There is a downed chopper 1,300 yards outside our wire at Camp Carroll. NVA trying to get to it and the 4.2-inch mortars opened up on them. There are NVA on a ridge to the East of Camp Carroll, about 1000 meters in bunkers. We fired 8-inch howitzer at them! We took 30 or 40 rounds of incoming they hit the fuel dump. We had 5 wounded. We are watching a Puff Helicopter fire all those rounds per minute; they must have Mini guns on board.
Rock Pile: the fire base is to the
South a click or so.
Route 9 passes through it.
We Alpha 1-12 are moving out by chopper this morning to some place 8 miles from Laos, North West of Khe Sanh. It is LZ (Landing Zone) Robin 5 miles South West of Khe Sanh. We loaded up down on Route 9 below Camp Carroll. Two marines with a Mighty Mite jeep and trailer bring in a tiger he killed around the Rock Pile. It is so big its head lays over one end of the trailer and its ass over the other. Huge head and paws it was only hit once by a M-16 out of a whole magazine. Someone skinned it out tanned the hide and took it to the EM club up at Camp Carroll and hung it on the wall. Loaded onto CH 46 Chinook Helicopters below Camp Carroll. We flew to this T-bone shape hilltop with steep sides where an NVA Regimental Headquarters used to be to set up the battery. The grunt companies and Headquarters companies set up on the East to West tee part of the hilltop. When we got about 5 feet above the ground they just through you out into a bomb crater, because we were taking incoming mortar rounds. We all piled up down there one on top of the other and the chopper left. It got quite and then you could hear the mortars. We finally got to our feet under the overloaded packs and got to hell out of there. They had landed a small bulldozer to cut gun pads into the hilltop for our 105 Howitzers. The gunny laid the battery we set up the FDC (Fire Direction Control) in an CP tent and begin fire missions. Bradford and I set up our hooch or hole on the East side of the hill, with a poncho and sandbags around to hold it. It was hot and dry did I mention hot and dry.
Robert McClintock, Ron Bradford,
Sgt. Mike McNeil
Did you ever wonder what was going on around you at the time or why you were where you were at the time? Nobody ever told you anything directly just rumors. Or the things you remembered really did happen the way you remembered? These excerpts from 1968 the definitive year helped.
(1968: The Definitive Year)
During the evening of 5 June, the 4th Marines assumed control of its own 1st Battalion, disposed between LZ Loon and LZ Robin, in preparation for the beginning of Operation Robin South the next morning. Before the Marines could strike, however, the North Vietnamese hit first. At 0600, an enemy battalion assaulted LZ Loon, supported by artillery and mortar fire. Companies C and D fought back, calling for their own artillery and mortars, as well as attack aircraft and helicopter gunships. After a two-hour battle, the enemy withdrew slightly, leaving 154 dead, but kept up a galling fire with their small arms, and frequent shelling from nearby 82mm mortars and the ever-present 130mm guns. By midday, the continued shelling had rendered LZ Loon untenable.''' Helicopters lifted Company C back to LZ Robin at l400, followed a few hours later by Company D. The last helicopter out, a CH-46, took heavy fire from a North Vietnamese .51-caliber machine gun and crashed in flames, bringing the total U.S. casualty count for the defense of the LZ to 24 dead and 37 wounded."-'
Despite the attack on LZ Loon, on 6 June, as scheduled, the 4th Marines launched Operation Robin South. Helicopters lifted the 3d Battalion, 9th Marines into a landing zone southeast of LZ Robin, near the eastern extension of the North Vietnamese jungle road. The battalion located the road and found it to be quite well-developed, up to 18 feet wide in places, with stone bridges, culverts, and a surface graded smooth by heavy engineering equipment. The North Vietnamese had concealed the road by bending trees over it and tying them together to form a living archway of vegetation beneath which troops and vehicles could pass unseen from the air. Along the road, the Marines found fighting holes, living bunkers, hospitals, kitchens, and a wealth of equipment, especially tools. There were picks, shovels, wrecking bars, axes, and explosives. Captain Gary E. Todd, who commanded Company I, 3d Battalion, 9th Marines and a former division intelligence officer, observed that the road "was a virtual clone of the Ho Chi Minh Trail." According to Todd, it was "more than a road, it qualified as a type of logistics infrastructure, Prisoners and captured documents showed that the construction of the road was the mission of the NVA 83d Engineer Battalion. One prisoner said that the construction schedule called for the road to reach Hue by 30 July, a formidable task which would have required pushing the road through the steep jungle terrain at a rate of over one mile-as the crow flies-per day.
For several days, the 3d Battalion, 9th Marines advanced along the road to the west, blasting apart bridges and culverts (sometimes with captured North Vietnamese explosives), cratering the road surface, and destroying the enemy facilities found along the way. Company A, 3d Engineer Battalion provided much of the technical expertise for the demolition project. The North Vietnamese avoided contact. The 2d Battalion, 4th Marines joined its parent regiment in Operation Robin South on the morning of 14 June by conducting a helicopter borne assault onto the NVA road near the border with Laos. They advanced east along the road, toward the 3d Battalion, 9th Marines, which was still moving down the road from the other end. The 2d Battalion found the western portion of the road as well developed as the rest. In one area they found a complex of over 500 bunkers and storage areas containing 400 pounds of ammonium nitrate (a crude explosive), hand tools, a welding machine, a one-and-one-half-ton truck and a complete machine shop mounted on a Russian three-ton truck. Unwilling to leave the latter prize behind, ingenious young Marine tinkerers dismantled the entire truck and machine shop, then transferred the pieces to Khe Sanh by helicopter where they reassembled it for the drive along Route 9 to the 3d Marine Division headquarters at Dong Ha.
NVA mortared our position lost one man, new guy from Headquarters Company. When the incoming started he was moving to a new hole when the mortar beat him to it. He dove into the hole just after the mortar hit then stood up all stiff took one step fell over a sandbag wall dead. A piece of shrapnel hit him in the chest. On perimeter guard with a guy from the guns and we got probed. The sides of the hill are real steep and overgrown. He wakes me up, says we got movement and he is going to chuck a grenade down. It goes off everyone starts shooting and then nothing. This is the guy but I don’t remember his name?
Jun 12 on or about
We are doing a lot of firing for Charley Battery they are being overran 3 or 4 miles away towards Laos. We are out of water and a CH 46 brings in a 500 gallons water bladder and tries to land it on the ridge. Something goes wrong and they release it to soon, maybe mortars? It bounces then rolls down the mountain into a gully. We go after it with canteens but it breaks open and we salvage all we can before it drains out. The crazy pilot of the 46 makes a steep dive down the ravine then out I thought he was going to crash. It is late in the day and they have some NVA prisoners over by headquarters’. They take the prisoners out by chopper the next morning. Someone spotted NVA digging in on a hill to our West so try to lob in a few rockets nothing going on.
Then we went deeper into NVA land. We went 4,000 meters or about 3 miles from Laos.
We are air lifted out by CH 47 next day to LZ Torch.
Yours Truly, Robert McClintock
That is where C Battery got overran the Night before. We fired for them from LZ Robin. They lost 2 guns and 17 people. LZ Torch sets on a plateau overlooking an old tea plantation. It was just off a main part of the Ho Chi Min Trail, just to the South West a few hundred yards. We set up just north of C Batteries position and went over to look at the out of action 105 howitzers. The tires were flat but not much else to see. We ask what happened and they said the NVA came out of the gully through the elephant grass from the South East. They overran a M-60 position and on through a couple of guns. A gunnery sergeant formed up a counter attack of marines and drove the NVA out. Brother Ho’s trail is less than a click away so we fire direct into it. Some grunts went over and said it was an all weather road improved with a full tree canopy so you can’t see it from the air. Can you believe that shit?
Jun 14 We stayed up for 48 hours straight firing for the grunts in the area. We hand dug the guns parapet for a fighting area around the guns. Because they thought we might get overrun as Charley Battery did. I was loading on gun 3. We fired so much had to stop and clear away the empty ammo boxes. We shot a lot of low angle fire and you had to see the aiming steaks. The choppers kept us re-supplied with ammo. The guys got kinda nutty by the end of the second day and those who could, started to grow beards. One guy started hanging on to the gun barrel like a monkey. We were firing low angle with variable time fuse (Green plastic nose cone with a sonar type devise in it) high explosive rounds and the loader missed when thronging the round into the breach. It hit the breach the fuse cracked and the round fell to the ground at our feet smoking. He quickly picked it up jammed it into the breach and the gunner fired. The round went off maybe a hundred yards out of the tube. It threw shrapnel back at us a little but no one was hurt. Same thing can happen with any VT fuse and low clouds they say? We were firing charge 5 high angle and the powder got wet so we pulled fire. When you open the breach quick after you fire a round the un-burnt powder goes off in a woof of white smoke sucks all the air out of your face and gets a little hot. When the gun comes back in battery the gunner slaps the breach handle open and ejects the shell casing.
Mick Schlisenger, Ron Bradford,
Sgt. Mike McNeil
They brought up a 106 recoilless rifle on a mule (mule is a small 4 wheel drive flatbed ATV) and after a 50 cal spotter round fired it to the North. It was set up on a small hill over sleeping Ron Bradford. His hooch was just below the rim to the South. Just as they yelled “stand by to fire the 106” Bradford stood up and was blown down the hill poncho ammo boxes and all by the back blast.
This is a 106 like the one that got Brad not my flick.
He wasn’t hurt and we all had a good laugh. Our lines were probed that night and they found part of a hand left hanging in the wire the next morning. We were running low on water so they sent a few of us down the hill to a creak to fill all the canteens. We went down thru the elephant grass where the NVA came up to overrun Charlie Battery a couple of nights before. I went down across the creek to the other side and up the hill a little. When we got back we got a few mortars
and the Doc got shrapnel in the neck. We fired for the grunts units for 4 days and they said we killed 150 NVA. There was no place to put all the wood ammo boxes so they just piled them up in a big row to the west of our position inside the wire and burnt them, one hell of a bon fire. 105 Howitzer in background dug into site with earth dike surrounding the gun.
LZ Torch South West of Khe Sanh
(1968: The Definitive Year)
Despite the seemingly staggering casualties the North Vietnamese suffered on 15 June, the battle near Lang Hole appeared only to whet their appetites for fighting. The very next morning at 0215, they struck LZ Torch, a new fire support base near the jungle road which was defended by the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines since its withdrawal from LZ Loon. An enemy company fell upon the perimeter from the south and west, using mortar fire, RPG’s, machine guns, and satchel charges to pave the way. Concentrating their assault on a small part of the perimeter, the enemy penetrated Company I’s lines and advanced on the guns of Battery C, 1st Battalion, 12th Marines. Under the light of flares, the Marine gunners leveled the tubes of their howitzers and slammed round after round of "Beehive" ammunition** into the attacking North Vietnamese. Although the enemy reached one of Battery C's gun emplacements, the "Beehive" proved too much for them. Leaving 28 dead, they fell back at 0400. Fourteen Marines died in the assault.
Helicopter out to LZ Hawk and stayed there for 3 days. In the mountains above Route 9 lots of big Pine like trees, and east I think of Khe Sanh. Then the Battery convoyed down Route 9. We had to wait for engineers to clear road of mines stopped and walked by side of road before got into Ca Lu. Jungle is cleared away from road by something, maybe defoliant? About 1or 200 yards then the mountains. A 106 recoilless rifle on a mule fires a 50-caliber spotter round, then a couple of HE rounds at some NVA spotted to hills across river too the South. Mountains. The North sides of road are steep and close good for a ambush. Bridge on Route 9 sits down in a steep sided ravine at a river crossing the. We had C-Rats cooked in a steel helmet. First you cook off all the green paint from inside so it doesn’t get into the mess. Now you toss in all kinds of C-Rations into the pot. Pork, Ham and Mothers, Boned Chicken and Beans & Franks etc, put it all in. Next put in all the Tabasco Sauce you can find add heat and eat Ha!
Alpha Battery at Ca Lu and we got steak and Beers today the beer was hot and the steak was cold but sure was good. We have been eating C-Rations for the past three weeks and will still eat them 3 weeks from now. I don’t know where we are going next. We will probably stay here a long while.
Looking down Route 9 from Khe Sanh toward Ca Lu. Not my flick.
We are at Ca Lu things aren’t to bad at all. We have swim call every day and that is great. We didn’t go right on the river we go on a smaller one leading into it. Ammo dump at Dong Ha got hit by NVA arty and blew up so supplies aren’t to good. This Picture is Ammo Dump at Dong Ha going up in late 1967. Not my flick. Went up again in 1969 also? We are supposed to go to LZ Stud tomorrow but then again we might not go. We will go if everything stays the same if we do we are suppose to stay there a few days and to parts unknown. We are firing only Suspected Enemy positions hardly any live targets here. They say LZ Stud gets rockets because it is an ammo dump. But they say a lot of things that aren’t to true.
We loaded up from Ca Lu and started off for C-3 at 12:00 noon when the CO said move out and three hours later we did at 15:00 hours we moved out? We started moving through Ca Lu at 15:15 and we are out of Ca Lu so far lost one helmet. At 15:30 we passed LZ Stud and met an Army convoy going the other way. Waited to start for 2 hours. At Cam Lo everything was a traffic jam and an army guy went into a hooch to get something in a case. Our convoy started again at 17:30 down Route 9 to C-3. We were throwing C-Rations to gook kids by the side of the road. The bigger ones would kick the hell out of the littler ones it they got the C-Rats first and take them. One guy through a can of spaghetti and the gook kid couldn’t catch and it hit him right in the head knocking him out cold. The other gook kids just ran past him and fought over the can. We stopped at a village and a kid through a rock and hit Maghisle’s friend in the head while he was sitting on top of a duce and a half. He chased the gook through the village but had no chance of catching him. He came back with a small line of blood from the rock running down his forehead. We passed the Rock Pile and we went passed Camp Carroll at 18:30 then too C-3 at 19:00. There was one thing wrong when we got here. Part of the battery went to Dong Ha the other 3 guns went to C-3 Ha! We got here because a radio operator showed us the way and the CO didn’t know we were here.
Boy I could use a cold beer now it is hot! One of our guys Ed Adams got a pint from home and Bill Wendt so we all got messed up real good! C-3 is built up real good bunkers and living bunkers but we still eating C-rations.
Real hot at C-3 and everyone is getting sick they say it is malaria. Must be water from the river or mosquitoes. Trying to stay down in bunkers where it is not so hot.
Bob McClintock A/1/12