Gary (Doc) Hill (70-71)
Gary posed the following question about a
fragging incident that occurred in February 1971 and that in turn brought
about the following dialog within the group.
"When I was with C Battery, there was a fragging incident
in the rear area. Since I had come from the firebase I didn't have permanent
sleeping quarters in the rear so I was staying in the aid station at night and
covering for aid station night duty. During one of those nights I heard an
explosion and then someone came to the aid station and said someone was hurt.
What had happened, from what I remember, someone had thrown a grenade at the Sgt
Majors hootch and it bounced off and rolled under another hootch and
exploded. The explosion injured a guy that, as I remember, was short, and going
home soon. I think he was sleeping on a mattress and it peppered his back and
legs with fragments. I recently sent a email to another 1/83 medic, Ed Johnson,
and he reminded me that he was with me that night. Below is his email.
I was just wondering if anyone else remembers the
incident, who the injured guy was, and how he is doing now, and if they ever
found out who did it."
Ed (Doc) Johnson (70-71)
Yes I remember the incident. You and I transported him to the 85th EVAC.
If you remember SGT. Hill from communications came with us. The injured
guy came back to the unit after they fixed him up. This happened before
we got Dr. Hermele as the battalion surgeon.
Ed "Doc" Johnson"
Dennis Donati (70-71)
"The guy who got fragged was one of mine. I can see him
plain as day, but for the life of me, can't remember his name. As I recall he
received some shrapnel in his legs but wasn't that badly injured. In fact he
handled it pretty well considering. The same guy had an incident with LTC Lamons.
He was trying to get sent home because his wife was having major surgery. The
red Cross was notified but kept dragging their feet authorizing his travel.
Finally he went to see the col. LTC Lamons was very understanding but his hands
were tied. The guy got so worked up he slugged the Col. He was on the next plane
home. Nothing was ever made of it. Even after the guy returned, the Col said he
understood why the guy struck out at him. Won't find many COs that
Barney Downey (70-71)
"The answer to (Doc) Gary Hill's question about the identity of the guy
that was the recipient of that grenade incident was me, I'll let them know and
thank them for getting me to Phu Bai as quickly as they did.....thanks.
Gary (Doc) Hill (70-71)
"I just received a nice email from Barney last night. I had always
wondered about the guy. It was such a rotten thing to happen to someone. I had
some of the details wrong and forgot many of the others but, of course, that
happens over time. I'm glad he's doing well. Thanks for helping me put the
pieces together. Gary"
Barney Downey (70-71)
After 42 years I would like to say a big heartfelt thank you, to you and Ed
Johnson for patching me up and the bumpy ambulance ride into Phu Bai in that 3/4
ton. I remember an argument with an MP at the rear gate that thought we were
faking an emergency run with an ambulance to get to the Vill, and a punch being
thrown at the MP...... something like an episode out of M.A.S.H. I think you or
Johnson visited me in the hospital the following day to see how I was doing and
relieved as I was that the wounds in the lower extremities weren't a castration
by grenade! I have a very vivid recollection of the entire incident, especially
that goofball Major Griffin in my face while you guys were applying first aid
and asking me over and over "who am I"? I was in shock initially during the
assisted walk up to the aid station but came around after I got there and his
face was the last thing I needed, given to previous head buttings with
him.....pretty wild night that February 14, 1971 in the Nam! Thank you guys very
much, though, for doing what you did for me that early morning hour of
Bernard Downey (Barney)"
"Barney, Were you in Commo back then? I was the Commo Officer and I seem
to recall that the guy who got fragged was in Commo. It's been a long time and I
might be mistaken. Wouldn't be the first time. At any rate Welcome Home.
Barney Downey (70-71)
For the short time I was stationed in the rear (Camp Eagle), I was actually
part of the newly formed "track pack" where each Battery had assigned a specific
driver for their track vehicles and I ended up with the 577 (portable command
post) as its driver with a Sgt. Austin, I believe was his name, in charge of
Prior to that I was on Bastogne in Gun Section #1, A-Btry, on one of the
2-175's so I wasn't in the rear maybe a few weeks when the fragging incident
occurred. According to the C.I.D. investigation an attempted fragging of the
Sgt. Major that early morning hour of February 14, 1971 had a grenade bouncing
off the side of his hootch and 4 seconds later ending up/exploding
directly underneath the corner of the multi-man hootch where my quarters
were located and I'm sleeping on a foldable canvas cot w/ sleeping
bag.........the only thing saving me from even greater injuries or worse
(besides God) was the fact that I had 2 Flak Vests (one I was issued and another
I found discarded or just laying out in the mud , there in the rear area and
several boxes of a corporal's letters/mail, (he was still on Bastogne), that he
was saving and asked me to hold onto while he took an R&R (which were reduced to
confetti when I was able to retrieve my belongings and examine the remnants upon
my return to the unit a few months later).
After all that, I still sustained ten hits from the waist down and mostly
to the right leg. All the good stuff like my newly purchased camera, an old reel
to reel and more importantly a bunch of irreplaceable recorded film & tapes and
even my M-16 were stolen in my absence.....yea, this all done by an individual(s)
that I probably had seen/worked with on a daily basis! I do have an individual
that I know, based on something that he posted on the internet that ties him
directly to a particular item of mine that was stolen but I'm still working on
it and I know where he's at! In closing I just want to say that I actually
turned 18 yrs of age two months after arriving in Viet Nam (I slipped under the
radar several times after answering a call for 20 thousand volunteers for RVN
duty when I was with the 82nd Airborne stateside), so this is a very accurate,
honest and impartial accounting of a recollection of dates , names and events as
I just turned 60 three months ago. That is not to say that I can find my keys
two minutes after laying them down nowadays but I'm a little younger than the
average Viet vet.
Hope I didn't bore you with all of this but I find it quite interesting
that this came up after 42 years and just maybe the guilty party whose name is
also on the 183rd website roster will have an examination of conscience in and
of his actions.
Welcome Home To You Also , Sir.
Barney Downey (70-71)
This incident has generated some good responses from fellow brothers of the
183rd thus far, so I figured I wanted to keep you posted as well. Although 42
years later , this past St. Valentine's Day , there is no Statute of Limitations
for attempted murder!
Wayne Pope (70-71)
Barney Downey (70-71)
"Thanks for the pic, I haven't seen it before although I did look
at the inside area upon my return from 6th CC in Cam Rahn Bay months later. The
floor area was repaired but the plywood divider wall between my cell and the
adjoining cell on that side had a hole the size of a quarter right where whoever
occupied that area, his head would've been if he didn't get stuck out on one of
the fire bases during an ammo resupply! Had I been sleeping with my head in the
opposite direction on that rack, I probably wouldn't be here discussing it
Funny that Wayne Pope would send this pic as he and I have been in contact
these past few days after he asked Bill Taggart to see if anyone else going to
the reunion was riding their motorcycles so we've been kicking that back and
forth. He must have been one of the few other guys that were actually sleeping
in that hootch during "happy hour"!
Take care and thanks again.
"When Pope and I exchanged emails it was about the prospects of motorcycle
riding to the reunion and at that time he didn't know I was the guy that got
hit. I've since wrote him to let him know and asked if he had anymore pics of
the scene after your email. I was sleeping right in that corner on the left of
the stairs as you come through the door.....talk about a rude awakening! Even
though vague, when you enlarge that pic it shows some pretty good damage to the
lumber on that hootch , which definitely absorbed some of the energy and
shrapnel and considering that the nomenclature of that grenade calls for a
killing radius of I believe 40 sq.m., all in all, it was a good night! I've had
some times over the years, one in particular where lightning and thunder in the
night blasting through the window all of a sudden sprung me up and out of bed to
the complete other side of the room, all in one fluid motion according to my
ex-wife involuntary reaction to very loud noises and I still don't like
loud noises in general!
Sounds like we were at Bragg about the same time. I joined the army also
and at 17 by one month , in Nov./69 , took basic at Ft. Knox, AIT at Ft. Sill,
jump school at Benning and permanent party at Ft. Bragg with the 2/504th.
Infantry. I actually volunteered when a levy for 20 thousand paratroopers for
Nam came down and they had no problems filling it...I didn't like Ft. Bragg,
(apparently a lot of other folks too) , seems like all I was doing was KP and
post detail and jumping at least once a month for pay which was the good part ).
All in all, it was quite a "whirlwind" tour of life and I wouldn't change
anything except sleeping quarters in the near proximity to a Sgt. Major that
someone heavily disliked.
I have an idea of who it was or can be implicated in the theft of my
belongings and thereby knowledge of the entire incident (based on a conversation
I had briefly with a friend of his when I returned to the 1/83rd but hadn't put
it all together until recent years), and I have let him know that much since
assembling the puzzle. If it were not for my daughter, I would've already paid
this guy a visit but as it is I will let sleeping dogs lie and in the final
analysis he has to live with what he's done and answer for it in the end! It is
ironic that this incident has come full circle and really has helped me in that
I never much discussed this in depth with fellow soldiers that were there as you
were at the time so thanks again. I don't know if you knew that captain that was
in charge of the aid station when I returned there. He was new and also had a
degree in psychiatry and I was sent to him for evaluation which was helpful when
he said to me that he would also be hunting with his M-16 for the idiot that did
Take care and always good to hear from you.
Bob Maicke (70-71)
"The frag story rings true to me. We were in the FDIC hootch at the time
it happened and at first thought it was incoming. But only one bang. I remember
the gentlemen was short and on his way home. The transient hootch was just down
hill from the 1st SGT. And we were one row over. I also remember losing a cook
to a cook stove explosion during my tour. I can't remember who it was though."
Andy Gambill (71)
"I was there (HHB) the night of the fragging incident. Thank God he was on
the mattress. Remember it well. As far as I know, we didnít know who did it. But
he was pissed at the Sgt. Major. The Sgt. Major slept in Phu Bai the rest of his
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