Another day had passed, and I was writing a letter to Jenny from my folding chair. * The 5th Marines were now in An Hoa and had taken over the TAOR (Tactical Area of Responsibility) of Arizona territory. The An Hoa combat base had an air strip, artillery batteries, engineers and a Battalion Headquarters. Although we could see the general location, it was at least seven miles away, near the base of the Que Son Mountains, and it usually appeared as a cloud of haze from Hill 65.
The commands from the Exec Pit were loud enough to be heard from my position. Captain Smotherman’s voice was distinctly different than Cavagnol’s. All of the commands were the same . . . just a different octave level (Smotherman had a higher range). “Battery at my Command, Time on Target, Stand by . . . FIRE.” BOOM, the sound of all six guns firing simultaneously shook the Hill. “FIRE AT WILL!” A second volley followed.
The rounds were exploding to the south, and we could hear what sounded like an echo, but it turned out to be Tango battery ** firing at the same target from An Hoa.
This would be my last letter mailed to Jenny in San Diego. She was finishing her class and would then retrieve my letters in Glendale at her parents’ new address.
* See previous blog, “Tibbets Rotates to CONUS” January 27, 1968
** See previous blog, “Lieutenant Martin Transferred” July 14, 1968