1967 Mortar Attack
Camp Everett
Nui Dat

 
 

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)
"HQ" Battery

"Calvin 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 Nui Dat 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)
"A" Battery

"George said he was there but their gun was down."

Larry Laser (66-67)
"A" Battery

"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 this helped."

Ron Heine (66-67)
"A" Battery

"“A” 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)
"A" Battery

"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)
"B" Battery

"On 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)
"HQ" Battery

"Thanks Rod.

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)
"A" Battery

"Bill:

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 makes sense.

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)
"B" Battery

"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)
"A" Battery

"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
Craig
"

Frank Scozzafava (66-67)
"HQ" Battery

"I 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
Scozzy"

Ross Wood (66-67)
“B” Company 5RAR

"As 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.

Best Wishes

Ross Wood
Former 5 RAR
"

Bill Taggart (66-67)
"HQ" Battery

"Thanks for the update Ross, that time line meshes with my recollection. How far away was the Horseshoe from where the 1/83rd compound was?
Bill"

Ross Wood (66-67)
“B” Company 5RAR

"Hi Bill,

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 base.

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 April 1967.

The Horseshoe is 8,000 metres south east of where 1 ATF including Camp Everett was located.

Hope this is of assistance

Ross Wood
"

Kenny Skornia (66-67)
"HQ" Battery

"Hi Bill

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.

Take care
Kenny Skornia
"

Bill Taggart (66-67)
"HQ" Battery

"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)
"HQ" Battery

"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)
"HQ" Battery

"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)
"HQ" Battery

"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)
"HQ" Battery

"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."

 

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