Doc Hastings Remembers

Charlie Battery 6/27th Artillery
August 1966 to June 1967


I was the medic, Doc David Hastings in Charley Battery 6/27 Artillery from August, 1966, to June, 1967. Paul Thorp was the medic when I arrived (C battery had two medics till Paul rotated home a few months later). I trusted him -- he once pulled free the bleeding foot of a Vietnamese Kitchen Worker from a drainpipe made from a 175mm canister.

I was in HHB for less than a week until assigned to Charley Battery.  I was drafted June 14, 1965, and after medic training at the army's Medic Training Center, at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, I stayed on for some months as permanent party, giving tests. And August 18, 1966, reported to Travis AFB for transport to Vietnam and the 6/27 Artillery.  Within hours of arrival at Oakland I was put on a plane to Vietnam, with a half hour stop in Hawaii then two hours in the Philippines.  After arriving in Vietnam, in the middle of the night I was given a cot at the base at Long Binh. The next morning, early, personnel from the 6/27 Artillery came and got me; and later that day, I think, I was on a plane to Phuoc Vinh.

My story is a medic's story about treating the health needs of ninety men and ten Vietnamese women Kitchen Workers, giving
injections and malaria pills, holding sick call and then taking (walking) some men to D Company (the medical company -- located just west of HHB on the south perimeter), staying alert and being on call 24/7, being in FDC during alerts, going into the field 8 or 9 times in an APC on recon or taking the 8" guns (howitzers) to an alternate site or once going on MEDCAP with the battalion doctor.

By seeing casualties and talking to other medics I knew a lot more about what was going on than I would ever discuss in the Battery. (A friendly medic in D Company showed me his "bed" that had been hit dead center by a VC mortar round.)  I chose to do my job well, but not to make friends because that seemed like a bad idea for an (artillery battery) medic in a combat zone.
I was fortunate, I never had to treat a combat casualty. The only serious conditions I did treat were poisoning, mental collapse, and heat/anxiety exhaustion. (The heat/anxiety exhaustion case was during a fire mission when I was in FDC. An ambulance came from HHB to the Battery and took him.) Other than hearing two sniper rounds and watching the flashes in the darkness of a VC mortar and the corresponding explosions on the airstrip I had no direct experience of enemy action. But life in Charlie Battery kept getting more dangerous.

I will say this, the men in Charlie Battery worked hard. They built the tropical housing units so we could get out of the tents (and I could avoid the 20 foot python that seemed to like the lizards in my command tent, perhaps it lived under the wood floor) and still pulled their nighttime firing missions and they built the mortar shelters with 55 gallon drums filled with gravel.

On R&R in Tokyo (11/66) I bought a camera and did take a lot of pictures - I have included a few with these memories.

Recently I read page 49 of "A Legacy of Honor." The mortar attack I saw while walking to FDC occurred on May 11, 1967. I was in FDC May 12, when our first 8" rounds of counter mortar fire triggered the surprise response of a VC mortar attack. Per page 48, May 28, 1967, was the "most spectacular turkey shoot." I was with the 8" guns that full day. That was the final time that Charlie Battery units went into the field before I went back to the world in early June, 1967.

It was a relief to see in the "We Honor The Memory" list on the website that none of the soldiers I served with in Charlie Battery died on their tour in Vietnam. I didn't know until this week that 6/27 Artillery soldiers had died just days after I left for home. (Since Vietnam and Cambodia fell I have wondered about the fate of our Vietnamese Kitchen Workers.)

When I first arrived at Charlie Battery on the perimeter at Phuoc Vinh,  Bravo Battery was located south of us.  HHB was south and on the other side of the airstrip, on the perimeter just west of the main gate to Phuoc Vinh and just east of the Vietnamese "Mayor's house" -- unfortunately I don't see the steeple of the mayor's house in any of these photos so it's probably further east than Photo 5. (The directions given here are based on the battery road, Photo 14, running due north-south.)

The road in Photo 5 and Photo 7 is on a straight line (as shown in Photo 14). These two photos were taken from my tent aiming left then right, and give a sense of what distances can be seen.

In Photo 4, the gun is firing. The star's shake is up-down due to concussion thru the ground to the camera but the near end of the gun's tube looks too wide because the tube is in recoil.  Smoke (and heat) obscure the horizon behind the men on top. The wood floor of "my" tent acts like a drum head; when the ground concussion hits, dust on the floor will bounce 12 inches straight up.

In the aerial photo of Charlie Battery shown on Adin M. Tooker's "Summary of Tour Vietnam", I can see "my" tent on the near side (east side) of the road and just south of the "white" roofed building, maybe Paul Thorp and I were there when the photo was taken. And I can see the rusty roofed mess hall and some of the bunkers on the west, jungle side, perimeter.

North and northeast of us was open ground for perhaps 1,000 yards. East and southeast were out of view (till 6/67) but southeast included brigade headquarters, infantry battalions, 105mm artillery batteries, mortars, and, later as new construction, a PX, a church, and a USO club. I went once to each of the last three places.

I left Charlie Battery to rotate "to the World" for separation in June, 1967.  I'm not sure of the exact date I walked onto the street, separated, from Travis AFB, but the headline in bold face on the newspaper in the vending machine was "THE WAR IS OVER." (I didn't know anything about the Six Day War in the Middle East to which the headlines referred.)  As you know, the war was not really over, but it was over for me.

Doc David Hastings    Then  and Now
Charlie Battery 6/27th Artillery - Medic
Aug 66 to Jun 67
Here following are all of Doc David Hastings' Photos
Some are repeated in memories above)
Note:  Most of the Alpha Battery photos I've seen are of the gun crews and where they work. Perhaps everything in Alpha Battery was "shoulder to shoulder." (Of course for gun crews the story is the crew and their 8" or 175.)  I wanted your 6/27 site to have C Btry photos that show how spacious the Phuoc Vinh base camp was, and how it was changing and filling in with buildings during my time there. So that, partly, if other C Btry Vets had "gun crew" photos, those photos could be put into context with mine.  I didn't take gun crew/gun bunker photos because it would have felt like I was intruding, and that maybe the VC shouldn't be able to capture such photos, if that was somehow possible -- for the same reason I didn't take photos of the ammo dump or the bunkers on the north. (Doc Hastings 7-23-09)



(All content and photos on this site are the property of their named owners and may not be copied or used for any other purposes without permission. Please contact webmaster for permission)