It's Scary - Firing Heavy Artillery
Close to Friendly Troops
By Mike Swert and Tony Scannelli

Mike Swert: Early one morning about dawn a contact fire mission came down. The 5th Mech. was in a fire fight on the Northeast side of Dong Ha Mountain below FSB Fuller. We notified the XO post to alert the battery. After working the data we had two guns laid in direction of fire and ordered the other two laid on the same azimuth. I remember when confirming the mission with the FO. He had a strong sense of urgency in his voice. While the first two guns were loading, I gave the FO a small briefing of our intentions. Something like this, We have a fire mission on grid 026 break 399 contact. We will be giving you two guns one round in adjustment and a battery one round in effect. Request Oscar Tango direction, Observer Target direction, and danger close. The danger close was his estimate of the distance our rounds would impact to his position. He complied with our request urging us to hurry. I could hear gun firing in the background of his radio transmissions. Within a couple of minutes I gave him "shot," indicating rounds were on the way. We would calculate the time of flight and notify the FO five seconds before impact with the words splash over. He continued with his adjustments dropping the round closer and closer to his position. Each time we requested his approximate danger close. Soon, according to our calculations, we were too close to his position, but he would tell us 500 meters plus each time. We were ready to cut him off when he said drop another 50 and fire for effect and I'll buy you a case of beer. Tony Scannelli, Ross Sigmon, and I all looked at one another shrugged our shoulders when it was announced "Shot Over."

About a week later a dusty grunt captain walked into the FDC bunker and threw a case of beer on the floor. It was the FO. His company was in a savage fire fight with a large number of NVA. Our guns were the deciding factor in their well being. He couldn't say enough for the short stubby of Alpha 4. Every man in the battery would give his all in a contact mission. It required team work and trust of each individual to do their job to perfection. At Alpha 4 (Con Thien) there was not a weak link in the chain of duty. I look back to my time there with a lot of pride.

They say that you touch someone's life with everyone you meet. I know that we also touched the lives of every man in that 5th mech. company, that day.

Tony Scannelli: This is one mission I would never forget. I was off duty and asleep in the hootch when I was awakened and informed that a captain was looking for us for an emergency fire mission. I remember the fire mission well. I can tell you we were scared-- very scared to fire a 8" round on the position of friendly troops. Every time we fired we clocked the round and we would listen to the impact on the radio. I could swear we were right on top of them, but they assured us that they were dug in pretty deep. We inched the rounds closer and closer. Finally the mission successfully concluded. I remember sharing that case of beer with the gun crews for a job well done. It's been 30 years and I can't believe what I really lost in the memories of the good things. All my friends and my brothers of the 8/4th mean so much to me.