|May 12th, 1969|
On May 11, 1969, I worked the day shift in
Alpha Battery FDC. I was relieved
at 1800 by the night shift. I ate chow, wrote some letters and went to sleep in
the small personnel bunker behind the Battery Command Post.
BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. I awake in a fright. I check my wristwatch, the time is 0130 hrs. The impacts are almost continuous along with small arms fire. My first thought is ground attack. I dress in record time only to realize that my rifle, flack jacket, steel pot and ammo are all on a hook in the FDC Bunker. I and my two bunker mates take a deep breath, go through the door of the Personnel Bunker and run to the FDC Bunker nearby. When we reach the FDC bunker, pandemonium is the rule inside. All the radios and telephones are going. The Battery Commander, several Officers and NCOs are in the bunker in addition to the FDC Crew. Moreover, all the personnel appeared to be trying to speak at the same time. The one thing that is very apparent to me was that Quan Loi was receiving a heavy ground attack along the entire length of the perimeter of the base.
Person: “They [NVA] just knocked out the Guard Tower on the perimeter over by Number Four”
Person: “God Damn”
Person: “We’re in some deep shit tonight”.
Person: “Get the 105’s at Thunder Four to shoot the DefCons on our sector of the perimeter”
Person: “Thunder IV says they won’t shoot them because they are in a “No Fire Zone”.
Person: “Tell them to shoot the Mother Fuckers anyway”.
I hear friendly artillery from Thunder Four begin to impact on our sector of the perimeter and the attack appears to slow temporarily.
Person: “Call Thunder Four and tell them we need some illumination in our sector of the perimeter.
Person: “It’s on its way”.
Illumination “pops” over the perimeter.
I peer outside and get my first good look at what is happening. A “pall” of smoke is hanging low. I can see shadowy figures running everywhere. The illumination “dies” and it is “pitch” black except for the light from a few flashlights and incoming ordinance impacts. The sound of small arms fire and mortar and rocket impacts is almost constant. I see a flash and an RPG is fired at the Battery.
The night shift seems to have “control” of the situation. I realize that I can’t do anything in the bunker except get in the way. I put on my flack jacket and steel pot, grab my rifle, ammo and hand grenades and go outside the FDC Bunker prepared “to go to war.”
I find me a fighting position outside the FDC bunker entrance which was not too “exposed” and “lock and load” my rifle. I see a shadowy figure running across the street from Headquarters Battery. I am ready to shoot, when I realize the figure is one of the medics from Headquarters Battery bringing a stretcher to FDC. I notice that the Medic has his back covered with shrapnel wounds and is himself badly wounded. The tempo of small arms fire and rounds impacting again begins to increase dramatically.
An Officer runs to FDC Bunker. He yells, “The gooks are coming through the wire; lets go”. I follow him to the perimeter. After what seems like an “hour” we arrive at the interior wire of the Battery and I am placed in a bunker in close proximity to Number Four gun pad. I am the only person inside it. Just as I get in the bunker, Number Four is knocked out by an RPG. I see the flash, I hear no sound. Then I hear yelling and screaming from the vicinity of the gun pad.
The tubes of the Mortar Platoon between us and the perimeter “pop”. Someone yells, “There’s nobody down there; they’re all dead”. I see shadowy figures in the mortar platoon area. I fire my rifle at them. I feel the rifle, but hear no sound. The tubes in the Mortar Platoon Area quit firing. No penetration has been made of our Battery Defenses by the NVA that I can discern. Small arms fire and incoming ordinance goes from constant to sporadic for the next several hours. I maintain my position on the interior perimeter. I continue to see shadowy figures in the illumination, but they are headed toward the “Green Line”.
At about 0500, I am told to move further back into the interior of the Battery Area. I am in the area of Number Two or Number Three gun pads. At about 0600 we begin to receive rocket fire. It lasts about 30 minutes. Several incoming rounds impact in the Battery Area. About 0700, an Officer comes by my position and says, “It’s all over”. I go back to FDC to do my regular shift. Chow is ready at 0800 hrs. I go eat “breakfast”, but it has no taste. I have lived to fight another day.
I have never been the same after that night.
|Gary Graham Then and Now|