Sp5 Robert R. Wilson
Artillery Surveyor

 

My Tour of Duty

I enlisted in the Army July of 1965 and did my basic training at Ft Jackson, SC. I then attended Ft Sill in Lawton, OK where I trained as an Artillery Surveyor. After which I reported to the 5th Army, 6/20 Field Artillery in Ft Carson CO.  I then got my orders for Vietnam and took a 30 day leave back in PA.  After my leave I reported to the Pennsylvania Air National Guard to begin my journey, because of an airline strike, via a C-119 and C-141 to Travis Airbase and Oakland Army Terminal.  I finished my last year of service in Darmstadt, Germany in a Sergeant Missile battery. One experience there was during the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia when we took the missiles to the border with Germany.
 
I arrived in Vietnam on July 31, 1966 and was assigned to the 2/9 Arty, 3rd Bde, 25th Inf Div. in Pleiku.  I left July 30, 1967.  During that time I took an emergency leave in March,1967 due to my mother passing away.
 
I guess my first memory was of the 90th Replacement Battalion in Bien Hoa. It was hot and muggy, and I was put on garbage detail while there.  I remember awful stench and the little kids rummaging through the garbage pile for scraps of food among other things.
 
Shortly after arriving at the 2/9th, I was sent to the Oasis near the Tea Plantation and operations Paul Revere.  The most ingrained memory I have was the cave clearing in the HonNoc mountains at Bong Son, reference the Denver Post article included in Danny Yates' memories. The memories of that never left me. I served with Danny during my time in country, and have to thank him for filling in the details with the Post article.

Destroying the caves in the Hon Noc Mountains

Comments from both Arty Surveyors Danny Yates & Bob Wilson, re: destroying the caves

While we were on the coast we were sent out to a cave complex that 1/14th Golden Dragons found in the Hon Noc mountain range. Their CO Capt. Steven Childers was killed there. We were tasked with surveying the cave openings for a B-52 raid.  We spent 5 days out on the mountain with the 1/14.  

When the engineers set off that huge explosion, shown in an aerial picture, it sucked all the CS gas that had been sprayed in out of the cave, and we got caught in it.  We tried to escape the gas by going up the hill, but it moved faster than we did.  I remember lying face down with my hands covering my face, my nose, mouth, eyes and lungs burning like fire.  But the worst part of that ordeal was listening to the screams and cries of the women and children that were trapped inside.  Their cries were muffled by the tons of rock that had crashed in on them.  It was the most haunting sound Iíve ever heard.  And I had to listen to it all night.  

 

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