Sumo and I had a fitful night of sleep. Kilo battery had several fire missions, and although we had adjusted to the sound of “outgoing,” it was unusual to have sustained fire for long periods. One mission fired 80 rounds of counter rocket fire and had 22 secondary explosions on the target.
The gun crews came to breakfast caked with dust and residue from the fire missions . . . they were exhausted. Sergeant Paige arrived with the full story: Our Battalion Headquarters was hit with seven 122mm rockets, and Sergeant Major Hodal was KIA from a shrapnel wound to the head. Seven other Marines were WIA, and four were taken out by medevac. The supply officer, 1st Lieutenant Pelczarski, was also wounded.
Kilo battery guns completely took out the NVA rocket batteries and caused havoc with their ammo bunkers, but there was little to cheer about. The loss of our top enlisted leader affected all of us. News traveled fast through the radio network, and “Kilo’s Killers” were getting a reputation for living up to their nickname.
Sumo and I wondered about the price of having such notoriety attached to our unit; would it make us a target? Hill 65 was positioned to fire on any coordinates in Arizona territory and was also able to cover the rocket belt south of Da Nang . . . my thinking was, “We may end up as a prime objective for the NVA.”
Cobb had progressed to scrubbing down our field ovens. When he was finished, the ovens looked almost new. It had been nearly a month since Britt rotated to CONUS, and I realized we were operating more efficiently without him. The galley and mess deck were now clean from the daily brush downs. It was clear to me the improvements were the result of a mind-set . . . Sumo and I were on the same page with sanitation, and our attitude rubbed off on others.