In January 1968, I was transferred from Camp Carroll, Gun 4 Charlie Battery, 2/94th to Charlie Battery 8/4th at Dong Ha. I have to admit, that at first, I did not want to be transferred, because I liked the guys on my gun crew and the rest of the battery. Like what Forrest Gump said, we went together like peas and carrots. We all got along good together. The Capt., the XO, and the Chief would even come out and help us shoot when we had some really long H & I's to shoot. They might as well have, because we were shooting right over the tops of their tents. We would be hollering, and making a lot of racket, so they could not get any sleep anyway. Then sometimes we would let the powder charge get a little wet, to make a louder shot. Anyway, I was apprehensive about going to a new unit where I knew no one. After getting to Dong Ha, filling all of the papers, going to supply, and getting my weapon, I was assigned to Gun 3 or 4 - I'm not sure.
That same afternoon, I was asked if I had ever been in the area just to the South of Gio Linh. I said "Yes," and was told to get in a truck that was going to the new position of C-1. This was to be our new home in a few short days. While we were there, Gun 3 from my old battery on Carroll had an in-tube explosion. My gun was chosen to go to Carroll, as a replacement.
We loaded all of our worldly possessions on a deuce and a half, and left C-1 following our gun and the escorts. We went on through Dong Ha, and after waiting for the gun to be loaded on a landing craft, then crossing the river to the other side. The trip up to Carroll, was a pleasant one, as we were in a convoy of other trucks, tanks, etc. As we drove into C Battery, my old crew was unloading ammo. So I was able to go over to see them, after we had gotten unloaded, and squared away in the bunker.
The in tube explosion was caused by a crack in the base of the projo. This is in the records of this site also. The tube blew apart just about where the travel lock was on the bottom of the tube. I believe that either four or five of the crew were injured. No one was killed. I think as best as I can remember, that the one who was hurt the most was the one who had fired the round. He had his leg broken in about three places, I think, from the waist to the knee. The gun was gone, by the time I got there, so I did not see it. I did, however, see the remains of the tube. I was told, that there were pieces of it, scattered over a large portion of the hill. Charles Kelly, from the 2/94th site has a small picture of the gun taken from a short distance away showing the much shortened gun barrel sticking up in the air.
This was during the time that the Marines were at Khe Sanh, so there were a lot of fire missions shot in their support. During these fire missions, the gun crews always worked together like never before. This is not saying that they did not work good together other times. It's just that we always knew that these guys were in harms way - big time. We always pushed ourselves to get the rounds out as soon as we could. A lot of the times there would be an order for the entire battalion to adjust for the fire mission. Then all of the guns in the battalion would fire at the same time. If you have never heard an entire battalion of 175s' firing at the same time, then brother, you have missed something. Sometimes we would fire VT fuses for a couple of rounds and the go for the PD fuses for the rest of the fire missions. I think these missions were planned and layered-out in a box fashion. I would not have wanted to be in these boxes!!! I can say that all of the entire battalions, at these times worked at their best. This was everyone!! The cooks would even get into the act by making coffee and sandwiches for everyone. We would even have the commo guys, the mechanics -- everyone would go out to the guns to give a hand. This is a brotherhood as it should be. WE knew that if we were in their boots and them in ours, we would want the most fire support we could get as fast as we could get it.
We were at Carroll for a little over a month before going back to C-1 to rejoin the rest of the battery. During the time that we were at Carroll, Charlie had effectively blocked the roads. The bridges were blown up, and convoys ran a high risk of being ambushed. Bypasses had to be cut around the blown-out bridges to allow for the convoys. Only those with heavy escort were able to make the run to Dong Ha after the Marines regained control of the roads.
When we did leave Carroll (my last time), it was in the largest convoy that I have ever been in. There were 1/4 tons, 3/4, 2-1/2, 5 tons, tanker trucks, dusters, quads, tanks, and even air cover from the hellos. There was not any trouble that I am aware of until we had to make a bypass down off of the road around a blown-out bridge. The gun was ahead of me. I was driving the deuce and a half with our gear piled on top. As the gun got to a culvert, which went over a small stream, it ran over a mine. It must have been a command detained mine; because a lot to the convoy had gone over it. I saw the large cloud of black gray smoke, dust, and dirt fly up in the air. I shouted "They've run over a mine." The gun lifted up to the right side, and I saw what appeared to be a road wheel go flying up over the gun to the right. We watched as the gun ran off of the broken track, and the make a sharp left turn almost like a pivot turn, and then go down off of the side of the bridge. I hurriedly stopped the truck on the left side of the road to get out of the way of rest of the convoy. When we got to the side of the stream, the gun was upside down in the water. There were only two people on the gun, and both of them were injured. The one on the back of the gun was SP4 Hanson (I think that I remember that being his name). He was crawling up the bank of the stream with blood pouring down over his face. I thought that he was injured a lot worse that he actually was. He had a fairly large cut on the top of his left temple. It took a couple of us to get a bandage on it tight enough to stop the flow of blood. We had him sit down on the side of the road to wait for us. As we went down to help with the driver, SP4 Voggle (again, I think that I remember this being his name), a Huey dropped down very low and hovered just off of the road. We had to turn away, because of the dust and dirt that the blades were kicking up. Then as we turned around, Henson was gone. We assumed that the chopper had picked him up, and was taking him to D-Med at Dong Ha. We turned our attention to Voggle who was laying down in the water. He had fallen out of the driver hatch when the gun over turned. The barrel of the gun, as long as it was, had left enough space for the uncurious driver to fall out. Voggle was also injured. When the mine exploded, his head came down on the rim of the hatch. This resulted in the bottom of his chin being cut almost all the way around. He had a lot of broken teeth also. He came to while we were putting bandages on his wounds. Just as we were finishing up with him the truck began to roll down the side of the road bed towards us. It stopped after it had run up over a large rock. We were all afraid of being ambushed, and wanted to just leave it and get out of there. However, one of the other members of the gun crew got it going and back up onto the road. When we looked around, Voggle was gone. We looked around for him until someone said that another truck had picked him up. Then we all pilled on the truck, and drove to Battalion HQ to report the gun being lost.
When we got back to HQ, we were debriefed by everyone in OD green it seemed. Everyone wanted to hear the same story "What happened?" "Where?" "Who was hurt?" "Where were they?" "Where on the map was the gun?" The gun was down off of the road in the small stream, just as the road went into the small village of Cam Lo. The missing crewmen were taken by other trucks in the convoy, not the Huey, to D-Med there in Dong Ha. Both of them were back with us by nightfall that day. We had been very lucky even though two men had been wounded, and we had lost our gun. The whole thing could have been a lot worse if Charlie had started an ambush at this point. The whole convoy was almost stopped. Because of this, there was no escort vehicles near us, and the trap could have been sprung back behind us at the detour around the blown-out bridge.
The gun was retrieved, the next day, I think??? It may have been that same afternoon. I just do not remember. I do know that it took an M88 tank retriever and a VTR to get it back onto the road and back the recovery yard at the First Logistics compound. The bottom of the gun was split open in the fuel tank area, and the road wheels and the drive wheels were blow out.
After staying at battalion that night, we went back to C-1 the next day. The gun crew was split up among the three remaining guns until we got a replacement for ours. A couple of days before we got back, the Navy - OURS -BOMBED C1. Somehow, someone really messed up. The fast movers dropped a couple of bombs. One of them hit a large ARVN bunker just outside of the American compound. There were a number of injured and probably some KIA's, but I'm not sure. I said on the outside of the American compound, because we had our own inside of the ARVN compound. At least this is the way it was originally set up, and C Battery was the first to occupy C-1.
This is as I remember this situation, and location. This is written up in the battalion records and reports.