Located on the floor of the A Shau Valley, Currahee was a staging point for many operations in and around the valley.
In her prime
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Waning days on Currahee
For a colorful account of Currahee by one that was there and done that, click HERE
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From: DAN OBRIEN [mailto:blackoutdrive]
Sent: Saturday, August 8, 2020 11:39 AM
To: Roger Koopman; Larry 83rdArty; FOOTS Arty
Subject: Dreaming last night
Good morning and welcome back to the world, Koop. Will add your nightly maneuvers to the morning report. Actually I was never at Currahee and only can speak from hearing quotes from Foots, Jim Psillis, Bosco Elija Randall wounded in the water truck, Larry Richins who later flew sidecar to General Pixton in a LOH and Tarus West, It was SSG Gary Scoggins and crew on the 8 inch howitzer named ACE that trudged west on rt 547 to Currahee and the Valley Floor at Tabet, an old landing strip from the 1940’s. Engineers hauled in some PSP and made it long enough for a C-7 Caribou to land. I have that newspaper article somewhere. The Currahee venture was all volunteers from all the gun crews to make one crew to work under Sgt Scoggins, the best man for the job who had ten years army experience. Somebody put his picture on Mad Minute site which Raz Reed created in 2000 to support the 101st Infantry. We had a dozen support groups on that site. After a few years, MSN took down all the free sites along with our Mad Minute. Every unit had pictures of their people and locations of where they were. The KINGSMAN was a unit of slicks at Eagle. I was in the NG with Ken Roche a pilot with them who became president of the 101st Abn Association. He sponsored me into the 101s Association after researching the 83rd Arty as 101st DIVARTY. I am currently a life member of the New England 101st Chapter.
The abandoned SF camp may have been A-Loui that was over run near the Laos border. That is quite the long dream and you describe in detail each movement and who you were with. You relived it exactly as it happened and guess tried to correct the mishaps in your dream which always doesn’t work. The REAL activity over rides the dream and pushes the COULD HAVE, SHOULD HAVE , WOULD HAVE, out of the way to open up the damaging aspect of what really happened. You had no control of it then and in reliving the incident’s still have no control in the REM factor. Having spent 7 years at Ruck Up , a non profit PTSD group, we learn that we still have no control of a lot of things presently and should not worry about changing the situations we encounter in our daily lives. Fight or Flight are our two options. The second puts us in isolation and that can be dangerous as it sometimes leads to taking a life, Seeking a friend to talk about it or write about it is what you did as our Brotherhood never stops with time but only gets tighter as we age. You and I retired out of the NG and that seemed to be a therapy serving 20 years later with Vets who went through similar actions as did we.
I wrote about the firebases I stayed at but nobody has written much on Currahee. Maybe time we heard from those who were on the ACE.
On 08/08/2020 9:54 AM Roger Koopman <majkoopman> wrote:
Thought you might have similar at times/nights or might endure mine? I always wished I could really write interesting books/stories but/and I really don’t like fiction. Written first to O’BRIEN from A Btry who actually was one who took an 8” inch heavy gun (only one I know of to the Ashau) to valley but might be interesting?) Was in NAM last night (not nightmares but with adrenaline rush and perplexity trying to make it work in my/our favor)…Phantom dreaming anticipating what might occur which for me often prepared me for action knowing where and what were the liabilities to expect wherever I was at…taking fear energy to hyper awareness energy useable before what may occur or come…of course young again. Well why it even more phantom than the usual kind of dreaming back as I use to dreamed of what I would do as a FO and even a FDO in combat before I would even go to NAM and even before I was at it whatever mission next then or when while I slept hard even sometimes yet today…because you told me of your going to Ashau (Currahee) with one 8” (big for those who don’t know heavy artillery) Gun (I wasn’t there then with you but before a number of times but was somewhere similar last night hashing out my own perplexities in a similar activity which never occurred for me)…sort of crazy probably but I was determined to understand it my dream? So here are my questions(???) of why did they bother to move a single big artillery type gun to Currahee with all the difficult logistics involved, WHO all went with what jobs to do, how did you function especially in fire missions, could you hit Laos, your own FDC, who laid the battery (single gun and how), where were you located exactly in Currahee complex at time…I wasn’t even there when you were but was last night similar but couldn’t determine what my role was wondering from a type of FDO (Fire Direction Officer) to my FO (Forward Observer) role thinking…strange dream for sure but liked it because I was young again and scared but trying to overcome it again. Stranger also is it wasn’t at Currahee (never happened) but south of Anzio and out west (way out) toward even more southern end of Valley at I think near an abandon old SF compound similar to Currahee previously doing the same work (fantasy I know) with the 8” gun coming either come from B Btry like from FSB Roy or when A Btry was at FSB Anzio??? I never resolved it or how in my dream. But alas I was working through the why, how and what was required to do some/what jobs there…again didn’t happen but I was there last night dreaming hard over and over trying to get it right. Because my brain had somethings relative to my time, I vacillated never determining if was an entire ARVN compound or had 101st guys around it or who all was there? I worried about what we (you/we guys) were doing? Again it was in my dream further south of Currahee near a hill (mountain saddleback which was right on the Laos border (which was near west side but very south in valley) Potts and I went there twice by Air Assaults once with 1st CAV (in my earliest days maybe Nov 68?) and later with the ARVN later which I haven’t pinned down a clear timeline on (but I think in summer of 69 sometime after Hamburger Hill where only 175s or Air could reach us). It location is etched in my memory because both times we were on sorties (choppers) out landing in blown down elephant tall grass on top of a mound below the hill then going up the hill to take it then back down to be retrieved back out at that LZ late in the day after a early dawn attack earlier…like I said for Potts (my RTO) and I it was our second time there in that area. This isn’t fantasy. When we went up hill, which was hit by Air and even some 175’s I called in just prior as was later as asked again after we came back down…we got fire both times at that/from hill coming in and out via small arms, mortars and even once uniquely by a 106 recoilless which they (Charlie) must have captured prior to the ARVN assault but thankfully their aim was poor. Both times they abandoned their mountain compound/base camp running via the saddleback back into Laois to escape. Was obviously a watch site for our planes entering the valley from DaNang plus I remember EOD destroyed some anti-aircraft units both times we were there. But why it is etched hard is that there weren’t enough slicks (sorties)(choppers) the second time to pick us all back up/out with ARVN thus Potts and I along with the ARVN captain/commander plus about 10 men were literally left till the 101st could free up some choppers to come get us near two hours later and it was now dark. I failed to mention that on assault with 1st CAV as the slick (chopper) we were on had a newbie pilot who couldn’t get it on the ground and we had to jump from it about 8 feet to the ground which frankly really hurt us plus we saw one chopper leaving after touching down unloading 1 CAV troops after us then crash trying to fly out which we were told they had to strip and blow the chopper with hurt pilots both then medivac’d out while we hit the hill. The ARVN mission was the extremely dangerous seriously tense time from which my energy came from. After we were left, the ARVN commander and I soon determined (grunts and growns as we had no interruptor?) we would have to head/hide in elephant grass to avoid being found/killed/captured while waiting for more sorties to come get us out…the missing or shorted 3 choppers from flights take us out from those taking us in (???…why?) now left us on the ground alone. We were told it would be a delay of at least an hour or maybe longer as they were on another 101st mission/fight plus those already leaving would have to drop off ARVN taken back in rear then go get refueled/checked out to make the frankly long journey back to us stranded on the ground maybe up to 2 hours or so…needless to tell you we were at serious risk now…thus the energy in my mind even now in remembrance. We moved into the talk grass with ARVN men barely chopping a path to minimize anyone following us (I had already blew the hill again with called in 175’s from Fire Support Base Bastogne…20 mile guns) as we were sure they knew we were left on ground and few. Every so often we would stop and listen hearing them chop through the grass looking for us. But thankfully we never met as we knew we could not return to the previous LZ safely so we headed further down East into valley floor hoping to dart out of grass and woods to a road clearing big enough for quick helicopter pickup. They came with two choppers about 2 1/2 hours later instead of 3 causing us to seriously overload both to get us out of this danger dangerously which pilots allowed thank GOD but we did…thus It is etched (a catharsis) in my mind…all to say we were near where my phantom dream took place in middle of valley at an old abandon compound we saw near where we got picked up at and had flown over a number of times before. Well I was there in my mind doing YOUR (O’BRIEN) Curahee thing somehow in fantasy last night in my dream. Thus it has prompted me to ask you questions I have if I was there? Sorry this is so long and old hat for some of you who occasionally dream like I do with your own unique experiences…it was just my busy night for me back in NAM. Let me know if I am a bother? KOOP