This is a remembrance that Stew recalls of
a very bad time at FSB Bastogne.
"I left Nam in December of 1969 from FSB Bastogne. I
remember a fresh, arrogant Captain who was assigned to C Battery as Battery
Commander. This was his first Nam tour. He demanded that everything that was
troop or mission related be strictly adhered to as if we were in the states.
Respect and recognition were absolutes when it came to addressing him. He
expected polished boots, uniforms clean and inspected, 175 mm guns wiped down
and cleaned on a scheduled basis.
There was an immediate dislike for his arrogance and his
implementation of stateside bullshit, most of which could not be employed
because of the conditions we had to work in and were exposed to. He took advice
from no one, if you’d been there a week or a year, your knowledge and insight
was of no value to him.
When Bastogne got hit horribly in May of ‘69, we lost Doc
Paddleford and sixteen others were flown to Camp Eagle for their severe wounds.
This Captain was one of those air lifted out and never returned to Bastogne for
further service. Depending on the nature and severity of their wounds, some of
the guys did eventually return to Bastogne.
As most of us were tied up defending the perimeter from
rockets and any small arms fire, our total concentration was on the enemy. We
pretty much remained ‘in place’ until sunrise when we determined we were no
longer under threat. It had been a very long, cold and rainy night with
extremely low overcast skies. I believe it was around midnight when we
initially got hit, but due to the extreme weather conditions, neither air
support or other artillery support were able to provide any additional support
to our position.
The Medi-Vacs flew in after daylight for the wounded as the
weather had cleared just enough. In the latter hours of the day, the gun
section crews gathered and exchanged our personal accounts of the attacks. We
quickly learned who had been wounded and heard that Doc Paddleford was in
terribly critical shape. When it came to the Captain, no one had much to offer
as to the wounds he suffered or how critical they might be.
He was hit very close to the FDC tent that was not well
protracted from incoming. I recall vividly from a couple buddies who were near
the BC’s position that he had been shot in the back and had witnessed such
wounds while awaiting the Medi-Vacs to take him back to base camp. Word (I
guess we can say ‘rumors’) began to circulate that the wounds the Battery
Commander suffered were as the result of an accidental ‘friendly fire’ incident.
After that day, his name was seldom spoken, if ever, amongst the troops. We
never learned of his exact injuries or the possible disabilities he may have
endured thereafter. His name is not on the wall and I have made many internet
searches in the last few years, out of curiosity mostly, to see if I could find
out anything about his disposition in these later years.....I keep coming up
with a blank.
I shall not mention his name, out of respect for his service
and sacrifice. I’m sure there are others who were in C Battery during that
unfortunate time period. Perhaps they can speak to this as well. I’m not
insinuating anything, nor do I have any factual proof as to what happened during
that enemy engagement, but the end result is speculation on my part based on
what I seen and heard regarding the Captain’s fate.
I know it was extremely insulting and
dishonorable to be in Nam and have stateside military crap shoved down your
throat day after day by an inexperienced ‘newly’. We were there to fight a war
under undesirable conditions, and not to see how pretty we could look. We
worked hard and fought hard and took care of each other as brothers
should...having a polished pair of boots and a clean, tidy uniform was asking
the impossible....and the unnecessary.
I pray that this Battery Commander
recovered and is able to enjoy the norms of life. I wish him no ill, but I hope
he realizes and understands the true moral of this story. This is written as
accurately and truthfully as I recall.... the memories of Bastogne on that
fateful day in May of 1969 will forever be with me.
C Battery, 1/83Arty
December 1968-December 1969"