A Recon Marine Remembers LZ Margo (continued)
We Get Hit ... And Hit ... And Hit ...
We pulled a couple of short patrols off the hill during the next day or two then at about 1520 hours according to the command chronologies (cc’s) we got hit. They say 158 rounds. I have no idea who was counting. It wasn’t me.
I think it was during this incoming that our platoon SSgt Jim Doner spotted the smoke from the mortars and told me to get the machine gun and I headed across to where our machine gunner Wally Locke was. I got to him and Doner was right behind me.
The belt-fed, crew-served M60 machine gun fires 7.62mm NATO cartridges and is a useful infantry automatic weapon system capable of covering a wide range of fire. What's unusual in this context is that it was being carried by a member of the reconnaissance platoon -- the travel-light, snoop-and-poop boys -- which says a lot about the missions they were being assigned and the environment they were operating in. Photo courtesy of Pinterest.
We all headed back across the hill and they set the gun up and began firing on the mortar position.
In short order the mortars began to hit our area and Doner and Locke were hit. We picked up the gun and continued to return fire until the mortars ceased. Doner and Locke were both severely injured. Jim Doner had a severed artery in his arm and Locke had numerous wounds. Both were medevaced and we did not see them again. Both survived and I met with Jim Doner many times long after Vietnam at 3rd Recon reunions.
The next incoming hit at 1700 hours and we received about 64 rounds according to the cc’s. I don’t remember a whole lot about that particular incoming.
On the 17th at 1450 hours we were hit again with about 57 rounds according to the cc’s and then again at 1720 hours by 60 more rounds.
So within about 24 hours the battalion had been hit with four major mortar attacks as well as a number of ground attacks which have been chronicled in other stories written for this site. When you consider that every one of those rounds has a 35 meter kill radius and we received at least 339 rounds in about 24 hours, per the cc’s, in a small area the size of LZ Margo it is amazing any of us got out without wounds.
During one of the incomings on the 17th the area of Margo which our platoon occupied came under particularly heavy bombardment by concentrated mortar fire. During this incoming one of the mortar rounds came in and hit about 2 feet from the hole I was in with another Marine named George Ellison.
One of the Marines in a nearby hole was hit and I moved over to check on him. He appeared to be seriously injured and I told a second Marine in the hole to try to stop the bleeding while I tried to find a corpsman.