1/83rd Artillery
George Benham

 
 
George Benham (67-68)
"B" Battery

George sent in the following recollections

SSG Guy was #1 gun chief 1968. Cpt David Neumann was Btry Cmdr of B Btry during our 87 mile relocation from Ham Tam to Tan Son Nhut AFB about a week prior to TET in January 1968.

I was the convoy commander on the ground; David Neumann was in the helicopter above. Two of the 8" howitzers changed tubes to 175mm at Tan Son Nhut, and the remaining two 8" howitzers were road marched to a position about ten miles from the Air Base. We were provided security by the 101st Airborne.

A Major from the 101st told me to move my two guns together as he could not defend that much real estate with only a battalion. I tried to explain to him that the reason they were spread was to cover more real estate when the rounds landed. He responded with, "Don't give my any shit, Lieutenant". I called Battalion and reported this incident. The next day the 199th Light Infantry replaced the 101st with a Company.

Within 24 hours they had dug a trench around the perimeter with resupply "spokes" to their command center. Their Company Commander had a jungle hat embroidery with "You Got's To Be Hard". When the SHTF we had continuous fire most of the night. Our howitzers got overheated, and the ammo ran low. SSG Guy poured 5 gallons of water down the gun tube - only steam came out. While being resupplied ammo, one of the CH-47's dropped a bundle about 50 meters outside the perimeter. It was a real scramble to get it all back to the guns. On the road march back to Tan Son Nhut AFB, hundreds of VC/NVA bodies were stacked like cord wood on the side of the road.

When TET was over in III Corps, Cpt Neumann remained Btry Cmdr when B Btry relocated to I Corps by barge. B Btry then provided heavy artillery support during the battle of Hue. Concrete piercing fuses were flown in to assist in decimating the 20 foot thick wall before Hue was secure. I'm not sure exactly when David Neumann was replaced in 1968, but it was definitely after we departed Hue to Camp Evans in I Corps, and before road marching to Khe Sanh to help the Marines.

Places visited during the road march to a firing position about 4 miles from Khe Sahn were Dong Ha and "The Rock Pile". Our firing position near Khe Sanh was selected by someone from Battalion in a helicopter. When we arrived we spent several hours plowing 6-8 ft. elephant grass with the gun spades in order to get enough visibility to lay the guns and provide for perimeter defense.

On the return trip to Camp Evans we located at Con Thien, about 3 miles from the DMZ. They had the most secure bunkers you can imagine which could take a direct hit from enemy artillery and not hardly blink the underground lights. We stayed there long enough to participate in Operation Thor, which was a massive counter-battery operation against NVA artillery north of the DMZ.

At Camp Evans, our 5-ton (ammo section) trucks were excellent trading incentives with the 1st Cav Division, as they had no means to transport shipments from "Wonder Beach". We shared our trucks and drivers for many loads of PSP, sand bags, etc.

Bill Taggart (66-67)
HQ
Battery

I asked George if he had any more to share and he followed up with this...

Only that I got my steel pot turned around one night while laying the guns at Camp Evans. It was pitch dark, U.S. in contact, fire mission. Visibility was limited to flashing lights. When the first gun was laid, I moved the aiming circle for a safety check and told the FDC to begin adjusting with the gun laid while I proceeded to lay the rest of the battery. Of course I had no idea where the adjusting gun was pointed until it fired. That 175mm was pointing right at me and my aiming circle. Needless to say, my hearing was severely impaired for about a week.

Ray Spence (68)
Battalion Command

Dave Neumann commanded Bravo in Ham Tan, made the move to Tan Son Nhut and moved the Battery north initially to the vicinity of Quang Tri. His mission was in support of the 1st Cav in the battle of Hue. Shortly after, the remainder of the 1/83d closed into Phu Bai and vicinity (not far from Hue). Tony Armagno replaced Neumann as Neumannís 6 months (normal time for a Battery Commander at that time) were up. George Benham remained the Btry Exec for Armagno. Neumann was reassigned as my Asst S-3 and rotated the latter part of July or early August and left the army not long after that.

Tony Armagno didnít replace Neumann until the entire 1/83d had moved north and the battle of Hue was over. Tonyís first action as BC was also in support of the 1st Cav in trying to break the entrapment of the Marines in
Khe Sanh.

 

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