'F' Battery Stories

The 1/92nd Field Artillery
Association - Vietnam

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NOTE: Article also contained a photo (which I will scan in later) and the following information:
Henry Harrington is an Office Management Trainee who has recently rejoined the Company after military leave which sent him, among other places, to Vietnam. From Vietnam he wrote a letter, portions of which are reproduced below, describing some of his observations. Henry joined the Company in 1965 at the Brockton office and is now at the Cambridge District.

John Hancock Insurance Company Magazine Article

Sent in by Harry Harrington

The following article was published in a company magazine called "YOU". It is published by the Public Relations Department in the interests of the District Agency Department Field Office Personnel of the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company. It starts out on page eight with a title of "POSTMARK: VIETNAM" and is submitted by a Miss Keenan who apparently asked Harry Harrington to write about his Vietnam experiences while still in Vietnam and published upon his return to the USA and his continued employment with John Hancock Insurance Company.

Dear Miss Keenan:

On 2 April I flew up to Pleiku (Vietnam) and the next morning I traveled by jeep to a place 20 miles southwest of Pleiku called the Oasis where after making the necessary coordination with our "B" battery, I flew out by helicopter to marry up with a battalion of Vietnamese . . . who were engaged in clearing an area into which all surrounding villages could be moved, where they could be provided more overall protection than in their scattered villages . . . .

While still listed as a forward observer I was assigned as Executive Officer of a provisional 105mm howitzer battery located at our base camp and whose mission is to provide artillery support for the city of Pleiku and surrounding vicinity. This battery was affectionately known as "F" Troop since like its television counterpart its performance had in the past provided some ludicrous moments . . . .

On 10 June I experienced for the first time the offensive stealth of the Viet Cong. They had crept up to 800 meters of our battalion area, which is exposed to the north, and set up two locations from where they mortared out area with both 60mm and 82mm mortars and small arms fire. The attack came as a surprise, more so than usual as we . . . had not felt any enemy fire in our sixteen months . . . .

It was estimated that the artillery fire had killed or wounded over 80 of the Viet Cong. This was unconfirmed since, as is the custom, the enemy recovered all their fallen allies. Our battalion received the brunt of the attack and suffered 38 wounded, 20 seriously, some of whom had just arrived in the battalion the previous day and had been in the country for four days, being newly arrived from the U.S.

Though most of my working time is between 5 pm and 6 am I occasionally find myself performing other jobs . . . these include sixteen-hour patrols from 2 pm until 6 am around our perimeter. From 500 meters to 5000 meters away or aerial observation flights in a two-seater "Birddog" adjusting artillery fire from one of several units, whether they be our own or not, on visual reconnaisance flights. One time while flying a "recon" over the Ia Drang Valley, we strayed about a mile into Cambodia . . . finally, we returned to South Vietnam--in almost a cold sweat.

Aside from the Viet Cong, weather is a major factor with which we have to deal. From May to October we had our monsoon season . . . . Let it suffice to say that I wouldn't mind if I never say mud again, as we were sometimes up to our chests in the stuff. Even though the rains only stopped last month, already the dust is upon us and it also is quite unpleasant as it gets about one foot deep in the roads . . . .

On 26 October the North Vietnamese army said hello and greeted us with 122 mm and 140 mm rockets for over an hour . . . . One of these six-foot rockets landed twenty yards away from me leaving a crater six feet deep and ten feet across. Luckily its fuse was set on a delay action and just covered the area for 80 yards around with dirt. Under the circumstances as this . . . it's no wonder everyone remains poised because in a firing battery you realize that everyone's life depends on the speed and accuracy of the artillery fire. Ten days ago we located the approximate position of the rocket launchers and saturated the area with artillery . . . . The next day, as an infantry unit mad a sweep of the area 8000 meters away, many craters found around launch sites as well as much bloody ground and clothes.

To turn to more pleasant things, I was given a rare opportunity to travel when in August a group of seventy artillery men departed for South Korea to attend a one-week school whose nature was classified . . . . The pass was a welcome break from Vietnam even though on one occasion we were within limits of the demilitarized zone where all is not exactly peaceful between North and South Korea . . . .

I recall once riding through Saigon in August with a busload of GI's and finding myself as well as everyone else staring at an unfamiliar (to us) object: a traffic signal with red, yellow, and green light. It seems like a silly thing but it reminded us all of the many everyday things that are found only in civilized societies and are never thought about until they are removed.

Now, as I am wishing for my remaining 54 days left in Vietnam to go by more quickly, I am looking forward to possibly a ten-day drop so I can be home for Christmas . . . When I arrive in the U.S., I shall be processed out of the active army and into the reserves, as my two-year obligation will have been served; and then I can return to civilian society, and after a brief respite, to working for the "Spirit of '67," even though by now it's another year and time for another slogan . . .

I could go on and on as there are many interesting things to write of . . . but I shall close with the observation that in the last two years I have learned much about life itself, and have been given the opportunity to travel to places both unknown to me, but also "unknowable" as an average civilian.

(s) Henry Harrington

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