All C-1-30th FA's Ammo Section who were in the ASP when it exploded, were wounded trying to escape the fiery inferno. The 1-30th FA's brand new 5-Ton wrecker was found the next day almost completely melted down due to the tremendous heat from the thousands of burning powder charges. This wrecker was a replacement for the one destroyed on 23 February 1968, when it took a direct hit by an NVA 122mm rocket which resulted in two Hard Charger KIAs. It took well over a week to dispose of the thousands upon thousands of exploded and unexploded rounds that littered the whole camp. In one case, a 4.2" mortar round had hit one of the 3/4 Ton Trucks assigned to the Bn FDC Section. The round was so hot that it fused itself into the windshield frame and dashboard where it had penetrated but not exploded. The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team had a hell of a job trying to pull that round out. So they declared it "unsafe” and eventually just towed it out to the edge of the perimeter, slapped some C-4 plastic explosive on top of it, and blew it up. Needless to say they declared the 3/4 Ton Truck a combat loss when they got through with it. A total of 16 Hard Chargers were wounded on this day.
On 1 June 1968, the 1-30th FA was officially assigned to the 1st Air Cavalry Division. The announcement was read at a formation held in front of the 1-30th FA's TOC with LTC [later COL] Jack Kloke presiding. A few days afterwards a 2-gun Platoon from B-1-30th FA displaced from LZ SHARON to LZ ANNE. Then on 15 June 1968, the 1st Howitzer Battalion, 30th Artillery was reorganized and lost its "Howitzer" designation which it had held for ten years (1958-1968). It would now be known simply as the 1-30th FA. On 27 June 1968, LTC (later COL) Richard M. Jennings assumed command of the 1-30th FA. Action was sporadic for a few weeks until A-1-30th FA was hit with a vicious ground attack at LZ JANE on 21 July 1968. An incoming round hit a 5-Ton Truck loaded with 155mm ammo and powder canisters, setting it on fire. The immediate threat was that the burning vehicle would ignite the powder canisters and cause the explosion of the pallets of 155mm rounds. Rushing forward under intense ground fire was SP4 Richard H. Jones, SSG Jimmie A. Watson, and CPT John J. Fleming. In spite of the ground fire and intense heat, they began throwing the hot powder canisters clear of the vehicle and continued to do so until all were removed. They then attempted to extinguish the burning vehicle. The total disregard for their own safety and exposure to intense enemy small arms and mortar fire directly resulted in the avoidance of a major disaster. For their brave efforts on 21 July 1968, all three of these HARD CHARGERS were awarded a Bronze Star Medal w/"V" Device.
As a side note, some of the soldiers named in this article have gone to Fiddler’s Green including: LTG John Tolson, MAJ Robert Doering, CPT John Fleming, 1LT Steve Esh, CSM William Heidbreder, and SSG Jimmie Watson. May they rest in peace!
This is Hard Charger 9G ~ End of Mission ~ Out! Dan Gillotti
Provided by: Daniel P. Gillotti, MS, MA, First Sergeant, USA Retired.
MAY 2016 - 8