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|On 27 April 1967, D Battery, [2/94th Artillery] (B Battery 6th Battalion 27th Artillery)** underwent the heaviest single attack at Gio Linh, withstanding over 1,000 rounds of incoming. During the attacks, the gun section returned the fire and destroyed two enemy artillery positions and caused numerous secondary explosions. The attacks continued nightly, and on 30 April 1967, Private First Class Leonard Martin Jr. from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was killed in action while manning his gun. (From 2/94th Artillery Website)|
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Article below submitted by Lieutenant Larry Vinyard of D Battery: The authors and the sources of this story are not known. The story is lifted directly from the six pages in the 6/27 Battalion prepared publication.
The D Battery Story, Article written 1 May 1967,
(B Battery 6th Battalion 27th Artillery, attached)
Extracted from The Redleg Courier, soldier newspaper of 6th Battalion, 27th
Artillery, Phouc Vinh, RVN, Volume 1, Number 7, dated May 1, 1967.
Commanding Officer: LTC Edward C O’Connor (by 1981, Major General)
OIC: 1LT Thomas R. Stover
Editor: SP4 Paul R. Frederick
The “B” Battery Story
“ My God, my God, please get something up here!” was the anguished radio call of the leader of a squad sized patrol from the 3d Battalion, 12 Marines. His squad was surrounded by an estimated two Battalions of VC. If ever there was a need for fast, accurate artillery fire, this was it – the lives of these Marines depended upon it. The call went to “B” Battery, 6th Battalion, 27th Artillery, who responded with 60 rounds of 175mm gun fire in the next 20 minutes. Result – dispersion of the enemy force and the saving of the day.
It’s typical of the actions of Bravo Battery since its move into the I Corps area near the DMZ. Proud of their accomplishments, deadly efficient, cheerful in spite of adversity, the battery has piled achievement upon achievement. It’s the battery of firsts: the first Army unit in support of Marines in the I Corps area, the first artillery unit to fire into North
Vietnam, the first unit to fire the 175mm gun direct fire in combat, the first Army artillery unit to attack and destroy and anti-aircraft site in North Vietnam.
The “B” Battery story really began when the Marine elements first began operating in the jungles of Quang Tri Province. Right from the start it was evident that these embattled soldiers needed more artillery support. As the Marines did not have a gun as large and as powerful as the 175mm in their arsenal, it was up to the Army to supply what was needed. The Army responded with typical alacrity, issuing a call to the 6th Battalion, 27th Artillery on 19 September 1966 to prepare a heavy artillery battery for rapid movement to Saigon; and thence northward to the DMZ. Lieutenant Colonel (the Major) Edward C. O’Connor, the Battalion Commander, responded to the problem in a novel way. He created and amalgamated battery by taking the best men from Bravo and Charlie Batteries, then located side by side in Phuoc Vinh. The result was Task Force 6/27 (or Bravo Battery).
After feverish preparation, this unit left Phuoc Vinh on 23 Sept. 1966. It went to a position just south of the Song Be bridge (sp) where it remained for two days before moving on to Long Binh. It stayed at Long Binh until the 27th of Sept. There the vehicles were rechecked and the battery completely re-supplied. Early on the morning of the 29th, the battery’s equipment was driven to Saigon and loaded onto an LST (Landing Ship Transport). Altogether 26 vehicles were loaded onto the boat, marking the first time a 175mm gun was transported anywhere by LST. The boat was crewed by Japanese sailors, which created some language problems.
The voyage to Da Nang took four days. The seas were violent, causing horrible cases of seasickness among the men. The highlight of the trip was at mealtime, when “mess hall goulash,” a savory delicacy prepared by the Battery Executive Officer was served. This scrumptious feast was prepared by placing the contents of C ration boxes into a big stew. “It tasted pretty good, but not after four days of the same stuff,” said the chef, 1st Lieutenant John H. Hiser.
At Da Nang, the Battery’s equipment was transferred to six LCU’s (Landing Craft Utility) for further shipment to Dong Ha. This was necessary as the large LST’s could not sail up the Cam Lo river (sp) to Dong Ha, whereas the smaller LCU’s could. The major portion of the battery’s personnel was flown to Dong Ha and met the equipment ships there. Following unloading the battery moved overland to their new home at Camp J. J. Carroll on the “Artillery Plateau.” The guns were laid and ready to fire within five minutes after their arrival. Their first fire mission, in fact, came down only 2 hours later.
The Battery was welcomed with open arms by the Marines. These embattled soldiers really know how important artillery support was. The villagers were amazed, they had never seen such behemoths pass through their villages before. The battery’s position was at first right on the perimeter, in fact one of the perimeter bunkers was located within earshot of the Exec Post. This situation was alleviated by moving the perimeter further out.
The big threat at first was not the VC, but large poisonous centipedes, some over eight inches long. Though bites from these ugly animals were not deadly, they could inflict very painful swelling upon a man. Fortunately no one was bitten, but several men had close calls.
On 18 October 1966 the 2d Battalion, 94th Artillery arrived on the artillery plateau. “B” Battery was attached to this organization shortly thereafter, eventually becoming known as Delta Battery, 2d Battalion, 94th Artillery.
An unpopular side effect was the loss of the battery’s cherished call sign, “Redleg.” They had to adopt the call sign of the 2/94th. Considerable rivalry developed between “B” Btry and the other units of its new battalion. It is interesting to note that the 6/27th taught 2/94 a great deal about combat operations. The latter unit was newly arrived from Ft. Sill and knew very little about 6400 mil (sp) operation. They eventually adopted almost all of the standard operating procedures used by the “B” Battery Commander, Captain Gary E. Vanderslice.
The Battery received little control from the 2/94th on fire missions. The Battalion usually supplied only the coordinates of the targets to be shot. All computing and checking of the fire data was done entirely within the battery’s own fire direction center. Some missions came directly from the Marines (often “Redleg” was requested specifically).
October and November saw the beginning of the monsoon season.
Prodigious amounts of rain fell, over 80" between Nov. and Jan., including a 22” downpour on one day. This created great discomfort and considerable mud. The men were not equipped with adequate wet weather apparel, compounding the problem. On top of all this the weather turned cold (yes, it’ cold even in Vietnam), with temperatures often dropping into the 30 – 40 range. The men began to long for sunny days; at one point the sun did not appear at all for a 27 day stretch.
A major casualty of the bad weather was the battery’s building program.
Very little building was done due to the constant rain and non-availability of lumber. Eventually the 2/94th supplied “hardbacks” (wooden tent frames and floors) which got the men out of the mud at least. Wooden gun pads were also built which proved to be quite successful.
A new gun chassis arrived on Thanksgiving Day, giving the battery its full complement of four 175mm guns. It had previously fired with only three as one gun was damaged reroute.
All maintenance was done by the Battery itself. Ordnance support was negligible even in spite of the presence of a team from the 185th Maintenance Battalion. Although this team changed hands four times in 4 and ˝ months ordnance support still has not improved significantly as of this writing.
The supply system was poor also. The Marines were supposed to provide supplies at first but they hardly had enough for their own men. Thus support for B Btry was negligible. With the arrival of other Army units in the I Corps area, plus improvements in the Marine’s own supply system, the present supple situation is much improved. Ammunition was always in plentiful supply. It was brought to Dong Ha by boat, and by truck from there to Camp J. J. Carroll. Ammunition runs were frequent.
Captain Albert R. Pannell assumed command of the Battery upon the rotation of Captain Vanderslice back to the states. Events picked up rapidly thereafter. On 2 Feb 67 a Platoon of guns plus the FDC section displaced to Dong Ha to support the 12th Marines on Operation Chinook. They stayed 12 days.
On 27 Feb 67 the Battery fired the first artillery rounds into North Vietnam. Almost no one knew it at the time, for it seemed to be just another fire mission on a bright sunny day. Shortly thereafter whole crews of newsmen and photographers from NBC, CBS and AFN descended upon the battery, and the secret was out. Jumping at the chance for publicity, the cannoneers really “hammed it up” in front of the cameras. “This was something we always wanted to do, to hit Charlie in his own back yard,” said Staff Sergeant Harry Dulin, the chief of the gun that was the first.
Shortly, thereafter another battery of the 2/94th went to Gio Linh to support Operation Highrise. This operation was to clear the area around Gio Linh of VC and North Vietnamese units and to nullify a village which had become so well fortified by the NVA that it resembled a fortress. It was spectacularly successful. Charlie, however, retaliated with a vengeance.
The camp at Gio Linh became a nightly target for mortar attacks. One night over 600 rounds fell onto the camp. “B” Battery, still at Camp J. J. Carroll, kept one gun constantly pointed towards Gio Linh to be constantly ready to fire protective fires for them. This was done several times.
Camp J. J. Carroll was hit hard also. On the night of 6 March 67 over 450 rounds of mortar fire were directed at the camp. Approximately 45 rounds landed in the battery area itself. Some guns and vehicles were slightly damaged and four men were wounded by shrapnel (none seriously). Several tents received direct hits and all were damaged by shrapnel. One man was in one end of a tent when a round landed in the other end. He was injured. Many of these rounds were 140mm fin stabilized rockets.
The Redleg Battery displaced to Gio Linh on 24 March 1967, relieving B Battery of the 2/94th which was under considerable strain from bearing the brunt of these mortar attacks. B Btry 6/27th was immediately subjected to the same treatment at Gio Linh; they averaged 20 incoming rounds a night for the first two weeks.
To protect themselves against these rounds, the men constructed covered foxholes to serve as shelters. These had walls and roofs made from discarded ammo boxes and were covered with several layers of sandbags. These bunkers served in lieu of tents as sleeping quarters. “They’re not as comfortable as the Waldorf, but I’m sure glad to have something over my head!” said SP4 Gail Hallmeyer, the chief computer.
On 8 April 1967, the Battery began receiving mortar rounds from an abandoned schoolhouse approx. (sp) 1,200 distant. To show the men of the 105mm battery next door that 175mm men can stand and shoot, even during a mortar attack, and because the situation warranted, Lt. Hiser, now Battery Commander, ordered his guns to shoot direct fire that the schoolhouse. With the 105mm gun crews cheering in the distance the big 175s lowered their tubes and literally blasted the schoolhouse to the ground. Only a portion of a wall was left standing. Eight rounds were fired at the schoolhouse itself, with three direct hits and one probably being scored. Eight more rounds were fired at the surrounding area. Needless to say those mortars were not heard from again.
As of this writing the Battery is continuing on in its mission at Gio Linh. It fires mostly at anti-aircraft positions and troop concentration in North Vietnam, in fact, they have a requirement to shoot 300 rounds per day to the north (once they hit 455). The Battery has constructed a 60’ tower in the Battery area from which observers seek targets and direct fire towards them. Spotter planes are not used extensively (as around Phouc Vinh), however jet pilots have been known to use their planes as spotter planes for them.
Another novel twist is the use of the Battery as a “flak suppressant.” Here the Battery fires at enemy anti-aircraft guns which at that time are shooting at friendly planes flying overhead. They fire fantastic numbers of rounds (17,470 in six months in I Corps, with over 5,400 being shot in a mere three weeks at Gio Linh). That along is quite a feat."