Fire base Schroeder was an outpost of the US Army in the Mekong Delta of South Viet Nam. I was there in 1969 during this attack related by Lt. Col Hackworth in his book listed below. These days or my life were interesting times indeed.
“At 0330 hours on 21 March, the day they let that sucker sail, I woke up feeling like a Ping-Pong ball. As the air-mail-parcel post surprise exploded on the road right next to the TOC, I bounced all the way between my rack and the ceiling. Then the explosion smashed me through a little screen door, practically imprinting me onto a sandbagged blast wall.
I wiped the blood away and counted my moving parts to make sure all were pre-sent and accounted for. Talk about rude awakenings! Fortunately, a five-ton truck that belonged to the engineers took most of the blast. The satchel charge landed virtually under it.
The TOC—two metal conex containers welded together, dug in and buried under multiple layers of sandbags supported by heavy wooden beams—was built to take mortar and rocket fire; but a direct hit from that mini-tactical nuke would have re-ally whacked it good.
“I was sleeping between the TOC and the truck under a sand-bagged piece of corrugated pipe with a blast wall of sandbags at either end,” Major George Mergner recalls. “My feet were in the direction of the truck. The explosion lifted me and moved me while spraying me with dirt and debris.
A couple hours later I developed soreness in the bottom of my foot and the dots dug out a piece of metal.” I wandered- over to Holley’s aid station, where the medics were already hard at work patching up the wounded.
No one required dusting off, but a few soldiers were cut up—mostly Snipers. The “bomb- landed twenty feet from their solidly built bunker. “The blast blew six-inch-by-six-inch beams apart like they were twigs and gave all of us a good rattling,” Larry Tahler remembers.
He was skinned up and he had blood running out of both ears, but as usual, he remained his cool, cocky New York City self. “See, I told you we were hurting the little bastards; he said. “That bomb was aimed at the Hardcore’s most dangerous weapon—the Snipers.” “The next morning, I stood in the crater,” Tahler recalls. “It was waist deep—I spread my arms and couldn’t touch both sides at once. It made that heavy duty truck look like a pretzel.”
The surprise attack reinforced my policy of making everyone sleep under cover, Our soldiers didn’t like sleeping in the tropical heat in badly ventilated bunkers or in the sandbagged half-culverts Mergner had scrounged and I didn’t blame them.
But without that precaution we’d have lost at least a dozen soldiers, including Sergeant Major Press, Op Sergeant Slater, XO Mergner and probably every member of the Sniper team. You had to hand it to the VC. They were fighting a super-power that could fill the sky with bombers, yet they came up with a primitive weapon that could have taken out the battalion’s command and control.”
Steel My Soldiers’ Hearts: The Hopeless to Hardcore Transformation of U.S. Army, 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry, Vietnam
David H. Hackworth, Eilhys England
Simon and Schuster, May 6, 2003 – History – 464 pages