Firebase Birmingham

If you would like to add your memories to this thread please email them to David J.


The documents are from the USMC historical center (Spot Report) and the National Archives (the rest).

They apply to my late brother, 1lt Dennis R. Carr, B 1/327, and the bombing of Fire Support Base Birmingham on 16 March 1968. Please consider attaching all to the Birmingham section.

Please contact me if anyone has questions. [email protected]

All of the material is unclassified and are public records. There is no copyright.

Thanks, Tim Carr

2/320 FA Unit History page 1

2/320 FA Unit History page 2

2/320 FA Unit History page 3

2/320 FA Unit History page 4

Spot Report 16 MAR 68


Anybody available to share information about the four 500 lb. “daisy cutters ” that were dropped on our firebase? Firebase Birmingham? The numbers as I recall them were, 12 KIA- 2 MIA- and 35 WIA. Anybody? It was around April 1968.

Dan Clint


This was posted on the Virtual Wall web-site by the brother of Dennis Carr:
Posted for: DENNIS ROBERT CARR:

Denny is my brother. He almost made it to age 22, just one month short of it. He was drafted at 19, went to Fort Knox for Basic, then to Fort Gordon for 11F and 11H AITs; then to Fort Benning where he waited for an opening in OCS, infantry. He was commissioned in early January, 1967, and immediately went to jump school, then to Special Forces at Fort Bragg. He earned the green beret, and for much of 1967 was at Bragg training for Vietnam. In October 1967 he went back to Benning and Pathfinder School. He then came home for his leave before going to war. He joined the 1st brigade, 101st in RVN in late 1967, and by early January, 1968 had a platoon in the Barbarians of Company B, 1st Battalion (Airborne) 327th Infantry. The brigade was then known as the Nomads of Vietnam. He joined them in Song Be, then following the beginning of Tet, moved north to Thu Thien Province with them. His unit was involved in effecting the relief of Hue and the southern portion of I Corps, with the long-term mission of entering the AShau Valley. On 16 March 1968 four bombs from a Marine F-4 were directed at Fire Support Base Birmingham. Three of the five hundred pound bombs hit the base. Denny was killed instantly by fragments of the bombs. Two of them entered the back of his skull. Instantly, he was gone. A short and fast life – too short for such a good kid. Nearly a year later, 16 March 1968 became famous for My Lai, a tragic date in the history of the war. After we buried him, we received a Silver Star for his actions at Phu Loc, RVN where he carried one of his men under fire, and dragged some others to safety, too. His platoon was engaged by NVA in bunkers that day. He survived the sustained fire of the enemy to be killed by another American. In his robust and direct way, he told us that he knew too much about the enemy for them to get him. Don’t worry about little Denny he said. Denny was the first from our parish to die in RVN. Sadly, Richard Beck was killed there a few months later. He was in the 3rd brigade,

82nd and had recently deployed to RVN from Fort Bragg. Later, Ted Verlihay was killed there, too. Ted was a 1lt in the 101st, just like Denny. They knew each other, and they all died in Thu Thien Province. I suspect that at least twenty guys from the Brighton Heights section of Pittsburgh served in RVN. I’m glad that most of them make it back okay. ***** Nearly twenty years ago, say in 1979, a nephew asked me questions about his uncle. Denny didn’t meet any nephew or neice. Then, I resolved to research Denny’s service. I will conclude my research and present a written essay to my relatives fairly soon, probably in 2000 or 2001. I hope it will present Denny accurately, and that our relatives will develop an understanding of what Denny did, and what many young men did in RVN. Toward that end, I salute Denny and those that served in RVN. And, whenever I see a 1967 Chevrolet Impala SS 427, maroon with black vinyl top, I think of Denny and how fast he could really go, and how he enjoyed life. **** I believe that Ahern, Ballance, Bell, Loiselle, Ogletree, and Servent died with Denny. They served in B 1/327 and Battery A, 2/320 FA, 101st.

Posted by: Timothy Carr Email: [email protected]
Relationship: brother Wednesday, May 10, 2000
Maybe you can get hold of Timothy Carr for additional information.

Above the Rest,
Michael A. Carretero


I had also received this email from a Dave Flood @ [email protected]
I believe I saw an entry he had posted on the 101st 1st Brigade web-site and had sent him an email:

Michael A. Carretero
Hello Mike,

Always good to hear from a fellow trooper. I was with A Btry 2/320 FA from Aug 67 to Aug 68. I started with the unit at Chu Lai. We received a major attack and when it was over there were 12 of us left out of 46. The hill was dubbed “SAD HILL”.

Webster Anderson received the Medal of Honor that night, but lost his two legs and right hand in doing so. We moved to another hill a few miles away.

We then went down south to Song Be then Phan Thiet. Then Tet 68 broke out and we moved up to Hue and Phu Bai. We worked outside the village of Phu Loc. As Tet wound down we moved out and were the first to start building Firebase Burmingham. We were bombed by a Marine Corp jet and received many cacualties.

We moved out into the Ashua Valley to Firebase Vaghel. Grunts had a tough time taking the hill, many dead NVA were left behind and buried also. As we dug our guns and bunkers in, guys kept hitting the bodies of dead NVA. We moved off of Vehgle farther into the Valley to an unknown hill top. First BDE hit a lot of heavy stuff in that AO. I rotated home from that hill and spent my last seven months with the 82nd Abn. I ETS’d in March of 69, and joined the Conecticut National Guard in 1975, retiring in 1992.

I belong to the Greater Hartford All-Airborne Chapter of the 82nd where I am one of the directors. Visit our web-site: http://www.paratrooper.org

Balls of the Eagle
Dave Flood


Did some investigating on the internet and did a search on “accidental bombing FSB Birmingham: Below is what I found.

Web-page: http://grunt.space.swri.edu/army105.htm

Trying to locate: Battery A, 2/320 FA, 101st Abn Div
Branch of Service: Army
Unit was: 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division
Where served: Fire Support Base Birmingham, Thau Thien Province
When served: 16 March 1968

Message is: This is an update to the previous posting submitted for 10 July 1999. I failed to mention that I’ve searched 101 and 1st Cav files at the National Archives, and Task Force X-Ray files at the USMC Archives, both in The D.C. metro area. I live in the D.C. metro area. Additionally, I have written to various commands seeking the accident report for the bombing of FSB Birmingham on 16 March 1968. Unit reports of the time record 24 men hospitalized (of 33wounded) with wounds from the bombing, and at least 7 dead immediately, or within a day or two of the incident. A “Significant Incident” report was filed on the bombing by the 1st Brigade S-3, one Major Othar J. Shalikashvili, signed by his assistant, Captain John B. Jones. I have good reason to suspect a report was written. Where is it? Also, can one familiar with Air Force ordnance tell me what the following means: from a Spot Report from III MAF to FMFPAC, “FOUR D-2’s (M-82 500 LB BOMBS) HAD BEEN SCHEDULED FOR T! HIS POSITION BY TASK FORCE X-RAY. CLEARING AUTHORITY IS UNKNOWN….” What were the D-2’s? Opinions differ on the plane making the drop. Some report a B-57 Canberra bomber. Some say a F-105 while others suggest a Marine fighter/bomber. The aircraft was neither heard nor seen by witnesses. I did receive a good suggestion from a retired Army BG to review the next higher command files at NARA, the 24 Provisional Command, US Army. I will do so. Thanks to all that have written. Best wishes –

Sincerely.
Please contact: Timothy Carr EMAIL: [email protected]
Mailing address: p.o. box 77432
City, State, Zip: washington, d.c. 20013-7432

Michael A. Carretero


Our old platoon leader, Dave Fletcher, filled me in on what he’d heard about the incident (he was something like assistant S-2 at the time) a couple years ago, but it may take me several weeks to locate the mail here in my super-inefficient 3 computer/9 email program filing system. All I can remember off the top of my head is it was supposedly a Marine Sky Spot mission that’d been planned back when the entire area was still Indian Country, and someone “forgot” to cancel when we moved in a few days before that.
If the LT (sure, he eventually made Full Bird, but he’ll always be the LT to us) doesn’t respond here, I’ll either attempt to locate his old mail or ask him to run it down again.

Also, anybody know a guy named Merrill?

A guy named Steve Merrill was part of the same gaggle (Jun 67) as Dan Bersch and I. Any recollection of what the Merrill you seek looked like?

Ron


Yeah, I was up there that day–luckily on the opposite side of the hill from the impacts. Here’s all the unit history says about it.

Ron

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY 1ST BATTALION (AIRBORNE) 327TH INFANTRY 1ST BRIGADE, 101ST AIRBORNE DIVISIONAPO San Francisco, California 96383
16 November 1968
Unit History written in accordance with Div Reg 870-4…………………………………

entry from 16 Mar68:

“At 1200H (YD707102) the TAC CP, Company B, and elements of the 2-320 artillery shook to rumble of three (3) five hundred pound bombs. Recovered fragments of the bombs had US markings on them and the incident is still under investigation. Results were not released.”


I have the info: on the bombing of Firebase Birmingham. On 16 March 68. Three 500lb bombs were dropped at 1157hrs. The craters were thirty feet in diameter and six feet deep. One bomb hit the FDC bunker of Alpha Btry. 2/320 Arty. Reports say, 7 KIA, 33WIA, ( 20 Medevac ). I was there with B 1/327, 1st Plt. About 20 ft. from the FDC bunker. I remember it like it happened yesterday.

Jim Uphouse
67/68


I was searching for the date when the four 500 lb. daisy cutter marine bombs landed on Firebase Birmingham. I was on top of the hill when then struck. Contrary to the letter I read, it said that three of the bombs had hit the mountain. All four had hit the mountain. Two hit a granite face and deflected to my left, and the other two went into the earth exploding and burying all of the people in both the Artillery tac CP and the Mortar tact CP (command post) I was about 60 feet from the blasts, a sandbag wall that I had somehow instinctively been able to take cover behind, saved me, plus it rained boulders for quite a while. We thought at first, in the dust and confusion that it was an NVA rocket attack and then one of the guys founds some large shards that said U.S. Marine Corps. and the description and nomenclature of the bombs. Richards had seen a jeep flying 100 feet or so overhead. We did a recon, to look for the jeep. Found it near the bottom of the hill in some trees. The driver of the Jeep’s flak jacket was still clutched in the steel tubing of the denuded seat, where the seat had curled around like teeth, and was holding the flak jacket tightly. We were unable to ever locate the driver’s body. There were many body parts scattered around the top of the hill. The report of 7 killed seems quite inaccurate, our assessment was about twice that. Twelve killed and two missing it action. The body parts may have been of those two that were missing, but none of the parts were large enough to identify. I appreciate the labor, it’s been quite a few years now. I hope that we can complete this story a little bit more.

Dan Clint


I was wounded on that day by those bombs. I received a fragmentation wound to the head. The only documentation that I have is the telegram they sent my parents. they asked me if I wanted them to send it. I said yes but got to call my parents before hand on a MARS call to tell them that I just wanted a souvenir. Good move on my part because at least I have some documentation.
Lt Norris late of A Co was the 81 platoon leader at that time. SSG Freddy Williamson was the 81 section leader. I Visited Williamson while we were at Fort Bragg in 69 and we put on quite a drunk in his home town of Dillon SC.

I had just extended for the 81 platoon from A co. I was sitting on the rim of a mortar pit when the bombs came in. It was a real mess. I got hit in the head and was unconscious for a while, I can remember the scene there while I waited for a chopper. The 105mm FDC collapsed, and guys were frantically trying to get to the guys inside. A counter battery radar crew with a jeep and trailer was right near where one of the bombs impacted. I had just talked to the team chief who I had gone to p training with. The bomb disintegrated the crew, and I remember seeing the twisted wreck of the trailer. I was dusted off in a LOCH, I think that were 70 or so casualties. If I remember correctly about 15 KIA. I spent a week in a hospital with a skull fracture and a concussion. If there are any lasting effects I don’t know about them. I was very lucky.

Bear in mind now, we had only been on Birmingham for a few days. We had been getting mortared and rocketed a lot. We did not know immediately that this was American stuff. I thought that the NVA had fired a missile at us or something. Believe me i also got a lot of respect for those NVA guys who got bombed all of the time. I distinctly remember a screaming sound right before the bombs impacted. I really questioned my decision to extend at that point.
thats all I have to say about that.

Bill Hall
ABU/ATR


I just arrived at B’Ham and flew across the river to link up with Tiger Force for another extension. About 45 minutes later the bombs hit. I thought, “Damn, I come back and now the NVA has an Air Force”.

Jeff Paige


All I know about it, and I was there, is that it was a Marine aircraft that made the drop. I have never heard why the mistake.

Larry Wilson


Mike, as you can see, this is an old commo from Bill Hall to me about the Birmingham bombs.

Dan


My squad was working on improving our mortar pit and had stopped for a break when the bombs hit. We had been there a few days and had been getting mortared and rocketed a lot. If I remember correctly, for 2 or 3 days every time a chopper came in wome gutsy NVA was shooting at the pad with an RPG at long range. Just shooting and hoping I guess. I know that the 105s would fire directly at the side of the hill it was coming from, and we would lob rounds in that direction.

We stopped to take a break and I was opening a can of peaches when the bombs hit. If I was facing the top of the hill we were on, with 12 o’clock being where the 105 FDC was, the 4.2 plt would have been 50 meters to my2:30. The Jeep and trailer which were destroyed would have been at my 11:00 about another 50 Meters, and the center of the saddle at my 9:00 at about 100 meters. the distances have blurred with time, but I think I am close. When the dust cleared I was in our sleeping bunker along with my gunner whose name I forget. I was not with him long and everything about the time after the explosion for several weeks is a little foggy although I have some distinct memories that I can call up. Pretty weird. I remember a bunch of guys frantically trying to reach the guys in the 105 FDC. No shirts and slinging sandbags. (On a side note, this was a brave act since at that time we did not know what this was. those guys were trying to save their buddies wihtout regard for their own exposure) We, my squad, must have set some crawling records getting into the bunker. When we came out I remember seeing a lot of blood running down my face onto my hands. The cut was not deep but bled a lot. The piece of frag that hit me had ricocheted off something I guess. It was the size of the palm of a hand. Someone saved it for me but I lost it. I think I was dusted off within an hour of the event, then things go blank for a few weeks. I have no recollection of my hospital stay. Maybe a week or so??

I also remember the guy on the ground by the Helipad which was located in the saddle. I remember a medic leaning over him. Actually the guy I remember was just a couple of meters up slope from the pad on the side of the saddle that we were located on.

I am going to Draw a diagram of how I remember this and have my little Russian girl computer genius scan it to you. She is a whole lot better at the technology than me.

Merril, kind of rings a bell. Thanks for sending Merrils info. I think I will contact him.

Bill


Hey Bill, thought you’d like to catch a bit of commo that just came to me from Steve Merrill in re: Birmingham.

Dan Clint


Steve Merrill here. I’ve been reading some of the comments on the Screaming Eagle site, yours and some others. Mostly about B’rhm and the “daisy cutters”. I saw that someone was looking for a guy named Merrill. Ron replied he remember the “…gaggle in June ’67…” guess the Merrill would be me. So what’s up?

We were in a saddle digging a bunker when they hit. They were close. I remember red-haired kid (can’t remember his name and I should) about fifty yards from me lying face down on the chopper pad. Big piece of metal through his chest. What saved us from getting killed was our heads being below the ground in a hole. I heard the noise form the bombs and as I looked up I saw their shadow tumbling on the ground. I could almost see the next position on the steep side of the hill, but after I could see the whole top of the hill, what was left of it.

I was hit in the chest, arms and legs. Mostly dirt and rocks in the upper body and metal in the legs. What concerned me most was the hole in my sack. The guy named Richards was Kenny but I thought he was from Leechburg PA. He came in with his buddy Joe Lafatch. I also remember volunteering for a patrol through with four or five of us and as it was getting dark was quite relived to get to where ever we were going. Remember a tall black man getting an NVA officers pistol, I think it was a P38. Hope you get this email. I tried once before to contact you.

Steve
Seeeeeeeeya
Bone