“HOLD YOUR FIRE”

Sunday, November 17, 1968

Just after midnight mortars started firing at us from near the popular forces compound. I had a clear shot, but it was coming from a friendly area. A 50 cal. machine gun opened fire from Lima Battery’s eastern finger of Hill 65, and then another 50 started firing from the perimeter gate OP.

Gunny Pavelcek was yelling “HOLD YOUR FIRE.” Another round of mortars was fired, and we hunkered down as they exploded near the dump. As far as I could tell, none of Kilo’s defensive OPs were returning fire.

The mortar fire stopped, and all went quiet. Then the phone blurted, “PTOMAINE to the Exec Pit.” I grabbed my M-16 and made my way up the hill where I answered, “Sergeant Kysor reporting as ordered.” The Gunny ripped into me, “I said HOLD YOUR FIRE; why did you keep firing?” I yelled back, “WE NEVER FIRED A ROUND!”

When I explained that he was viewing the tracers from the 50 at the perimeter gate, he said, “Don’t you tell me what I saw.” Lieutenant Westerfield cut in saying, “Hold on Gunny” . . . he was on the radio with India Company. “It was India’s outpost firing, not ours.”

In the heat of battle, perception was reality. From Pavelcek’s angle of view, it appeared our gun was firing. I could see his eyes glaring at me in the dark. I invited him, “Come check our brass Gunny, you won’t find any.” I didn’t mean it as a taunt, but he was in no mood for reason.

That night at our meeting in the Staff hooch, I turned down the free beer which annoyed the Gunny. He said, “You too good for our beer?” I replied, “I haven’t slept in 30 hours, and I have a headache.” Top Culverhouse put his hand up gesturing silence between us. “Let’s sort this out tomorrow night; we all need some sleep.”

Nov17mortars
Command Chronology – Kilo 4/11 – November 1968
Nov17
Command Chronology – Kilo 4/11 – November 1968

Next Edition: Truce or Trust

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