Charlie Adams: I remember July 16, 1971 just like it was yesterday! We (Charlie Battery) were on high alert as the sun was going down on Alpha-4 (Con Thein). It was hot! We had been on fire missions off and on all week and were pretty tired. When the word came down that something was happening on the "Z". We were all told to clean our weapons and distribute ammo to the bunker line.
Well to tell you the truth, I was one scared "sh**less" 19 year old! There was that errie feeling on Con Thien again that evening. The guys, especially the lifers, were real quiet with a concerned look on their faces. We kids could tell something was up! Sgt. Emme, #2 Gun Commander, came into the crew bunker and told a couple of us to go out to the gun and start opening fuses and line up the "Joes" for it's going to be a long night! He advised us that Bn had intel that some fire support bases on the "Z" were going to get hit tonight. After I heard that, I finished cleaning my M-16, picked up my bandoleers of mags and pulled out my unauthorized 45 cal from my bag and all the other "stuff" that I could muster and headed for our ammo bunker. As I got to the outside it was already night fall and I could see flares being fired in the distance towards the west. When I got to the top of the berm and looked over I could see that the flares were coming from FSB Fuller and Charlie 2 to our south. I looked around our AO and saw other guys from our battery setting up the "pigs" in the fixed bunkers. The Q-50 truck pulled up and backed into one of it's firing bunkers facing west and the guys started to opening boxes of 50 cal ammo. After I saw that I knew the "sh**" was going to happen! It was believed that no one on the base was going to sleep that night. We stayed with the gun.
Just after 24:00 hrs. we could hear C-130s flying over. Wow! Now what! The 130s started to drop flares over the mountains to the west of us. The guys by this time were really edgy now. Then we heard a "pig" open up on the north side. Well that did it -- it was mad minute time! Everybody started shooting! Including the quad! Finally, the word came over the comm line from the XO to cease firing. It was determined that one of the guys on the 60 "thought" he saw something move in front of him on the bunker line.
Everything got quiet again until about 0300 hrs. We got word from the command bunker that the "sh**" was happening. NVA sighted 300 M NW of Fuller. We started to get in-coming, along with the other FSBs on the plan. I looked up to the west towards Fuller and I saw it. Those guys on Fuller were letting it rip! You could see the "red" tracers leaving the firebase and you could see the "green" tracers being returned!! Flares lit up above Fuller like day light. You could still hear the C-130s above. They were popping flares like mad. There where flickers of light all around and on top of Fuller. Then I heard the delayed sound of the explosion as those flickers of lite were rounds going off. At this time Sgt. Emme, who was on the comm line yelled:
Fire Mission! Fire Mission! Battery Adjust 30 Rounds, Round He, Fuse Quick, Charge 5, Gooks in the Bunker Line at Fuller!!!"
|Believe me guys when I tell you - with the expectation of more incoming, and the possibility of a ground assault on A-4 and the flares now being fired on our bunker line I just knew that this was it!! We got on our guns and was ready to fire in no time flat! It was amazing how all that training just fell into place. We were "humping" like banshees. The whole battery started to fire on command! The gun reports were loud and together. All four 8 in, 206 lbs high explosive rounds headed towards the north side clicks of Fire Support Base Fuller. We didn't have time to look for the impact of our rounds. We were firing again and again! Someone came up to our gun and yelled that the gooks were trying to overrun Fuller!! FOs on Fuller reportedly advised "we have a large number NVA in the bunker line!!" When we heard this, we knew that we had Americans on Fuller and that made us "hump" faster. We continued to fire!
By now the whole mountain range just north of Fuller was lighting up due to he round impacts. We could hear in the distance towards Charlie 2 where B Battery was located they were firing too. Their bunker line was lite up too. Then we all saw -- someone on Fuller had fired a "red" flare. Well.. all you arty guys know what the "red" flare means! They were being overrun and they needed help! At this time the order came down from the command bunker. "Fuller being overrun -- we going to fire direct-fire into the base -- Battery Adjust!!" I am the first to admit, that I was really scared not only for us but for those guys on Fuller!
We continued to fire. Then we heard another C-130 fly over head traveling towards fuller we were ordered to cease fire. As the plane got close to Fuller, we were expecting more flares, but -- instead of flares we got a surprise that made everyone on the Alpha-4 stand up and start cheering!! That plane was no flare ship -- it was "Puff the Magic Dragon!!" Guys -- I don't know if you have ever seen one at work but that plane was prayer answered!! I was sure glad that "Puff" was on our side! We could hear the whine of the mini-guns and see the stream of the tracers. That ship literally covered the entire mountainside north of Fuller with deadly fire. How can anything live through that to this day I don't know! After "Puff" cleaned house and kicked Charlie ass we continued to fire. We fired all night. We all had in our minds that we were firing into, onto and at FSB Fuller. I prayed for those guys to have gotten off that piece of sh** of a hill in time.
Lee Snipes: I was the XO when A Btry was firing directly into Fuller as it was being overrun. I was talking to their XO on the radio when we had the 8 inches firing for them. Very difficult fire mission. He was adjusting the rounds for me, but the radio went dead during that fire mission. Don't think he made it out. We thought all the fire bases were going to be overrun that night.
Al Fulton: I stayed on in the Battalion FDC that night even though it was not my shift. I remember one of the A Battery sections was having difficulties reading the collimator because of the humidity and the rain. (I think support was in short supply of nitrogen to purge the sights). They said that they could not continue to fire, being danger close and all. They asked for permission to stand down. I had a feeling that they thought that they had already fired in error. The FO at Fuller though said that it was on top of them, and it did not matter because Charlie was shaking hands. He told me, "Fu** a bunch of danger close, just keep shooting." That was the last transmission we got. Some of you Battalion FDC people ought to be able to help me out on this one. I remember that the old man and everyone was looking over our shoulders.
I cannot tell in words how proud I was of you guys at the guns--this is just one of many instances that I partially recall that made me shine my crossed cannons just a little brighter the next morning. You guys at Bravo and Charlie really did good that night. You made a huge difference. I understand that there was all kind of dukey smelling around that night, but I tell you in all honesty, you have no idea how much that fire support was appreciated by those guys up there. The ones that made it through did it only because of how well you guys delivered the "goods!"
Gary Green: My B Battery Gun Section and Gun Four fired on Fuller and Sarge. I went to B Battery FDC and listened to the adviser on Fuller talk about getting off of the fire base. My gun and Gun Four were 8 inches. If you recall B Battery exchanged its 175mm guns for 8 inch howitzers. I fired ICM on Fuller and Sarge. I also fired HE on Fuller after all the good guys left. We watched the round leave the tube then we would lose it and then we would see it hit. Also if you recall seeing the gun ships firing into Fuller what a site. Our mission on Sarge was ICM dinks in the wire. We had Marines on Sarge -- have you ever been kissed by a Marine? -- a Marine major who was on Sarge come to my gun section and thanked my section and kissed me on my cheek. He was an adviser to the South Vietnamese Marines. We won that battle that day.