8th Battalion 4th Artillery
Location: North Vietnam
Event: Op Bolo
In their heaviest attack the North Vietnamese hit the 175mm artillery base at Gio Linh with 1100 rounds of artillery fired from 11 different positions, killing 13 Americans and wounding 206. See http://www.altinet.net//ctomwalk/newspage3webpage1htm.htm
B Battery 2nd Bn 94th Arty was the first to displace to Gio Linh YD 218-732 just two miles South of the DMZ along Route 1, as part of Operation High Rise. Their mission was to fire pre-planned, unobserved targets in North Vietnam and the DMZ. The battery was accompanied by Battery C, 1/12th Marines, a towed 105 battery and I company, 3rd Battalion 4th Marines, Infantry. They arrived at Gio Linh on 26 February 1967 and were hit with hostile mortar attack the first night, numbering 300 to 400 rounds. The nights of 28 February and 1-2 March 1967 saw attacks numbering over 750 rounds in seven attacks. Intermittent mortar rounds hit for the next two weeks, with the next large scale attack occurring on 20 March 1967 when the enemy hit with increased firepower of 105mm and 152mm artillery and 122mm rockets. An estimated 927 rounds fell that night and the battery sustained only one causality, the Number 3 Gun Chief, SSG Neal received a shrapnel wound in the head. The entire battery performed courageously under heavy enemy fire by returning much of the incoming with outgoing, and by exposing themselves to possible injury extinguishing fires on their guns. While at Gio Linh, the battery forward observers, Lt. Smith and Lt. Beard participated in seven Recon patrols. While on patrol near the village of Tan Lich, Lt. Smith's patrol made contact with an estimated company size enemy unit of the NVA. During a ten-hour period Lt. Smith called in over 2500 rounds of 105mm artillery fire.
One in a series of continuing 3rd Marine Div operations in the DMZ. It claimed 1,281 enemy casualties. BUFFALO followed CIMARRON and is followed by HICKORY II. Increasing artillery and rocket barrages against Marine fire bases were coupled with violent infantry clashes during this operation
A search and destroy operation that was a sweep of the southern half of the DMZ to clear the area of enemy fortifications, mortar and artillery positions. Casualties: U.S. 4 KIA, 90 WIA, NVA 39 KIA
3d Marines, near DMZ, ends 10-31, 1118 EKIA; On September 21, 1967, Lance Corporal Plumadore, a member of the 4th Marine Division, was wounded in action while engaging People's Army of Vietnam forces during Operation Kingfisher in the area of Dong Ha, Quang Tri Province. He and fourteen other members of his unit were left behind in the withdrawal from the battle area. When friendly forces retook the area they located fourteen dead Marines, two of bodies there were difficult to identity. Information later surfaced that one survivor was reported captured and was last seen being escorted North. Corporal Plumadore was declared dead/body not recovered in September 1967.
Our morale was high; we were as ready as we'd ever be. The three months of training at Fort Sill had been tough and we'd said our good-byes too many times. The awkward silences with girlfriends we knew weren't going to wait for us was unbearable. We had no clue that the wives and mothers would live a year of agony with every news report as they sat back in the World and watched the war with Walter Cronkite. It was time to go. We knew we were going to Vietnam but we had not been told our area of operation. There was talk of the Delta, Central Highlands, and even the DMZ. Demilitarized. Why that didn't sound too bad.
Our advance party, Col. Barnes, staff and support people had departed earlier, along with the guns and other equipment. We flew to Tacoma, Washington where our cruise ship awaited us. We were going on a recommissioned WW II troop ship, the USNS Upschur.
There were about 2200 of us Army types who provided amusement to the twenty or so sailors whose mission was to keep us from falling overboard during our voyage from Tacoma, Washington to the Republic of South Vietnam. I remember the bunks being stacked about 5 high. If you had an upper bunk it required a gymnastic maneuver to lift yourself in a horizontal position and slide your body into a very narrow space. Adding to the difficulty were the hull characteristics, (round bottom). Those with rank and weak biceps got the lower bunks, which later proved to be a mistake.
After a three day storm in the middle of the Pacific our ship was appropriately renamed the USNS Upchuck. As we steamed up Puget Sound past the San Juan Islands, we nervously laughed about the Strait of Juan de Fuca. "Mutha Fuca, I sho' hope I see this place again," exclaimed one of my FDC chart operators. He was from Mississippi and damn pleased we were at least fighting on the side of the SOUTH Vietnamese. I just don't think Parker could've stomached the idea of fighting for the North of anything. I took one last look and said goodbye, wondering if it would even be ethical for me to come back home alive. You see, I'd tried that "I might not make it back" line on a few young ladies back in Minnesota. This usually happened late in the evening at one of the "this is the last time you'll ever see me" going away parties, which happened any time Sgt. Arena would give me a weekend pass in the two months before we shipped out. Coming home in a ziplock seemed a bit extreme so I decided to go for the shrapnel wound instead.
The days at sea had seemed like an eternity for the 8th Bn 4th Artillery as we rocked and rolled on the USNS Upschur. We had training, morning calisthenics, and lots of time to write letters to President Johnson to thank him for the opportunity to shore up the dominos in South East Asia. Things seemed better when we realized that this time on the boat counted as part of our tour, but after the food, saltwater showers, and the seasickness I think we all would have taken permanent duty on the half a 55 gal drum & diesel fuel duty.
Anywhere in the Nam --even if we knew what it had meant. I remember the day that we got our orders. We were all gathered on deck and our mission was disclosed to us. "Men", I don't recall who was the bearer of the news, "we are heading for the DMZ in support of the 3d Marine Division.". This didn't seem to be particularly good news as I remember our battalion Chaplain started to tremble and appeared to have tears in his eyes. This was a bad sign. It seemed OK to me though. I grew up in northern Wisconsin and the kid next door had a learning disability with a tendency towards violent behavior. I figured I could handle the liaison with the Marines, no problem! Better yet, his name was Roger so I'd be a natural on the radio.
The next announcement was we were going to stop in Okinawa in 2 days for about 12 hours and we could get off the Upchuck!! They actually set us loose on Okinawa. We could take advantage of the recreational facilities or go to the NCO club. Well it seemed that most of A Battery, 8th Bn, 4th Artillery, having had extensive training in Lawton, Oklahoma, chose the NCO club. There was one condition though; you had to give a pint of blood before you could enter. It put most of us at a severe disadvantage starting out a pint low as we bellied up to the bar. I don't recall much after that but as the story goes we were loaded up like cordwood on deuce and a half's and trucked back to the faithful Upchuck and our voyage continued. That is except for three members of gun 2 who decided to go into town to try out that "I might not make it back" line. I woke up about 100 miles out to sea with what felt like a shrapnel wound to the head, at least the pain and body count of dead brain cells part. Our destiny was before us, no more apple pie, and no more baseball. The 8th/4th was goin' to the DMZ and we'd never make it back home. This I could handle but the thing that bothered me the most was that my "I might not make it back" line had never worked. I really didn't think it was right for the US Government to send a young man off to war and risk his life if he had never been laid! They could have at least asked. There should have been some kind of deferment or postponement. Shit.
The day before our arrival off the coast of Vietnam we got our final orders. We were going to anchor 3 miles off the coast and be brought ashore on Navy LST landing craft. The type they used at Normandy. There wasn't much sleep to be had that night for anyone and we awoke to the sounds and sights of Vietnam. We could see smoke billowing from numerous points on shore, (remember the half-55 gallon drums), and heard explosions in the distance. We'd all been issued one magazine for our M16's and it was time to go. The LST's came alongside and we climbed over the side of the Upchuck and down the big nets carrying all our gear on our back, duffel bags, our M16's with one magazine of ammunition. We hunched down in the LST's, with visions of Omaha Beach and D-Day in our heads. The three miles took an eternity and the sweat was running in rivulets down my back. You could smell an odd mixture of adrenaline and a weird sort of sweet diesel fuel in the air. I think most of Alpha Battery was in this LST. I figured we'd lose 30 to 40 percent of the battery in the first five minutes. Then it happened. The crunch as we hit the sand. Time stopped and then the front lowered and Sgt. Arena led as Alpha Battery stormed Red Beach. We only made it about 25 feet and stopped when several US Marines in their bathing suits started laughing hysterically as the 8th Bn 4th Artillery invaded the Republic of South Vietnam. Keith Pollari, A Battery 8/4 March 67 - March 68
I recall taking a little sea cruise on the Upshur, it seems after a few days out we hit some fairly rough seas being a land lover I had never experienced this phenomena, we were stacked in tiers kinda like hammocks fairly high I don't remember how many tiers high but I do remember getting up to go to the head it was up some stairs or whatever the swabbies call them as I opened the door they call it a bulkhead another troop was entering the hold or whatever it was called and he started to puke and so did I at the same time contagious I guess. as I stepped out on the main deck I slipped in a lot of yellow puke ,Powdered eggs so I thought I would puke over the side instead of further messing up the deck as I lost my gut the wind blew it right back in my face . Glad I was in the Army instead of the Navy, that is until I got to Nam. The story was a little or a lot different there depending on the day and the circumstance. Capt. Lee if your out there thank you for the outstanding leadership .Glad to serve with you Sir.
Cpt George Large, original BC was followed by Cpt Bird, Cpt Wilson and Cpt Brian M. O'Neill.
Cpt Talmadge C. Foster, original BC was followed by Cpt Lee Buchly; 175's in position to support Marine defenders at Con Thien
Cpt Donald E. "Pineapple" Lee, original HHB BC was followed by Cpt Angel L. "Rick" Flores and by Cpt Donald R Meadows; Cpt Leon Brauning, original SVC BC and S-4 was followed by Cpt Bill Tredennick, Cpt Kirchner, Cpt Csendes, Cpt Alexander G. Nemeth and by Cpt Alvie L. "Al" Fulton.
Cpt Ethridge, original BC was followed by Cpt Kaleuger (sp) and by Cpt Johnson; 175's in position to support Marine defenders at Con Thien
I was the FDO, then XO for B Btry from Aug 67 thru about Jun 68. Since this was the second of three tours, my memory of operation names is pretty blurred. I know the firing locations of the guns during that time period. We were in direct support of the 1MarDiv Recon Bn as well as Gen support of the Division. We were the "bastard children" of the Bn at that time. I eventually relayed calls for fire from my Vietnamese Airborne Infantry Co during Lam Song 719 to B Btry. As an aside, an original member of the Bn, then Lt McArtney (sic) was reported missing and later declared dead. I think, during that op. He was flying Cobras in support of the ARVN Abn Div and was never heard from.
(2) On the morning of 15 August, B Battery moved from its staging area in Da Nang to an initial position at AT918795, approximately 4000 meters west of Red Beach. The firing elements of the battery proceeded from the Bridge Ramp in Da Nang to Red Beach by LCU, thence overland to the position area. The remainder of the battery proceeded overland from the battalion staging area southeast of Da Nang. The battery fired its first mission, a precision registration, at 1300 hours the same day.
(3) The following day, 16 August, One platoon (2 guns) from B Battery displaced to Hill 65 (AT878576), approximately 10,000 meters southwest of Da Nang.
I was assigned to B Btry as the FDO on board the ship, so I did not know anyone in B Btry. I had been one of the AO's, along with Steve Blake, so we were kind of the whatever Lt's at Sill. When we got to DaNang, we spent some time at red beach as a whole Btry, but then split in to two sections. John Norman took the section that went to hill 65 and CFB White and I took the section that stayed around DaNang. Cpt Large drove between the two sections. I was with B Btry until I think 60 days prior to DROS. I went to Dong Ha/Camp Eagle for the remainder of the tour. I don't remember if you were the gun chief that tried to tell me we were fixing to shoot out and I adamantly over ruled, being engrossed in killing all the NVA in the world with one mission; but instead damned near shot the Hawk Btry off of hill 627, created great havoc in the 1st Mar Div HQ, and created quite a stir as a Btry one round sailed in the wrong direction. That but some excitement in my life for a while. Anyway that was a lesson learned for me about over riding decisions without thinking. That was one of two times that we shot out during that time. Any way glad to hear from you, brings back memories. I do remember the tales of you and John in Thailand.
(1) The battalion came under hostile fire for the first' time on 28 August when NVA artillery, in four separate attacks, fired some 90 140mm rockets and 152mm artillery rounds at the Dong Ha Combat Base. Approximately 20-25 artillery rounds hit in the vicinity of the battalion perimeter resulting in minor damage to tentage.
(2) A platoon (2 guns) of B Battery received a rocket attack on 2 September. Two 5-ton trucks were destroyed, as a result of a direct hit on one of the vehicles and a third truck was slightly damaged.
(3) A second artillery attack on the Dong Ha Combat Base on 3 September left the immediate area of the battalion untouched, but virtually destroyed the main base ammunition dump.
1st Marines, Quang Nam Tin Prov's, I CTZ, ends 9-15, 515 EKIA
(6) The platoon of B Battery located on Hill 65 proved extremely difficult to support logistically because of the steep terrain on which the position was located, the poor condition of the roads leading into the area, and the relatively long distances from supporting organizations at Da Nang. Control was complicated by the inability of the Battery Commander to establish reliable communications between the two portions of the battery by either radio or land line. The situation was rectified on 23-24 September, when both elements of the battery were united in a new permanent position at AT988674.
(4) On 9 0ctober a 5-ton truck from A Battery, traveling in convoy from Dong Ha to Quang Tri City was heavily damaged by the side blast from a mine struck by another vehicle heading in the opposite direction. The driver and one other passenger in the A Battery vehicle were slightly injured but immediately returned to duty.
http://www.stealth.net//stan/series/series.htm For seven weeks, Operation Neutralize pummeled known and suspected enemy positions, with B-52 Strato fortresses striking first, followed by tactical air, then naval guns, and artillery. Carrying nearly 60,000 pounds of bombs, B-52 bombers were the most awesome weapon used in Vietnam. In a so-called Arc Light strike, three planes bombed an area one kilometer wide and three kilometers long, causing a thunderous earthquake and throwing up a foundation of earth and trees in its wake. Of 820 B-52 sorties over Vietnam during September, 790 dropped their bombs in Con Thien's front yard, tearing the surrounding area into a terrain of water-filled craters ringed with collars of earth. Operation Neutralize delivered from 35,000 to 40,000 tons of bombs in nearly 4,000 air sorties, and by early October, it had broken the enemy's siege.
On 11 October, one platoon from C Battery displaced to YD314550 just north of Quang Tri City in order to provide artillery coverage for a radio relay station some 30,000 meters to the south during the opening phase of Operation "Medina." The platoon was assigned a reinforcing mission in support of the 1st Battalion, 11th Marines, during this operation. The platoon returned to its original position at Dong Ha on 19 October.
(5) On 13 October, a temporary position area occupied by a platoon of C Battery north of Quang Tri City (YD314556) was attacked with, 82mm mortars. The battery sustained no casualties or damage.
All I can remember in A Btry at Dong Ha is firing in the rain and the round going off close enough to the gun that we got shrapnel back on the gun. Then they came up with a copper looking thing we put over the fuze. Also, I just want to know if anyone that was at Dong Ha with A Btry in 67 & 68 can remember the day that the gun I was on had a round in the tube then rammed another round right in behind it because we forgot we had one in the tube. Talk about being scared sh--less. We were but we elevated the tube, took it out and fired one. We replaced the smashed fuze and fired that round.
On 23 October, one platoon from B Battery displaced to AT919801 to provide support for Operation "Knox". The platoon returned to its original position on 31 October.
(6) On 29 October, the Dong Ha Combat Base again came under NVA artillery fire on four separate occasions with some 40-50 rounds impacting in or near positions occupied by the battalion. One 175mm gun (A Battery) was put out of action for three hours because of damage to the hydraulic lines. Two 2 ½-ton trucks and three 3/4-ton trucks (Headquarters Battery) received moderate to light damage. In addition, the 2 ½-ton metro van was slightly damaged, and several tents, conexes, and bunkers were struck by shell fragments. Three personnel received minor wounds from fragments and four others were injured as a result of accidents which occurred while they were running for cover.
(7) On 31 October, 15 rounds were fired at A Battery from an 82mm mortar located approximately 1000 meters north of the battery's position. Only one round is known to have impacted within the battery perimeter. One 3/4-ton truck sustained a cracked windshield. (8) On ten other occasions throughout the period, elements of the battalion were subjected to light harassing fire from both artillery and mortars. (9) Although North Vietnamese and Viet Cong units are known to be operating in close proximity to the Dong Ha Combat Base, no ground attacks have yet been attempted against the perimeter itself.
ends 1-20-68; 3d Marines near Camp Carroll, the Rockpile, Ca Lu; EKIA 46, USKIA 27, 106 W;
3d Marines, Quang Tri Prov near Khe Sanh, I CTZ, ends 3-31, 68, 1560 EKIA; USKIA 204, W 1622
In May 1967, the group was reactivated at Fort Riley, Kansas as the 108th Artillery Group and deployed to the Republic of Vietnam in October 1967. The group participated in every major operation conducted in Northern I Corps from that time and received credit for participation in eleven different campaigns while in Vietnam. The group was decorated with the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm. The organizational colors departed Vietnam on 22 November 1971 for Fort Lewis, Washington, where the group was again inactivated. The group, at one time or another, included 8/4, 2/94, 6/33, 1/39, 1/40, 1/44, 1/83 Artillery Battalions. Attached was F Battery, 26th Arty.
At approximable 02:00H on November 2, 1967, a Viet Cong force composed of 100 to 150 men launched their attack on the Marines based on Hill 25. Under a mortar barrage, and greatly outnumbering the defenders, the aggressors immediately breached the defenses and surged over the top of the hill. Fighting quickly developed into hand to hand combat between the Viet Cong and Marines at close quarters, and the sounds of automatic gun fire resonated in the darkness of the night. On Hill 52, the sight of tracers and sounds of the battle could both be seen and heard, Marines quickly put on their fighting gear, loaded down on ammunition, and prepared to rescue their brothers under attack. Red and green tracers were seen criss- crossing the sky, sounds of gunfire, and explosions from the direction of Hill 25 caused all major concern for the Marines who were in for the fight of their lives, everyone was impatient to reach their comrades and reinforce them, but an order came for everyone to get into their fighting holes and prepare for an attack. There would be no rescue tonight. Despite the planning and the overwhelming strength of numbers, the enemy underestimated the leadership and resolve of the Marine defenders on this little patch of high ground in Quang Nam Province. With the situation desperate on Hill 25, SSgt Bolton, the NCO in charge of his small force of Marines realized that his position was perilous, and that the defenders would be overwhelmed in a very short period of time. He decided to act, and call in support that could provide death to all who remained on the hill, or save his outnumbered men, he radioed for Marine artillery which would ultimately break the attack and save his beleaguered Marines. Bolton radioed in for a 105 variable time-fuse air burst to be fired over his position on Hill 25, the artillery officer was stunned, and said his request was suicidal. With no time to lose, Bolton told him, "If you don't, the VC are going to kill us all anyway. Fire for effect! dammit!". The artillery barrage finally broke the aggressors attack and the Marine survivors managed to drive the enemy off the hill. http://www.marzone.com/7thMarines/Hst0206.htm
b. On 26 November 1967, B Battery displaced one gun from AT986672 to T994723 to fire 60 rounds at an intelligence target described as an NVA storage area. The mission was completed and the gun returned to its original position the same day.
Was only at Con Thien a few times, in and out, as fast as I could go. I know it was not much when the Marines had it, and yes I was there in spring 68, also late in 67. Also I hear everyone talking about C-2. If that's the place I'm thinking of, I was there two times in 67. It was just a small FB. It only had Marine grunts and mortars. I went there onetime in a ammo track to pickup some Marine KIA's. The weather was too bad for choppers to get into them, so they asked for some guys to go and get the KIA's. A few of us thought it might be nice to get away for the day so we did it. There's one more place that I'm not sure what it was called--you went north from Dong Ha on hwy#1. It was between Dong Ha and Gio Linh on the left side. You turned into the road at a little village. It was back off the hwy about a mile or so and it was a big sand hill. It had great bunkers. I thought it was called A-1??. A Btry was at that location when I left Vietnam.
1-Dec-67 thru 31-Jan-68 b. Observation.(1) 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery, air observers flew 250 hours for the 12th Marine Regiment during this quarter. (2) Battalion ground forward observers were not used in conjunction with 1st or 3rd Marine Division operations. Forward observer teams accompanied ARVN forces in the DMZ area on four operations lasting from six hours to five days.
d. On 2 December 1967, B Battery displaced one gun to AT994723 to provide fire support for a reconnaissance insert. The gun returned to its original position on 4 December 1967.
The original architect was Robert McNamara who conceived the idea of SPOS (Strongpoint Obstacle System) which became known as "the McNamara Line". The bunker sites at A-4, C-2 and C-4 were completed 10-Dec-67. In spite of the herculean effort the Marines were putting out, Westmoreland was unhappy with the project management. He complained that III MAF was not giving it top priority and that the rate of progress was inadequate and construction quality substandard.
(1) At 0400 hours, 14 December 1967, an enemy sapper was spotted trying to get through B Battery's perimeter wire at AT986672 when the perimeter lights were turned on for a periodic check. The sapper withdrew and escaped before he could be effectively taken under fire.
(2) At 0220 hours, 21 December 1967, B Battery's position at AT986672 was hit with approximately 30 82mm mortar rounds. Three men were wounded and 175mm gun and two M546 cargo carriers were slightly damaged. (3) At 1335 hours the same day, an M548 cargo carrier from B Battery was destroyed when it hit a mine at the entrance to the base camp area. Two men in the vehicle received minor injuries.
From 31 January 1968 until March, B-8/4 supported the 5th Marines and the Americal Division during Operation Auburn.