Sgt Steve Gorecky


Well-laid plans go astray…Vietnam didn't look like Germany to me...neither did Korea

I had one of the most unusual Army tours.

It all started in October 1965 by being drafted [the Army was drafting about 45,000 of us per month back then]. I beat the draft (I thought) by choosing a 4-year enlistment - unassigned – to Europe. My purpose was to avoid having to go to Viet Nam.  Three years in Germany plus BCT & AIT would mean I would not have enough time to do a 1 year tour in VN --- Gee Whiz…that's too bad. Germany sounded really cool compared to entering the draft.  I signed up at age 19 with four high school buddies.  Back then, you could go to BCT together on the "Buddy Plan".  But...back to the "unassigned Europe" part...translated into English, that meant that we would go our separate ways.  So much for being smart at age 19.

While in basic at Fort Leonard Wood I was “offered” a chance to attend OCS – I declined. One of my buddies took the same offer & he is no longer with us.  AIT sent me to Fort Sill to learn field artillery. Winter at Sill was a treat – being from Minnesota, Oklahoma had nothing new to teach me. Somewhere along the way, I volunteered to drive  a "deuce & ½" (2-1/2 ton truck) that was used to pull the 105's & - I knew how to drive in the snow. As time went on, I actually became a driving instructor for the trucks. Major problem is I had my 13A10 MOS but knew very little about the guns as I spent most of my time driving.

I made it to Germany and was sent to the 3rd Armored Cav in Kaiserslaughtern. The support arty battery had 155mm SPs. I was assigned to gun #3. I did not have to relearn the gun as I knew nothing in the first place. Lucky for me that several months after arriving, a slot in FDC opened up and that became my job. Actually, I hated my job in Germany.  Peacetime duty can only do so many alerts, parades, inspections and drunks for so long.  I was also an Umpire for the annual FTXs; my job was to observe the FDCs and rate them.

Some of you know this, most do not,  but the 155 & 8” howitzers have/had a nuclear capabilities of firing a small nuclear round called “special weapons”. I was sent to “special weapons “school in Oberammergau and was promoted to section chief FDC and special weapons NCO. With the “cold war” in full swing, we never knew when we would need to use a nuke or two. Serving with a "special weapons" degree had a nasty side effect - I was limited as to where and when I could leave the post.  That really pissed me off.  However, there was a "plus":  I was listed as "ED" - exempt from duty.  After 2 years of defending against the Russians, I got caught up in a levy for Vietnam anyway.   So much for "my plan".   I arrived during TET – in late Jan 1968. I was assigned to the 4th Inf Div in Pleiku and spent a week or so at Camp Enari being jungle trained - the M16 they gave me would not fire more than 1 round before jamming – I dearly wanted my M14 back!!

From Enari I was flown to LZ English where "A" battery 2/9th was set up. Being the FNG & E-5 I was not well received to say the least. "A" Battery had just come down from “up north” and had seen quite a bit of action. It seems like I spent maybe a week at English and then we were off to a couple of fire bases [LZ Pony & Meade] not too far from Phu Cat AFB. This was also the time when the 3rd brigade was being sent back to the 4th Div and was no longer attached to the Americal Division. We air lifted out of Phu Cat on C130's and landed in Kontum about a 1/2 hour later.

Up until arriving in Kontum, I have/had a pretty good memory of who, where what & when. Well, that all came to a screaming halt when my FDO, Lt (Wayne D.) George told us we were going to a “HOT” Firebase #14 which later became fondly named LZ Incoming. Others have written {Bert Landau} quite well about LZ Incoming and I really do not need to elaborate other than the name Incoming was well chosen.. From Incoming, we moved on up to a more secure place called Mile High – I figured we must have spent a month there. I think the monsoons in May/June 68 gave us a good reason to exit that place.

From Mile High I was reassigned to an Arty Liaison section with the 1/14th Inf and we set up on a new LZ called Irma Jay. I was there a few days and lo & behold, "A" Battery 2/9th gets lifted in. I stayed quite busy with my new section and the 1/14th was really mobile - seemed like we were moving all the time. Toward the end of summer (Sept/Oct) we were on some LZs north west of Dak To…very close to the boundaries of Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos. That area was just crawling with NVA and we did not pick too many fights with them. I was getting pretty well settled in with the 1/14th and one day the CO (we called him “Dragon”) tells me to grab my rucksack and hit the chopper pad because I am leaving the country. I am still 4 months from DEROS so I wonder what the hell is going on now! It took me 3 separate chopper rides to get back to Pleiku and Enari. I get to 2/9th HQ and they tell me that I am going to Korea the next day – What's up with that?? I hop a C130 to Saigon and get put in with about 40 other guys and fly off to Korea in another C130 to get refresher training on Nuclear weapon assembly. Apparently, someone higher up (very) was considering that perhaps maybe we may need to be ready to do a "mini Nagasaki". I spent two weeks in Korea being refreshed. All of us had top secret ++ clearance and we were to be super hush hush about this. I have been until now. Getting back to VN, I needed to be in a unit that had guns with special weapons capabilities so I was reassigned to the 5/16thArty that was HQ at Enari. They had 155 & 8”. While I was with the 5/16th I again worked Liaison mostly with ARVN's out of Kontum. And for my last 3 months I was with the 1/10th Cav working out of Oasis. A lot of you guys were on Oasis – the 1/10th  Cav HQ was right next to the 8” battery. 1/10th Cav was armor & gunships. I extended my tour 4 + months to insure an early out when I got stateside. I left Oasis June 1st 1969. I missed the big “Mothers Day" attack on Oasis as I was on R&R in Bangkok when that happened. I left the Army June 4, 1969. My biggest regret was/is not remembering the guys I served with.

The 2/9th web site has sure helped me pull a lot of memories that have lain dormant all these years!! Thank you all and I am proud to have served!! 

Sgt Steve Gorecky


Other Details of My Tour

I arrived in Viet Nam during Tet [Feb 68].  I had just been reassigned from the 3rd ACR in Germany and was the FDC chief. I was E-5 & did not know shit from shinola as in Germany all we did was play war games. I spent a week in Pleiku getting trained.  The only training I remember was that my M-16 did not work worth a shit. After a week of Jungle training in Pleiku, I was assigned to "A" Btry  that was currently in standdown at Bong Son {LZ English}. The old vets there had some fun with  me, the cherry boy, and I fell for some of the tricks - the best being looking for "lanyard grease" never having been on the "guns' what the hell did I know. After "English" it becomes a bit sketchy until we got air lifted to "Kontum International" {I will never forget just how agile a loaded C-130 could be }.  I find it strange that I do not remember Lt Bert Landau, but I remember Lt George, however.  What I remember most is Greg Malnar singing "I'm Leaving On A Jet Plane" and being from Detroit.
Kontum was just recovering from some serious action from Tet and we were informed by one of our officers [Lt. (Wayne D.) George] that we would be going to a "Hot LZ" and he actually said that some of us may not come back. Surely what we needed to hear. We loaded ourselves unto several "shithooks" and proceeded to FB 14 which was fondly renamed to LZ Incoming. What a snafu.  We got hammered    In other narratives, Bert Landau sums it up extremely well. {Even more so in his bit about one of our officers that was less than noble & brave.}
I know that upon leaving "Incoming" I was requested to write a statement about just how brave this (Battery Commander) was for the purpose of receiving a Bronze Star. I was not able to write such a false statement.  Bert was right  when the shit hit the fan,  this guy buried himself  out of sight - great leader. When the mortars hit the powder bags and so many guys got burned,  he was not to be found.  I am embarrassed to say I cannot remember any one persons name except George Skulzacek {sp}, nick name "Caesar".

After being on "Incoming" for a few weeks  the "brain trust" moved us to "LZ Mile High" where we had to hack out some sort of a fire base from a tangle of trees & stumps. Filling sand bags was near impossible as the ground was so hard we could not hardly get a shovel in it to dig. But at least we were not mortared day in & day out.
 Mile High was ok as we were able to have some good results from a lot of fire missions. Contrary to popular belief, I had some luck with running the FADAC. It was the frikken' generators that were the pain . I know I can attribute my severe hearing loss to working on a generator during a fire mission.
A real plus at Mile High was the big radar screen  that was able to plot us a 8 place grid on the "dinks" mortar locations.
We shut that down PDQ.  
 We stayed on Mile High until the monsoons started then I got transferred to a Liaison job with the 1/14th. At that time I really lost contact with the A Btry 2/9th. I do not remember Lt. Landau and if you are out there give me a call. I have lots of blanks that need to be filled. You can reach me at



My story about Oasis: I was working liaison with the 1/10 Cav -HQ @ Oasis.  However, I was on R&R when the attack happened. The 1/10 Cav were some really cool guys & their CO was  just like Robert Duvall in "Apocalypse Now, "cowboy hat" & the whole works. I don't remember his name however.  The 1/10 TOC was about a 100 meters from the 8" howitzers of the 5/16 Arty.
The thing I remember most  about the post-attack was the information that was taken from the NVA [either KIA or WIA ] was that they were in possession of detailed maps of the interior of Oasis  - meaning someone gave them the information  or they had someone on the "inside". We then became a lot more distrustful of the "natives" that were allowed in for either construction or KP or some other shit detail.              
I returned from R&R two days after the attack.  Three weeks later I was at Ft Lewis going home.

submitted by Steve Gorecky

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