story about throwing the stones! I can say with my hand over my heart
that it would not have been anyone from the 161st. Our guys
had better things to do than throwing stones. I don’t even think the
Aussies were into that.
That bar at “Hoa Long” on the other side of the road from your
guardhouse was a known spot for the local “Charlie” when I was at the
Dat. Some of our guys went adrift at night down your way on rare
occasions and were usually caught and sent to the Glass House at Vung
Tau for varying terms. But that didn’t happen often.
myself had a nasty experience on Christmas night 1967. I was 161st
Orderly Sgt for the day. This meant a dry Christmas for me. Just after
stand down the Battery Sgt Major came to me and said that he had
received a call from the 1st of the 83rd informing
him that some Kiwi Gunners were at that bar and making a helluva noise.
I was ordered to muster my own gun crew and travel down in a couple of
APCs and arrest these so called Kiwis. No one liked going outside the
wire at night at Nui Dat that’s for sure and I was no different. Anyway
I managed to muster my troopies, but being Christmas Day none of them
were very sober. So off we went fully armed, me as sober as a Judge and
my guys getting soberer by the minute.
went past your guardhouse very carefully hoping your guys wouldn’t open
fire on us and duly arrived at the bar where our guys were supposed to
be. Leaving a small squad with the APCs the rest of us went around the
back of the bar and I banged on the door loudly and ordered those inside
to come out and that they were under arrest. Well its history now, but
all I got was a loud round of abuse. I warned them again and got much of
the same abuse.
Now my troopies all had their personal weapons with them and without
thinking I said to my driver, “shoot the bloody lock off the door” not
realising that his personal weapon was an M20 grenade launcher. Much to
my horror he blew the door and part of the wall away from the building.
Amazingly, no one was injured, but those inside came out sheepishly with
their hands up. There were six of them. Five Aussies and one kiwi from
our unit. The Kiwi was not an artilleryman, he was a LCpl Engineer. We
bundled them into one of the APCs and boy oh boy did they get the
treatment from my troopies all the way back to the Dat. I had them all
thrown in the Conex Guard House for the rest of the night and they were
dealt with in the morning.
The sequel to this, was that I did not mention in my report about having
the side of the building shot away and no one else involved mentioned it
either. But I can say here, that although I wasn’t supposed to be
drinking while on duty, I very quickly put myself outside a bottle of
Johnny Walker when the task was finished. But before doing this I went
to the enlisted mens bar and put 20 bucks on the bar for my guys.
I’ve never really
related that story before, until I read about the stone throwing in your
email. My belief was that the Cong were having a dig at you guys in the
Guard House. It certainly wasn’t the 161st."