The 4th Artillery was authorized and constituted by an Act of Congress on June 1812 as the 4th Artillery Regiment. The Regiment has seen continuous duty since that date.
The 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery has served in varied capacities throughout its illustrious service; Coast Artillery, Harbor Defense, Anti-Aircraft Artillery, Pack Artillery, 175mm Gun Battalion and as a 175mm/ 8 inch (SP) Gun Battalion.
On 1 March 1967, the 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery was activated at Fort Sill, Oklahoma as a 175mm Gun Battalion. Its mission was to deploy on 24 July 1967 to the central highlands of Vietnam.
Major Robert W. (Bill) Kindt received DA orders to activate the battalion and he, along with 1st Lt Bill Tredennick, reported to the 6000 area of Fort Sill. They found two members already working. They were WO1 Joe Talley; battalion supply officer, and Private Don Brodie, a supply clerk.
The battalion grew rapidly with the receipt of both men and equipment. The first SP4 to arrive became the acting Sergeant Major and the first five PFCs became acting First Sergeants.
In April 1967, most of the officers and NCOs reported to the battalion. LTC James Barnes arrived from the pentagon to assume command of the battalion. CSM Curley Bordelon arrived to assume his duties.
We received 350 cannoneers from AIT, Fort Sill. We were primarily a draftee battalion with a cross-section of America's best. Our Motto was "By Daring Deeds", and our every activity reflected our motto. By early July, we had 100 percent of our equipment and a full complement of 515 men and officers.
The last weekend at Fort Sill was an open house for family members, relatives and friends. Chaplains conducted a special service for the men and their guests. To be sure we would be remembered, dozens of turtles with the crest of the battalion painted on their backs, were released across the cantonment area. One turtle showed up inside the officers club.
The only battalion from Fort Sill to deploy on its original deployment date, the 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery departed the 6000 area with the personal good wishes and promised continued support from the Fort Sill commander, MG Charles P. Brown and Post CSM Ted King.
The battalion's equipment, including its twelve 175mm guns, departed in early July under the supervision of CWO Robert Boyle, battalion maintenance officer. The equipment was moved by rail to Houston, then by ship through the Panama Canal and on to Vietnam.
The men of the battalion traveled, by air to Tacoma, Washington and boarded a troop ship, USNS UPSHUR, along with two smaller army units. On the high seas, after a 12-hour shore break on Okinawa, we were notified our mission had changed. We were being diverted to Da Nang with a support mission to the 1st and 3rd Marine Divisions.
We arrived off the shore of Da Nang in the early afternoon of 12 August 1967 and went over the side to waiting landing craft. Unsure of the security of the area, all men were issued their basic load of ammunition before leaving the ship. Our combat time was starting.
We rejoined our equipment and advanced party at a nearby marine artillery position, Camp Brooks (?). The marines enthusiastically welcomed our long-range guns. Before daylight of our first night in Vietnam, guns of Battery B were pouring their 147 pound projectiles far into the surrounding hills.
Battery B, assigned to the 1st Marine Division, remained at Camp Brooks and continued their fire support from that position. The remainder of the battalion was assigned to the 3rd marine division. On 14 August we were ordered to road march North some 100 miles and establish a position near a marine base at Dong Ha, located on the Cau Viet River. We were also ordered to do a show of force, so we convoyed through the center of several towns to include Phu Bai, Hue and Quang Tri. We arrived at Dong Ha shortly before dark. Our guns were moved by sea and arrived on 17 August and immediately began firing into and north of the DMZ. Hq and Hq Battery, Service Battery, and A Battery developed positions along the West Side of the marine firebase. Battery C initially prepared positions at Dong Ha some 1000 meters North of Battery A, but soon moved North several miles to a position designated C2.
Meanwhile, Battery B, after several days at Camp Brooks, was split with two guns under 1Lt John Norman, moving to Hill 65 and Cpt George Large moving the remainder of the battery to " Happy Valley", a battle scarred area some 20 kilometers west of Da Nang. In early November 1967, the two guns from Hill 65 rejoined the battery. Also in November, Battery B lost several vehicles and suffered several casualties due to heavy rocket attacks. In early December intelligence reports indicated a large build up of enemy forces west of Battery B. The battery was then moved to a firing position about four kilometers from Da Nang. The battery remained in the Da Nang area until December 1969 when it moved North to rejoin the battalion.
The second round fired by the battalion at the Dong Ha FireBase into North Vietnam hit a POL storage area with large secondary explosions visible to the jubilant gun crews. The round was fired by Battery A.
Throughout the late summer and fall of 1967, enemy artillery and rocket attacks took their toll of men and equipment. A 175mm Gun moving from Camp Carroll to Dong Ha drove over a command detonated mine while crossing the large ravine just west of CAM Lo on Route 9.The crew members were able to jump to safety and the accompanying vehicles continued to Dong Ha. After reaching the base camp, the Battalion XO secured a platoon of marines, a tank retriever and several Svc Battery maintenance personnel and moved out to recover the gun. As the gun was being slowly dragged up to the road, a spotter plane noted a large force of NVA moving from the North to capture the gun. Fortunately, about 6 heavily armed Hueys from the 1st Cav were nearby and came to our rescue. They laid down a wall of rockets and machinegun fire and bought us enough time to get the gun on the road and back to Dong Ha.
Enemy fire continued to be heavy at all of our firebases and finally culminating in the Tet Offensive of February 1968.
Battery C was completely surrounded by a North Vietnamese Regiment during the Tet Offensive. However, with aggressive action by the Marines and superior Artillery, the position was never breached. Battery C also sustained damage when they were bombed by Navy fighters. Fortunately, no one was killed in the bombing.
During February and early March of 1968, Headquarters and Service Battery suffered heavy equipment damage and personnel casualties. The Battalion maintenance facilities were destroyed but volunteers from Service Battery managed to save most of the equipment, parts, etc from the burning maintenance tents.
Battery A also received damage to material and some casualties. Their gun tubes glowed bright red at night as some of their fire mission lasted over 24 hours.
Mixed with the incoming Artillery and rockets was the snap and buzz of small arms fire as the marines fought a deadly duel with some 8000 NVA's, as they attempted to destroy the fire base at Dong Ha.
Finally, after some five weeks of heavy fighting, the NVA withdrew to the North after suffering heavy casualties. Dead bodies of the NVA and Viet Cong lay along the highways and numerous villages were completely destroyed.
The worst was over. However, it required several weeks to recover from the battle of Tet.
During the spring of 1968, Battery A moved to C2. Battery C moved to Quang Tri where they received numerous mortar attacks. Then they moved to Fire Base Bastogne, located southwest of Hue. This was a hell hole in a hard to defend position. The battery fired into the A Shau Valley based on motion detector sensors dropped by aircraft. This area, as well as the DMZ, was heavily sprayed with Agent Orange.
Before the first year ended Battery C also fired from the Rockpile and Camp Carroll. Camp Carroll received enemy artillery fire almost on a daily basis.
The Battalion originally was assigned the dual mission of supporting both the 1st and 3rd Marine Divisions with long range, heavy artillery fire, until 1 November 1967 when it was assigned to the 108th Artillery Group. In carrying out this mission the battalion participated in the following operations:
From 31 January 1968 until March, it supported the 5th Marines and the Americal Division during Operation Auburn. It participated in Operation Rock by firing in support of the 7th Marines from 6 March until 10 March 1968. From 13 March until 26 march 1968, it supported the 7th Marines during Operation Worth.
On 15 April 1968, Battery A displaced to C1 to replace Battery C in a series of moves to deploy a firing battery in the vicinity of Hue. The move was made to reinforce the artillery capability of the First Cavalry Division (Air Mobile).
On 1 July 1968, the remainder of the Battalion assumed the mission of general support of Provisional Corps Vietnam for Operation Thor. On 8 July 1968, the battalion's mission changed to that of reinforcing the 12th Marine Regiment. From August 1968 until September 1968, it provided general support for units operating near the DMZ.
The battalion participated in Operations Napoleon, Saline, Kentucky and Scotland from September 1968 until October 1968.
From 31 January 1968 until 31 January 1969, the 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery has executed 27 tactical moves, traveled over 200,000miles, and fired over 100,000 rounds. It has been credited with the destruction of hundreds of enemy soldiers, as well as many enemy guns and boats.
On 20 June 1968, LTC James Barnes returned to CONUS. Major Robert W. (Bill) Kindt assumed command of the Battalion until he rotated on 23 July 1968. The colors were then passed to LTC Harry Brown.
Before the end of 1967, the battalion, less Battery B, was awarded the Naval Presidential Unit Citation. In 1968, the battalion received the Meritorious Unit Commendation. In 1971, the battalion received the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry cross Unit Citation with Palm.
Under the leadership of CWO Charles Miller the metro section found themselves providing critical met messages to other Army and Marine artillery units as well as to the Navy.
During the first year in Vietnam, the battalion changed over 300 gun tubes. In the four years in the Republic of Vietnam, the battalion had fired more than 450,000 round of 175mm / 8 inch ammunition in support of United States and ARVN forces. It had supported operations throughout the northern sector of South Vietnam and had fired from positions at Da Nang, Dong Ha, Quang Tri, Bastogne, Cam Lo, Camp J J Carroll, Thon Som Lam (Rockpile), Truc Khe, FSB C-1, FSB C-2 and FSB A-4 (Con Thien). In February 1969, LTC Kulick assumed command of the battalion until August 1969. At that time, the colors were passed on to LTC Isaac Smith.
In January 1970, the entire 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery was located in the northern most part of Military Region I. At this time, the battalion found itself with 3 firing elements; A Battery at Camp JJ Carroll, B Battery located at Fire Support Base C-2 and C Battery located at Fire Support Base A-4 (Con Thien). The Battalion Headquarters with Headquarters and Service Batteries were located at Dong Ha Combat Base. The surrounding terrain was broken into Areas of Operation that were controlled by the 1st Bde, 5th infantry Div (Mech) and the 1st (ARVN) Infantry Division.
Amid the rain, cold and mud of the new year, the men of the battalion found themselves faced on the late afternoon of 13 January, with a warning order of an impending artillery raid in the vicinity of Combat Base Elliot. This order was issued by the S-3 of the 108th Artillery Group, the Battalion's next higher headquarters, which was co-located with them at Dong Ha. Throughout the night, planning was carried out and at 0900 on 14 January 1970 Task Force Smith departed west on QL-9, one of the two major roads in the area. Elements of the Task Force consisted of infantry from the 3rd Bn, 2nd Reg. 1st ARVN Division, one troop of the 3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry, a platoon of the 14th Engineer Battalion, the 5th Battery 175mm guns (US Marine with six 175MM), one Battery of the 6/33 Arty (with four 105MM). A Battery 8/4th with four 8" and one Company of the 1/44 Armor. These units moved to and occupied FSB Elliot and FSB Calu from 14-18 January 1970. During this time the artillery that was present fired 284 mission for 2465 rounds, with battle damage assessment of 3 bridges destroyed, 6 hootches destroyed, two .51 caliber machine guns silenced, two bunkers damaged, two 55 gallon drums of fuel destroyed, and 12 domestic animals killed. Due to the excellent infantry and armor support, no friendly casualties were suffered, with all units returning to their home locations on the afternoon of 18 January. Shortly afterward on 14 February 1970, LTC Isaac D Smith turned over control of the battalion to LTC Ross E Duncan.
Based on a need for specific familiarization of key personnel upon their arrival in country, the battalion initiated instruction of Forward Observer, Fire Direction Officer, and Chief of Firing Battery courses. The first one-week class began on 23 February and classes were continued weekly until August of 1971. The school became so successful that personnel fromthe Americal and 101st Airborn (Airmobile) Divisions were often sent for the instruction that was conducted by battalion personnel in a remodeled SEA Hut in the battalion headquarters area.
On the 18th of May 1970, B Btry at Camp Carroll fired the 300,000 round of the battalion, with Col Hixon, the XXIV Corps Arty Commander performing the task of pulling the lanyard. On 16 July 1970 marked the change of command of LTC Ross Duncan. He passed the colors to Major Courtney E Prisk, who had previously served the battalion as its Operations Officer. Major Prisk only had command for a short period as on 25 July 1970 he passed the command to LTC Paul E Buckley.
On 9 July the battalion participated in an artillery raid to FSB Vandergrift. This position was frequently used as a raid location due to the accessibility and the favorable terrain. It offered the guns an opportunity to road march westward from their fixed firebases and when a 175mm-gun battery was used, it denied the enemy the area to the west of the Khe Sanh Airstrip. The range capability from Camp Carroll was such that the area from the airfield to the Laotian border was a perfect sanctuary for the enemy as no artillery had the range to reach this area. Through the use of FSB Vandergrift, or Vandy, as it came to be known, this advantage was taken away.
Due to improved weather conditions during this raid the airborne target acquisition resources could be used more completely than on previous raids and enough targets were generated to warrant the raid lasting until the 15th. A total of 1294 rounds were fired resulting in 3 secondary explosions, 8 bunkers destroyed, 1 tunnel destroyed and 3 KIA.
In ceremonies held 6 August 1971 at Dong Ha Combat Base LTG Sutherland, the XXIV Commanding General presented the Meritorious Unit Citation to the battalion. The award covered the period from 31 January 1968 to 31 January 1969 and was primarily for actions in support of the 1st and 3rd Marine Divisions. Present for the ceremony were the men of the Battalion, Col Chung, the ARVN Regimental Commander of the area around Camp Carroll, Col Key, the 108th Artillery Group Commanding Officer, Col Hale, Col Greer, Col Surret, LTC Spaulding LTC Oates, LTC Shaw, and Maj Newcomb.
Early on 24 October 1970 again saw elements of the battalion raiding to FSB Vandergrift for the purpose of, as presented in the operations order, "Exploiting the elements of surprise and range by rapidly displacing a long range artillery element (175mm) to forward position area to engage and cause maximum damage to preselected targets and targets of opportunity." Elements of A Troop 4th of the 12th Cavalry, B Btry of 5/4 Arty (155mm SP) and B Btry 8/4th (175mm) were involved. 270 rounds of 175mm were fired with BDA of 12 bunkers destroyed. Again no friendly casualties or damage were suffered.
In 15 November 1970, another raid with B Btry was again conducted to Vandy. This time 175 rounds of 175mm were fired, but no BDA was obtained due to the weather, which prohibited flying. From the completion of this raid, until the middle of December the battalion concentrated on improving itself as on the 14th to 17th of December, the battalion in its entirety received its Annual General Inspection, receiving laudatory comments in many areas.
During the Christmas and New Year Holidays the battalion was given a chance to relax and reflect on the past year's accomplishments as cease-fires were put into effect for both Christmas and New Years. In the preceding 365 days the battalion had fired 118,421 rounds, raising its total fired since arriving in RVN to 359,621 rounds.
On the 15th of January the battalion was again called upon to participate in an artillery raid to FSB Vandergrift. The raiding party was composed of 15 companies of Infantry from the 2nd ARVN Regt, two 175mm guns from A Btry, and two 175mm guns from B Btry under control of the B Battery Commander and organic aircraft from A troop 2/17 CAV. The plan consisted of the infantry securing the area around the firebase and the helicopters with their observers providing target acquisition for the battery. 230 round of 175mm high explosive were fired with BDA of one large secondary explosion, numerous small secondary explosions, one 12.7mm machine gun and position destroyed, and numerous bunkers destroyed. No friendly casualties or damage were sustained and all elements returned to Dong Ha Combat Base at 1939 hours the same day.
Upon completion of this operation, it became evident to intelligence gathering agencies that the area between Khe Sanh and a point approximately 25 kilometers inside Laos was being used as a major supply point, assembly area and base camp. As a major loss here could not be corrected by the communists until many months later due to the Laotian monsoons arrival during the later part of April, the groundwork and planning phases for operation Lam Son 719/ Dewey Canyon II was begun. Due to the security required, notification was not made to the battalion until a warning order was issued on 24 January 1971 and complete instructions were not provided until 29 January.
The general concept of the operation was to provide support by fire to allied elements operation in western Quang Tri Province and the Laotian Border. The batteries were to be responsive to calls for fire from XXIV Corps Artillery and 108th Artillery Group directly and indirectly through liaison teams with the 1st ARVN Division, the 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division, 5th Bn, 4th Artillery and the 1st ARVN Ranger Group.
The operation began for the battalion on the early morning of 31 January with moves to the vicinity of FSB Vandergrift by all firing Batteries. This maneuver was a diversionary tactic and was executed in the same manner as previous artillery raids. On the following morning, all elements departed for the Khe Sanh plains and occupied a position northwest of the airstrip. On the 3rd, a short move was again completed to better position the unit to support the entire operation. As maneuver forces moved westward along Highway QL9 and into Laos, the batteries moved farther westward to support them. Movements completed between 7-10 Feb positioned all firing elements within close proximity to the border.