Point grads are often the finest military leaders of the US Army;
this war story just proves that "the ring" is no better than the officer wearing it.
arrived at Ft Carson, Colorado in 1969. I was a First Lieutenant awaiting
promotion to Captain.
Battalion Commander, who earned a Bronze Star in the Korean war, called me into
his office. He told me he had a Captain who was not fit for command; he was
taking the unusual step of making me the new battery commander as a 1st
lieutenant. I was given command of
"B" Battery, an 8 inch howitzer unit.
he invited me to get a beer at the "O" Club. We had a beer when two
West Point captains arrived. They
had just come back from Vietnam and were letting every one know all about it. My
BnCo introduced me to the "ring knockers" since we were all Field
Artillery officers. They both
started to tell me how it was using artillery in Vietnam. "Forget
what you think you know about artillery", they told me since I was an OCS
grad from Ft Sill. They said none of the things I did were used in Vietnam. They
proceeded to give me "the finer points" of how they employed artillery
two weeks later there was a formal dress blues
event. The artillery officers all sat together and I was at a table
next to the West Pointers. During the conversations, they talked about awaiting
a battery command in the sister battalions.
Turns out that one was an Asst S-3 and the other was the Battalion
Supply officer. Both never heard a shot fired obviously. Meanwhile, I was
wearing my Silver Star, my Bronze Star with one oak leaf cluster, my Air Medal
with one oak leaf cluster, my Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and my Purple Heart.
Battalion Commander just smiled at their obvious bullshit from the "O"
Club earlier when he found out how inexperienced they actually were. He told
them "Keith here is my new "B" Battery Commander.
He has eight years enlisted experience and was a Forward Observer
in the field for 11 months." He said "Don, tell the guys all about the
air strikes you called in when we were talking about my experience in
I told them about about conducting artillery registrations and dropping grenades
from the back seat of the L-19 (Bird Dog), going to several Ranger camps in the
Central Highlands, serving as an FO for eleven months
and going out with a LRRP Team as well as entering caves
in search of the enemy.
They suddenly knew "they were had".
I have great respect for the truly good West Point grads, but, like any group, you come across some dipshits who resort to fabricating their experiences in Vietnam because the truth would expose them for who they really are. Their "sense of superiority" overruled their obligation to respect their fellow officers, regardless of source of commission, and speak the truth.
Lt Don M. Keith
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