Lt Patrick J. Kasperbauer
My first tour in South Vietnam was from Nov 66 to Nov 67. I joined the 2/9th Arty at Pleiku and was quickly shuttled out to the field to join up with C-2-35. LtCol Bob Kingston was the Bn CO of 2/35. (Later, in 1978, I served with him again while in the United Nations Command in Korea. I was in J-6 and he was the J-3.) He promoted me to 1LT out in the field SW of Pleiku. He was also present and walking with the Company on my first day out with them as their new FO. Needless to say, the pucker factor was pretty high when we took some small arms fire and the Company Commander (Capt Caudillo, I think) told me to get some artillery in and quick! Fortunately, I remembered "first round smoke" cause the canister hit in the jungle canopy above us and I was able to adjust from that. Think this was when we were on a week-long exercise of following elephant trails. The "bad guys" were using them to haul heavy loads of ammo, etc. Col Kingston had to make daily reports to 3rd Brigade up to USARV-MACV to Gen Westmoreland on the status of the "elephant chase" --- all we ever found were rub marks on trees, tracks, and lotsa elephant crap.
Before deploying to SVN in '66, I had attended a 3-month Arty Commo Officers course at Ft Sill. Around Thanksgiving, I saw an Army Times back in Pleiku that had an article saying that any grad of the Commo Officers Course could transfer to the Signal Corps. After several weeks of "humping the boonies", I figured that had to be better. So, I applied for a Branch Transfer. In 1967, shortly after leaving the field for 2/9th Arty Bn Hq and an assignment as Asst S-3/FDO/Air Observer, the transfer to Signal Corps came through. As I recall, the Bn CO, LtCol Bruce Holbrook, made the comment to me along the lines of: "Good, I need a Commo Officer. You can wear your Signal brass, but you're still the Asst S-3/FDO/Air Observer AND Bn Commo Officer! Luckily, MSG Donald O. Christian was the Commo Sgt who continued to keep things going. So....I was probably the only Signal Corps officer who was basically a full-time Artillery Air Observer.