The Highland Tour

The 1/92nd Field Artillery
Association - Vietnam

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Artillery Hill, and Other Sights


My name is Steve "Ollie" Ollerton. I was drafted into the Army in June of 1969, and took basic training at Ft. Ord California. My AIT training was done at Ft. Sill Oklahoma, and after a months leave at my home in Santee, Ca. I reported to Oakland Army Base. After getting outfitted with jungle fatigues, and other gear, we were bussed to San Francisco Airport, and flew United Airlines to Bien Hoa, South Vietnam. We made stops in Hawaii, Wake Island, and Okinawa. It took 22 hours total time to get to Vietnam.

I had been aware that an artillery unit in the highlands had been in a big battle, and had been overrun at a place called LZ Kate. It was my destiny to join those same redlegs down at a place called Duc Lap in southern II Corps. Three days after arriving in Vietnam, I was in the middle of a battle known as the siege of Duc Lap. I have no pictures from that time, but my intent is to share the pictures I do have, and give a little explanation about them. Here, then, is my tour of duty as best as I can recall.

If you have comments or questions feel free to write me. I would like to hear from you.


*NOTE: Steve 'Ollie' Ollerton passed away on March 25, 2002. He was a great assest to the 1/92nd FA both in RVN and at home.

A frequent contributor, Steve was also instrumental in starting and maintaining the web site for the 1/92nd FA Association, VN.

This is the Steve's Memorial Plaque on Mount Soledad in Southern California.

After arriving at Bien Hoa, I flew North to Nha Trang, and then on to Pleiku This took two days, and I found myself on guard duty in a tower on the perimeter of Artillery Hill. I was a member of Charlie Battery 1/92nd Artillery, a 155mm towed Howitzer unit. Artillery Hill was our base camp, and on top of the hill stood a statue of the Virgin Mary that honored the French soldiers killed in a massacre in the Mang Yang Pass just to the East of Pleiku. Everyone at the hill had their picture taken at the statue, and I was no exception. We are looking West here, and directly behind the statue is a tower with a search light. I was told that it could light up a hill twenty miles away, bright enough to cast shadows. The few times I saw it working, I believed it.

One of the daily activities of a gun section is the cleaning of the gun in the morning. Most of the time we would clean it right after breakfast. It didn't matter if you had cleaned it at three in the morning (0300), you still gave it a good going over in the daylight. One man, usually a tall guy, would stand at the muzzle of the gun, and pour rifle bore cleaner (RBC) down the tube, while everyone else pushed, and pulled a bronze bristle brush through the barrel to get all the dirt, and burnt powder out. After that two guys would wrap a rope around the barrel, and pour RBC over the outside and in a sawing motion, working up and down the barrel they would clean the outside to a high shine. The Asst. Gunner would make sure the breech was clean, and operational, and the Gunner would bore sight the scope to make sure it was aligned with the barrel. The aiming stakes would be properly aligned, and the ammo, and powder bunkers would be replenished.

Every gun in Charlie Battery sported a mascot. Gun six had a dog of the most dubious parentage possible. Here is Kom Sa, the ugliest dog in the field artillery! He went with us everywhere we travelled, and stood guard with us every night. For rations, and a little attention, he gave us 100%. His alert ears, and nose, probably kept more than one sapper at bay.

Behind Kom Sa is Tommy Gray. It was a rare thing to see Tommy sitting down. He was a workaholic, and always on the go. When I became section chief of the gun, it was my privelage to promote him to Sp4. It was something that should have happened sooner, but isn't that always the case.

You can see that the gun has torn up the top layer of sandbags along the pit wall. About every other week another layer of bags would have to be added to the wall. You could usually tell which direction we fired the most by which part of the circle had the most torn up sandbags.

This picture was taken out at Plei M'Rong, northwest of Pleiku. We took over for A Battery who were getting ready for the invasion of Cambodia. We really had a great time out there. In this picture we are firing a registration mission, so Red, our section chief, is being real casual. Our gunner, Gardner (in the white shirt), would be going home in two weeks. Mike, the asst. gunner (far right), would be moved to another gun. I would become asst. gunner, the job I liked most on the gun, and we would get two new guys. Red would start teaching me to be gunner, and in two months I would go from projo man to section chief. I would feel about as out of place as I could feel, and the only saving grace would be the fact that the rest of the gun section would know what they were doing. This picture represents about the last week of being a care free gunbunny. It is also about the best picture I ever took of the gun in action. That was some of the finest, and reddest dirt I ever encountered there at Plei M'Rong.


These last two pictures were taken by Jay Livesay. Jay and I went through the Army together, and he ended up in B Battery out at Ben Het. We went home on the same Freedom Bird, and remain friends today.

This picture is of Firebase 6. Four guns of B battery were there during my entire tour. It covered a large area of the Dak To valley, and mountains to the west. When we were at Dak To during the Siege of Dak Seang,, FB 6 fired support for us, and we returned the favor. They could also support Ben Het, as could we. This series of interlocking firebases made it hard for the enemy to cause trouble for any one firebase. You will notice that it seems like Autumn around FB 6. That is the result of agent orange, and other defoliantes spayed in the area. It was only later that we learned of the bad effects these defoliantes had on humans.

This is the best picture I can find to represent the monsoon season. Jay took this out at Ben Het, but I am sure that anyone that spent time in the Highlands ran into storms like this. At Dak To we had all our claymor mines set off by lightening. I thought we were getting hit, and wondered how they knew where to aim in that downpour. One of my men was carrying a shovel, and got nailed in the neck by lightening. It was bad enough to knock him out face-first in the mud. He came to after a buddy and I carried him over to HQ. As a boy raised up in southern California, that was about as wild a weather as I have ever seen.

Highland Tours Page 2

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