Every G. I. assigned to the Republic of Viet Nam as a replacement was, whether he/she wished to acknowledge it, considered to be a “new guy” or FNG. No matter what your rank; if you were a replacement and new in-country; you were an FNG. Such was my experience as member of Alpha Battery, 6/27th Artillery at Quan Loi.
In early March of 1969, I had been a member of the Battery about four weeks. I was working the 0600 – 1800 duty rotation in the FDC. After my “shift” was completed; I ate chow at the mess hall and went to the EM Club for a beer. My intentions were to drink a couple of beers; then go to the personnel bunker and write some letters. What started out innocently enough, quickly got out of control. I succeeded in surpassing the two beers several times over. Due to the close proximity of our personnel bunker to the EM Club, I was able to get to my bunk and go to sleep without too much hassle.
Sometime later, I awoke with a terrible urge to pee. I got out of my bunk and began walking toward the bunker entrance in order to go outside and relieve myself. I had made it part of the way, when I heard a series of explosions.
As I reached the entrance, several of my bunker mates were standing near it. I started to go outside when they stopped me and asked me “Where the Hell are you going?” I told them the situation and proceeded further. They told me the Battery was under mortar and rocket attack. I said “bullshit” that I had been in the Battery long enough to know when the guns were firing. One of them said, “Okay, it’s your ass.” As I walked up the steps, I heard another say in a very derogatory manner, “Dumb FNG.”
I made my way outside the bunker to where a “urinal” or "piss tube" was located. I began to relieve myself when I both saw and heard several loud explosions in front of me on the Quan Loi Airstrip. To make things worse, new explosions were moving toward me and were much closer.
I came to my senses immediately. I realized that I had gotten myself into one “Hell of a mess”. What to do? The choices passed through my mind. Do I turn around and run back to relative safety of the bunker and pee on myself in the process: or do I “tempt fate” and finish what I had started; then run as hard as I could to the bunker?-------------------I chose the latter. T he twenty seconds it took me to finish seemed like an eternity. I then turned around and ran as fast as I could back to the bunker.
Just as I got inside the entrance; I heard several more very loud explosions. Mortar rounds were exploding on the road behind the bunker and were in close proximity to the place where I had just been standing. I realized that if I had been a split second slower; I would have been either killed or severely injured.
When the attack was finished, I had time to think. I realized that I was just what the person in the bunker said that I was; a “Dumb FNG”. I quickly came to the conclusion that blatant stupidity and gross “tempting of fate” could and would cause a person to lose their life at a place called Quan Loi.
I was no longer an FNG.
|Gary Graham Then and Now|