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The Day It Rained Trees
The 3rd.Platoon of Golf Co. 2/5 was placed on Hill 34 (a pile of dirt next to the road) for road security. The story about the 81-M Mortar Team that got their guns turned around in the wrong direction during a fire mission and blew away a village was being pass around.
The Platoon Lt. ask me about my MOS of 0341 and if I could call in a fire mission. It had been two years since my training at Camp Geiger but I stated that I felt pretty sure of my skills (I mean—I am a Marine after all!). Well, there was a 81-M team at our position and the Lt. challenged me to order a fire mission on a ridge line that he spotted. I found the position on the map, give them to the mortar team and order one H.E.round for adjustment. I didn’t have to adjust anything. The round hit dead center on the spot the Lt. was looking at (I mean— it’s a sad dog that won’t wag his own tail).
And then showed him that I knew how to move the rounds right-left, up-down, and “walk them in”. The Lt. informed me that I would be his backup for F.O. if it became necessary. I wasn’t all that grateful for this opportunity to be a Forward Observer. I shared this experience for three reasons: 1. This Platoon Lt. didn’t trust the men in his platoon to know their jobs and do them—there for my challenge. 2. His radioman was a big kiss-ass (to get rank) and would tell the Lt. anything on the men in order to look good, whether they were true or not. 3. The reason the Lt took me a long with him on this walk.
The Lt. told me to get my radio and come along with him. We left our premier and started up this ridge which was maybe couple hundred meters from Hill 34. We got almost to the top when we turned and watched about eight VC moving into a tree- line. I assume the Lt got a call about this situation and was told to check it out. Anyways, we got out the map and found the tree line and then called two F 14, who happen to be in the area, for air support. We mark them as they flew over the right tree line. The F-14s crewed that tree line up! They dropped HE and fired their guns and finished with napalm. It is really something to see especially from our point of view. As we sat there a few minutes afterwards to make certain that no one walked away from that hell. The parts of trees started coming down like rain. It was surreal to see that tree line one minute and then have it rain down on us the next. By the way, no VC walked out of that hiding place nor did we get hit the whole time on we were on Hill 34.
Footnote: This Platoon Lt. “loss it” one day and accused the whole platoon of not following his orders and it was our fault that “Ragman” (one of the men) loss his legs to a boobtrap because of it. Man, guys locked and load on him and had to be stop by some of the others. Myself and another guy left for R & R shortly after this situation. While we were waiting in DaNan, we heard that there was a death threat against the Lt.. Someone had thrown a grenade into his hooch but didn’t remove the secondary safety. I also crawled under the Senior NCO and Officers tent back in An Hoa in order get a grenade that had been thrown. The only reason it didn’t go off was the secondary safety. When we got back from R & R, the Lt. and his radioman were gone!