"The Discovery" - One of the good memories of Vietnam

For the first 6 months of my tour in Vietnam I stayed in the relative safety of Quan Loi.  An occasional rocket or mortar aimed at the airfield, but for the most part not much happened.  I worked in F.D.C. (Fire Direction Control), plotting targets and firing instructions for the guns and howitzers of the battery.

All that changed one day when we were told that two 8 inch howitzers  were going to the field to accompany the 11th Armored Calvary Division.   We, in F.D.C., who were lucky(?) enough to be chosen to accompany the howitzers found out we had a vehicle to get ready.  Our vehicle, or track, was an M577 armored personnel carrier, command and control.  We didn't like it.  It was ugly.  Higher than a normal A.P.C., bristling with antennas, no 50 caliber machine gun for protection - A good target, we thought, and we had to ride on top, not inside, with only sandbags stacked for protection.

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You get the picture, in convoy, hot, dusty and miserable.  Going from one fire support base to another.  Filling sandbags, digging in, unfilling sandbags, moving to another base and digging in all over again.  Somewhere along the line, in one of our moves, water in 5 gallon cans were stowed on top of the track near the exhaust.  When we arrived at the  next base we were hot, dusty and tired, but the water was warm.

A lister bag hung from our high sided M577 filled with warm water.  Not a bad idea, a warm shower in the field. A lucky discovery for us in F.D.C.

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We now had a good thing.  In the F.D.C. track, now known as "good old 577", there were a lot of radios, and those radios needed to work.  It was necessary for us to run the engine "regularly", to charge the battery for those radios.  Regularly, that is, when we had the chance to shower - a warm shower.  The water cans were refilled, put back near the exhaust, the battery charged again and again, as needed.

One of my good memories of Vietnam.

Spc. 5 Reed McDonald   A Btry 6/27 Arty F.D.C.    Then  and Now


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