I returned to the search area to help and
almost immediately one of the guys said he had found
Roy Ransom. He was dead.
Heíd been pinned under the spade across the midsection of his back and driven
deep under water, face down. Iím sorry I donít remember who found his body
because it was somewhat traumatic for him too. I was uncomfortable with just one
of us pronouncing someone dead, yet the medic was busy doing other important
things. I asked that he keep his head out of the water so I could also look, and
then did so, checking closely for movement in his iris and any breathing signs.
I remember that I did this but the vision was blocked because it was grisly and
I thought highly of this fine hard working, quiet soldier. He died instantly
with the force of tons of steel on him, but thatís only a miniscule consolation
for his family. Thatís all I remember of this whole sad incident.
We then discussed making an attempt to dig out around Roy to dislodge his body.
Shortly, the aerial observer, our Battalion Executive officer Major Clay,
appeared on the bridge and asked for my report. I told him the situation and he
ordered all of us out of the creek and into our vehicles. We were obviously
reluctant to abandon our gun and comrade so he took the time to explain that the
engineers were on the way. There was nothing more we could do. To disturb the
gun was too dangerous if the weight shifted. Iíve always been thankful that he
was sensitive enough to realize the emotional situation and helped rather than
FSB Wade put the battery back together in early May 1970. The Cambodian
operation (limited invasion) would soon be brought to a successful end with
mountains of captured weapons and food taken to Quan Loi for distribution
elsewhere. This was probably good for the battery from a logistical point of
view. It was terrible for me. I was now in constant contact with a Battery
Commander who made it plain that he didnít like me, thought I was immature,
incompetent, and should never have been commissioned.
To make matters worse I no longer had the competence, hard work, and
organizational skills of Reed McDonald to assist me. Everyone in FDC needed to
be retrained to take over more duties, as we were losing our more experienced
personnel. Regulations were changing to reflect the pressures that the military
was feeling due to the political situation at home, and economic pressures
bearing on Congress. Being co-located with an ARVN unit would become commonplace
and was part of the Vietnamization process of our combat units leaving the war
zone. We came under stricter and smaller ammunition use requirements. Combat was
still taking place, but it was against smaller enemy units that didnít seem to
be as well organized. Our ARVN allies were taking more responsibility for
conducting their own ambush and other offensive operations. Most of the GIís
thought that the operation had been a success. Disruption of the Ho Chi Minh
Trail, the main infiltration route, along with destruction of the enemy base
camps, would buy us some time. The intelligence gathered from seized documents
and numerous Cheu Hoi surrenders would be helpful for months.
Several weeks went by as we settled in at FSB Wade. We received an encrypted
call at about 11:00 AM. It was for a ďtime on targetĒ (designated TOT) fire
mission commencing at 12:00. It consisted of about twenty targets to be fired in
order as listed. There were three of us in the FDC at the time; we were short
one or two people. I was training the new RTO, Lester Higa, and someone else was
on the FADAC computer, also new to the job. We were not rushed, so I was using
the fire mission as a training exercise. De-encryption, plotting targets, double
checking map coordinates with elevations and azimuths all took some time.