WHY?  THAT'S WHY!

M-3 Submarine Gun, .45 caliber, "Grease Gun"

Lt Hermie "Rucksack" Rucker

                                                                                                

You were issued an M-14 or an M-16, but many
 FOs had a penchant for carrying "their own"
(non-authorized) weapon.  Lt Rucker liked the
"grease gun"...until, that is....an ambush...
that gave him a totally different outlook......

                                                                                            

Lt Hermie "Rucksack" Rucker, Forward Observer

I met Lt. Rucker on a few occasions when his Company came in from the field and took their turn as the  "palace guard" for the 1st/14th.  We had talked many times while I was in FDC, but it was almost always light-hearted stuff about the last "hump". The only time I knew that the whole of the 1st of the 14th was together at one spot for a combat mission was during the summer of 1969 while we were supposed to be moving in on an NVA  Transportation Unit.  Lt. Rucker had a good sense of humor, and was the kind of guy you could see walking up the trail and he could just make you smile. He was built low to the ground, carried an old worthless 'rucksack', all beat up with canteens hanging on each side. His prize possession,  though was his army submachine gun .45 cal...or as we called it, a" grease-gun". I never could believe why any one would carry it, but he truly enjoyed humping with it. I am sure he was not the only FO who carried a "non-issued" weapon. There was at least one other FO who carried a really nice "folding stock .30 caliber carbine".

Lt. Rucker and I met up on some obscure firebase looking down a huge valley with Kontum in the distance. The meeting sticks out because we were watching some huge fires in the Kontum region from an ammo dump explosion and fuel burning. Both of our Companies were near full strength and he told me they were leaving in the morning to head down that valley, moving thru a massive 'Arc-light' bomb area. I remember saying that I didn't envy his unit having to go down there.  It would be a dirty filthy trek and just crappy communications to boot. He just smiled and said they would make the best of it. I wished him well, and for the next few weeks, we could listen to his unit with an occasional firefight, and some ambushes. To me, it was just a crappy mission, and I admired his composure about it all.

It was near a month later, and we said hello again, his unit coming in, and "B" company moving out...maybe even St George...I looked at him carrying a CAR-15 and asked him about the 'grease gun'....He said he liked it all right, but when he had to use it in the first ambush, his was the "only weapon" that made a noise that every dink in Vietnam could pick out and return fire!!!

It made me laugh so hard I almost cried. No matter, he was a good FO, and how could you not like a guy with a nickname of "rucksack".  That was the last I saw of him, and even now when I write this note, I still smile at him, moving up the trail.

submitted by

Joseph Sleevi
A 2nd/9th Arty
FO Party

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Footnote from Lee Dixon

Makes me wonder if that wasn't the same grease gun that I once had over there. LOL. We had one of these that we used to keep in the back of my commo truck. You can see it in my photos in the gallery section. I had a little pile of unauthorized weapons (hid some under my cot in the tent and in our commo bunker). Other commo guys did too. But a couple of times the sarges got wind of the weapons and got pissedľor so they acted. They'd take my weapons away and I'd just get moreľsome donated by officers who I had done favors for (like getting cameras and electronic stuff on my Saigon trips). I got an AK-47 from a Saigon cowboy for (if I remember correctly) $25. It had a rough  life. 
Anyway, I remember one of the commo sarges came up to me one day and said, "Dixon... I'd like to know where the fuck you're getting all this ordinance?! Where'd you get that damned .45 sidearm? Hell I'm strappin' a '16...I don't even have a sidearm!" I said, "From officers, sergeant." He just looked at me tough, then shook his head and walked away without a word! 

Leon "Lee" Dixon

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