Lt Gary (Dean) Springer:


17-20 August 1966


21-23 August 1966
2nd Battalion 9th Artillery 3rd Brigade Task Force 25th Infantry Division

24 August – 21 September
A Battery 2nd/9th – Forward Observer attached to B Company 2nd Battalion 35th Infantry Regiment

22 September – 4 October 1966
Headquarters 2nd/9th – Liaison Officer attached to Plei Me Special Forces Camp

5 October – 15 November 1966
A Battery 2nd/9th – Assistant Executive Officer

16 November 1966 4 March 1967
A Battery 2nd/9th – Executive Officer  (New battery commander as of 20 December – Capt. Keith Carlton)

5 – 16 March 1967
A Battery 2nd/9th – Acting Battery Commander – ( Carlton was sent to activate D Battery)

17 March – 12 April 1967
D Battery 2nd/9th  Battery Commander

13 April – 24 May 1967
2nd/9th – Battalion Ammo Officer

25 May – 29 May 1967
C Battery 2nd/9th – Forward Observer attached to C Company 1st Bn. 14th Infantry  

30 May – 4 August 1967
C Battery 2nd/9th – Forward Observer attached to B Company 1st Bn. 14th Infantry

5 – 14 August 1967
HQ 3rd Bde. 4th Infantry Division – Line of Duty Investigating Officer


I remember...being sent forward
for mess with General Walker shortly after my arrival in the field.    Apparently the various commanders have a habit of having a meal with their new officers as soon as possible.  I decided they probably want to meet us before any of us get killed or wounded so that when they write a letter home to our family they can at least say they knew us.  Who knows?  Maybe I was just cynical.  So they made me leave the company overnight to go in to have lunch with the General the next day.

I remember...some guys gambled a lot.  Poker was very popular and especially the game Acey Deucey.  I played some till I lost about $400 in one pot (most of which I had won) but it really made me think about not gambling anymore.  For those of us who were in the field, the only place to ever spend any money was the rare times we were at brigade base (Dragon Mountain).  We got paid in military scrip (MPC) which we referred to as Monopoly money and in fact it did look a lot like that.  I wish I had kept a dollar or two for this journal but who thinks of those things at the time.  There were a number of things I would have kept and sent home if I had it to do over again. 

I of the things we hated most was when a Chinook would come in for resupply.  The resupplies were welcome, obviously, but they invariably blew our poncho-made hootches all over the place.   It was time for "52-pickup".

I first contact mission.   One platoon made contact; wish I could have been there to help.  Killed 3 PAVN.    This was the first real contact I was somewhat involved in.  The platoon was out on patrol and ran across some NVA.  I mostly listened on the radio as the fight went down.  I assisted the platoon leader calling in artillery fire after the initial contact.  However I was not there to do the actual adjustments.  The 3 kills were from small arms fire.  Have no idea if we got any from artillery as they did not sweep the area where we fired.

I remember...those typical "nothing happened" days in Vietnam.  In one instance, our 3rd platoon thought they heard some noises of movement and I assisted them in calling in couple of artillery volleys.  They found nothing.  Years later when people would ask me what it was like in Vietnam I usually didn’t either want to talk about it or felt inadequate to really describe what it was like for me and a lot of us.  Then I heard another vet friend of mine tell someone the perfect answer which I have since often used.  He said: “98% of the time it was sheer boredom.  The other 2% was indescribable horror.”  I have yet to find a better way to share the feeling. 

I remember...that before my tour was over, I took a real liking to warm beer.  Out in the field we drank our beer warm because there was no way to cool it off, obviously.  Before the year was over I took a real liking to warm beer.  We would get a couple of cans of beer each week as part of our rations.  Some of the guys just couldn’t handle drinking warm beer or weren’t beer drinkers at all and would sell, barter, or just give it to their friends.  I often would trade the “premium” things from C rations (canned fruit in particular) for beer.  There were times I had 6-8 cans of beer in my pack and little food. 

I remember...
back at the brigade base camps they would show the latest movies at times.  It was outdoors and on a small screen but was a little bit of “home” in some ways.  Mostly of course it was the REMFs that got this luxury.  Oh, REMF was a  grunt (infantry) acronym which stood for Rear Echelon Mother F*****.   We FOs were fortunate to be considered one of the “grunts”. 

I remember...there were times when I was out as an FO that I went for two weeks with no way to bathe and in fact wore the same jungle fatigues the whole time.  You just got used to the smell of each other and the only time we really noticed it was when we would get to go back to the battalion base and our friends who were back there wouldn’t get near you until you showered and got into some fresh clothes.  It made for a few laughs.

I remember...that it became apparent to me, as intense as the training back in OCS was, we did things here that were very different.  I can remember hoping that the word would get back to Ft Sill and that meaningful changes would take place in OCS and artillery school training.  That was especially true of the work of a Forward Observer.

I remember...that we got word that through the prisoner interrogation that the NVA in general were really scared of our artillery abilities.  That of course made us feel good.

I remember...that I was fortunate never to be with the battery when it came under attack except for a sniper incident or two.  No casualties as I recall.  One time I got pissed because there was this one spot that for several days we got a few potshots taken at us.  I ran out and got one gun crew and we fired one round of direct fire where we thought it was coming from.  We never got shot at from that spot again.  Probably just scared the shit out of him.  I remember one of the grunts on the perimeter standing up after we fired the round and giving us a "thumbs up".

I remember...(near the Cambodian border)...that we have pretty well cleaned out this area.   What we know in retrospect is that we would kill many of them; they’d retreat across the border, re-supply, wait for replacements and then come back again.  We wound up being back in this same general area in March ’67 and had two major battles here again. 

I remember...Master Sergeant Rios is another story that really pissed me off about the Army.  He had been my Chief of Firing Battery back at Ft. Sill in the training battery.  Was one of the nicest guys you could ever know and knew artillery inside and out.  Frankly, he was kind of a “father figure” to me at Sill and really helped me learn back there.  Anyhow, this guy had been in horrible combat in both WWII and Korea.  He was within 6 months of being able to retire after 30 years in the Army when he was assigned to Nam.  I was so pissed to find him here.  He was CFB for “A” Battery, 1/77th, a 105 battery in the 1st Cav Division but soon was sent back to Division Base in a much more secure area much to my relief and I’m sure his.  This was a guy who had about 7 kids and even more grandkids already.  What the f*** was he doing here???

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