Fire Support Base Veghel

Donald W. Aird [email protected]
FDC for C Battery 1/83 an 8″/175MM battery
FSB Veghel – May 1970 to September 1971

Charlie Battery, 1/83, an 8″/175MM Battery moved to Veghel on 23 May 1970. We spent the first night at the base of the hill. One strand of barbed wire surrounded the battery. At the time we were an all 8 inch battery. The next day we moved up to the top of Veghel. A 155 battery was near the center of the hill, a 105 battery occupied the knob just to the north of the 155 battery and we moved to the arm a hundred meters north of the 105 battery. There were two landing pads, one north of us at the end of the hill and a pent primed pad just east of us on an arm of the hill with a steep gully running between C battery and the landing pad. The only structure we had was a two story building the fire direction center on the bottom floor and the TOC with the chief of smoke and his runner were in the second story. Powder and projectile bunkers, wooden pads for the guns and burms were also in place. A deep trench had been dug running the length of eastern perimeter, this would hold our bunkers. We had no cover so everyone slept wherever. I found a large shed on wheels that the engineers used. It sat high enough so that I could set up a cot under the axle.

On May 27 I was asleep when there was a bright flash, like someone had stuck a flash bulb in my face. Several seconds later there was an explosion followed by a lot of debris hitting the shack I was sleeping under. All night long guys were walking by my cot moving toward the landing pad to our north to be medivacked. At one point I just got back to sleep when one of our officers, Whisky Bravo, woke me up. As I sat up I hit my head on the axle of the shed I was sleeping under. Whisky Bravo wanted to make sure I was all right. Several of our cannon cockers had been injured by flying debris. Piecing it together I learned that an American mortar platoon had fired a short round. It landed in a large ammo dump in front of the 155s. Two Cat D-6 bulldozers and about 20 guys tried to put the fire out. At one point an officer told everyone to cut and run for cover. One of the bull dozer operators, Frank Mebs, stayed on his dozer and continued to fight the fire. He was blown up – no trace of him – parts of his dozer came down all over the hill. One guy on guard duty was killed. I firmly believe Frank saved the lives of a lot folks on that hill when his dozer took the entire force of the blast. With all the shells and powder at the 155 location the blast from the explosion may have started a chain reaction reaching the 105 battery and possibly our battery. The army told the family only that he had been “blown up” no details. It took me 30 years but I finally tracked Frank’s family down and told them the real story. Frank’s name is on the “Wall” I visit him every time I go to DC.

We didn’t stay all 8″ very long before we got our two 175’s back. I talked to one of our mechanics Jimmy, both mechanics were named Jimmy, two truckers, one from Pittsburg and one from northern Missouri. Missouri Jimmy was talking about one of the 8″ replacements. He recognized it right away. It was originally configured with a 175. They split the turret of the gun firing a zone 3 mission. This dead lined the gun. We sent it back to the rear and they welded the split and mounted an 8″ and sent it back to us. Eight inch and 175s used the same chassis. Both mechanics were really concerned that the gun with the welded turret would cause problems. Luckily we were able to send it back when the 175’s returned. These two mechanics worked miracles with those guns. The guns were in awful shape. Maintenance was non stop. Our mechanics got really good at what they did. In fact they had a duce and half loaded with enough parts to build a gun. One day we got a call for a high angle mission. High angle is something we never shot. The 105s shot this kind of mission all the time. Its easy to understand if you think about playing with a water hose. You squirt the water further by raising the hose. At some point when you raise the hose higher the water starts to come back at you. Artillery uses this to hit targets that are out of the line of sight like the other side of a hill. Its pretty neat stuff, we were trained to run these missions in AIT. Battalion decided we would shoot a high angle mission and they picked an unusual charge, charge 4. All 8 inch missions we shot were either charge 3, 5 or 7. We set up the mission and fired the first round. Two minutes later the two mechanics are in our face, really really pissed. Instead of firing out like a normal fire mission we fired up to get the high angle effect. The difference knocked both tracks off the gun. It took them two hours to fix the tracks. Needless to say we gave battalion and “end of mission”.

We were at Veghel to support the Marines and the 101st for their summer operations in and around the Ashau Valley. The biggest operation at the time was “Ripcord”. I read the book. We knew how much trouble they were in. Our 175’s could reach Ripcord and we shot round the clock trying to keep the NVA off their backs. It was a lost cause and the base had to be abandoned. Years later our battery commander, Captain Frank Sloan, ran into a 101st officer. The 101st officer told Captain Sloan that there were many times when our 175s were all the support they had.

The 175 was not an accurate weapon. We could hit a 55 gallon drum dead on with the 8 inch but it only shot 9 miles. The 175 reached 19 miles. One particular mission we shot was a bridge for a FO in a helicopter Some bridges were bigger than others, this one must have been small. We bracketed the bridge (hit on both ends) with the first two rounds. After firing 60 rounds (never hit the bridge) we were given a “end of mission” by battalion.. The FO went nuts. He couldn’t believe we couldn’t hit that bridge. I told him not to worry, we messed up both approaches so no one could use the bridge anyway.

Another mission that stood out was for a FO named “Deputy Dog”. Deputy Dog was attached to a reinforced platoon. For some reason they left him and his RTO with all their heavy weapons. The two of them started taking sniper fire. They couldn’t abandon their equipment and there was no place to put in a helicopter. It was decided that we would carve an LZ for them with our 8″ guns. As the mission progressed so did the sniper fire. As the sniper fire increased Deputy Dog’s voice got more and more excited. This was serious business, but it became funnier and funnier. Every time Deputy Dog got on the radio the pitch of his voice went up, like Barney Fife’s. We finally got the LZ carved out of the jungle and Deputy Dog, his RTO and equipment were rescued.

One day this Navy Phantom was making passes at a hill to our west. After he finished he came straight at our hill. I got my camera out and took a picture. All of a sudden I realized he was lower that the knob the 105s were on. He made a fast adjustment and came directly over Charlie battery. He was so low he knocked our radio antennae off the roof of our FDC. The idiot nearly took us all out!

Early in June we shot, what were called H & Is, harassment and interdiction. Just making noise and trying to shake up the NVA. Usually it would be a river crossing or maybe a pass in the mountains. Some Congressman complained that this was a waste of the tax payers money, about $1,000 a round. We were told that there would be no more H & Is. The next night we got a fire mission. It was a river crossing that we shot the night before. It still had the pin hole in the map that I put there. Lsst night it was an H & I, tonight it was called SEL for suspect enemy location. Same mission different name just blowing smoke up some Congressman’s dress.

Speaking of saving taxpayer’s money. We got our bunkers built in the trench to the immediate east of our battery. We immediately sandbagged the bunker roofs. I think I remember we put down six or eight layers of sand bags. After we finished the first sergeant gave the bunker to our Lts. and moved us to another bunker. Before we could fill the first sand bag a General came out to see the base. He jumped our Captain.. He said the sand bags cost $0.80 each. The Lts had to empty out the sandbags we didn’t; they weren’t happy but we reminded them that they got the bunker they wanted. What the General wanted us to do was use the 105 ammo boxes. 105 ammo came two rounds wrapped in plastic in a wooden box. We ran up to the 105 battery and drug the wooden boxes back to our battery. We filled them with dirt and stacked they three or four high on top of the bunker. This worked out OK except that when the 175 fired, the muzzle blast destroyed the boxes. Splinters flew down the hill. Back up to the 105s for more boxes. Finally they ran out of boxes. We had nothing on top of the bunkers. It would have taken a really good shot to hit us, the bunkers were built into the side of the hill. Later on Sergeant Mattson would write home to his wife. In the letter he mentioned that we had no sandbags or any other cover for the roofs. His wife got up set and wrote her Congressman. The Congressman, in turn, jumped the pentagon. As the problem was addressed by each bureaucratic layer in the “green machine” the context of the message changed. One day Sergeant Mattson was called back to battalion. The next day Sergeant Mattson returned. He was tickled silly. They gave him a psychiatric re-evaluation!!
This was the result of the letter his wife had sent their Congressman. A psychiatric re-evaluation is the death knell for a career officer. For Smoke it was a hoot!

FDC didn’t do any extra duty we were on 12 hour shifts, seven days a week. First Sergeant Barfley didn’t like that, he wanted us to do everything everyone else did. For a about a month around June we did guard duty. It was no big deal the NVA never tried to climb the 300 meter hill to get after us. The problem was staying awake. One night they paired me up with a canon cocker from Alabama. The canon cocker had drunk two six packs of beer and passed out, again no problem nothing ever happened. We were on a 548 tracked vehicle with a 50 caliber machine gun. The gun was mounted on a track that ran 360 degrees around the inside of the cab of the 548. You could tilt the 50 caliber almost straight down. The 548 was at the head of a gully that ran past the mess hall down the hill in almost a straight line for the entire 300 meters. About 2 PM I heard all this rustling noise coming from the gully. I tried to wake the cannon cocker but he wasn’t stirring. I called the duty sergeant and jacked a round in the 50. The whole hill went on red alert. As soon as the illumination went up I saw what was causing the commotion, rats. The rats were making a run at our mess hall. I had that 50 pointed down hill with my thumbs on the butterfly. The duty sergeant had come to the track with his 16 to see what was going on. I told him it was rats. He took the hill off red alert and went back to the TOC. All of a sudden I realized I had a round in the chamber and didn’t know how to clear the weapon. I called the duty sergeant, again! I asked him to come back to my track. He wanted to know why. I was to embarrassed to tell him. He refused to come back without an explanation. Finally I told him I had a round in the chamber of the 50 and didn’t know how to clear it. All over Veghel you could hear the guys laughing. The bastards had been listening in on the conversation.

Our Chief of Smoke, Sergeant Harris, left for home and his well earned retirement. The next day we got a TOT for an insertion near Veghel. It was a charge 3 for the 8″ guns. Something went wrong with the land line to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. They couldn’t hear our commands. We gave them an end of mission and sent the data to Charley’s Worry. Our cook was out with his camera. You can stand to the side and take the picture when the gun is fired and catch the round as it leaves the tube. The cook was standing between the two 8″ guns. The command to fire came and BOTH guns fired. Someone had been sending firing data to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, not the FDC. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang had not been laid (pointed) in the correct direction. The cook actually saw the rounds cross in mid air, not a good thing. The cook pointed the problem out to the new chief of smoke. All at once the chief of smoke was in our face big time. We didn’t know the second gun had fired. Luckily we got the problem straightened out. The new chief of smoke was Sergeant Mattson. After a really bad start, Sergeant Mattson became a good friend.

General’s Westmoreland and Abrams both visited C battery while we were at Veghel during the summer of 1970.

We had two landing pads, one dirt and one pent primed. The pent primed strip, about 200 meters east across the deep gully from our location, was built and then not used even for the medivacs after the ammo dump blew up, really weird. One day I got up and looked around the hill. There were at least 30 Cobras circling within three miles of our location. We never never saw more than two Cobras at one time. I checked in with 1/83 battalion FDC but they didn’t know what was going on. I personally thought some NVA unit was moving on us. We had finally pissed off the enemy. We were told that there would be NO fire missions until further notice. About 10 AM this shithook flew in with a load of TV cameras and reporters. Right behind the reporters came a slick. There he was, god! Westmoreland got off the slick and walked half way up to our battery. He talked to the media and then went back to his bird and left. From then on all the air traffic went to the pent primed pad.

Later in the summer we got word that Abrams was coming to Veghel, we would have no fire missions until he left. When Abrams flew in there were no reporters, no cameras, just the General and this asshole Major that was running our battalion. Abrams walked up to the battery and looked around. He noticed our 175’s were pointing at Laos. He asked our battery commander, Captain Sloan, “aren’t those guns pointed at Laos?” Sloan replied, “yes Sir”. Then Abrams said, “are we shooting into Laos?” Sloan replied, “yes Sir”. Abrams just stood there for a couple of minutes and then started to leave the battery. Just then we got a fire mission. Our asshole Major tried to get the mission delayed until Abrams left. But Abrams intervened and said he would be proud to watch the cannon cockers in action. All the guys had their flack jackets and helmets on for the General. As soon as the order came for the fire mission the cannon cockers started throwing off their helmets and flack jackets to begin working up the fire mission. Our asshole Major was running around trying to get our guys back in their helmets and flack jackets. Finally Abrams said, “just let them do their jobs”. After the mission Abrams wanted to talk to the gun crew. They all lined up just standing there, no kind of military formation. Abrams complimented them on the way they did their jobs. While Abrams was talking our asshole major stepped back out of Abram’s view and tried to get everyone to come to attention. I was watching from the aiming circle. The Major kept imitating someone coming to attention. Finally two of the guys on the far end notice our Major. After watching him slouching then coming to attention then slouching a couple of times they nudged their buddies and started laughing. Abrams never notice the charade. I always remembered Abrams as one of those Officers you wanted to serve and Westmoreland as some kind of publicity hound.

One day first sergeant Barfley showed up in the FDC to give smoke his re-up papers. Smoke had 18 years in and it was obvious that he needed two more to make retirement. When Barfley handed him the papers smoke looked at them. Then he put the papers down and walked out of the FDC. Five minutes later he showed back up wearing shorts a Hawaiian shirt, sun glasses, Ho Chi Min sandals and smoking a big cigar. He decided he would be a civilian. All day guys would come up to him asking questions about the firing battery. Smoke would just look at them, smile and stroll away smoking another cigar. Sergeant Barfley went ballistic, he had a civilian on his fire base and no one to run the firing battery. At midnight smoke signed the papers and put his uniform on he was street legal once again.

I always wanted to go up in a helicopter and watch a fire mission going in. Battalion actually had a program that took guys from the three batteries to observe a fire missions in the battalion helicopter. One day at Veghel we were lined up for chow and the 101st pilot and FO took off from the pent primed strip. As he cleared the hill the loach lost its tail rotor. The helicopter wound up like a top. The engine was over revving and it was spinning like a gyro. Some how the pilot got back near the top of the hill. The helicopter went in on its top. I thought they were both killed, but the FO broke his wrist the pilot walked away. I immediately went back to the FDC and called battalion and with drew my request to accompany anyone in any helicopter.

I’d often walk the battery perimeter with my camera. One day I was on the west side next to Charley’s Worry, one of our 8″ guns. All of a sudden the ground started shaking. I looked up the valley to the west. There were tremendous explosions, lots of dirt, smoke and noise. I was really confused. If that was a fire mission why weren’t we firing? I climbed up on Charley’s Worry to get a better look. The 29 ton gun was shaking. Finally I looked up and northeast. There they were three B-52’s, I had just witnessed an Ark Light mission. Very, very impressive. Glad I wasn’t on the receiving end of that!

Another day I was looking to the east of Veghel – toward home! I noticed two cobra gunships working over a cut between two mountains to the south of us. After a firing pass a loach would scoot though the cut. The loach would draw fire. Back came the cobras. You could see and hear the miniguns firing. Soon a slick came out of the cut. The slick had a cargo net strung under it and three Rangers were holding on to the net. I never found out what was going on, but I was glad I was in the FDC and not out in the bush.

We got an SP pack everyday with the food while we were on Veghel. SP packs had gum, cigarettes, candy (lifer bars, tootsie rolls, etc.), shaving cream, razor blades, boot laces, writing paper, I don’t remember what else. I line up and get a pack of cigarettes for the guys in the FDC and a tootsie roll for me. We got the SP packs because we couldn’t get to a PX to buy the things we needed. One day they brought in a PX Conex on a truck. This was a mini PX. After everyone had there chance to go through and pick out what they wanted the Conex went back to wherever it came from. Our battery commander, Captain Sloan, was charged with the responsibility of getting the PX Conex back to its home base. Captain Sloan and an armed guard followed the truck. When they entered Hue a vehicle cut them off. By the time they caught up to the conex the Vietnamese had jumped on the truck and had broken the lock on the door to the conex and were about to make off with the goods. Captain Sloan got there just in time to put the run on the scofflaws and save his retirement.

July lots of folks DEROSing/ETSing. Folks that DEROSED went back to the states but remained in the army. Folks that ETSed went back to the states and became civilians. I extended so I could ETS. Whisky Bravo was with in a week of going home. For some reason he was really interested in one of the mountains to the north of us. He kept coming in the FDC telling us he saw lights on the mountain. He would call battalion and they would tell him to give it a rest. A couple of days later we were all on the FDC veranda enjoying a cool evening. All of a sudden the 175 next to the FDC fired. Talk about a shock. We hadn’t gotten a fire mission but the gun was being fired. Tango Bravo ran over to the gun. There was Whisky Bravo. He was bore sighting the rounds – literally looking down the barrel to line up his next shot! Some how he had convinced the King of the Hill, the 101st Colonel, that he had a legitimate fire mission. Round two missed the mountain!! Double damn. Even with a zone 1, that round went a couple of miles to only God knows where. That got an end of mission. Whisky Bravo lived up to his name, “wonder boy”. That was the last we saw of him. He took the first helicopter back to battalion and then to the states.

Ripcord was shut down the NVA shooting gallery was closed. A radar unit was tracking the different positions firing on Ripcord. They told me at any one time over 200 different NVA locations were firing on Ripcord.

Things quieted down for us. We shot the occasional TOT for insertions, lots of SELs and night defensive positions. Night defensive targets were shot for units in the field like rangers or Marine recon. We would register the four cardinal directions; north, south, east and west of their position. Registering meant shooting four rounds on the coordinates provided by the small units. Registering was done so the Marines could make adjustments during the night if they needed help. Our gun would remain pointed in their direction all night in case they were attacked. One day I was working up a fire mission to register on the four coordinates a marine recon unit sent us when I realized they hadn’t sent me the coordinates for their position. I called them back and they sent me their position. It was one of the coordinates they had sent me earlier to register. Had we fired we likely would have killed or injured a bunch of Marines. It’s the kind of thing that still gives me nightmares 30 years later.

Our Alpha battery had a similar experience with a bunch of Marines. Alpha battery was shooting a fire mission for a Marine recon unit that had engaged a large group of NVA. They needed cover fire to disengage and get to an LZ. Alpha’s two 8″ guns would fire and the recon unit would move up to where the shells had just detonated. As the mission progressed the Marines realized that there was a space they could run to in between where the two rounds exploded. When Alpha fired the Marines scooted up to where they thought they would be safe from shrapnel and hunkered down. The killing radius for an 8″ is 90 meters. After the Marines got back they came by Alpha’s FDC to thank them. During the conversation they casually told them about running between the rounds on their way to the LZ. Alpha’s battery commander nearly had a heart attack! Marines – God Love them.

The engineers were responsible for keeping the road open to Veghel. VC and NVA were busy setting mines in the road so the engineers had to sweep it every day. One way the engineers knew that the road was mined was to watch the wood cutters. Defoliation killed hundreds of thousands really big old trees. Most remained standing amid the new thicker growth that would replace the old forest. Wood cutters went out to harvest the dead trees. They would bring them back and saw them up to make lumber. If the wood cutters went out then the engineers knew the road wasn’t mined. The enemy taxed everyone they couldn’t get their money from dead or crippled wood cutters. If the wood cutters stayed home the engineers knew the road was mined. One day the engineers were clearing the road just below Veghel. All of a sudden there was this intense fire fight going on. Followed by absolute silence. I happened to be on the radios so I called the watering point. . I got in touch with the water point. They told me that the engineers had heard some rustling in the under brush and had wasted a troop of monkeys. The watering point cleaned up our drinking water from the river at the bottom of the hill. The cleaned treated water was put into these huge black plastic blivets and airlifted to our location. Once we got the blivet of warm nasty tasting water our medic added some extra iodine. I never got used to the water and lived entirely on canned soda One night we had a fire power demonstration. A gunship flew in with a minigun and rockets. We fired a couple of our top secret “fire cracker” rounds. It was pretty neat. We never saw our rounds go off. The fire cracker rounds were loaded with bomblets.
At the point you wanted the bomblets to land the shell opened at the rear and all these little bomblets fell to earth. Most exploded but some remained dormant waiting for someone to come by. What made these things so dangerous was they would pop up in the air like the Nazi bouncing betties and explode. You could see and hear the bomblets. They did sound like firecrackers, little blue flashes at the bottom of the hill

Rain lots of rain but only one time did we get lightning. It came early one evening. I was sitting near Freddie when a bolt of lightning hit our radio antennae followed it down to the radios and jumped across the room to Freddie. Freddie lit up for a second then went blank. We weren’t running Freddie so I knew his innards were fried. I said, “Freddie is dead”. No one else had seen the lightning jump across the room. They thought I was jerking their chain. When we tried to start Freddie it was obvious that something wasn’t right. Battalion sent us another unit the next day. We weren’t the only ones hit. A bolt of lightning hit a box of claymores in the 105 battery. There was a hell of an explosion. We thought it was the shells for their guns. As a group we moved to get away from our powder and shells, thinking if the 105s went up we would be next. There was only the one explosion. The 101st showed up the next day to make sure it didn’t happen to us. Seems that the claymores and the detonators were supposed to be stored separately just for that contingency. We were doing that right. However, they also told us that when we pulled the detonator out of the claymore we had to be careful because static electricity would set the claymore off – in our face. No one knew that. We all just jerked the detonator out when retrieving the claymore after a night’s guard duty.

We played lots of cards when things slowed down, hearts and bridge. Lots of us read books and magazines. One of the 1970 summer issues of Playboy featured their first frontal nude, this quickly became a well worn issue, highly prized. The firing battery got into gambling. We got the odd guy now and then. Units were packing up and going home. Guys with time to do before DEROSing or ETSing would be assigned to other units like ours. We got an Indian from Browning, Montana, a loser lifer and a doper all assigned to the FDC. They couldn’t be trusted with working up a fire mission so they sat around reading magazines or mostly sleeping. Randy, the Indian, was always busy looking for things to do. One night Randy and two guys from the other FDC shift got a little shit faced on beer. They went out to the wire and started shooting their 16s. Pretty soon Randy ran in and got my bandolier with my 8 clips. Then we got a call from the 101st. Someone was shooting at their position, they were sure it was coming from Charlie battery. We ran outside and took the guns away from our three drunks and put them to bed. That was the last beer they were allowed at Veghel. The loser lifer had ten years in the army and was still an E-5. He was absolutely worthless. He thought he was a great gambler and got caught up in the poker games going on in the battery. The doper fell in with the pot smoking minority in the firing battery. I had no trouble with the pot smokers until Olson got his hair cut. I was always in trouble with the first sergeant because I needed a hair cut, my hair grew really fast and I never remembered to get a haircut. They flew a Vietnamese barber in to give hair cuts. Olson went first. There was a miscommunication and the barber shaved his head! I took one look and realized that that was the solution to my haircut problem and it would be really comfortable. So I had my head shaved. Smoke liked the idea and had his head shaved. As far as I know we were the only ones to have their head shaved. The dopers took offense. They gave me some really ugly looks, they thought I’d become a lifer, what a hoot. I couldn’t wait to get out and extended for an early out. Three of the dopers were into it big time. One would be dead before the end of the year. The other two either ended up in LBJ or disappeared into the countryside.

Doughnut Dollies and bands from the Philippians came to Veghel on occasion. Doughnut Dollies (smoke called the biscuit bitches) were much appreciated. They were “round eyed” women. The only women that we saw for five months. Our “piss” tubes were pounded into the berm just a little ways east of the bunkers. Piss tubes were 105 shell casings open on both ends. The tube was pounded into the berm and a little screen was placed over the end to keep flies out. When the smell go bad we would burn them out with gas. One day the Doughnut Dollies were just walking up to the mess hall to meet and greet the canon cockers. All of sudden one starts screaming and runs away down the road. Seems that our Randy had woken up to take a whiz. We slept naked, especially during the day. Randy just strolled out, naked, taking no notice of the Dolly and did his thing.

As August wound down things really slowed down. One day smoke and Lt. Ma Kroker got in to it, shaving cream. It was the end of the day and they did a number on each other right in the chow line. The next day everyone was ready. We had a ton of shaving cream from all those SP packs. Everyone in the battery had 5 or 6 cans of saving cream. Smoke and Ma started it but everyone joined in. Three canon cockers chased the battery commander, Captain Sloan, up the aiming circle and nailed him. I got my camera out took a roll of pictures. Put the camera away and went after one of the section chiefs, an E-6 named Pyle from Seattle. He had plenty for me. At one point I got him in the face. He rinsed off in a barrel of water. As he raised his face I got him again. He thought he hadn’t gotten all the shaving cream off so he rinsed again. I was waiting. When he raised up I got him again. This went on until I ran out of shaving cream then the chase was on. He got me cornered and shoved the can down my shorts. During the fight everyone else on Veghel became a spectator. The King of the Hill, the 101st Colonel really enjoyed the show. Guys on the 105s had a ring side seat sitting on the knob watching the fun.

Once we got to September we knew we were nearly done shooting into the Ashau and Laos. The monsoon was on its way and they couldn’t support us because the road would wash out. Around the third week of September we stood down. The engineers came in and took our bunkers apart and flew them to FSB Bastogne to replace the culverts they were living in. The ride back was exciting. Four of us got on the back of a deuce and a half with about 50 8″ projectiles. As we careened down the road the two dopers in the cab started shooting out the window. Every once in a while they would throw a grenade.
At the same time the 8″ projectiles were rolling around our feet, each one weighed 200 pounds. By the grace of God we got to FSB Sally in one piece.