Provided by: Daniel P. Gillotti, MS, MA, First Sergeant, USA Retired.
Command anticipated that the enemy would use this opportunity to hit us with a ground attack. Fortunately, they did not. All the while you could hear pieces of metal and other debris flying through the air and hitting the ground all around us. To say we all became "One with the Earth" would be an understatement. Through the grace of God and a couple of very busy guardian angels, none of us were hit. The ground all around us was littered with every type of ordnance imaginable. When a relief force came out to replace us after midnight we were very happy to say the least. Rounds continued to cook off and explode in the ammo dump for more than 12 straight hours. One of my young Sergeants (young was a relative term as I was only 25 years-old myself) and I started low-crawling past the mess hall toward the Bn TOC. As we had consumed our individual canteens of water a couple of hours earlier, we were very thirsty. The fear of death or dismemberment will do that to you.
To get something to drink, we crawled over to the stainless steel 10-gallon coffee and bug juice urns located near the eating tent. That lime-flavored, kool aid tasting, chlorinated swamp water tasted like fine champagne. As I was gulping down my second cup of "bug juice" we heard a loud bang that scared the hell out of both of us (as if we could be any more scared than we were already). Something had just knocked the plywood door of the mess hall off its hinges. The Mess Hall was a large General Purpose (GP) tent hung over a 2" X 4" wooden frame with screening along with a couple of plywood doors. My young Sergeant and I crawled over and found a 40-pound hunk of shell fragment from an exploded 8" round that had sailed from the ammo dump about 1,000 meters away. This is what had just knocked the mess hall door off its hinges. I made the mistake of touching the jagged and hot piece of shell fragment and burned the hell out of my fingers in the process.
Sticking my burned fingers into that lime-flavored, Kool-Aid tasting, chlorinated swamp water made them feel a whole lot better! To this day I shudder every time I think of what that 40-pound hunk of shell fragment could have done to my tender, skinny body. I quickly crawled into the Bn FDC-end of the TOC and sat on my helmet while holding my head between my hands. My thoughts were 10,000 miles away at that point. CPT Bill Potts was one of the Bn FDOs on duty and he took my picture. He told me afterwards that he had never seen anyone with such fear in their eyes. Thinking about the fact that I had less than three weeks left on my tour, and I had just been scared witless (or something like that) for the umpteenth time in the last 11 months, he was 100% correct. I sure wish I had a copy of that picture today. A total of 16 Hard Chargers were wounded during this attack.
LTC Kloke gave me a three-day in country R&R at China Beach in Da Nang and I thank him. My original R&R to Hawaii had been canceled back in January 1968 because of the TET Offensive. At China Beach they had a PX-type snack bar set up there. The first day there, I ate cheeseburgers and French fries, and drank malted milkshakes till I puked. My stomach was still a mess from the amoebic dysentery so I switched to eating cheese doodles and drank rum and coke for the next two days. Man were we having fun or what!}
MAY 2016 - 7