Kilo battery was designated as “General Support” for the 7th Marines. Our guns had a maximum effective range of 7 miles but could reach distances between 9 and 11 miles. Hill 52, to the south, was at the outer limit for our 155mm rounds.
A recon team was inserted on Charlie Ridge, and they observed NVA units moving through a river crossing below Hill 52 (see map at bottom of glossary). The fire missions started in mid-morning and continued through lunch. We extended the meal to allow the artillerymen a chance to eat. Max was annoyed by this disruption, and he also questioned why we fed everyone who came through the door. He said, “It’s obvious some of these engineers and Amtrac crews are just passing through.”
Top Culverhouse was in the chow line and overheard the conversation. He chimed in, “Max, where’s your Esprit de Corps?” It wasn’t exactly the answer I would have given, but it was along the same line of thinking. I wanted to say, “Why are you here?”
During dinner a CH-46 helicopter landed and dropped off two Recon Marines. They came through the chow line, and one of them recognized me from his training session at the El Toro rifle range. Normally weapons were left outside in a rack before entering the mess hall, but this Recon Marine had his Winchester Model 70 slung over his shoulder. I invited him to join us after dinner so we could talk.
Following dinner Max and I took turns showering. Then the two Recon Marines showed up at our hooch and were looking for a place to spend the night. They laughed at my lawn chair and called me a “Pogue.” It was a friendly term, and we listened to their crazy tales from Charlie Ridge. I noticed the M-49 spotter scope and asked if I could use it for a minute. It reminded me of old times on the rifle range and “reading the wind.” * I commented, “I sure wish I had one of these here.” The two Marines looked at each other and said, “If we can take a shower, you can have it.” (The scope had belonged to a wounded Recon Marine who rotated out of country.) They showered and spent the night in our outside bunker . . . the scope was now mine to keep.
* See previous blog, “Sniper School” Published November 17, 2017