Hospitality Pays Off
By Brian M. O'Neill

In the late summer of 1968 "B" Battery had two guns at An Hoa south and west of Da Nang under the operational control of the Marine’s First Field Artillery Group. This headquarters was usually referred to as "First Fag". Although I got a kick out of the name, I never showed it during conversations with the Marines. Maybe they could read my mind because they positioned the guns outside the base's perimeter. We constructed our own and tied it into the existing one. As usual with Army artillery units, we constantly improved the position and soon had comfortable living areas and bunkers. Charles White constructed an engineering marvel of a bridge over a deep ravine separating our area with the main base.

In spite of our efforts we were seriously shorthanded and not really able to effectively man the perimeter. In a few days our predicament dawned on the First FAG and they arranged for a platoon of Marines to guard our perimeter. The help was especially appreciated as we soon began to take incoming mortars and rockets.

The Marines on our perimeter were from a battalion of the 9th Regiment and were led by then First Lieutenant James Webb, now senator elect from Virginia. It was a two-way street. Our guys gave the Marines cold sodas and hot water. It was just the right thing to do.

Months later, after B Battery had rejoined the battalion at Dong Ha, we were sent to Ca Lu south of the Rock Pile. Our position was nothing more than an open spot on the side of the road where it turned west toward Khe Shan. Again, we had no security, just the battery’s own assets. I spent a worrisome night wondering if we would be hit by a ground attack. The next morning a Marine platoon came walking down the road from the direction of Vandergriff and turned into our position. I went out to meet the lieutenant and asked him what his mission was. He replied that his battalion commander had been told that a 175 gun battery had past their CP yesterday. He found out somehow that was B Battery from An Hoa. The lieutenant said he had been sent to help us with our security and that the battalion commander said he remembered our hospitality at An Hoa. It was a nice gesture.

Brian M. O’Neill
B Battery CO