I recently had a question sent in by Dennis
Donati HQ Battery (70-71). Here is what Denny asked...
"Bill, do you know if we had people at Charley 2 in April of
'71? I just saw an article about it in the VFW Magazine. I know I personally had
guys there from my Commo section manning a radio relay at some point. But did we
have guns there? The article credits units of 108th Group that I don't recall.
I then sent out the following message...
"Attached is an article which was in the May 2021 issue of VFW
magazine. Does anyone recall being at C-2 between March and May of '71. I am
sending this along prompted by an email below from our Dennis Donati. Any
comments can be sent to me and I can forward to Denny."
Click here for that article
The following are the responses that I received. They are not in
any particular order and, as happens with most of these queries, you may see
some conflicting answers. With our collective memory loss over 50+ years this
isn't unusual but as I have always said, never let the facts get in the way of
good story. Enjoy!
Don Aird (70-71) C Battery
Charlie battery was at C2 from Feb - ? We moved up to C2 from FSB Sally during
Lam Son 719. I left country the first week of March. Iím pretty sure the Battery
had moved before the incident. While Charley battery was at C2 a deuce and half
hit a mine just outside the gate.
Andy Gambill (70-71) HQ Battery
Remember the day, I was at Camp Eagle, HHB. Donít know if any heavies were
there, but 2/94 may have been in that AO.
Andy Wilmes (70-71) A Battery
Bill, I do recall being there. It is something I think about almost every
day. I had been with 1/83rd until the unit stood down and turned all the guns
and equipment in and then was sent to C2 with the 8/4th ("Guns of the DMZ")
Bill Burke (70-71) HQ Battery
I donít think 1/83rd ever had troops on C-2. The 8/4th FA, sister battalion
of ours in the 108th FA Group, had their B Battery there, and best of my memory,
was there when the rocket hit.
I visited C-2 at some point, probably in connection with Lam Son 719. If so
it was probably as a recon/coordination effort to move our units into the
vicinity. 8/4th was heavily involved in Lam Son 719 with batteries moved out
toward the Laotian border. It was thought we may have to move to either the
border area ourselves or take the 8/4thís place on the DMZ firebases. I was sent
in the battalion helicopter to do an air recon of the area around Khe Sahn and
along the border, and also visited the 108thís Command Post located just south
of the historic part of Khe Sahn. Again, to the best of my memory, I stopped at
C-2 in the event we would move up to the DMZ . As it turned out we didnít go
anywhere but stayed in support of the 101st Abn Div.
On of my vivid memories of that time was a B-52 strike just west of the
108thís CP. While stopped there, I felt the ground start to shake, then wave
after wave of concussions hit me. Iíve been close to artillery rounds impacting,
but these were a big wop in the chest, even though it was miles away. By the
time I realized what it was and looked up, the B-52ís contrails were already
turning back toward the southeast, toward Guam I guess.
Here is a follow up to Bill Burke's comments...
Bill, I think I need
to correct my original reply concerning FSB C-2. Seeing two replies about C
Battery guns going up there during Lam Son 719, I realize now that that is
probably true that we did have people on C-2. By Lam Son 719 I had moved from Bn
FDO and working in the Bn Operations area, to HHB Commander and was not involved
in battery operations and locations as I had been.
Second, my trip to C-2 could quite possibly have been to see Charlie
Batteryís operations and personnel. I do have a photo of a gun firing at C-2 and
if I can find it Iíll look for bumper markings.
Chuck Mattson (70-71) C Battery
Bill, I was on Charlie 2 with two Guns. I heard about the thirty some KIA's
shortly after I returned to the States but could not confirm it. Stay tuned I
will see what I can find out. Smoke
Bill, As I recall we left C2 around the end of March and went to Rakkasan I
think. I DROSed in May. I do recall a122mm slamming into a neighboring
unit bunker, no casualties. Also a Dud 122 landed nearby my XO. Post. God bless
Bill, I remember a large water tank, probably 1,000 or more gallons. Someone, I am
told the Marines, painted it bright red, with a large yellow sunflower and the
words SHOWER POWER in large letters. Also my XO post had been painted with red
and green stripes. I am sure the NVA used it as a Registration Point. I am of
the opinion they had agents on C2, and I feel would account for the Dud Rockets
coming in frequently. Of course I was just a E7 who didn't know much. Just my
take on things.
Andy Wilmes sent in a photo of "Shower Power"
David Sanford (71) HQ Battery
I was the track motor officer in Apr 71 and I donít recall any action during
that month. I think the author has the date wrong. The 5th Inf was not present
in 71, I use to salvage parts from their tracked vehicle grave yard in Quang
tri. During April, the 83d was in the process of turning equipment over to the
Frank Powell (70-71) SVC Battery
I donít believe we had any of our batteries there at this time. You can
Google Lam Son 719 and it identifies units involved in Lam Son.
We did deploy batteries to Khe Sanh and Sally during this time frame.
Gary Doc Hill (70-71) C Battery
In regards to the question about Charlie 2, I was sent there sometime in
March or April 71 to replace another battery medic by the name of Holloway or
Holliday (I think) who was going home. The battery stayed on C-2 until sometime
in May and then went by convoy including the guns back to the rear and on to
Rakkasan, or from C-2 directly to Rakkasan until 1/83 ended. I do remember quite
a few rocket attacks on C-2 while I was there, and also remember hearing about
the deadly attack not long after we left. But I didnít know the actual number of
dead and wounded until a few years ago when I saw a story about the attack in
the VVA magazine.
Ken Mitchell (70-71) C Battery
Raids out of LZ Sally with Charlie battery 1st of 83rd FA:
Section 2 Gun Crew, 2nd -14th Feb. 1971 @ FSB Charlie Two along the DMZ in the
Quang Tri Province.
Section 2 Gun Crew, 6th -12th March 1971 back @ FSB Charlie Two along the DMZ in
the Quang Tri Province.
Milan Mecham (70-71) A Battery
I was there that date. Helped dig the soldiers out of the collapsed bunker.
My unit A Battery of the 1/83rd had stood down and left for the States. I had 6
months left so I was reassigned to A battery of the 8/4th artillery. We were on
Charlie 2 and were a heavy composite battery. I was there when Firebase Fuller
was overran. Exciting times.
Dennis Barber (70-71) C Battery
Bill - C Battery (1/83rd) was at Charlie II prior to this horrible incident
that is described in the article. We left there and went to Camp Evans (just
before going to FB Cannon) around March of 1971. I believe there was no one from
the 1st of the 83rd at Charlie II when this happened.
We had gone to Charlie II from LZ Sally (approximately end of February,
beginning of March). When we first arrived, I remember that we made a trip to
Alpha 4 to transport their unused ammo back to Charlie II because their guns had
been moved out. It was so close to the DMZ that we could see the DMZ from the
gun pit berm.
I know that we took incoming from mortars and rockets sporadically during the
time we were at Charlie II - which was a short time. We had come in to replace a
unit that supposedly went west. But as I said, we had already moved on before
this terrible event happened.
Don Aird can probably confirm what Iím remembering. I believe Capt. Frank
Sloan had left for the world prior to us going to Charlie II. And I left for
home the latter part of April - but we had already moved on to Camp Evans by the
time I left. By that time, Camp Evans was C Batteryís designated rear area.
Hope this helps. And by the way, God bless those poor guys who died that day.
It could very well have been us.
Bob Wesley (70-71) C Battery
Hello Bill, I was the section chief gun 4 a 175mm. Chuck M. was the Smoke , I
donít remember who the B.C. was. Bless the man though. He said he was putting a
letter of commendation in my file (never saw it), also that I would be presented
a Bronze Star which I was by a group commander on May 12 í71.
I canít remember if I was at Quang Tri or somewhere else. The B.C. sent me
and another short guy (I think was a cook) by his Jeep and driver to the
rear. I was at C-2 from late in March or early April í71. I left battery from
C-2 May 11 í71. The best I recall my gun was swapped out with another 175mm gun
to another unit going on to Rockpile, Rakkasan, maybe Khe Sahn .
If you ever look at my pictures youíll see a lemon painted on the weapon
rack, it wouldnít fire. I was separated at Ft. Lewis and flew to Longview TX.
where my wife and family were. I was watching the evening news and seen what had
happened. I donít know why I watched news it was like punishment for leaving my
friends. I really broke down and cried. My family tried their best as you know
they can support you but they canít change it.
Dennis anything I can do just holler. Thank Richard for the article and that
the HEAVIES did their job in Vietnam. I always get pissed when some donít know
it all says ďOH, YOU WERE IN THE REARĒ
Ron Sims (70-71) C Battery
Bill, even though my memory is fading a bit, I remember C Battery supporting
a 2 gun raid on C-2 and I was there as part of the FDC team. I believe our First
Sergeant was there as well. However, I think the time was in April and it was
one of the last ďraidsĒ we made before we disbanded our unit in May. I also
remember how desolate the place looked and several of us thought that it felt a
bit like the Americans at the Alamo, right before Santa Ana attacked. Thanks,
Sid Johnston (70-71) HQ Battery & C Batteries
My memory is the same as Don Aird's. The NVA had the helipad targeted in very
well. Generally did not matter except they very often zoned in at around 4pm
when the mail chopper came. Not a big issue except the day I was due to leave
for R&R in Australia. BC called them off from the FDC as not safe to land. They
were my ride back to Gia Le to catch a chopper on to Da Nang for the flight to
Was all carefully timed to just make it for the flight out, But no, instead I
got a jeep and driver with a 50cal to take me to Dong Ha where I did catch a
ride to Gia Le, but way too late to get to Da Nang. I was whining about my bad
luck in Bn FDC when the S-2 walked in while I was talking and said he would get
me a ride the next day and would make sure I got on the next flight out. Because
of the scheduling issue I wound up with 10 days of R&R! Best thing that happened
to me in VN!
Neal Schwartz (68-69) B & C Batteries
If you zoom in on the 175mm Gun in the second photo, it sure look like it
could be a gun from the 94th. I did TDY as an FDO with the 2/94th in Ď69 at Camp
Carroll. Presumably just up the road from C-2? I thought Hwy9 was the most north
of any US Artillery, and I donít recall ever hearing about C-2 so I donít know
where it is, and the web seems to have a lot on it. Itís definitely in support
of the Marines, as was Camp Carroll.
Dennis Donati (70-71) HQ Battery
Thanks. I guess that answers my question. I was there to set up the commo
relay but I didn't stick around. It really was a desolate place. As I recall the
raids that I was a part of they didn't last long. A couple days at best.