Recently a question was asked by Calvin Loftis (66-67) about
a Mortar Attack at Nui Dat in 1967. When I asked for comments on this, the
following dialog took place. As you can see, there are some conflicting versions
of this event probably due to the fact that it happened so long ago. If you have
anything to add on this topic, let me know.
Bill Taggart (66-67)
asked me about the night in1967 when Camp Everett was mortared pretty heavily
and several were wounded. He seemed to recall when that happened that "A"
Battery was out on an operation and that "C" Battery guns came down to
to cover for them. I remember that night very well, but I don't know the answer
to his question so I thought I would first ask. Anybody know?"
George Rose (66-67)
"George said he was
there but their gun was down."
Larry Laser (66-67)
"I was in
ammo section at the time. Best as I can remember we were at the Horseshoe and I
though that we only had 8 inch guns with us but I may be wrong. I think that we
shot support for them. I do remember hauling a lot of ammo and powder and that
we got one can of warm beer a day. We slept under a make shift tent on the
ground. Seems like we only there a short time like a week or less. We did not
get much sleep as the guns shot a lot and the ammo section even had to help the
guns shoot. We were there different times because we could not reach the unit
that we were supporting from Nui Dat. One other thing that I remember is a
bulldozer got to far over the side of the hill and they had to use two other
dozers to get it back up the hill. Not sure why they were pushing off the top of
the hill. It may have been just to get rid of the trees so that there was clear
fire area. Hope
Ron Heine (66-67)
Battery was out on an operation at that time. We fired counter-mortar fire in
support of Camp Everett. I was the Battery Exec at the time and Terry Hampton
was the FDO."
Rod Dolton (66-67)
"I was on Gun # 1 (I think we were #1 – the 8” gun immediately by the FDC tent
with Sgt Franklin, Sgt James, Cpl Jimmy Miller) and actually remember that we
were still living in our tents when the motor pool was mortared, because I was
in the tent that night as it was my night off the gun. Our gun # 1 tent was
about midway between the gun park at one end of the compound, and the service
battery motor pool at the other end. Construction of the wooden-tin barracks
that our carpenter, Ken Gibson, also of A Battery, was in charge of had not yet
started. That would put it in the early part of 1967. I heard that someone in
Service Battery at the opposite end of the Camp may have been injured as that
was where the motor pool was located. Many of the vehicles were damaged and
many, many flat tires. I always thought that the VC had wrong intelligence to
our great advantage for our gun park and adjacent ammo dump were at the opposite
end of the compound from where the mortars landed. It would have been an
absolute disaster if the VC hit the gun park and the ammo dump!
A second thought - I now recall that it seems like our ammo dump did actually
get hit once, and it could have been when A battery was in fact out in the field
on a month long operation with the Aussies. I know when that occurred as an
Aussie Catholic priest came out to our bivouac on Easter Sunday and said mass
there in the field. We also got paid in the field while still there. Therefore
the time frame would have included the pay day for that month in spring and also
Easter Sunday. C Battery could very well have been at Nui Dat covering for us
when the ammo dump got hit??"
Ed Thomas (66-67)
the night of the mortar attack at Nui Dat, wasn't that the time that all three
gun Battery's were there? I seem to recall that time, just before we went out on
operations at a place called the Horseshoe with our Aussie and New Zealander
allies. It was the only time that all the Battery's were together in one place
at the same time."
Bill Taggart (66-67)
I need to build a layout for the website of Camp Everett. I know that up front,
near the main gate was Metro and the Motor Pool. There were 3 roads through Camp
and they ran east to west. On the northern most road was the Motor Pool and HQ
Battery. On the southern most road was Service first and then "A" Battery.
They walked the mortars up the northern side on both sides of the road. I was in
my tent at the time so it had to be later at night. My Platoon LT was wounded as
were a few others in HQ Battery, mostly guys I knew. The mortars landed all the
way up to the motor pool which got hit pretty hard. We always thought that the
VC meant to walk the mortars up the middle which would have meant the ammo dump
and the guns.
Regarding our ammo dump. Except for a couple of weeks when I was sent to Xuan
Loc when "C" Battery was out on a mission (we were sent to guard their camp and
then we were subsequently sent out in the field as additional defense during an
operation) I was at Nui Dat my entire time from when the 1/83rd first arrived
until mid-November 1967 when I came home. It was during the time I was out that
the incident took place in the Ammo dump. I had heard that it was a short round
of ours that did it. One of my friends from HQ Battery jumped in Juicy Lucy (our
water truck), drove down to the ammo dump and helped put out the fire. He was
decorated for this.
The more I do this I realize how little I sometimes remember and also how one
question leads to so many others. I will put the dialog out as a "Reminiscence"
on the website and see if we can't get more clarification. "
Rod Dolton (66-67)
You have a much better memory than I do, but everything you say makes sense. Our
sleeping tent was the first tent into the banana grove east of our gun and the
FDC tent along the southern road, almost in line to the south with the shower
building that was later built, also along the southern road. I remember being in
the tent listening to the mortars landing in the motor pool and then seeing the
damage in the morning. Because I was a gun bunny on gun # 1, I never ventured to
the north eastern end of the compound where you guys from HQ and even Service
Battery were. You all may as well have been living in the Aussie camp up the
road! Everything you say about the mortars, the injury, and your location also
Now that you mention it about the short round, I absolutely remember now hearing
the same story but can't recall the time line. I wasn’t on the guns that night,
but may not have been in the field either. I was transferred to Service Battery
the last four months of my tour around August 67 due to my hearing loss on the
guns. I became an ammo driver and the short round explosion very well may have
occurred during that time period. About November 66-67, I was our A Battery’s
first replacement to arrive on the guns. I arrived in country the day before
Thanksgiving in Nov 66 and came to Nui Dat no more than a week later. So the
Unit beat me by only several weeks."
Charlie Boggs (66-67)
"It was 'B' from Bear Cat that co-located with 'A' at the time. The two 8'' of
'A' and two 8'' of 'B' went to the Delta with the 9th Div., leaving the four
175s at 'A' home base."
Craig Castona (66-67)
"I was on
guard duty, post 6 the night we got mortared the second time. We were mortared
from TWO different directions. N.W. of post 4 or strait west of 2/35th. Watched
two Hueys hammer approximate area. The other mortar site was S.W. of post 6. I
could hear and see when the mortars were fired. These mortar fell short in front
of post 6, I think 12-15 mortars.
When the mortars exploded they lighted the inside of the guard post. I felt calm
but my hands were shaking so that I had difficulty loading the M-60. When done I
went outside to guard catwalk, south berm, and west berm. I took two tiny pieces
of shrapnel in my left arm. About the same time the mortars stopped Rose and
Gulue(?) came up the road with an APC and 50cal to guard catwalk.
Lest We Forget
Frank Scozzafava (66-67)
remember attack at Nui Dat, pictures of 3/4 ton pretty beat up by mortars next
to our tents where I parked it .. also short round over compound , Bobby (Mugsy)
Chiappone running out with shrapnel in his arm... also Sgt Ferguson video of
early days spray dumped on compound from air
Ross Wood (66-67)
“B” Company 5RAR
regards the mortar attack on 1 ATF in 1967. The Horseshoe was occupied by 1 ATF
on the morning of 6 March 1967. This may assist your guys with the exact date -
I don't remember.
As for us, we were in 1 ATF when we heard the mortar bombs. All our lights
immediately went out. I was at the battalion open air movie theatre, when the
bombs hit. All light out - movie stopped, and we all returned to our platoon
lines in our company areas.
In our case - put on steel helmets, and sat in weapon pits - looked out into the
darkness. Later there were aircraft, could be U.S.A.F. or U.S. Army dropping
flares to the north east.
Waited a considerable time in weapon pits - nothing more happened, so eventually
we went to normal night sentry duty.
Former 5 RAR"
Bill Taggart (66-67)
for the update Ross, that time line meshes with my recollection. How far away
was the Horseshoe from where the 1/83rd compound was?
Ross Wood (66-67)
“B” Company 5RAR
I mentioned the Horseshoe feature because when reading 1967 MORTAR ATTACK CAMP
EVERETT, two of your members, Larry Laser (66 - 67) A Battery and Ed Thomas (66
- 67) B Battery, both mention the HORSESHOE in their reminiscences of the 1967
mortar attack on Camp Everett.
B Company 5 RAR occupied the Horseshoe feature at 08.00hrs 6 March 1967. At
10.00hrs U.S. Army Air Mobile UH-1D Iroquois helicopters, four at a time,
brought D Company 5 RAR to live there, and set the Horseshoe up as a defended
There was a lot of activity in and around the Horseshoe as the defended base was
established. Sometime in early - mid March 1967, the 8 inch guns of 1/83rd
Artillery arrived out there. Further to the east were elements of the 9th U.S.
Infantry Division operating with 6 RAR in the area east and around Xuyen Moc
B Company 5 RAR returned to 1 ATF on the morning of 9 March 1967.
The two attached photographs are of U.S. Army 8 inch guns at the Horseshoe on 1
The Horseshoe is 8,000 metres south east of where 1 ATF including Camp Everett
Hope this is of assistance
Kenny Skornia (66-67)
I was on guard duty in the guard bunker just East of the shower hut when we were
mortared. The Lt who I believe was our survey officer came to the bunker wounded
and I gave him my field jacket to keep dirt of his wounds till attack ceased. He
then went to find the medic. The rounds came from the rear of camp and went
behind our bunker to the motor pool. I remember we had just had our Bn Colonel
replace and that day he had all the vehicle park in the motor pool. Great move
as I recall. One more reason why I thought the army needed a little common sense
. I believe the water truck caught a lot of scrap iron that night.
Sometime after this attack I was on guard duty just to the east of our survey
hut and a mortar round hit in front of our guard post. The following morning one
of the Aussie Officers came and looked at the impact hole . I never did hear
what they had to say about it.
Bill Taggart (66-67)
"That would have been LT Steffan, he was wounded in the
back while in his bunk. I have some pictures on the website of the motor pool
after the attack and one is of Juicy Lucy. Click
here to view."
Jimmy Hales (66-67)
"This is what I remember about the Nui Dat mortar attack that happened in
November of 1966. I was on guard duty with 2 black guys at guard post number 4.
Which was the 24-hour post located down past the ammo dump. The mortars came
from somewhere to our left front shortly before midnight. If I remember
correctly, the mortars started hitting just below the road that cut across the
middle of the compound. Fortunately, the mortars were walked down the motor
pool side of the compound and no one was seriously hurt. I heard rumors that an
officer jumped out of bed when the first one exploded and got hit with fragments
in the backside. For some reason I want to recall that there were 21 rounds
fired. Fifteen of those inside the compound and six rounds fired on the area
where, as I called it, the “suicide patrol” almost always set up at night. I
know the two times that I was on this patrol; we set up in the same place each
time. Again, fortunately the wise men of the Army decided to discontinue the
patrols about a week before the mortar attack.
Let me digress on that patrol a little for those guys that were not fortunate
enough to have gone on one of them. Higher ups (bless them), decided the Army
needed to send a patrol outside the compound at night as a listening post to
intercept or warn the compound that an enemy threat was possible. The first
patrol I was on had about 12 to 14 guys, but the second patrol I went on had
only 8 to 9. We would leave out the front gate; turn right on highway 2 and go
past the last strand of wire. Turn right again and follow the wood line down to
the far corner and then bear a little to the left and setup about 50 to 100
yards away from the compound. The NCO in charge would put the m60 about 15 to 20
yards away from the main patrol. Two guys would be on the M60 at a time. One
would sleep, one would watch. When your watch was over, you woke up the guy with
you to man the gun while you made your way back to the main patrol site (very
quietly, I might add) and the next guy would make his way out to the gun. This
would go on until morning and then the patrol would pack up and make their way
back to the compound. I seem to remember that there was an entrance thru the
wire at that particular corner of the compound, but it zigzagged back and forth
to create problems for entering at night.
I would love to hear what some of the other guys remember about this patrol."
Bill Taggart (66-67)
"Jimmy, I just quickly read that and want to take some more time to reply.
What you describe is identical to my recollections. I hated those patrols but I
am sure they went on longer than you mentioned. I think it was about 4 months or
so. I kept a diary which I could kick myself now for not keeping up with. I want
to go find it because I think I made an entry when the patrols stopped. I
remember it very well because I was scheduled to go out the night that they
decided to stop them (one of the happier days of my life!) Nothing was worse
than being out there all night, you felt like a sitting duck. During the day
patrol the same thing was done. In fact the local Vietnamese kids would come out
and hang around with us. So much for any sense of security. More later.
PS. that was called the "Catwalk" where we came in through after patrol and it
was at Guard Post #6 in "A" Battery area."
Bill Taggart (66-67)
"Hi Jimmy, I finally dug out my diary and got a couple of answers:
1. The Mine Field was completed on January 18, 1967.
2. The last night patrol was on February 11, 1967.
3. The Mortar attack where several men were wounded and also really hit the
Motor Pool hard was on March 23, 1967 (Holy Thursday).
Unfortunately, I did not keep up with my Diary and March was my last entry."
David Smith (66-67)
"I was on duty at the
switchboard that night when I heard the first incoming and woke up the standby
guard. As I was returning I caught a piece of shrapnel in the hat Saltzman was
behind me and he caught some in the head. The was considerable damage to some
pair 52 cable we were burying."