I was the medic, Doc David
Hastings in Charley Battery 6/27 Artillery from August, 1966, to
was the medic when I arrived (C battery had two medics till Paul
rotated home a few months later). I trusted him -- he once pulled free
the bleeding foot of a Vietnamese Kitchen Worker from a drainpipe
made from a 175mm canister.
I was in HHB for less than a
week until assigned to Charley Battery. I was drafted June 14, 1965,
and after medic training at the army's Medic Training Center, at
Fort Sam Houston, Texas, I stayed on for some months as permanent
party, giving tests. And August 18, 1966, reported to Travis AFB for
transport to Vietnam and the 6/27 Artillery. Within hours of
arrival at Oakland I was put on a plane to Vietnam, with a half hour
in Hawaii then two hours in the Philippines. After arriving in Vietnam, in
the middle of the night I was given a cot at the base at Long Binh.
The next morning, early, personnel from the 6/27 Artillery came and got me;
and later that day, I think, I was on a plane to Phuoc Vinh.
My story is a medic's story about treating the health needs of
men and ten Vietnamese women Kitchen Workers, giving
malaria pills, holding sick call and then taking (walking) some men
to D Company (the medical company -- located just west of HHB on the
south perimeter), staying alert and being on call 24/7, being in FDC
during alerts, going into the field 8 or 9 times in an APC on recon
or taking the 8" guns (howitzers) to an alternate site or once going
on MEDCAP with the battalion doctor.
By seeing casualties and talking to other medics I knew a lot more
about what was
going on than I would ever discuss in the Battery. (A
friendly medic in D Company showed me his "bed" that had been hit
dead center by a VC mortar round.) I chose to do my job well, but
not to make friends because that seemed like a bad idea for an
(artillery battery) medic in a combat zone.
I was fortunate, I never had to treat a combat casualty. The only
serious conditions I did treat were poisoning, mental collapse, and
heat/anxiety exhaustion. (The heat/anxiety exhaustion case was
during a fire mission when I was in FDC. An ambulance came from HHB
to the Battery and took him.) Other than hearing two sniper rounds
and watching the flashes in the darkness of a VC mortar and the
corresponding explosions on the airstrip I had no direct experience
of enemy action. But life in Charlie Battery kept getting more
I will say this, the men in
Charlie Battery worked hard. They built the
tropical housing units so we could get out of the tents (and I could
avoid the 20 foot python that seemed to like the lizards in my
command tent, perhaps it lived under the wood floor) and still
pulled their nighttime firing missions and they built the
shelters with 55 gallon drums filled with gravel.
On R&R in Tokyo (11/66) I bought a camera and did take a lot of
pictures - I have included a few with these memories.
Recently I read
page 49 of "A Legacy of Honor."
The mortar attack I
saw while walking to FDC occurred on May 11, 1967. I was in FDC May
12, when our first 8" rounds of counter mortar fire triggered the
surprise response of a VC mortar attack. Per
page 48, May 28, 1967,
was the "most spectacular turkey shoot." I was with the 8" guns that
full day. That was the final time that Charlie Battery units went into the
field before I went back to the world in early June, 1967.
It was a relief to see in the "We Honor The Memory" list on the
website that none of the soldiers I served with in Charlie Battery died on
their tour in Vietnam. I didn't know until this week that 6/27 Artillery
soldiers had died just days after I left for home. (Since Vietnam
and Cambodia fell I have wondered about the fate of our Vietnamese
When I first arrived at Charlie Battery on the perimeter at Phuoc
Vinh, Bravo Battery was located south of us. HHB was
south and on the other side of the airstrip, on the perimeter just
west of the main gate to Phuoc Vinh and just east of the Vietnamese
"Mayor's house" -- unfortunately I don't see the steeple of the
mayor's house in any of these photos so it's probably further east
Photo 5. (The directions given here are based on the battery
Photo 14, running due
The road in
Photo 5 and
Photo 7 is on a straight line (as shown in
These two photos were taken from my tent aiming left then right, and
give a sense of what distances can be seen.
In Photo 4, the gun is firing. The star's shake is up-down due to
concussion thru the ground to the camera but the near end of the
gun's tube looks too wide because the tube is in recoil. Smoke (and heat) obscure the horizon behind the men on top. The wood
floor of "my" tent acts like a drum head; when the ground concussion
hits, dust on the floor will bounce 12 inches straight up.
aerial photo of Charlie Battery shown on Adin M. Tooker's
of Tour Vietnam", I can see "my" tent on the near side (east side) of the road
and just south of the "white" roofed building, maybe Paul
Thorp and I were
there when the photo was taken. And I can see the rusty roofed mess
hall and some of the bunkers on the west, jungle side, perimeter.
North and northeast of us was open ground for perhaps 1,000 yards.
East and southeast were out of view (till 6/67) but southeast
included brigade headquarters, infantry battalions, 105mm artillery
batteries, mortars, and, later as new construction, a PX, a church,
and a USO club. I went once to each of the last three places.
I left Charlie Battery to rotate "to the World" for
separation in June, 1967. I'm not sure of the exact date I
walked onto the street, separated, from Travis AFB, but the headline
in bold face on the newspaper in the vending machine was "THE WAR IS
OVER." (I didn't know anything about the Six Day War in the Middle
East to which the headlines referred.) As you know, the
war was not really over, but it was over for me.