BRAVE RIFLE Company 3/68-8/68
2/320th Artillery FO
I joined BRAVE RIFLE Company, the “Barbarians,” of the 1/327th Infantry as its artillery forward observer on March 25, 1968. I arrived as part of an “infusion” program from the 2nd Brigade, where I served with the 1/321st Artillery for three months in the same role. My nickname was “Magoo.” The 1st Brigade/101 had just begun operations in March 1968 in a new area of operation southwest of Hue in the aftermath of the Tet Offensive in the I Corps Tactical Zone. From March through August 1968, 1st Brigade operations focused on establishing Fire Support Bases Birmingham, Bastogne, Veghel, Zon, and Berchtesgaden, and engaging North Vietnamese enemy forces in the area. These fire support bases extended the reach of the 1st Brigade from Hue to the A Shau Valley, and were situated along an axis approximating the old French Route 547.
Operations Carentan II, Delaware, and Nevada Eagle marked the milestones of these endeavors. BRAVE RIFLE Company, 1/327th conducted search and destroy missions, and road security operations in late March and early April 1968 in the vicinity of FSBs Birmingham and Bastogne, and was part of the main attack force on combat assaults for Operations Delaware and Nevada Eagle in April and May 1968 in the “Route 547/547A Delta Junction “ region and in the Rao Nho Valley between FSB Veghel and the A Shau Valley.
Bravo Company endured some tough times, given the incessant firefights, numerous casualties, physical challenges, emotional strain, and personnel turnover. I was impressed with the bravery, tenacity, and resilience of BRAVE RIFLE Company troops. The company bore a heavy burden. From March through August 1968, the company lost 19 killed-in-action and scores wounded-in-action, with many of those suffered between April 19 – 29, 1968 in the opening days of Operation Delaware in the vicinity of FSB Veghel and on Hill 387.
The Bravo Company commanders I served with were: CPT Curcio (who rotated out of the company), CPT Winkler (wounded on April 15, 1968), CPT Lawrie (wounded April 20, 1968 on the second day of Operation Delaware), and CPT James Shepherd (who was wounded three times). Some of the platoon leaders were LTs Metheny, Naughscheim, Rogers, and Adams – all fine officers and leaders.
I am thankful that during my time as a forward observer with BRAVE RIFLE Company, no soldier was killed or injured due to ‘friendly fire.” Despite calling “danger close” fire missions several times, and flinging hundreds of 105mm and 155mm howitzer projectiles in close proximity to the troops of BRAVE RIFLE Company while in enemy contact, no rounds fell short or went astray. I owe a special salute to the troops in the fire direction centers and on the guns of A Battery 2/320th Artillery and Bravo Battery, 2/11 Artillery!
I stayed in the Army for 22+ years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1990. Of all my duty assignments and life’s experiences, nothing surpasses the time I spent as a “lieutenant of artillery” with BRAVE RIFLE Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, in combat in Vietnam in the spring and summer of 1968!
Check “B” Photo page for Jim’s photo pages 1-4
Jimmy F. Kuhlman
Ft. Benning jump school shot. Had orders 101st since commissioning out of ROTC at Okalahoma State Univ.