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Page 535 (1968: The Defining Year)






Photo from Abel Collection

Col Edwin S. Schick, the 12th Marines commander,
pulls the lanyard of a Battery E, 2d Battalion, 12th Marines M101A1
105mm howitzer. This is the 200,000th round fired by the battery in
Vietnam

By late 1967, the 12th Marines had become the largest artillery regiment
in the history of the Marine Corps. If one included the artillery at
Khe Sanh, the 12th Marines had some ISO field pieces of mixed caliber
ranging from the 175mm gun to the 4.2-inch monar. Colonel Edwin S. Schick,
Jr., the regimental commander, had under his operational control his
four organic battalions, the 1st Battalions of both the 11th and 13th
Marines; the 1st 8-inch Howitzer Battery; the 5th 155mm Gun Battery;
two provisional 155mm howitzer batteries, and the 2d Platoon, 1st Armored
Amphibian Company with its six LVTH-6s. In addition, he also had subordinate
to him the U.S. Army 108th Field Artillery Group and the Marine 1st
Field Artillery Group (1st FAG). The Army group functioned as the administrative
and tactical headquarters for the Army 175mm gun and 105mm howitzer
batteries attached to the Marine regiment while the 1st FAG performed
a similar role for the Marine units. All told, as the year began, the
12th Marines controlled about 35 firing units positioned at 12 different
locations spread from Khe Sanh to Phu Bai.3*


achieved and maintained." Once the Marines manning the tower obtained
"an intersection oftwo, preferably three . . . bearin^Cs] . . ., the
critical coordination of friendly forces and potential enemy locations
would precede the initiation of counter-rocker fire." He stared that
the "authority to initiate fire was delegated to battery commanders."
His "Golf Battery, 3/11 on Hill 10, held the response record of less
than fifteen seconds . . . ." According to Balzer, the towers identified
enemy rockets about to be launched "just as Golf was prepared to fire
(a] Harassing and Interdiction mission . . . ." After heiny loaded with
"high explosive projectiles and charge - - . [with] A minor adjustment
to azimuth and quadrant, . . . the six howitzers were ready to tire
in a direct fire mode." This incident resulted in the capture of the
122mm rocket launcher. Colonel Balzer observed that "the first rounds
in a rocket attack are 'free' for the enemy. It is only for the subsequent
rounds that counter-battery fire may be effective. Warning messages
may be transmitted to potential target areas by the observers of rocket
launches. The observers note the an^'le ot the flame trail and thereby
exclude taryet areas which are not involved." He concluded, "coordination
of triendly patrol schedules, definite times tor occupation of specific
areas. and continuous monitoring of same arc all critical to ensure
that counter-battery fire may be initiated safely. Time lost in dercrminins
which areas are free of friendly forces after a rocket arrack has been
launched gives the enemy additional time to complete his mission with
impunity." Col George T. Balzer, Comments on draft, did 10Dec94 (Vietnam
Comment File).

* Colonel Schick, a veteran of both World War II and Korea, observed
in his comments that his entire career "has been supporting arms." He
had assumed command of the 12th Marines in May 1967 and remarked on
the wide dispersion of the 12th Marines which until early 1968 had its
main headquarters with that of the division at Phu Bai. According to
Schick the infantry often was unaware of the firepower







Page 535 (1968: The Defining Year)