Attack at LZ Montezuma
3rd Bde HQ, 25th/4th Inf Div,
to include the 2/9th Arty
Enemy mortars landing at helipad The aftermath The next morning
mortars hit a lucrative target at the
174th Aviation Company helipad & living quarters
only had about 3 weeks left of my tour and I was having a hard time
sleeping, so it was not unusual to be
standing outside our tent in the early
morning hours. But on the
morning of the 24th, mortar rounds started
dropping not far away. I saw
immediately that they were "walking" the
rounds in toward the helicopters on
the helipad. I ran into our tent and
got everybody up and in the bunkers.
Then I grabbed my camera,
the shower and took some pictures of
the attack. The attached side by side
picture shows a picture during the
attack, and the exact view I had of the
area of the helipad from our tent.
When the attack ended, I walked over a few tents away and entered one that had taken a direct hit. The dead and wounded had already been taken away, but I could tell from all the blood on the floor and the huge, gaping hole in the ceiling of the tent, that there had been some serious damage done. I knew that I would never forget that gaping hole in the tent against the night sky, so it was really weird to find a picture of it years later on an aviation website (it's attached). The 174th Attack Helicopter Company had posted that picture along with this account of the attack:
"The tent housing many of the 409th Transportation Corps (TC) Detachment (our mechanics) took a direct hit from a VC mortar with a contact fuse during a mortar attack that hit the 174th Company area at Duc Pho during the pre-dawn hours on 24 June 1967. Two mechanics were killed immediately and 35 total were injured. The entire unit was still living in tents and more permanent facilities (the bunkered hootches to come later) had not yet been built. SP4 Larry Guentzel and SP4 Thomas Dickinson died instantly in their sleep. SP4 Gary Markle was severely injured with brain damage from shrapnel and survived as a paraplegic for over 29 years with only partial use of one arm. He could not use his legs or other arm. The doctors could not remove the shrapnel from his brain, and in the mid-1990's pieces of that shrapnel finally shifted enough to also take his sight. In 1996 he suffered severe burns when he was unable to control the hot water in a bath. He died of complications from those burns on 28 Sep 96."
It was really sad to finally learn the extent of the damage that mortar attack had inflicted.
Note: I was the XO of "A" Battery on LZ OD, directly across from
LZ Montezuma, the 3rd Brigade Headquarters, and witnessed
this attack. We had a Radar Unit co-located with us on LZ OD, headed up by CWO Emil Franklin. To his crew's credit, they spotted
the first mortars on radar about to land in the helicopter pad area and alerted Brigade HQ. However, we could not shoot a mission
because the location of the the mortar's firing position. My recall...and I offer it with no disrespect to the 174th...is that they were
advised to get those bunker hooches going...they were a valuable target to the enemy. The use of CP tents, though sandbagged around
the tent perimeter, offered no protection of any value.
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