May 12th, 1969 - Quan Loi, Vietnam
Upon arriving in battery the last week in April I was assigned to Denny Webb’s crew on gun number three. That night I was lying in my bunk asleep when the phone watch guard ran down the steps yelling, “Gooks in the wire”. I rolled out of bed, heart pounding, jammed my boots on, slipped into my flak vest, and rifle in hand, raced up the bunker steps. I was met at the top of the stairs by Lt. Albers who was holding his hand to his face. He had seconds before been nicked by a piece of shrapnel. He told me to man the powder bunker and prevent any attempt to blow the powder at all cost. He said he thought gooks had breached the wire. He pushed me hard in the back and told me to run.

The incoming was so intense I wasn’t sure I could make it to the far side of the gun pad where the bunker was located. Rushing in the door, I saw movement and nearly shot Shockley by mistake. I didn’t know he was already in there.

Lt. Albers showed up a couple of minutes later taking Shockley with him to reinforce a bunker or tower that had been hit. Not long after that Sgt Webb appeared followed by Thompson from our section. He said that the mortar platoon had been hit hard and they needed help carrying those guys. He told Thompson and me to go over to headquarters and get a stretcher. He would remain and guard the powder bunker. As we ran over there, somebody took some shots as us causing me to crouch and keep a lower profile. A makeshift aid station was set up outside, where we grabbed a stretcher and headed for the mortar platoon.

When we got there the first thing we saw was one of the mortar platoon guys bending over one of his fallen comrades. He had a lot of blood on him and was sobbing. He said it was his best friend laying there who was dead. We asked him if he was badly wounded and he said he wasn’t, it was mostly other people’s blood on him. We asked him where the most badly wounded were and he said everyone seriously hurt had already been taken away. He calculated there were only maybe four guys not dead or seriously wounded in the whole platoon.

We told him to lie down on the stretcher and we would carry him over to the aid station. He refused, asking us to take his dead friend instead. As we picked his friend up, he told us that his friend was a brand new father and would never see his child.

He said the platoon never had a chance. The gooks had gotten in and thrown satchel charges in their bunkers while they were still asleep. Most of them hadn’t time to even grab their weapons. A majority of his platoon had been wiped out in about sixty seconds. Thompson and I made about three trips back and forth and by the last trip most of the bodies of the mortar platoon had been loaded in the back of a truck. An officer told us we could go back to our gun section. Our sad duty was over.
Mike Cumiford
Alpha Btry 6/27th Arty   Then   and    Now
Apr 69 to Jun 70
Read Mike's Memory of June 5, 1969 at Quan Loi
Other May 12, 1969 Memories



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