During lunch I sat and talked with Sergeant Bivens, the “Gun Chief” of Gun 1. He offered to give me a tour of his “Gun Pitt” and show me the ropes of how 155mm artillery worked. “Come over after the convoy arrives.” (Ammo trucks had to be unloaded first.)
I took him up on the offer; Bivens with his six-man crew walked me through the process of firing a round. First a fuse was attached to the 95 pound round before loading it into the gun tube. Then a bagged powder charge was pushed in place behind the round, and the breech was closed. After that, a charge with a blasting cap was inserted into the primer unit, and the gun was ready to fire. Pulling the lanyard would trigger the firing pin . . . the round would then fire. the process was a bit complicated but gave me a basic understanding of the sequence involved in firing a gun.
The battery’s wind-up siren went off . . . “Fire Mission!” Bivens pointed to a wooden box and said, “Sit.” The coordinates came in through his headset, and he rotated the gun into position. The progression of fusing a round and loading the gun was happening as I sat and watched. Someone warned me to cover my ears, and Bivens pulled the lanyard. KABOOM! The guns were firing six rounds each – the mission was completed in less than three minutes.
The crew was laughing at me when the fire mission was over. It was a powerful demonstration, and I was amazed at the precision involved; there was no room for error. These kids had a difficult job and were always ready, day and night, to support the Grunts in the field.
2 thoughts on “Fire Mission”
As a gunner/sect. chief of a 105mm howitzer gun crew in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam, your comments after seeing a “fire mission” up close were right on …Our job was to deliver timely and accurate fire on the enemy when called upon…..These 18, 19 and 20 year old “kids” did this job with pride and dedication and by these actions help saved the lives of many of their brothers in the bush…Thank you for you service to our country…
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