger, me and the guys that were left in our section were attempting to repair our gun. The gun had been damaged by shrapnel and was unable to fire. As we were assessing the damage, we began receiving either rocket or artillery incoming. Greg and I dove for the ditch that the trails of the gun sat in. I got up and headed for the nearest bunker. I thought Greg was right behind me. I didn't know that he had been hit.
While in the bunker, I heard our guns firing. I stuck my head out the bunker entry to see which of our buns it was. I don't remember which sections were firing. I asked if they needed help. I was told to prepare the powder. My hands were shaking so badly with adrenaline from fright, I don't know how I accomplished anything. The NVA began to walk their rounds near the gun we were on and some of the guys and the gun got hit. We moved to another gun and got off a few rounds before, once again, the rounds moved closer and closer to us. We had to give up and dive for the nearest bunker. Sergeant Lucas was the gunner on the second gun if I remember correctly. Later that day I learned that Greg was KIA.
(Photo - Three guy in a hooch on FSB 6 - The guy in the middle is Phillips)
A side note: I had been with FDC a short time prior to Vera. I felt guilty about leaving my gun crew and wanted back on the gun (dumb). So I went to base camp to see the doctor and stayed for a week (that was my R & R). I worked in the motor pool with John Heard while at Artillery Hill. I was back on the gun, minus 1/4 of my pay check, an article 15 in my 201 file and a furious (rightfully so) FDC Lt. when I returned.
While in FDC, we pooled our money and ordered a small refrigerator. The 'fridge' was delivered and was sitting outside FDC at Vera still in plastic wrap. A mortar or rocket round had hit near our salvation from hot sodas. Our beautiful fridge was KIA. It was full of shrapnel holes. no cold beer or sodas for us.
The second night, I visited an infantry trench to see what was going on. We could see Charlie popping his head up in an attempt to draw fire so he could spot our muzzle flash. After that visit, I had great empathy and gratefulness for the grunts guarding our perimeter.
I remember the sky raiders bombing, the Cobras firing rockets and the B-52 bombing. A chopper got hit and went down just outside the wire. I was shocked to hear Lt. Hughes had been hit. I have been told by Bill Davis that tanks came in on the third day and surrounded our perimeter, but I don't recall. When the B-52's finally stopped the incoming we began to see the toll that the NVA had taken. There was only two of us remaining in the third gun section. I believe that there had been nine on our gun when we arrived at Vera. Some of our section, including Greg Steiger had been in country for a month.
(Photo - This is a monkey that the Montegards killed and roasted. I had a little taste. Ii beat the hell out of Cs. That's Ridge runner holding up the monkey. FBS 6 or 25.)
While packing up to leave Vera, I received orders that said I was now a Specialist 4th class. Whoopee! How the heck I mae Spec 4 is beyond me. The other guy that was left in our section received his orders for Corporal. Wish I could remember his name.
I know that we were hit on other fire bases after Vera but nothing stands out in my mind except Fire Base 6.
A footnote about Greg Steiger. Anthony Piccari has been searching for his family for years. A few months ago he located Greg's daughter. She lives near his Philadelphia home. Greg's daughter was one month old when Greg was KIA. She did not have any details of her father until she met Anthony.