Vietnam Diary Project
by Duane Geisen
Communicating with all you guys has been fantastic.  I could get lost in the experience without a problem, but daily life still has to go on.  I wrestle with that dilemma, and at the same time am really awakening to the fact that my memory has faded GREATLY…  33+ years has really put a lid on it.

Our exchanges have helped me a lot, but I want more.  Just in the last few months I’ve found that together we can learn a lot about our experiences, so decided to expand our collective impact.  My wife Donna located some of the letters I wrote her, and I took time to go through them.  I also located some of the audio tapes I sent her, and that’s even more enlightening.

I thought I’d share a copy of this “Diary” with you for YOUR input.  As you read thru it, you can see that SSG Griffin has already contributed.  The goal of this “collective diary” is to recreate and record the events we actually experienced while serving in the 7th Battalion, 15th Artillery, ’68 to ’69.

Please add specific events, or add comments to the days I have made entries.  Conceivably, we could end up with many paragraphs detailing our respective involvements on a given day.  Whatever you add, I will pick up at our reunion at Ft. Bragg next month, and we can discuss it further face to face.

Feel free to email or snail mail to me your additions, comments, agreements, or disagreements to the diary.  Addresses are, email = Geisenfarm @, or 1079 County Road 39 NW, Monticello, MN 55362-3062.  Eventually, I will make a master copy, and distribute it to all of us.  

Allons, Duane

Vietnam Diary

October, 1968 –

     0018, 9 October – CPT Geisen landed in Bien Hoa.  He was originally going to the 108th Field Artillery Group, but was rerouted through IFFV to 41st Group.

November, 1968 –

Thanksgiving –

     Unknown date – CPT Geisen flew to Nha Trang for an interview with IFFV about a possible staff assignment.  He met with LTC Wallace, and then the G-3 Colonel Strickland about it.  He also carried a letter written by LTC Simpson requesting IFFV not choose him for the position.

December 1968 –

     Sunday 220600 – SSG Tom Griffin left McCord AFB left the states for Vietnam.  Stopped in Alaska and Japan enroute.

     Tuesday 240500 – SSG Griffin landed at Cam Rahn Bay.

Christmas – CPT Geisen spent it with Battalion at Uplift.  SSG Griffin spent it at Cam Rahn Bay.

     Thursday 26 – SSG Griffin flew to Nha Trang, IFFV HQ and inprocessed.  Observed three truck loads of VC prisoners at the airport.

     Friday 27 -  At Nha Trang, SSG Griffin observed Hueys attack VC on the hillside.  Also saw his first “Puff the magic dragon”.  Got his orders…

     Saturday 28 -  SSG Griffin flew in a C-130 along with Vietnamese, cows, chickens and pigs.  Only 3-4 GIs in the plane.  Had to wait 2&1/2 hours for a deuce and a half to take them north to Phu Cat.  Finally issued his M-16 at Phu Cat.

     Date unsure – LT. Fleming from A Battery was assigned as the night FDO at Battalion.  CPT Geisen burned October and November letters from home because of security concerns..

LTC Arndt became the temporary group commander..

     Monday 30 – Arrived at 8” Hill, B Battery.

     Tuesday 31 – New Year cease fire was over at 1800.  The battery fired some missions and H & Is during the night.  We also fired a TOT with 7th/13th FA (105) using Firecracker.  There was a New Years celebration at the Maintenance Officers Club across QL1.  CPT Geisen was there with much of the staff.  He and LT Wharton, the CE Officer, walked back together. 

     This day, CPT Strassner learned his next assignment was at Ft. Belvoir, and Major Beard was going to A& M..

January 1969 –

    6 Jan -  HHB Cdr, Major Johnson with SGT Brown from the survey section did a shake down of the battery.  After an hour, the results were nine (9) grenades, eight (8) bottles of booze, a few knives and excess ammo were recovered.

    7 Jan -  There was a BC and staff conference with LTC Simpson at 1000 hours.  CPTs Strassner, Geisen and Briggs prepared handouts for it.

    8 Jan – CPT Geisen flew to IFFV in Nha Trang to be interviewed by Colonels Young and Carroll concerning possible staff job.  He returned in time to enjoy the Sunday steak fry night with CPT O’Reilly at Camp Fidel (Svc Btry)..

Date Unknown -  While working on a quiet night in Battalion FDC, it was invaded by a huge flying beetle.  CPT Geisen and SP5 Joe Malazzo successfully defended the TOC and defeated it.

     Friday 17 – SSG Griffin assisted in replacing the tube on the 8” Howitzer.  The other howitzer section fired on 8 VC in the open.  The FO was so close, he had to whisper the data to the FDC.  The FO was unable to leave his position for a body count.

     Saturday 18 – SSG Griffin worked all day on the gun.  At 1700 fired a test round from the new tube.  Checked OK.  337 days to go…

     24 Jan – Battalion visited by Brigadier General Jimmy Stewart and wife. LTC Simpson and Major Beard toured them through the TOC.  We had B Battery fire a Firecracker demo for them, and it went very well. 

February 1969 –

     Wednesday 12 – SSG Griffin worked on a new bunker/OP at 8” Hill.  The walls were three feet thick.  Had a few fire missions during the day, and this is a few days after the VC in the rice paddy mission.

     14 Feb – CPT Geisen working nights in the TOC.  He’s sharing space in the new officers quarters (peaked roof of 2X6 rafters) with CPT John Langhammer.  The roof is almost finished on the new EM hootch.  Weather is cool. 

      25 February – Assigned as assistant S-3, and working nights in the Battalion FDC – Major Beard was the S-3 – Besides fire missions, I prepared and briefed the Battalion Commander and staff each morning.

      28 February – Pay day – The S-2, LT Mathias was sick, so I did his intell portion of the morning brief.  High temperature of 98 degrees.  The Operations Sgt, SSG Fischer was promoted to E-7.

NOTE:  No date, but description of the Battalion area…

     Starting at the top, was the briefing room, TOC, and the Cdr’s hootch.

     Next level was two small round tents for visiting officers.

     Third level was the field grade shower & latrine, and fortified hootch.

     Fourth level had the SGMs hootch, an officers club, the officer’s GP medium BOQ tent & shower, a latrine, and the Battalion switchboard..

     Level five was a 50X25 foot enlisted mens hootch under construction.

     Below that the hill blendes into QL1 where there were a number of general tents and the new day room.  The mess hall was in this area too.

     B Battery had a registration point west of the LZ called “white rock”, where they could fire charges 3,4 & 5.  But then people moved back into the area, so we could not use it anymore.

March 1969 –

     11 March -  This was the last night CPT. Geisen spent on the night shift in the Battalion TOC at Uplift.

NOTE:  Not sure of dates.

CPT Strassner took over as the night FDO at Battalion.

Father Keenan would say mass at 1830 on Fridays after chow..

     13 March -  CPT. Geisen left Battalion for Phu Cat on his way to R&R in Hawaii.

     16 March – Arrive in Hawaii for R&R.

     Monday 17 -  SSG Griffin and crew complete the new bunker at 8” Hill.

     Wednesday 19 -  SSG Griffin and crew fired  H & Is during the night.  A new General is scheduled for a visit at the Hill tomorrow.

     25 Mar -  CPT Geisen is back on duty at Battalion from R&R.

     26 Mar – CPTs Geisen and Hunter spent the day preparing for the change of command.  Checked the 175 platoon at Schueller and stayed overnight.  37 men at Schueller, and 62 at 8” Hill.

     Friday 28 – A low boy took SSG Griffin’s 8” to Qui Nhon, 5th Maineenance Battalion to rebuild the engine.

April 1969 –

     1 April -  Change of command ceremony at 1120 hours – Captain Paul Hunter, turns B Battery over to Captain Duane Geisen.  A daily routine is to have motor stables from 1730 – 1830, and guard mount to man our perimeter on 8” Hill is held at 1830.  There are a total of six Ops on the perimeter, with two of them not yet complete.

     3 April – LT. Roy drove to Qui Nhon to turn in the paperwork from the last payroll.

     Friday 4 -  SSG Griffin went to Qui Nhon to wait for his howitzer.

     5 April – We started having civilian KPs on the Hill.  Three to four females.  We changed the feeding schedule on Sundays to two meals, 0730-0830 and1400-1630.  Still have midnight snacks…

     Easter Sunday 6 – SSG Griffin still at Qui Nhon.  8” supposed to be ready tomorrow.  260 days to go…

     Wednesday 9 – SSG Griffin still at Qui Nhon.  We’ll leave here for sure tomorrow…  I wrote an accident report covering one of my 5Ton trucks that had hit a Lambretta and a hootch.  I found our driver not at fault, and LTC Simpson accepted the finding.

     10 April, 1800 – LTC Simpson briefed the staff on the projected realignment of the Battalion.  He also cancelled the command inspection that was to be conducted on the 14th.

     11 April – I flew to LZ Schueller to inventory the 175 platoon for their move back to Uplift.  This same day, we were building a new OP on the perimeter at Uplift.  1SG Allen and I visited the project and did some target practice with the 45 at cows and a pond of water by Hwy 1.

    Promoted Gonzales to PFC.  Any body know if it was Carlos, or Daniel??? – He had been busted before.

    12 April – More discussion of the 175 platoon moving back to Uplift because the CO of the 173 Bde wanted them available to support the pacification program in the AO.

    4th Division moved east into our AO realigning the artillery so 7th Battalion became a composite organization of 105mm, 155mm 8” & 175.  C Battery in Pleiku was reassigned, and Battalion picked up C Battery near Qui Nhon (4-155mm & 1-105mm howitzers).

     Monday 14 – SSG Griffin went by jeep with the BC, CPT Geisen, to Ahn Khe and LZ Schuller.  Our two 175mm guns were there.  1LT Barker, Battery XO in charge of them.  Saw Montagnards on the way.  Stayed the night at Schueller. LTC Simpson assigned 1LT Crawford to us for 30 days, then 30 days in A Battery.  He will be an 0-3 in June.

    15 April -  CPT Geisen and SSG Griffin, with 1LT Barker return to LZ Uplift with the 175 “Fox” platoon – The Battery is once again together and firing that day.  SSG Griffin and I recon the bridges and road between us and North English. Awarded an ARCOM to SFC Sanders (Mess) before DEROS.

The Battalion SGM came over to help welcome the 175s, and stayed the night.  LT. Barker had a good time too.

     16 April – Battalion survey team goes to LZ Zager to layout the Battery firing position.  We have two days to build postions at Zager, and today I sent two truck loads of Materiels as a start. This same date I have on the hill, 119 men, 5 Officers, 114 Enlisted, 2-175 guns, 2-8” howitzers,4-M548s, 1-577, 3-5 Ton trucks, ++++.

    17 April – Sent four truck loads of materiels and 14 men to continue building the firing positions at Zager.

    18 April – 175 platoon left at 0800 for a day raid fired from Zager. We changed one of the tubes upon their return to Uplift.

    20 April – 0800, Sunday – LT Barker led a convoy of the 175 platoon and 37 men to Zager to build ammo bunkers.  They fired 29 rounds.  He left six men at the fire base for security, returning to 8” Hill at 1500.  Enroute, a 548 went down and had to be pulled back by a 2&1/2.  One 175 down also. 

     22 April – So far, the troops have built an FDC/living hootch, a gun crew bunker, and three ammo pits.  We also have 108 rounds, 175mm, on the ground.  The bunkers are built of 55 gallon drums stacked two high.  The roof is made of 6”X8” beams, PSP, and two layers of sand bags.  Also this date, LT Barker left for R&R, so now LT Roy is the XO, and LT Zimmerman the FDO. 

     23 April – 0730 hours, and the 175s went on a day-raid to Zager with C rations and a target list.  They expended 46 rounds.  Upon their return to 8” Hill, we had a battery meeting in the day room about “accident prevention”..  That night the west side of Uplift was hit by 15-20 rounds of mortar fire from Charlie.  None got to our position.. 

     24 April -  CPT Geisen met with the Battalion S-3, Major Beard, concerning a reduction in the ammunition supply rate (ASR).  This rate is allocated at the Battalion level for a fifteen day period regardless of circumstances.  CPT Geisen was not a happy BC…  



8” Howitzer



175mm Gun



    25 April – SSG Ruth driving a 3/4t truck in Uplift, loaded it with 22 troops and started driving to 8” Hill.  Cromartie, Nichols, and Brown fell out of the truck, and Nichols was taken to the 503rd aid station.  Thankfully, there were no serious injuries.

May 1969 –

     Friday 2 -  1SG Allen and SSG Griffin drove to Phu Cat air base.

     6 May – SSG Ruth assigned as the Ammunition Sergeant caused an unscheduled inventory adjustment in the status of 8” fuzes in the firing battery.    

     Date unknown – SFC James McGavic awarded the Bronze Star for service while serving as the Chief of Smoke, B Battery.  SFC McGavic was a Korean POW.

     Wednesday 28 -  SSG Griffin recorded it as a “lazy day, light rain”.

June 1969 -

    1 June – Battalion organization day (52nd anniversary) celebration at Uplift – We played volley ball, and there was an awards ceremony – Temperature was 102 degrees – 1SG Allen really enjoyed the day – LTC

Henry E. Simpson was the Battalion Commander.

     Friday 6 – SSG Griffin & 8” platoon go on a two day raid to LZ Crystal.  Supported the Korean Tiger Division.

     Monday -  SSG Griffin heard on the radio this day that 25,000 troops were leaving Vietnam.

July 1969 –

     Date unknown – During loading of 8” joes at night for a raid, incoming mortar fire wounded PFC Thomas Leon.

     10 July -  Ceremony at LZ Uplift recognizing the Battalion having fired 250,000 rounds (8” & 175) in support of combat operations.

August 1969 –

     Wednesday 6 – SSG Griffin at LZ Zager.  He returned to 8” Hill, and spent the rest of the day with 1SG Allen.  All the cement work was done in the new hootches at LZ Zager.

     Friday 8 – SSG Griffin back at LZ Zager, building new ammo bunkers.

     Sunday 10 – SSG Griffin working on the new bunkers.  A new Colonel came to visit the area and was well pleased.  Troops moved into the new underground hootches this day.  “Home sweet Home”.  133 days to go.

     Sunday 17 -  SSG Griffin went back to 8” Hill yesterday and spent the night.  Back to LZ Zager this morning.  Planned on moving the 8” platoon to Zager on the 20th.  He was given the task of building the new gun emplacements.  1SG Allen informed him he had been recommended to receive the Bronze Star.

     Monday 18 -  SSG Griffin recorded the temperature as near 125 degrees.  Very hard to work.  124 days to go..

     23 August – BG Sidle of IFFV Artillery, visited the Battery for 45 minutes at LZ Zager.  LTC Simpson accompanied him.  We were still in the process of building and sandbagging.  The XO, LT Barker, SSG Griffin,  and troops wowed the Battalion Commander with their progress.

    26 August – CPT. Geisen met with the Battalion S-3, Major Emacio concerning the move from 8” hill to Zager.  We took the 60KW generator from 8” Hill, and moved it to Zager.

     28 August – The generator is installed at Zager, but not working right.

     31 August – Battalion change of command, LTC Simpson turns the colors over to LTC Jones.  This same day my driver and I go to Qui Nhon to pick up the payroll, and close the Uplift mess hall, moving it to LZ Zager.  We have five (5) tents at Zager, and moved the pool table and ping pong table there this date.

August 1969 -

September 1969 –

     5 September – We were loading trucks (a Friday) to move to LZ Zager.  We would completely be moved from Uplift, to Zager, by the 7th.  This same date, fired H&Is with the Duster.  Monsoons have started, 

     6 September – Driver and I went to Qui Nhon to turn in the payroll.  Its total for the Battery was $18,919. 

     7 September -  Entire Battery at Zager.

     Sunday 7 -  SSG Griffin observed that the monsoons started last night.  He and crew began building a new bunker/outpost.

     25 Sep – Reluctantly, CPT Geisen upon reassignment to 3AD, FRG, relinquished command of B Battery to CPT James D. Kalhoefer…