16 Rounds of ‘WP’
by GYSGT Edward J. Herterich, USMC (Ret)
(Reprinted with permission of Military magazine, 2122 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818. A sample copy of Military may be obtained by writing to the above address)
Over the years as an ‘1811’ tanker it had been drilled into me that the purpose of Marine Corps tanks was to support the infantry.
Azmith indicators, elevating quadrants, range cards and firing tables all came together in one incident in Vietnam near C-2North Dong Ha near the DMZ.
The position would receive rockets from one particular direction about once a week. I had a conversation with 2/4’s (2nd Bn., 4th Marine Regiment for you non-Marine types) S-3 section. It was agreed that the perimeter would have those on watch shoot an azmith as close as possible to where the rockets were coming from. The next rocker firing got us a three point intersection on the approximate area. When placed on the map it was found that the possible source was behind a small knoll.
With that information, the main guns of two tanks-M-48A3s with 90 mm-were laid on the target. In preparation, WP was loaded. The two crewmen who were on watch were instructed when the word “rockets” came over the net the main battery (guns) would be fired and continue rapid fire. “Right five zero” rounds.
“Drop one, zero, zero, left five zero for four rounds each tank. The 03’s (infantry) sound-power field telephone line was tied into the TI (Telephone Infantry) jacks on the rear of the tanks in series.
A few days later the word “rockets came over the net. Following their instructions, these two tanks put sixteen rounds of WP in the air rapid fire.
The CO of 2/4 sent out a patrol to check the area. What they found were remnants of two rocket carts, blood, guts and drag marks. . . no bodies. We did not receive more rockets from that area.