CPT Stu Royle
Arty LNO

{Captain Stu Royle died on 25Aug15}
        Rest in peace, dear brother


Hours of Boredom and Minutes of Terror
I left for Vietnam on 15 May 1969 from Waco, Texas.  I had just finished VN orientation at Ft. Sill after a one year tour in Hawaii. As 15 May was my DOR, I went ahead and pinned on Captain’s bars although the orders had not been cut yet. I figured arriving in VN as a Captain was a lot better than arriving as a Lt.

 We stopped at Hawaii and Guam on the way to VN and finally we landed at Saigon . We were bussed to Ben Hoa waiting final assignment. I was assigned to 4th Infantry Division in Pleiku. I had served with another officer in Hawaii who had just returned from a tour with the 4th Div. and I wasn’t too thrilled about the assignment.

 I got to Camp Enari and reported in to DivArty for assignment and they finally cut my orders promoting me to Captain about two weeks after I had promoted myself. Ultimately, I was assigned to 2/9th Artillery. I recall spending a couple of nights in the transient BOQ on artillery hill and watching 122mm rockets fall into Enari. We sat outside the bunkers drinking beer and watching the fireworks.

After orientation, I was sent to Bde HQ at the Oasis. It was the only time in the next six months I travelled anywhere by road. At the Oasis, I was given briefings about the AO and just sat around waiting for the guy I was replacing to go home. I just missed the big attack on Oasis. They were building the “super TOC” when I got there.

Finally, I went out to LZ St. George and the 1/14th Inf as Bn LNO. As I recall, my commo sergeant Rick Borshuk  was up at Kontum with another element and I didn’t meet him for a week or so.   Operations at LZ St. George was pretty routine most of the time. I recall, that one morning a large number of Montagnards came marching into the FB. Apparently, during the night, some of our H & I fires had walked through their village. Several dead and many injured. Big investigation. I had done an AO survey the week before and had marked the location of friendly villages and coordinated with the ARVNs and they approved. Well, the Montagnards had moved in the meantime and no one knew it.

On another occasion, I was in the back of a LOH with the Inf Bn CO and we had just begun a company sized CA. The first platoon of grunts was on the ground and they were shuttling the second group into the LZ. We had prepped the LZ with arty and ARA. The gunships were still on station. I looked out to my left and saw 8 or 10 NVA running away from the LZ. I pointed them out to the BnCO and the pilot and started to call a fire mission. However, the LOH pilot called the gunships in on them and they were all killed. The BnCO wanted them searched for intel so the pilot landed and I had to get out and search each body and collect the packs etc.

 I was the one who always had to get out of the LOH. We were visiting one of the companies in the field and the BnCO wanted to take the Company CO to show him where he would be operating next. Of course, I had to get out and make room. They said just walk with the company awhile and we will come back for you. I could always imagine a dink sniper sitting up somewhere and saying “who is this guy walking with the company in a FLIGHT HELMET and no ruck and no weapon other that his pistol?”  Either he is important or a real dumb ass....either way I am going to take him out. But I made it okay and they did come back for me.

Well, I finally was up for R & R and my replacement had been sent out to St. George. It was an OCS classmate, Max Ricshell. He was to take over the next day and I would leave for R & R. About 11pm we woke up to the sound of multiple explosions. Just a night or two before, we found trails of propaganda leaflets and a path through the wire right behind out tent. Oh sh…! We ran to the TOC and started shooting illumination from LZ Weight Davis and everything else that would reach us. Max was outside on the roof of the TOC adjusting fire and I was inside on the radio to everyone who could hear me. What a night! I spent 5 MONTHS at St. George and nothing. And the night before I left….  

More details on my final fateful night
Around midnight, my replacement, Captain Max Rischel and I woke up to the sound of a loud explosion. I said” it's ok probably the grunts shooting short with their mortars. They do it all the time”.

Then another explosion; nearby. Time to re assess the situation. We both ran to the 1st Bn 14th Infantry TOC located right next door. We were sleeping in a tent with no over head cover. Just as we entered the TOC, there were more explosions and the base attack siren went off. The LNO crew on duty were talking to the A Battery FDC and trying to get things sorted out. Max and I decided that one of us should supervise inside while on took a radio and went outside on top of the TOC to adjust our supporting fires from within the FB and from other bases near by. Max went outside. We started shooting illumination with the 4.2 mortars at LZ Weight Davis just down the road. We had to be careful because gunships and flare ships soon came on station as well as Spooky.

It was a long and scary night. We knew the wire had been breached. Just the night before, we found the wire cut and propaganda leaflets in the wire. The claymores had the fuses removed and some had been turned around facing back into the base.

Finally, daylight arrived and the VC withdrew. We began to police up the dead and wounded and suddenly one of the dogs began barking fiercely at one of the trucks. A bulldozer had arrived from the rock quarry and he lifted the truck up and lo and behold there was an enemy soldier hidden under the truck. His AK came tumbling out first and then when they bounced the truck a few times he let loose and fell to the ground. He came real close to getting popped right there but they packaged him up and sent him to the rear for interrogation.

I was scheduled to be replaced, so I caught a ride with one of the slicks back to Camp Enari. I was happy to be out of there.