Firebase Charlie 2

 
 

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.
Denny".

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") heavy artillery.

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 ARVN forces.

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, Ron

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 Sydney.

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.

 

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