Lt Wayne T. Crochet
Artillery Training Once in Vietnam
In "C" Battery, a replacement usually spent a few days with the battery and then was assigned as an RTO or Recon Sgt with an FO party depending on their rank. They usually did that for a few weeks or even months. That policy had been established by Cpt Harold "Dutch" Hutsell and Cpt Meyer kept it going. I always thought that it was a good idea (although a little shocker to have to do it right off the boat) because the new guy got to see the end product of what we were doing and to hopefully keep that in mind when he made it back to the battery and was leveling bubbles, checking deflections or cutting charges.
All replacements had an artillery MOS as best I recall, however most were fresh out of AIT and had never been assigned to a regular unit. On the guns our training took place during H&I fires. Our FDC would work up the data and we would usually use one or two guns depending on the amount of targets we were assigned. Since we could usually do the H&I's at our own pace, everybody on the gun crew would move up a man and or switch around to learn the other positions. Myself and the CFB would each take a gun, the section chief and gunner and Asst Gunner would act as safety.
Our FDC had two crews that worked 12 hour shifts each. The BC took a shift along with the FDO but I do remember the BC fudging on his 12 hrs a lot. I don't remember as much cross training going on there as it seemed everybody was proficient. While stateside I had actually seen a FADAC computer but had to go to VN to learn how to use one. Spec 4 Ron Goldman and Spec 4 Jack Boston taught their FDO the ropes on inputting data and conducting a mission (of course only under their strict supervision).
I can never recall any one besides our own FDC computing our missions, nor were we ever in a position where we had to completely defend ourselves as we always had infantry around us, although we usually manned one or two bunkers on the perimeter at night.
While we had a good share of E-2 and E-3 replacements, we were lacking in those middle NCO ranks of E-5 and E-6. Of the 6 cannon sections for most of the time I was XO, we had 4 each E-6s as chiefs, an E-5 and an E-4 and my second CFB was an E-6 (he re-upped for VN and made E-7). Most gunners and Asst Gunners were E-4 or less.
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