This is a story that I wrote years ago with the intentions of submitting it to "Chicken Soup for the Veterans Soul". I never followed through and my notes have been tucked away ever since. In 2006, I went to a little mini-reunion with a few guys from my gun section. As usual, we started talking about our memories of Vietnam, and the conversation kept coming back around to this one particular evening. Like most of the stories on this website, we remind the reader of how our memories have faded over the years.
Now, with the help of Keith Porter, I can submit the whole story. I have found out, by talking with the guys at the reunion, I have "blocked out" a lot of things that happened that night. You see, Keith Porter was wounded that night. He was my number one powder man, and because he was always there, whenever I needed him, I guess I blocked out the fact that he could possibly have been hurt from incoming mortars. Still, to this day, I do not remember anything about Keith being wounded. The lousy part about him getting hit, is that he NEVER received a Purple Heart. Here's my story......................
This particular afternoon was calm yet very busy. We were going to move back to FSB Wade (near Loc Ninh) the next morning, so our Battery Commander had us tear down all of our personnel bunkers as well as all of the ammo bunkers. His line of thinking was that if we did all that the night before, we could make a cleaner and faster exit the next morning.
Two weeks earlier, we were at another location on a Turkey Shoot into Cambodia and when we left there to come to this location, we did it in record time. The Captain thought by breaking down the night before would have much better results. WRONG!!! After we had everything torn down and the culverts loaded on trucks, we stopped for the evening meal. After supper, I walked out to the gun to talk to FDC about the up-coming fire missions that night. That is when I heard the first incoming mortar round leave the tube.
I hit the ground and waited for more. It took a minute, and then they came in hot and heavy. I didn't realize it at the time, but that first round wounded three guys on # 2 gun. Charlie was so close I could hear each round leave the tube so I waited for a break and headed for the area where all my men were. My timing wasn't too good, and evidently neither was my speed. After I took off running, a round exploded and I hit the dirt. A couple more landed close by, because I was hit in the back with flying dirt.
Anyway, I was determined to get back to my area, as that was where my helmet, flak jacket, M-16 and my guys were. I dove into a hole which turned out to be the powder bunker without the roof on it. I thought to myself, this isn't going to be a very good place to be if a round lands in here, but as I went in, I landed on top of about 3 or 4 of my guys. There was no place else to go, as I said earlier; all bunkers were torn down!
We called in Spooky, gave him our coordinates, and very quickly everything stopped. When I heard that we had wounded men, I went to see if I could help. I did what I could, and Doc already had 2 of the 3 men taken care of. Medivac refused to land while the mortars were coming in so we called again after Snoopy cleaned up. Here is where, what I thought was the end of the story. Keith, who I talked about earlier, had also been hit. Once in the stomach and once above his knee. I'm told that I then went and brought Doc to take care of him. Keith had jumped into a pit we had dug to throw trash we were going to bury and leave behind. On his way to the pit is when he was hit. He told Doc, "I'm O.K.", but he bandaged him anyway and said "I'll see you a little later".
For some reason, still unknown to this day, Doc left on that chopper with the three wounded men, never to return. Keith found this out the next day when he went looking for him to clean up his wounds and for something for the pain. We fired all night that night expending all of our rounds and the remainder of # 2's ammo after they broke down. The sun came up; we loaded up our gear and headed back to Wade without any ammo for the 8 inchers. Here is the lousy part I mentioned earlier. Because of the attack the night before, and Doc leaving and the rush to head out, no report was ever filed for Keith being wounded and, consequently, he never receive his Purple Heart. The good news is, nothing ever came of his wounds and he is as healthy today as he was before getting hurt. But, I still believe if you bleed for your country, you should be recognized.
April 1970 - March 1971
Charlie Battery 6/27th Artillery
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