Our new Battalion Training (S-3) Officer was visiting Hill 65 and making selections for a required training class. Each battery was to have a representative attend a 5-day class concerning NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) warfare. Top Culverhouse was looking for volunteers (Corporal and above), and Sumo was one of the final 3 applicants. The class was in Iwakuni, Japan, and Sumo would be able to visit his wife.
Major Presley (Major Catoe’s replacement) asked if I had any concerns regarding Sumo being gone for a week, and I answred, “No Sir, he is the obvious candidate because of his previous duty at MCAS, Iwakuni.” After a brief consultation with Top Culverhouse, Sumo was chosen and would fly out of Da Nang on Sunday. It was an abrupt decision and left little time for planning, but it was how things worked in the military. Sumo packed his gear and prepared to take the convoy to Da Nang in the morning.
The 5th Marines decimated the NVA/VC who had retreated from their own ambush the night before. After sweeping through the area, a large cache of weapons and mortar rounds was discovered. The ammo had been “staged” (set up) and was ready for distribution to local NVA/VC units in Arizona Territory. Concern over the stockpile being rigged with tripwires initiated the decision to blanket the zone with precision artillery, using a combo of HE and VT. Successive fire missions of the vicinity by KY battery produced multiple secondary explosions.