June 5th - Quan Loi, Vietnam
After the attack on May 12, 1969 the guard bunker on top of Gun Number Four’s projo bunker had been reinforced; a chain link RPG fence was placed in front of it, and the area where the mortar platoon had been hit was bulldozed, giving number four a more clear firing zone in the event of a ground attack. I was on guard in that bunker the night of June 5, 1969 with Jan Maclaga from Number Four Gun Section. Rain clouds hovered above and as a light rain began to fall slowly down, we put on our ponchos. It was so dark we couldn’t see more than ten feet in front of us and the sound of the falling rain made it nearly impossible to hear.

It must have been around midnight when a trip flare went off and rockets started landing. Shortly all hell broke loose. Somebody popped a flare and I remember Maclaga saying, “My god look at all of ‘em, they’re like ants”. Almost immediately Jim Moore from Number Four came up the ladder to help. We cranked the .50 cal up and fired a burst. I was on the left side, Maclaga in the middle feeding and Moore was guarding our open side by the ladder, so if anyone got through he could pick them off before they could blind-side us.

I had remembered hearing on May 12th that the machine gun had jammed so I kept thinking to fire bursts and pause so the barrel wouldn’t overheat and force us to change barrels. We had an extra barrel up there with us as well as an asbestos glove, but I knew when changing barrels, if you didn’t put it back in exactly the same way the gun had to be retimed, which could have been critical.

Every time I paused, Sgt. Huff, number four’s crew chief would yell up to us asking what was wrong. He would yell at us - I would yell back down everything was okay and fire for awhile. Every thirty seconds it seemed our RPG screen would save us. I was absolutely amazed how well it worked. They kept firing RPG’s but nothing got through the screen. There were aiming sticks jutting up out of the sandbags and, though I had a very wide range of motion with the 50 Caliber, I tried to be careful to stay between the sticks for fear of hitting one of the other bunkers. I had fired .50’s in training but not to that extent and I remember the machine gun almost jumping up as it barked like an angry dog trying to get to an enemy.

As morning approached I remember telling Maclaga that I had never been so tired in my life. At dawn we saw the destruction in front of us. One of the infantry guys in the bunker just forward and to the side of us had been killed and sadly we heard Brupbacher in the bunker on the other side had also lost his life to an RPG. I didn’t know him personally but have thought about him many times over the years.

I will never forget how cool both Maclaga and Moore were the whole time we were under attack. The men of number four gun section gave a great account of themselves and after that I felt much safer every night when I lay down to sleep knowing those guys on number four were on the perimeter of our battery, between me and the enemy.
Mike Cumiford
Alpha Btry 6/27th Arty   Then   and    Now
Apr 69 to Jun 70
Read Mike's Memory of May 12, 1969 at Quan Loi


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