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8TH BATTALION (175MM)(SP) 4TH ARTILLERY
1 May 1968
|SUBJECT:||Operational Report of 8th Battalion (175mm) (SP) 4th Artillery forPeriod Ending 30 April 1968, RCS CSFOR-65 (R1) (U)
1. SECTION I, OPERATIONS: Significant Activities
a. (U) General.(1) The 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery, arrived in the Republic of Vietnam on 12 August 1967. The battalion has been continuously engaged in. combat operations since 15 August 1967.
(2) This is the third Operational Report submitted by this organization.
(3) On 1 November 1967, Battery C, 2nd. TAB, 26th Artillery, was attached to this battalion for purposes of administration. Operational control was retained by the 108th Artillery Group. On 1 March 1968, the battery was redesignated Battery F, 26th Artil1ery. The activities and data concerning this battery are reported herein.
(4) Organization (See inclosure 1).
b. Operations.(1) Deployment and status of the 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery, and its subordinate elements at the beginning of this reporting period (1 February 1968) were as follows:
Unit Location Mission and Status 8/4
GS 3rd MARDIV, OPCON 108th Arty GP HHB/8/4 YD223587(Dong Ha) C/8/4 YD210674(C-1) SVC/8/4 YD223587(Dong Ha) A/8/4 YD058543(Camp Carroll) GS 3rd MARDIV 2/94 Arty B/8/4 AT985719(Da Nang) GS lst MARDIV, OPCON 11th Mar Regt F/26 YD223587(Dong Ha) GS 3rd MARDIV, OPCON 108th Arty OP
(2) On 11 February 1968, one gun section from C Battery was relieved from attachment to Battery “C”, 2nd Battalion, 94th Artillery and moved from YD063548 to YD210674 to rejoin its parent unit.
(3) On 7 March 1968, A Battery displaced one platoon (2 pu2) to XD983542 (Rock Pile) in the first of a series of moves to replace Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 94th Artillery in that position. On 9 March 1968, the remainder of the battery joined the platoon at the Rock Pile and A/2/94 returned, to Camp Carroll.
(4) On 31 March 1968, B Battery displaced one platoon (2 guns) from AT985719 to AT965615. The platoon was moved forward to provide supporting fires for the Thuong Duc Special Forces Camp, which was then with an enemy attack. The platoon rejoined the battery on 6 April 1968 after the threat had diminished.
(5) On 15 April 1968, A Battery displaced from YD063548 (Rock Pile) to YD210674 (C-1) to replace C Battery in the first of a series of moves to deploy a small battalion headquarters and service element and one firing battery in the vicinity of Hue to reinforce the artillery fires of the First Air Cavalry Division.
(6) On 16 April 1968, the battalion headquarters and service element displaced to YD809163 (Camp Eagle) and established an Operations and Fire Direction Center. C Battery subsequently displaced to YD824155 (Gia La), established a battery rear area, and prepared to convert two guns to 8” howitzers. The conversion was made on 17 April 1968. On 17 April 1968, the battalion took operational control of Battery “C”, 1st Battalion, 83rd Artillery (175mm) located at YD620095 (Fire Support Base Bastogne). On 18 April 1968, C/8/4 (minus Battery Headquarters element) displaced to Fire Support Base Bastogne, arriving on 19 April 1968. The battery retained the headquarters element at Gia La because of a lack of space at the fire support base and to provide for more efficient resupply and administration of the battery.
(7) During this reporting period, A and C Batteries fired 15,960 rounds in support of 3rd Marine Division operations and an additional 2472 rounds in support of the 1st Air Cavalry Division. 11,467 of these rounds were fired in and north of the demilitarized zone. B Battery fired. 8,542 rounds in support of 1st Marine Division operations during this same period. C Battery also fired 803 8-inch rounds in support of the 101st Airborne Division. (See inclosure 2).
(8) Of the 6,757 missions fired by this battalion, only 432 (6%) ver observed.
(9) F Battery, 26th Artillery.(a) On 15 February 1968, a second sound base was placed into operation at Con Thien. This base is a two-second, four microphone base ranging east.
(b) On 22 February 1968, the AN/MPQ-10A radar at Go Linh became a combat lose resulting from a direct hit by enemy artillery. It was replaced by a Marine AM/MPQ-10A on 22 March 1968.
(c) On 13 March 1968, a second sound base was placed into operation at Go Linh. This base is a two-second, four microphone base ranging northeast.
(d) On 21 March 1968, the Flash Platoon occupied an OP at the A-3 position. One of the flash OP teams from Con Thien was used for this purpose.
(e) The target acquisition battery detected 1566 targets from 1 February 1968 to 30 April 1968. The breakdown is as follows:
Flash, 842 targets 53.7% of total targets Artillery 47.0% (396 targets) Mortar 4.9% (42 targets) Rockets 4.7% (36 targets) Miscellaneous (NVA, Bunker, Convoys, etc.) 43.4% (366 targets) Sound, 472 targets 30.2% of total targets Artillery 67.7% (320 targets) Mortar 32.3% (152 targets) Radar, 252 targets 16.1% of total targets Artillery 38.8% (98 targets) Mortar 56.0% (141 targets) Rockets 5.2% (13 targets)
c. (u) Training.(1) 157 hours of scheduled training have been conducted by the battalion during this quarter. In addition to the subjects specified in USARV Reg 350-1, the following areas have been stressed:(a) Team drill (with emphasis on FDC and gun crews).
(b) Shell crater analysis.
(c) Weapons familiarization (conducted monthly).
(d) Orientation of replacement personnel.
(2) Because of a heavy loss of experienced key personnel expected within the next three months, and the extreme paucity of qualified replacements, an intensive program was begun in March 1968 to identify end cross train personnel With the potential for high skill positions such as gunners and fire direction computers. This program, operating in conjunction with an energetic infusion program, will substantially reduce the problems inherent in the unit's first year rotation hump.
(3) In April 1968, the battalion started a two-day orientation course on the 175mm gun for newly arrived personnel. The course was designed for groups of five or more and was given prior to their assignment to the batteries. The training was conducted on a maintenance float gun. The orientation proved particularly helpful to A and C Batteries because they were frequently subjected to hostile fire during this period, which tended to discourage training. The following areas were stressed:(a) Operation and peculiarities of the 175mm gun.
(b) Duties of the numbered cannoneers.
(c) Preparation of ammunition for firing.
(e) Drivers training.
d. Intelligence.(1) Weather and Terrain. Weather conditions during this period have generally been milder than expected with winds from east and northeast and temperatures ranging from the mid 50's to the high 90's. Rainfall ranging .025 inches per week has not created any hampering of supply or hazardous firing conditions. (See Incl. 3)
(2) Observation.(a) 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery, Air Observers flew 135 hours for the 12th Marine Regiment.
(b) Battalion Forward Observers were not used in conjunction with 1st or 3rd Marine division operations. One Forward Observer team, however, accompanied a “rough rider” convoy round trip from Quang Tri to Phu Bai. This operation lasted for three days.
(3) Meteorology.(a) The battalion meteorological section continued to develop three NATO and computer meteorological messages daily (at 0800, 1400 and 2000 hrs) until 11 April 1968 when they dropped to two messages daily (0800 and 1600 hrs) because of an acute shortage of radiosondes. The number of lines in each metro message, however, remains the same (17 computer and 11 NATO).
(b) In addition to this battalion, the meteorological section provides data. on a regular basis to the following units:lst 8-inch Howitzer Battery (USMC)
2nd Battalion, 12th Marines
3rd Battalion, 12th Marines
4th Battalion, 12th Marines
1st Battalion, 40th Artillery (108th Artillery Group)
108th Artillery Group
(4) Enemy Action.(a) A “C” Battery convoy enroute from C-1 to Dong Ha Combat Base was ambushed at about 1000 hrs, 5 Feb 68, vic YD225627. Two (2) trucks and seven (7) EM from C/8/4 were involved. Two EM were evacuated with moderately serious as wounds, and three EM treated for minor wounds at the Bn Aid Station. One (1) 2 ˝-ton truck was destroyed.
(b) At 1000 hrs 11 Feb 68, a gun section from C/8/4 which had been attached to “C” Btry 2/94 Arty was returning to Dong Ha Combat Base from Camp J. J. Carroll when their M107 (175mm gun, SP) struck a mine vic YD092578. The M107 was destroyed and three (3) personnel were slightly injured.
(c) At 1450 hrs 19 Feb 68, “A” Battery received 20 rounds of NVA 85mm artillery causing light damage to two 3/4 ton trucks and one GP medium tent.
(d) At 1250 hrs 3 Mar 68, “A” Battery had 9 rds of NVA 75mm artillery, causing light damage to one M577.
(e) At 1500 hrs 10 Mar 68, two rounds of l30mm artillery landed in the SVC Battery area killing three EM and wounding eight.
(f) At 1138 hrs 11 Mar 68, “C” Battery received 7 rds of NVA artillery resulting in one Medavac and three ammunition trailers damaged.
(g) At 1145 hrs 12 Mar 68, “C” Battery received an unknown number of rounds with one direct hit on a bunker. The bunker was completely destroyed and there were two Medavac cases and one man slightly wounded.
(h) At 1545 hrs 12 Mar 68, “A” Battery received 20 rds of 122mm rockets. One EM received a minor wound and the unit lost the following equipment: One 2 ˝ ton truck, one 45 KW generator, one 10 KW generator, one air compressor, all POL stocks, and all of the batteries' prescribed load list of repair parts.
(i) At 1720 hrs 14 Mar 68, a SVC Battery convoy, in vic grid YD098576 received an undetermined number of NVA artillery rounds. One man was killed and one man was slightly wounded. Two 5 ton trucks were lightly damaged.
(j) At 0715 hrs 24 Mar 68, SVC Battery received three rounds of 122mm rockets. One scored. a direct hit on the battalion's maintenance tent, destroying two TOE generators (1.5 KW) and major components of a second echelon tool set. Twelve general mech tool sets, two conexes (containing battalion maintenance PLL), numerous spare parts and one 3/4 ton truck were also destroyed.
(k) At 1305 hrs 1 Apr 68, an undetermined number of mortar rounds landed in the “A” Battery area. Two men were slightly wounded.
(l) At 1115 hrs 9 Apr 68, a convoy traveling from Dong Ha Combat Base to C-1 received NVA artillery at vic YF210674. Four men were slightly wounded.
(m) At 1320 hrs 10 Apr 68, “A” Battery received 20 rds of NVA artillery. There were four men slightly wounded.
(n) At 1115 hrs 11 Apr 68, “A” Battery received 20 rds of NVA artillery. One round made a direct hit on a M107 (175mm Gun), completely destroying the gun.
(o) An NVA artillery attack of 18 rds on the “A” Battery's position at 1100 hrs 12 Apr 68, resulted in one 1/4 ton truck and one 1 ˝ ton trailer destroyed.
(p) On 53 other occasions during the reporting period, 969 rounds of artillery, mortars, and/or rockets impacted within positions occupied by elements of the battalion without causing any damage (HHB-20, A-235, D-84, C-620, and SVC-10).
e. (C) Maintenance and logistics.(1) Class I and III. Class I and III supply is furnished by the Marine Force Logistic Sub unit 1 at Dong Ha. Class I support has been generally excellent, however, there has been and still exists an acute shortage of package Class III products. OE 30 and hydraulic fluid (OHC) have been in short supply for over two months. During this reporting period, the Dong Ha Combat Base had an acute shortage of diesel fuel. Shortage of diesel fuel was attributed to hostile actions at the base and the closing of the Cua Viet River to river traffic for eleven days.
(2) Class II and. IV.(a) Requisitions for Class LI and IV supplies were processed through Task Force Slawson at Dong Ha Combat Base and in turn, sent to the Da Dang Support Command for action. Since the 26th Support Group moved to the Quang Tri Province to support the I Corps area, however, all Class II and IV (except repair parts) requisitions are now processed through the 625th Supply and Service Company located at LZ Sharon, three (3) miles S-SW of Quang Tri.
(b) As of 30 April this unit’s PLL status was at 62.6% of 100%. The shortage is attributed to hostile actions. Two of the unit’s PLL storage facilities were totally destroyed by hostile fires
(c) The battalion's meteorological section exhausted its stocks of radisondes during the reporting period. These expendable are now being borrowed from the 12th Marine Regiment in order for the section to remain operational. Radiosondes have been repeatedly requisitioned since September of 1967, including 02 and Red Ball priorities, and without results. A command letter to USARV also produced negative results.
(d) The replacement of combat losses has been extremely cumbersome and time consuming. USARV Reg 735-3 requires the unit to dispatch a TWX to 14 ICC whenever a command controlled item is lost through combat. Further, the regulation requires a, reply to this TWX within 36 hours. As of this time, this unit has never received an answer to the TWX’s that have been dispatched on command controlled items lost through hostile action. All replacements of combat losses have been obtained by direct liaison with the depot at Qui Nhon.
(e) The replacement of four vehicles (one gun, 175mm; two M151 trucks; and one 1 ˝ ton trailer) reported as combat losses during this reporting period are still pending. All previous combat loss vehicles have been received. Other combat losses, however, which are deemed combat essential ie, Tool Set Mr 1 Common, Tool Set Mr 2 Common, Tool Set Mr 2 Supplemental, are still due out. The battalion is now short one M548; two 3/4 ton trucks; and. three 5 ton trucks which have been reported on Reports of Survey and/or have been evacuated for repairs.
(f) Difficulties in the resupply of Class II end IV items have been greatly reduced since the 26th General Support Group became operational. However, no reliable communications facilities are available to the 625th Supply and Support Company, which is located 25 miles from Dong Ha Combat Base. Additionally, the land route (Hwy # 1) is not a secure route. All traffic to and from the company's pick-up point must be by organized convoy.
(g) The ASL at the 625th S&S Company is adequate to meet this unit's expendable requirements. Based upon demand data, it is felt that this ASL will soon be large enough to support the battalion’s entire TO&E.
(h) It is generally felt that when the 26th Group becomes fully operational, the support provided for units in and around the Dong Ha Combat Base will be adequate.
(3) Class V. The Class V storage yard at the Dong Ha Combat Base has ample room and equipment to operate an effective issue point. All the ammunition delivery is made with the truck cargo, 5 ton, which is part of each battery’s TO&E. The Battalion Ammunition Section supports all the batteries as needed.
(4) Maintenance.(a) Until the deployment of the 26th General Support Group to the Quang Tri Province, this unit's direct Artillery and Maintenance support was provided by Task Force Slawson at the DHCB. This operation was severely overtaxed and the unit's capabilities there were clearly not adequate to support the needs of all the artillery battalions at this base. Task Force Slawson was dissolved and the support elements came under the operational control of the 129th Maintenance Support Company on 19 April 1968. Due to the recency of this change, this battalion is unable to give a meaningful evaluation of support received. However, the equipment, personnel, and facilities on hand at the 129th Maintenance Support Company indicate that maintenance support will be adequate.
(b) Generators which were brought overseas with the unit have began to show extreme Wear. In addition, the lack of repair parts has caused a sharp increase in the number of dead lined generators. At the present time there are 7 generators dead lined. The battalion generator inventory was increased with a supplemental issue of four (4) 45 KW generators, which are used for base camp operations. A request for a 100 KW generator to provide power for the battalion's rear area, however, was denied. Hostile fire was responsible for the destruction of five (5) generators during this reporting period.
(c) On 17 March 1968, an enemy rocket scored a direct hit on the battalion maintenance tent destroying alt of the support tools, to include 12 general mechanic tool sets and. three (3) generators. These items have not been replaced, causing a serious problem in organizational maintenance.
(d) The average deadline rate for tank-automotive equipment for this reporting period is as follows: (See inclosure 4)
8/4 Arty F/26 Arty Track Vehicles 6.4% N/A Wheeled Vehicles 2.3% 3.9%
f. (C) Personnel.(1) On 1 March 1968, F Battery, 26th Artillery was activated by USAHPAC General Order Number 119. All officers were immediately reassigned from C Battery. 2d TAB, 26th artillery to F Battery, 26th Artillery. Replacement personnel for C Battery, which completed six months temporary change of station on 13 April, began to arrive on 1 March and were assigned to F Battery. As the replacement individuals were trained and became capable of continuing the battery missions, the original C Battery personnel were returned to the parent battalion at Fort Bragg, N. C. All records pertaining to C Battery were transferred to CONUS on 19 March 1968. Personnel remaining were attached to F Battery. As of 30 April, 29 C Battery personnel were attached to F Battery awaiting replacement.
(2) Strength.(a) Authorized vs assigned since 1 Feb 68:8th Bn, 4th Arty
OFF 32 31 35 WO 4 4 4 EM 520 531 501 TOTAL 556 566 540
F Btry, 26th Arty
OFF 8 8 10 WO 1 0 1 EM 220 6 160 TOTAL 229 14 171
(b) Gains vs Losses.8th Bn, 4th Arty
Gains Losses Net Gain
OFF 28 24 4 WO 0 0 0 EM 346 376 (30) TOTAL 374 400 (26)
F Btry, 26th Arty
Gains Losses Net Gain
OFF 10 0 10 WO 1 0 1 EM 162 2 160 TOTAL 173 2 171
(3) Casualties since 1 Feb 68
8/4 Arty C/2/26 F/26 Killed in Action 4 0 0 Died of Battle Wounds 1 0 0 WIA 35 2 2 MIA 0 0 0 TOTAL 40 2 2
(4) Infusion.(a) An enlisted infusion program with I Field. Force Artillery units began in February 1968. During February, March, and April, a total of 97 personnel were reassigned to IFFV Artillery organizations. The final infusion will be complete in May after an exchange of 42 Em. Problems encountered have been mainly in the late arrival of incoming personnel, which has been as much as two weeks. In several instances, infussees failed to arrive at all. Replacements for key NCO's have generally been of lesser grade and experience level than those infused. The majority of infusion replacements have had no 175mm or heavy artillery experience.
(b) Four officers were infused with the 9th Infantry Division on 1 April. The battalion continued to infuse officers locally and achieved the 25% DEROS figure for the “hump month” of July.
(c) Since 1 February, a tota1 of four (4) senior NCO’s have been infused through project STREAM.
(5) Personnel Requisitions.(a) Substantial difficulties have been encountered in section I and section II requisitions for Senior NCO's. Several section I requisitions submitted in January for 1968 were cancelled and required. re-requisitioning in March. Section II requisitions requested were submitted but not forwarded which prevented the promotion of eligible NCO’s in position vacancies. This was subsequently corrected by re-submission of section II requisitions.
(b) Reassignment instructions for July DEROS personnel began to arrive in March for officers and senior NCO's. No problem is anticipated in continued receipt of these instructions for all personnel.
(6) Awards and Decorations, 1 Feb through 30 Apr 68:
RECECOMENDED APPROVED Distinguished Service Cross 1 . Bronze Star w/V 5 2 Bronze Star 1 . ARCOM w/V 2 2 Air Medal w/V 2 2 Purple Heart 44 31 Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry 3 3 TOTAL 59 39
2. SECTION II. LESSONS LEARNED: Commander’s Observations, Evaluations, and Recommendations.
a. PERSONNEL: None
b. OPERATIONS:Aviation Support
(1) Observation. Reliable and direct aviation support should be provided heavy artillery battalions.
(2) Evaluation. This battalion was organized under TO&E 6-435D, less organic aviation section. During this reporting period, the battalion has experienced extreme difficulty in providing efficient support and command control of the firing batteries. As of 30 April 1968, the three firing batteries were spread in excess of 100 miles with B. and C Batteries located 100 and 60 miles from the Battalion Headquarters respectively. Travel to the B and C Battery positions by road has been infrequent, unreliable, and extremely hazardous. Almost all resupply and command visits must therefore be made by air. This situation is further complicated by the fact that no headquarters has been tasked with providing aviation support to the battalion. The battalion has been obliged to make arrangements with as many as three divisions in order to obtain transportation for the commander to visit a battery or to move a part needed to repair a gun. An additional deficiency due to lack of aircraft is the inability of the battalion to directly observe results of 175mm gun firing to insure accuracy of results.
(3) Recommendations.(a) That the aviation section provided in the current TO&E be authorized.
(b) Tat the supported headquarters in any given operation be specifically tasked to provide adequate, timely aviation support to the supporting heavy artillery battalions.
c. TRAINING: None
d. INTELLIGENCE: None
e. LOGISTICS: None
f. ORGANIZATION: None
JAMES C. BARNES, JR. LTC. Artillery Commander 4 Incl 1-Organization Chart 2-Average Weekly Temperature 3-Average Rounds/Day by Week 4-Vehicle Non-availability Status DISTRIBUTION: 4-00, 108 GP 3-CG, USARV AVHGC (DST) 2-CG, USARPAC GPOP-DT