West Point grads are often the finest military leaders of the US Army;
this war story just proves that "the ring" is no better than the officer wearing it.

I arrived at Ft Carson, Colorado in 1969. I was a First Lieutenant awaiting promotion to Captain.

The Battalion Commander, who earned a Bronze Star in the Korean war, called me into his office. He told me he had a Captain who was not fit for command; he was taking the unusual step of making  me the new battery commander as a 1st lieutenant.  I was given command of "B" Battery, an  8 inch howitzer unit.

Later, he invited me to get a beer at the "O" Club. We had a beer when two West Point captains arrived.  They had just come back from Vietnam and were letting every one know all about it. My BnCo introduced me to the "ring knockers" since we were all Field Artillery officers.  They both started to tell me how it was using artillery in Vietnam. "Forget what you think you know about artillery", they told me since I was an OCS grad from Ft Sill. They said none of the things I did were used in Vietnam. They proceeded to give me "the finer points" of how they employed artillery in Vietnam.

About two weeks later there was a formal dress blues event. The artillery officers all sat together and I was at a table next to the West Pointers. During the conversations, they talked about  awaiting a battery command in the sister battalions.  Turns out that one was an Asst S-3 and the other was the Battalion Supply officer. Both never heard a shot fired obviously. Meanwhile, I was wearing my Silver Star, my Bronze Star with one oak leaf cluster, my Air Medal with one oak leaf cluster, my Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and my Purple Heart.

My Battalion Commander just smiled at their obvious bullshit from the "O" Club earlier when he found out how inexperienced they actually were. He told them "Keith here is my new "B" Battery Commander.  He has eight years enlisted experience and was a  Forward Observer in the field for 11 months." He said "Don, tell the guys all about the air strikes you called  in when we were talking about my experience in Korea".  

So, I told them about about conducting artillery registrations and dropping grenades from the back seat of the L-19 (Bird Dog), going to several Ranger camps in the Central Highlands, serving as an FO for eleven  months and going out with a LRRP Team as well as entering caves in search of the enemy.  They suddenly knew "they were had".

I have great respect for the truly good West Point grads, but, like any group, you come across some dipshits who  resort to fabricating their experiences in Vietnam because the truth would expose them for who they really are.  Their "sense of superiority" overruled their obligation to respect their fellow officers, regardless of source of commission, and speak the truth.


Submitted by
Lt Don M. Keith


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