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Topic: Vietnam - things I don't remember....
Replies: 12   Last Post: Mar 8, 2021, 10:34 AM by: TigerLinks®
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Vietnam - things I don't remember....

emoji_events [25]
Posted: Mar 7, 2021, 9:09 AM
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Strangely enough, there are things I have recently thought about that I had forgotten and still wonder why those memories are so unclear given all the vivid events that are as clear as if they happened yesterday. Someone mentioned mortar rounds in response to one of my posts and I asked myself - "Where are all the memories about a mortar platoon? I don't remember anyone that I might have known from such a platoon that went into the field with the rest of us. Was there actually a group of guys that went everywhere with us all the time? After thinking about it, I do remember sometimes carrying a mortar round strapped to the top of my rucksack - but certainly not all the time. Then I remembered one incident when we were along a river and set up for the night and saw VC across the river. It was such a strange experience that I should have had no problem recalling it. We had a mortar tube set up in the middle of our perimeter and the team calculated the range to the target, prepared the "charges" that had to go in the tube to launch the projectile the correct distance, and dropped the round into the tube. I remember watching the round come weakly out of the tube (normally that happens so fast all you see is a little smoke), rise only about a hundred feet into the air, and begin its descent back down toward our own position. The mortar guys realized that the powder charge had been compromised somehow (maybe had gotten wet sometime) and did not ignite properly, and they started yelling for everyone to take cover. Luckily it landed just a little away from us and nobody was injured. That is just one of the memories that recently returned from obscurity but I still don't know if that was an actual platoon that always went with us or maybe it was just temporary just like the time we went with tanks and the times we provided security for artillery out in the mountains.


Message was edited by: clover65®


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Thank you for sharing these stories.

emoji_events [5]
Posted: Mar 7, 2021, 9:35 AM
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Even during the peak of football season, I scan the boards for “Clover65”.

Thanks again.

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Re: Thank you for sharing these stories.

emoji_events [6]
Posted: Mar 7, 2021, 12:15 PM
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I can’t speak to smaller mortars, but in my day a mortar section was attached to each Armored Cav Troop. 3 tracks, each carrying 4.2 in (107mm) mortar. The four deuce, lots of fun. Indirect fire to about 5700 meters supporting M60’s and M-113’s, later it was M-1’s & M-3’s.

Mortarmen started as 11-B, then were sent to mortar school and became 11-C.

I’d guess about every combat arms unit had some kind of mortars.

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Re: Thank you for sharing these stories.

emoji_events [9]
Posted: Mar 7, 2021, 1:00 PM
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Gumby ..... here are some photos of the 4.2" mortars firing at night. I believe I took these on Operation Dubois Square, on a mountain top overlooking Elephant Valley (the large valley leading from the north to the city of DaNang. The next photo showing the 81 MM mortars is from the same operation and the last photo is the 81MM mortar rounds landing in the valley.

I had a 60 MM mortar in my platoon compound in Tam Ky, as out "artillery" piece. Our mortar pit was in the middle of the small compound and also housed our flag pole that flew the American flag. When I took over the platoon and compound, the mortar pit and flag location had already been established so I never gave it a second thought. Well, I should have. One night when we were receiving small arms fire I ordered the mortar to be set up and to fire some illumination rounds to see if we could determine where the fire was coming from. As we fired the mortar we heard some pinging sounds and determined it was the illumination rounds glancing off the flag pole. Thank goodness they were not HE rounds. It also made me re-think everything we did in that compound and not to overlook the smallest detail. The mistake that could have cost us lives ultimately, I think, probably saved lives!


Message was edited by: TigerLinks®


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Wow, those are very good photos for that era, so crisp and

[2]
Posted: Mar 7, 2021, 7:30 PM
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the color is good, too. What type of camera did you have?

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The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. Bertrand Russell


Re: Wow, those are very good photos for that era, so crisp and

[3]
Posted: Mar 7, 2021, 11:24 PM
    Reply

When I was in my battalion compound (3rd Bn. , 1st Marines) I used a full size 35MM SLR (Pentax), but on operations like where these were made I used a smaller 35 MM that I was able to keep in my utility trouser pocket .... Konica. For the 4.2" mortars I held the camera against a stationary object and just opened the lens for a fraction of a second. Mostly just luck that it cam out so crisp.

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Re: Thank you for sharing these stories.

[3]
Posted: Mar 8, 2021, 1:17 AM
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I probably have some pictures somewhere but not firing. I was the driver and assistant gunner, so I had the 2 best jobs on the track. Assistant gunner drops the rounds. The tracks were set up to be hard wired together and then every one would be plugged in to the track intercom system. So you’re wearing this cvc helmet with a cord coming out of it and it’s plugged in. The reality was that all that gear got in the way and you got tangled up in it. So we disposed of the cvc’s and just yelled instructions from the FDC to the tracks.

The four deuce most definitely does not make that mortar noise you hear in the movies. It’s extremely loud, like a canon. That’s not a big deal when dropping a single round, because you can drop and cover your ears, but once you’ve found the target and get a multi-round fire for effect, you’re chucking those rounds down the tube as fast as you can and there’s no time for saving your ears. As a consequence, my left ear which would take direct abuse from the noise, is not much good any more. I distinctly remember getting home to McPheeter’s Barracks and my ears rang for 3 days.....no bueno.

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Re: Thank you for sharing these stories.

[2]
Posted: Mar 8, 2021, 10:34 AM
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Gumby, the hearing in my right ear was shot after I was sitting on the running board of a six-by when a jeep about 40' away hit a land mine. My right ear rang for about 3 days and probably damaged or broke my ear drum. Later a 155 Army firing battery was attached to my compound in Tam Ky and when they turned their barrels over our compound the noise was incredible. I wear hearing aids now!

Funny, you mentioned it, but none of our Marine 4-2 guys ever seemed to have any kind of hearing protection or helmets. Our 82 mm guys didn't and you would always see them turn and hold their ears after dropping a round down the tube. Quite frankly, we never had any kind of ear plugs, sun screen, or anything to protect our hearing or skin during my entire tour. I was a Combat Engineer, so I guess the arty guys were issued ear protection. Marines being pretty low tech ...... maybe not!

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Re: Vietnam - things I don't remember....

[1]
Posted: Mar 7, 2021, 12:19 PM
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Have you been back on vacation just to check it out again?

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Re: Vietnam - things I don't remember....

[1]
Posted: Mar 7, 2021, 6:56 PM
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Not really - I was told there is a man in Newberry who goes back often often to perform outreach service but I have never considered joining him.It would be interesting - I have seen pictures of our firebase since the end of the war and it doesn't resemble what it looked like when we were there.

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Re: Vietnam - things I don't remember....

[4]
Posted: Mar 7, 2021, 1:12 PM
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Clover...have you ever thought about putting these memories into a collection or book. I am of the dreaded millennial generation but always found great perspective in hearing stories from military veterans from the less modern wars.

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Re: Vietnam - things I don't remember....

[1]
Posted: Mar 7, 2021, 10:59 PM
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There was a moisture problem in Vietnam ? Oh I can't believe that . .just stop :) No one's feet started to rot because they never dried out :)

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Re: Vietnam - things I don't remember....

[1]
Posted: Mar 7, 2021, 11:28 PM
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Marines had two pairs of boots, maybe more, and in our hootch (sea hut) back at our battalion compound we had a cabinet with a light bulb in it that always stayed on. We would rotate boots and keep the wet/damp pair in the cabinet so it would dry out. Out in the boonies however, you didn't have that luxury so you just stayed wet all the time.

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