FSB Arrow

 
 
The dialogue below started with an email from Roger (Koop) Koopman (68-69) to Larry Richins (69)
Roger (Koop) Koopman (68-69)
HQ & A Battery

I think I was with A Battery beginning sometime at or enroute to Blaze and during the time at Arrow especially...leaving right after the first move to Cannon...LT Lloyd was already in rear (as Gia Le would have been considered to anyone from Bastogne and further out). I, was in FDC when with A Btry and left going with the ARVN infantry calling fire from A Btry and others in the blocking action on the other side of Hamburger from the 101st assault...the 8 inches did some serious damage and major killing on our side. By the way, after using firecracker that one evening, I did go on a sweep with the 101st that showed up the next morning and we did find a lot of blood and parts and even a single 122 gun which was being rolled up the creek bed leading up to Arrow plateau probably a football field away. It was probably going to shoot direct into the 8 inch guns when positioned closer. We caught them in the open and foiled that attack that night. CPT Savage raised cane with the 101st for not providing the NDP or night security perimeter that night and they didn't fail to provide a perimeter after that.

Appreciate the other info also as it helped me clear some memory webs. Also, I remember a direct fire incident when some snipers pinged the guns and dozers enroute to Arrow I think and they got some 8 inch direct back...hard to out run the killing radius of a 8 inch round and no more shooting occurred from those guys. I don't remember LT Buck at Arrow but he was at Cannon before I left. I loved calling in 8 inch more then all others and did often. I am sure I laid your gun at times plus directed and called for some fire you provided...I appreciate your service much!

KOOP

Larry Richins (69)
A Battery

Hi Roger!


I am happy to hear from you and to find out some things I never knew about our days at Arrow and Cannon. I often wondered why we never heard about the enemy being close to us or trying to do anything to us. I would imagine that it would have been a real prize for them to knock out one or two of our 8" guns. I know when we were at Currahee they came close with the 122mm rockets, but they blew up the crapper instead.

One rocket overshot the "Ace" by about twenty or thirty feet but was right in line with it. We hit the foxholes pretty fast that day. I think it was when we were at Arrow that Ho Chi Minh died and there was supposed to be a cease fire but someone forgot to tell the NVA in our area about it. The guy whose name I couldn't remember yesterday was John Wetteland. He and I got be pretty good friends. When we were at Blaze, for some unknown reason I started getting these little wart things on my hands and arms. I didn't smoke but Wetteland did so I would have him light up a cigarette and I would use the hot end to burn the warts off me. Must have worked since they never came back. Got the idea from when I was a kid and the doctor burned off a wart on my little finger.

Everett was at Currahee with us and I used to talk to him quite a bit. Seems like he told me he was from Indiana. After my time with the 1/83rd I flew with the Corps artillery commander whose name was Col. Robert Hixon ( he replaced B.G. Alan G. Pixton) and we flew out over Hamburger a couple of times. That was about 8 month or so after the battle and there wasn't much foliage on the top of the mountain.

Where were you when you called in the artillery in the blocking action? Were you on the hill? There was a time when I thought about signing up to go out with a forward observer but decided against it. The 8" are now a thing of the past, and I wondered why the army got rid of them. They told us at Sill that the 8" was the most accurate artillery piece in the army inventory. Guess they only have 155s now. One of my sons-in-law trained on the new 155 Palladins and he was impressed with it. He is now a captain.

Speaking of laying the guns, Lt. Buck taught me how to do that and I laid the gun at Currahee and when we got back to Blaze. I haven't thought to much about going to the reunion but haven't ruled it out. When I mentioned it to my wife a few month ago she wasn't too excited about it because she said she wouldn't know anyone and it might be rather boring for her. I mentioned it to her again yesterday and reminded her it was in Branson, Missouri. She has talked in the past about going there because she loves music. She seemed more open to the idea this time around so maybe there is a possibility. Bill Taggart re-invites to go every few months. Guess I better go for now, but it is really good to talk to you via email. Where do you live? Take care. Larry

Roger (Koop) Koopman (68-69)
HQ & A Battery

I had previously been to Hamburger area on a mission FO'ing with/for the ARVN infantry when we were actually ambushed near the bottom of Hamburger while on a search in that area. The Vietnamese spread out running through the woods (jungle brush there) which was so thick and low that me and my recon SGT couldn't follow...we were too big and the interpreter who was with us earlier got so sick and we had to Medivac him out before this with no replacement...no one else spoke English and we didn't speak Vietnamese...just pointed on the map a lot and nodded like we understood each other.

Well, we didn't know where the pre-arranged (rally) regrouping point was, which you always have planned in case of such...because we hadn't been told before by our interpreter and we didn't understand now what was being said so we had to just run as fast as we could down a trail to get away fast as we could which is usually not what you should do because it would be the logical place for them to booby-trap...but as we could hear them coming after us, two Americans to kill...now alone/isolated/cutoff as the ARVN/Vietnamese ran off somewhere else?.

We ran as fast as we could high stepping, hoping not to step on mines or tripwire traps for probably 2 to 3 miles it seemed, before we didn't hear them anymore (pure adrenalin)...Jonesy had the radio and if we could find a clearing, we might be able to call for a chopper in the area to pick us up and get out of danger...who knows where the ARVN went? Just as we were running down the trail ending to where another joined in or coming into it...in the thick/wooded brush around us, I saw a figure/shadow to my left and I turned to shoot it with my 16 when the figure said loudly don't shoot in English. I didn't and it was a marine gunnery (SSG) who had been out there in A Shau on his own for past couple months with no radio after being cutoff/left alone in a similar ambush on his unit on one of their patrols/searches in the area.

He was so glad to see us as we had a radio and we were all able to get a chopper to pick us up about 5 hours later on a hill he knew was clear enough to land on because we had a radio. We were some of the first to discover the extent of enemy defensives around Hamburger which prompted the action later to destroy it. They had control of the valley then and wanted to hold it. Just a side note, we had a pack to not be captured alive as we heard other who were captured before screaming from torture out in the jungle and we would do anything required to prevent this occurring to us.

The Vietnamese/ARVN (another group later on) were going to position themselves to prevent any escape/retreat if possible from the 101st assault on Hamburger on the other side. It was still not known then how extensive the fortifications there were and how dug in they were. Frankly the 105's and 155's were good for exposed troops but not much good for those dig in or in bunkers BUT 8 inchers were.

So I recon'ed our side with heavy fire as much as I could in front of the ARVN taking positions on/up the base of hill in our area...according to American infantry advisors from MACV moving up, we (you..the guns) killed near 200 NVA right away in the first 2 minutes of battle by actual body count as the ARVN climbed to bottom positions on hill. Who knows how many after were killed as no effort was made to count thereafter but just buried them in their bunkers and caves forever...it is why a lot of ground bursts were ordered vs. VT to dig some dirt/ ground up. I had friends with the 101st and they were pretty mad that the hill was fought like it was because the generals wanted a final victory verses a slower siege approach. Some of my OCS buddies, were with the 102's (airborne 105's) that provide the direct support for the poor American guys that had to climb and take the hill. I am sure you shot for them at the bunkers also. We (our country) should have taken the fight to their country (the north) to achieve any form/kind of victory. We won the battles but gave away the war. Playing all defense and making one tackle is not enough.

I am from Beloit, Wisconsin and hope we can meet sometime and visit...wishing you the best brother!

Dan O'Brien (69-70)
A Battery

This is a picture of  Paul Picciuto with the Chinese howitzer dragged out of the woods by the grunts to FB Blaze. I looked it over and it had a self oiler with a reservoir that exceeded US technology on the old 105 with trails. Is this the howitzer you found in the woods?

Paul Picciuto (69-70)
A Battery

This is a picture of the gun that was found with me standing with it. Paul Picciuto

Roger (Koop) Koopman (68-69)
HQ & A Battery

Am I confused...was this found outside of Arrow or Blaze...it was found after we used firecracker high angle on that night...again I remember the firing point/location was totally new and temporary as I am not sure I have Arrow, Blaze and Cannon clear in my mind as I was with A Btry only for probably not much more than a month or so?

Dan O'Brien (69-70)
A Battery

Paul, Do you have a rough date of when the picture of you and the Chinese howitzer was taken?? Roger was on the crew that originally found it along with other items. I remember being told that a huge cache of rice was also found and they sent in a Chinook to blow it into the jungles using the rotorwash.. And NO, the Chinese howitzer was not found near any of our firebase's. It was brought back behind a three quarter truck if I NOW remember correctly, chained to the pintle hook. It was found out in the boonies by the 101 grunts, so what we were told. I saw it later at the 101 mini-PX at Camp Eagle when I went there in November 69. I wanted to visit the museum at Ft. Campbell to see if it ended up there but never got the chance.

Roger (Koop) Koopman (68-69)
HQ & A Battery

Then it wasn't the same one but like it/same kind we found that next morning. I vaguely remember it seems to me that EOD (the engineers) with us were tasked with blowing up the one that was left down in the creek bed as it was still pretty insecure in that area yet. (it seemed to me that an 101st unit at another site like Airborne, not sure, were over ran about that time frame?)

Again, the one we found was in that area in a creek bed that led up to I thought Arrow or whatever firing point we had moved into before Cannon was completed? I am pretty sure I heard that the 101st found another 122 that was abandoned further away as I returned to unit after going on the perimeter patrol after that night with the 101st group that came in that morning. I think the engineers had to have some special high temperature explosives brought in to total disable that 122 which they said they would dispose of later so the remaining metal couldn't be used for anything else? The picture of the 122 certainly was the same kind we found that day. KOOP.

Dan O'Brien (69-70)
A Battery

Hi Bill and 83rd troopers. The 101st has FSB Arrow at another location on their maps. Our FSB ARROW was between Blaze and right at the foot of Cannon. It was also one of our worst positions being on the valley floor while Cannon up the hill was being carved out.

Dan MINDBLOWER 3rd section A Btry

Lt General (Ret) Ben Hodges

This is a great story about FSB Arrow. The living conditions all of you endured are unknown to most of your fellow Citizens and certainly under appreciated.
Best wishes. Ben

Hodges, Frederick B (Ben) LTG US ARMY HQ USANATO (US)

Dan O'Brien (69-70)
A Battery

Nothing will ever take away what the infantryman did for sacrifice of every amenity of which we had at some times but you never had unless you DEROSED, ETS or DIED for your country. Being out in the jungle and bedding down WHERE YOU ARE has to be the worst scenario. You all have GOD's blessing to do that and make it back home. Your CIB is well earned. The only upside of ARROW was that the water was so contaminated, we were forced,, and told to drink beer instead of water as that is the only liquid we had. HAMMS Beer and LRRPS, breakfast of champions.

 

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