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We called the 8in gun section, (I donít think the new replacement howitzer had shown up yet) to inform them of the fire mission about 11:30. I continued working the math on the list of targets, and double checking the computer against my manual firing data for each target. We had been instructed to fire the computer data but to cross check that firing data manually. Ultimately, I was responsible for the clearance and accurate firing of each round sent out the tube. This data consisted of the azimuth (direction in mils), charge (amount of propellant), and elevation (height in mils), along with the type of round and fuse and appropriate fuse setting for each round. We kept records of all firing data in the FDC, along with the commands to the guns concerning the deflection, (backwards direction to the gun aiming point in mils) during each mission. For an untrained artilleryman, itís confusing, but there are procedures and processes that border on the mundane after thousands of rounds fired in combat. I was confident of my own abilities and teaching these procedures to members of my section constantly.

About 11:50 AM, the BC came bounding down the stairs and cheerfully inquired as to what was going on. I informed him that we had a TOT fire mission and would need to commence firing soon, but hadnít heard back from the gun to give it deflection and elevation and other firing data. I was expecting him to turn about and check on why the gun hadnít called in to report when it had set its spade on the azimuth given for this mission. That didnít happen.

I realized that I needed to more formally report the status of my section during the conduct of this fire mission. I turned to Les and asked him to ascertain the status of the gun. They had more than enough time to set spade on the azimuth. The BC continued into the FDC to my station, where I was obviously working up firing data on the mission list. Les was incredulous when he reported to me that the gun section was taking its lunch break. I told him to remind them that we had a fire mission.
This was all the BC needed. I must now introduce you, the reader, to the inner workings of my mind, in which I clearly recall this incident. Iím not schizoid or anything, but Iíve always had some help in figuring things out while under pressure, or in stressful situations. Most husbands would probably recognize these compatriots, compadres, or aspects of thought as follows: when your wife tells you to do something, #1, tells you to listen carefully and do exactly as she says to make her happy. #2, tells you to listen carefully and do the exact opposite because thatís going to be more fun. #3, tells you to listen carefully and determine the result she wants, and do whatever that is as efficiently as possible so you can get back to whatever you want to do. Itís simultaneous personality analysis or thoughts addressing the problem at hand from different angles. Psychologists probably have a label for it. The following paragraphs will include these thoughts in parentheses. My father used to whack me on occasion for what I was thinking, I never did figure out how he was so accurate.

The BC started in on me by stating flatly that I was incompetent. (Steeerike one!) I in-formed him that I was still not finished with the firing data and it would be best if we could discuss this later. All other criticisms had been conducted in private, so I was surprised by this departure from convention. I knew other junior officers had also been chastised so never felt personally at risk from him. I just figured he was overly demanding in a difficult situation. He continued on with some other faults he saw in me.

After a minute or so, I asked Les to call the HQ group to see if there would be a problem with firing through the list a bit late, we were having problems with the gun. This refocused the BCís ire, and out popped ďincompetentĒ again. (Steeerike two!) Again I asked him if we could discuss this later, I was doing the work of three men and didnít want an error to slip in. He appeared oblivious to what was going on around him.


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