Building the Bunkers and Gun Pads at Quan Loi
Joe White and I arrived in Quan Loi in March of 1967 to join Joe Craigmiles, who came up with the unit from Phuc Vinh in Jan. The  nickname of Alpha Battery then was the Four Aces.  Each gun had a playing card painted on the protective shields on the sides of the gun. These were amour plates that were later removed, for some reason, I don’t know why.   From that we all gave our gun's second names like “Iron Coffin”, “Hell Raiser”, “War is Hell” and the last name escapes me.  I was picked to paint the names on each gun.  My own gun, Number 2, an 8 inch, was the “Iron Coffin”.
Three of the Four Aces
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When we arrived in Quan Loi there wasn't anything there but a few GP tents.  I got assigned the job to weld 55 gallon drums together to make the bunkers.  We would take about 20 or 30 drums and put them side by side. Then with one piece of continuous detonating cord we would wrap the top of each drum and proceed to set them off all at once - blowing the tops off all at the same time.  The Battery Commander, Capt. Kamm, found out I was an ironworker so he had me stack and weld these drums together with whatever I could find to weld them with. We had plenty of oxygen and acetylene but no welding rod, so I used barbed wire and coat hangers - just anything I could melt together, to create a weld.  It worked out just fine. They were probably still there when you guys left Quan Loi for good.

Of course when we first got to Quan Loi, there weren’t any gun pads.  We used to have to set up in that crappy old red Quan Loi mud.  After we got over-run the first time and we had to take that 175mm down to the wire and shoot 8 rounds point-blank with that long-ass tube,  laying down over the tracks in a monsoon storm, packing those 175 shells on your shoulder because the deuce-in-half was stuck in the knee-mud, they decided to build gun pads.

I was elected to drive the big Euclid Front-end Loader.  CPT. Kamm again thought, since I had worked in construction back in the World, I could handle this task of digging out the ground and moving dirt around with this huge loader.  Well I did okay until one day I had to drive to the Fuel Dump to fuel up this loader. 

The trip there went great; the problem came on the way back. Now you really have visualize this scene. Coming back across the south end of the airstrip by where you guys had your Cannon King's sign, the road went between the Airstrip and "A" Battery heading towards the Club House and Frenchman’s Pool.  Are you there? There was concertina wire strung from one end to the other on both sides of the road. Well this front-end loader had an access ladder on both sides of the machine. The ladder on what would be the passenger side was bent out away from the machine.

Now I'm coming off the airstrip heading east toward the Frenchman’s Pool. The airstrip is on my right, the passenger-side of the machine. I see up in front of me is a 2nd Lt. coming towards me on my right side, and he's waving at me so I started waving back.  Hell, I thought the SOB knew me.  As I pass him I didn't recognize him but I soon heard him screaming.  

I looked back to my right to see what his problem was.  Then it hit like a ton of freaking bricks what this 2nd Louie was screaming about.  You see, as I made the right hand turn onto the road, that stupid ladder reached out and grabbed up that wire and was uncoiling it behind me, making a trap for that poor 2nd Lt. You got it.  Before I could get that big-ass machine stopped that Lt. was swallowed up in all that wire. I always wanted to get me a Lt., I thought to myself and laughed.  He was okay - just a little pissed.  

That’s a story of Building Bunkers and the Gun Pads at Quan Loi for you.

Pete Farris   March 1967-  March 1968       Then  and  Now 


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