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Provided by: Daniel P. Gillotti, MS, MA, First Sergeant, USA Retired.
Spotted among the numerous enemy bodies was a communist KIA with a map case that 1LT Esh thought might contain important intelligence information. The pilot set the helicopter down, while 1LT Esh and the helicopter Crew Chief exited the aircraft to retrieve the map case. A wounded NVA soldier appeared out of the brush and was about to shoot the Crew Chief when 1LT Esh engaged him with his M-16 and killed him. They retrieved the map case, and it was determined later to have contained very important pieces of the enemy's attack plans against the Marine Combat Base at Khe Sanh. Then on 5 May 1968, an NVA 122mm rocket hit in the heart of the HHB area. The rocket penetrated the roof of the Generator Shed that was located between the Communications Bunker and the Bn TOC near the Bn FDC end of the building.

SP4 Robert W. Sanders was the generator operator on duty in the Generator Shed when the rocket hit and exploded. The building was literally blown apart and collapsed on top of him with pieces of the shed on fire. Several men from HHB distinguished themselves by rushing forward and ripping the pieces of the burning building apart until they found SP4 Sanders. He had one leg blown off and was riddled with rocket fragments. However, thanks to swift medical attention provided by CPT Gjerdrum, the Battalion Surgeon, and the Bn Medics, they quickly transported SP4 Sanders to the 15th Medical Bn. There he received treatment to stabilize his condition. He was quickly flown to a much larger surgical hospital in Japan, and later flown back to the States. {Note: It was determined in 1996 that SP4 Sanders had survived his wounds, but had to endure many months of rehabilitative surgery before being medically retired from the Army. As I remember it, he was promoted to SGT E-5 the day after they medevaced him out, and then to SSG E-6 the next day. As would be expected, he received the Purple Heart.} Additionally, a Navy CB who was assisting with the building of drainage ditches throughout the HHB area was not as fortunate. He died because of his wounds from the rocket that day.

Also as a result of that rocket, all of the generators were damaged or destroyed and all of the RC-292 Radio Antennas on top of the Battalion TOC were knocked down. Still, the RC-292 Antennas knocked off the roof of the TOC were quickly repaired and communication was reestablished with all firing elements. Tents and bunkers in the immediate area were riddled with rocket fragments, and the Bn FDC end of the Bn TOC suffered some structural damage. The dirt-filled 105mm ammo boxes used to build the protective walls of the TOC were pushed in by the force of the explosion of the 100-pound rocket warhead. The back wall had to be rebuilt as it was "leaning in. A total of 14 personnel from the 1-30th FA were wounded that day including CPT (later MAJ) Robert E. Doering who was the Bn FDO on duty in the Bn FDC. When the rocket exploded, a piece of rocket fragment bounced off the Perforated Steel Plate on the ceiling of the Bn FDC TOC and punctured his thigh.

MAY 2016 - 5
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