83rd FSB Blaze
July 1969

Dan O'Brien (69-70)
"A" Battery


"A Btry 1/83rd Arty occupied Firebase Blaze for the second time after the MARCH ORDER from Cannon in June 1969 The infantry also occupied Blaze while preparing for a CA [COMBAT ASSAULT] into the A Shau Valley. The stand-down involved the infantry doing RIFís [RECON IN FORCE] using A Btry troops 50/50 on each patrol. We were the augmentees to the infantry and the original ARVN were left at Blaze during each evening patrol. We forded the river on foot, checking under the Rt 547 bridge en route to the other shore where we would search out enemy or tunnels. The Infantry chose not to take the ARVN with them as it had been a bad experience. All A Btry troops including cooks, supply and FDC participated in the RIFís. The CA took place within two weeks with many UH1B helicopters headed with infantry to the A Shau Valley. A Btry continued the RIFís using all our troops and without ARVNís. Walking through the river caused may of us to have RINGWORM within an hour after the patrol started. Doc Paddleford gave us Tinactin to cure the Ringworm back in March at our first time to Blaze.

A Cobra helicopter came in yawing to the left and right from the southwest. It was evident that he had mechanical failures and was determined to land at Blaze and not out of our perimeter. The aircraft hit the fuel bladder where I was standing 30 seconds before. I and two others went to the Cobra and took off the damaged door and unlocked the seatbelt of the pilot while the engine was still at full throttle. We removed him safely from the aircraft and away from it as it seemed like it was about to blow. A few minutes went by and a captain and a few others came and helped the pilot to a tent and medical treatment.

Our outposts were set up outside the wire to monitor and prepare for any attacks that might occur during the night. We had a sensor device that ran four wires out a hundred feet in out forward direction of the dug in foxhole. Our M-14ís had STARLIGHT SCOPES on them and our ammunition was 7.62 tracer rounds from the M-60 bandoleers. A few times we spotted a light on the other side of the hill and four NDPís sent tracer rounds to that target. The mortars on the hill would get a bead on that target and lob more out there. One of the mortar rounds that was to be illumination was substituted for a HE[high explosive] and it landed in our area wounding some of our troops."

Dan OíBrien
A/1/83rd Arty 1969
MINDBLOWER 3rd section.


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