MAJ BOB BAIRD
MAJOR BATTLE IN KONTUM
was very lucky to have been assigned to the 2nd of 9th Artillery when
I arrived in January 1969 as a newly promoted Captain. My first Job was
Assistant Battalion S3 working for Maj Jerry P. Orr.
One day I was asked to fill in as the Field Artillery Liaison Officer (LNO) for the 1st of 69th Armor (LZ Oasis) for a couple of days for another officer who was going on in- country R&R, I was told that they had not moved in years. Then the NVA tanks attacked Dak To, and 1st of 69th Armor received orders to move that night to Kontum. Our Artillery Liaison Team borrowed a jeep and trailer and were at the end of the convoy when they deployed from LZ Oasis.
we tripped a 2 NVA Regimental ambush;
we were fortunate we were outside the kill zone. The next day they rearmed in
Kontum and moved to a Special Forces
Camp near the Tri-boarder where we spent the next 9 days blocking 2 NVA
Divisions and Armor Regiment while the 4th Infantry Division
fought for the hills. We received a lot of NVA 100mm Artillery, 122mm Rockets,
and mortar fire so much that the Engineers dug 12 feet deep trenches for tracks
and the Mess tent. During one of the rocket attacks,
the trench next to us was covered by telephone poles then 3 layers of sandbags
then another layer of poles and sandbags and a 122 rocket on delayed fuse
detonated inside the covered trench killing everyone. With the help of two
great enlisted men, we coordinated Artillery and airstrikes for all the units in
the area. We ended up controlling all the Mortar Teams and several Artillery
fighting was so hard that we had multiple Arc Light Missions about 1 KM from us.
The NVA was able to occupy a ridgeline just to our west, the 4th Division
sent two Infantry Companies and a Company of M48A3 tanks to attack a ridgeline.
We coordinated multiple batteries rolling Artillery barrage ahead of the attack
and still when they reached the top of the ridgeline the only officer left was
our Forward Observer (he took at least one AK47 round through is side) and the
next ranking person was an SP4 medic. I offered to replace him that night
but the Armor BN Commander decided that the FO was essential to everyone's
survival and that he would wait till morning for evacuation. 24 hours after he
was treated for his wounds, he walked into the 1st of 69 Armor
field TOC and want to rejoin the Armor
Company. (Prior to the war he was a school teacher.)
background; I was a 13E assigned to B battery at Fort Sill when I received
orders to attend Artillery OCS. My first assignment as an Officer was to Greece;
enroute to Vietnam,
I was branch transferred to Air Defense Artillery.
Later in my Tour, I commanded
HHB the 2nd of 9th Artillery.
Major, USA Ret.