The Busted Weapon

by SGT Larry Carr (11B)




On one of our many trips to the bush, Alpha Company teamed up with elements of the 1-61 and their tanks to conduct search and destroy missions. This was my first encounter with these mechanical monsters. We were told by the LT to mount up, but stay off the lead tank in case it hit a mine. So I chose a tank a little back in the column and settled in for the ride. At first I thought, man, these tankers sure have it made. They had cases of c-rations, beer, Army cots and everything but the kitchen sink tied onto their tanks and here we had to carry everything on our backs. Man, they had it made! As the column moved out I leaned back against my rucksack and held on for dear life. Those things may be big but they are in no way slow. Soon we could barely hear ourselves think, for all of the noise and the dust almost choked us to death.

At times, when they had to move or wing the big gun around, the tank commander would warn us. Maybe I was not paying enough attention, or I did not hear him, but all of a sudden the turret started to move and somehow, my weapon caught on something and broke clean in half. I was left holding nothing but a plastic stock while the other half of my weapon fell to the ground. The tank behind me just ran right over it, smashing it into the ground. There was no use trying to tell them to stop through all the noise. A couple of guys in the squad riding with me just laughed. They thought it was funny.

We finally arrived wherever we were going. I told LT Rees; he said he would call in and to see if he could have one sent out. No such luck! There would be no resupply till the next morning. I would just have to wait. I thought, this is great; a night in the bush and no weapon. My guys said, "Hey Sarge, if the gooks hit tonight, you can beat them over the head with your stock." Funny bunch of guys! Well thank goodness, nothing happened that night and sure enough the next morning, out came the resupply and a new M16 for me. After a few days of beating the bush with our tanker friends, we went in for a three day stand down.

I thought the whole busted weapon deal was laid to rest, but, OH NO, not with the Army. I was called to report to the orderly room where some REMF officer questioned me on what happened. After I told him the story, he then informed me I owed "Uncle Sam" $240.00. I could not believe it and was told the money would be deducted from my pay. As soon as I left the orderly room, I went straight to LT Rees' hooch and told him what had happened. He could not believe it either. He said he would look into the matter. I don't know who he talked to, but a few hours later he came back and told me not to worry about owing "Uncle Sam" the money and that the weapon had been written off as a combat loss. Can you believe it? All of the money that was wasted everyday in Vietnam, and the Army was worried about a lousy $240.00.




Charles  Ames


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