Monthly Archives: July 2009

Rocket and Mortar Attacks


Bunkers Constructed with Sandbags

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Charlie Troop 1/9th hooches

Staff Sgt Dave Roger

One of the most helpless feelings I experienced in Vietnam is when our firebase was being mortared (incoming) and hoping the next rocket wouldn’t be a direct hit. It almost seemed safer on a recon mission in the middle of the jungle.

An incoming round exploding is a noise forever embedded in your brain and for years to come you could be affected by similar sounds.

When I first arrived in Phuoc Vinh mortar attacks were quite frequent. It seemed like we got hit at least three times a day, and Charlie had our Company Area zeroed in.

Usually, a siren would blow to indicate an incoming mortar attack. When it sounded you scrambled to the nearest bunker for protection. The siren would sound again to indicate the attack had ended and all was clear to exit from your bunker. That’s when you had to be careful because Charlie could also hear the siren, and he would lob a few more in.

One morning a bunch of us Blues were standing down at the helipad waiting for our choppers to arrive to fly us out for a recon mission. Charlie started shelling the helipad area and a mortar landed within six feet of where we were standing. There was a row of barrels filled with sand between us and where the mortar landed. That was a close one to say the least!

Then there was the night Charlie threw some big stuff at us (Sept. 12th 1970). The sound of 122mm rockets slamming down in the area around the hooch where I was sleeping woke me up within seconds. I rolled out of bed to the floor and low crawled as fast as I could to the nearest bunker.3987246444_95167a4f3d_m
When the attack seemed to be over, we came out of the bunker to access the damage. Our hooch did not take a direct hit, but a Red platoon hooch across the road did and was on fire. I then went back to check my AO ( sleeping area). I would not be writing this now if I wouldn’t have woken when I did. My pillow got peppered with shrapnel holes along with an Iowa State flag that was hanging on the wall above my bed…

Remains of Red platoon hooch
Photo by Nathan D. Shaffer (Charlie Troop Scouts, 1969-70)

The hole in the ground between the boots is the results of a small VC mortar round.

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Chinese 60 mm mortar rounds captured by 1st Cav Quan Loi May 69
Photo by Jim Beck

Radar unit on the wooden tower was used to pinpoint the origin of incoming rounds for retaliation purposes. (Two above Photos by Chris Bussells, 31st HHC)

Newly built Charlie Troop hooches before sandbags

Two above photos by Jordan Green (Charlie Troop Maintenance, 1969-70)

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Apocalypse Now


In 1979 the Movie “Apocalypse Now” was released, featuring 1st Squadron 9th Cavalry, 1st Air Cavalry Division.

In the summer of 1979 while grocery shopping in my home town of Carroll, Iowa this Life magazine caught my eye. I bought it and hurried home, so I could read about the movie “Apocalypse Now” which was to be released August 15th of that year.

I made a two hour trip to Omaha when it started showing in some of the larger Midwest movie theaters. Watching it stirred up vivid memories of my thirteen months in Vietnam with Charlie Troop 1/9th

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The Blue Annihilators


huey in the bush

Sgt. Gregory Lee Peffer (center on the ground) KIA January 22, 1971

The areo rifle platoon, the Blues, complements the aerial reconnaissance capabilities of the Pink team by providing ground reconnaissance. Transported by Huey slicks, the Blues can be quickly inserted to check the spottings of the aerial observer, assess the damage inflicted by Cobra or B-52 strikes and pursue enemy elements. Generally only a patrol-size element will be inserted initially, then the rest of the platoon.

We were in choppers almost every day looking for the enemy or going out after down birds (crashed choppers or airplanes). We were the ones first on the ground of a crash and responsible for putting the mostly burned bodies into body bags…

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The Aero Weapons Platoon


Huey Cobra (AH-1G) Gunships

The aero weapons, or Red platoon, was made up of Huey Cobra (AH-1G) gunships. Armed with rockets, mini guns and grenade launchers, the Red gunships join the White LOH to form the Pink team, the basic working unit of the 1st Squadron, 9th Cav. The gunship protects the LOH and can immediately attack a target.

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Charlie Troop 1/9th, 1st Air Cavalry Cobra in flight

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WO Walker A. Jones, 1970

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WO 1 Myron Lamont

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Cobra ‘Snake’

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The Scout Platoon


Light Observation Helicopters (LOH)

The Scout platoon was known as the White platoon. They used Light Observation Helicopters (LOH) to skim low over terrain, searching for any sign of enemy movement or activity.

Until 1968 these platoons used OH-13 observation helicopters. By mid-1968 these ships were being replaced by the faster, move maneuverable OA-6A.

The guys flying Scouts had nerves of steel, as their birds were easy targets for the enemy and many got shot down…

Blue-Gray (De Mailo and Jones)

Paddle Ball

Nathan “Nate” Shaffer
Scout gunner 1969-70

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Nate Shaffer & Bruce Campbell in 1970

Barry Sipple (right

LOH going home

‘birdman’

Brastetter
Photo courtesy of Dave Roger

Somewhere in the “Fish Hook

Photo courtesy of Richard Lamb
Crew chief C Troop early August until late October 1968.
Transferred then to HQ Troop as crew chief on the Squadron check-out LOH.
That aircraft was destroyed Christmas Day in a landing mishap and he was
transferred to B Troop Scouts. Shot down Feb 9, 1969 in LOH 16069.

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Charlie Troop 1/9th


1st Air Cavalry Division

Charlie Troop, First Squadron, 9th Cavalry was 100% mobile and made up of three platoons, aero scout platoon (White), aero weapons platoon (Red) and aero rifle platoon (Blue).

Charlie Troop jeep next to orderly room

1/9th headquarters, Phuoc Vinh (Camp Gorvad)

Sign painted by Jim Delp (HQ Troop 1/9th, 1969)

1/9th Commanding Officers, 1970
Major Galen Rosher (Charlie Troop CO) front row far right

Charlie Troop CO, Col. Rosher, XO Tietenburg and crew

MAJ Galen Rosher ‘Cavalier 6′ was C Troop 1/9th Commanding Officer 12/10/69- 06/24/70.

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Phuoc Vinh Village


The Vietnamese People Continue their Traditional Way of Life

Phuoc Vinh firebase (Camp Gorvad) was next to the Village of Phuoc Vinh. Of course, that’s how it got its name.

When I arrived in Phuoc Vinh in March of 1970, we were allowed to go down to the village and hit the bars. My first time was with a couple of fellow Blues, and I got totally wasted on a Vietnamese beer called “33”. I remember holding a bottle of “33” up to a light, and you could see all kinds of stuff floating around in the bottle. That was my first and last encounter with “33”.

About a month later the village was off limits to GIs because of the violence…

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Many of the Village People worked at our Phuoc Vinh firebase next to their village.

Oxen pulling a wooden cart was a familiar sight.

One of the few cars I saw in Vietnam.

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Photo courtesy of Ron Kidder
Ron was with the 720th Military Police attached to The 1st Infantry’s M.P. Company stationed in Phouc Vinh during Operation Junction City in 1967.

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Photo courtesy of Ron Kidder

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Looking down towards the market from the main gate
Photo courtesy of Ron Kidder

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Holding cell at 1st M.P. Quarters
Photo courtesy of Ron Kidder

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Main gate
Photo courtesy of Ron Kidder

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M.P.’s from the 720th M.P. Battalion TDY during Junction City
Photo courtesy of Ron Kidder

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Market Place
Photo courtesy of Ron Kidder

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The Hero Bar which sat just outside the main gate
Photo courtesy of Ron Kidder

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This young lady worked at the Venus Bar
Photo courtesy of Ron Kidder

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