David Watters, Forward Observer, C Company
Summary of military service (US Army) of 2LT through CPT David R. Watters, 9 June 1969-1 October 1973
This summary is being prepared to accompany different sets of digital images (in tif format) that are converted from slides I took during service in the Republic of Vietnam (RVN), including the incursion into Cambodia, from 20 November 1969 to 16 June 1971. This eighteen-month period includes a twelve-month initial assignment plus a six-month extension, during which I served with two major units, the 1st Infantry Division and 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. In each case, I initially was assigned to a field artillery unit, but was immediately attached to a combat unit (an infantry company and armored cavalry troop) as Forward Observer (FO). This summary focuses on my time in RVN, but I am including brief comments about my other military service before and after RVN. The images concern only the eighteen months in RVN.
June – November 1969
Commissioned as a 2LT (Field Artillery) on 9 June through the ROTC program at Wake Forest University. Assigned to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, attending the Field Artillery Officers Basic Course, Class 1-70, graduating in October. Scheduled attendance at Airborne and Ranger training was cancelled following a hip injury I sustained during field training at Ft. Sill. Instead, my assignment to the Republic of Vietnam, originally scheduled after Airborne and Ranger training, was moved forward and I departed for RVN in November.
November 1969 – March 1970
Arrived in RVN and was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division. Subsequently assigned to A Battery, 2nd Battalion, 33rd Field Artillery. Following a brief visit to A Battery at a fire support base (FSB), I was attached as Forward Observer to C Company, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry, commanded by CPT Roberts. Most of my time with 1st Infantry Division was spent as FO with C 1/28th, from December 1969 into February 1970. I received the Silver Star medal while serving with C 1/28th Infantry. My time with C 1/28th coincided with redeployment of the 1st Infantry Division to the USA, and sometime in February, as I recollect, C 1/28th Infantry was withdrawn from the field, thus ending my attachment to that unit. Thereafter I returned to A Battery 2/33rd Field Artillery at a FSB, and assisted in that unit’s stand down as it was soon scheduled for redeployment. I spent such a brief time with A Battery 2/33rd FA that I do not even remember the names of the CO or fellow officers.
March 1970 – December 1970
In March I was reassigned to my new unit, the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, which also operated in III Corps. I was assigned to 2nd Squadron, 11th ACR, and thereafter to Howitzer Battery, 2/11th ACR. As had happened with the 1st Infantry Division, I was almost immediately attached as Forward Observer with E Troop, 2/11th ACR. During March and April, E Troop served in RVN. In May the US forces conducted an incursion into Cambodia that lasted until the end of June. I served as FO with E Troop throughout the Cambodian incursion, and also served briefly as Platoon Leader of E Troop’s Third Platoon (the reason for me, an artilleryman, to temporarily command cavalry troopers is lost in the mist of time!). E Troop engaged in especially heavy combat operations at the firefight at Snoul in early May. In June I was promoted to 1LT, while still in Cambodia.
In July, having completed my time as FO with E Troop, I rejoined Howitzer Battery, 2/11th ACR, and moved with that unit to a new fire support base, somewhere east (as I recollect) of where 2nd Squadron has been operating before. The Battery Commander was CPT Richard Tragemann. I served as Fire Direction Officer (FDO) until October. However, during that time period, there were a number of special events. In August, I had an R&R in Australia. In September, my request for a six-month extension to my tour of duty in RVN was approved. I was authorized a 30-day leave, which I chose to delay until mid-December. I served with A Battery in the field until October. I was reassigned to the 11th ACR rear area (location not remembered) in November. While in the rear area, I served with HHT 11th ACR, HHT 2/11th ACR, and HQ HOW 2/11th ACR, but exactly when I served with each unit I do not remember.
I spent 13 months in RVN, took my one-month leave in the USA starting mid-December, and returned to RVN in mid-January for my final five months of duty.
January 1971 – June 1971
Following my leave, I returned to the 11th ACR, serving (I think) with HHT 11th ACR. However, very soon after I arrived back, the 1st and 3rd Squadrons began standing down to redeploy to the USA, while the 2nd Squadron remained in RVN, under the operational control (OPCON) of 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) (or so I recollect). In February I was TDY as 11th ACR Liaison Officer to the 178 Replacement Battalion at Tan Son Nhut Airbase, serving as District Traffic Officer coordinating the transit of 1st and 3rd Squadron troopers being assigned to other units in RVN. Thereafter I rejoined 2/11th ACR, serving in the rear area with HHT and HOW. During this time, I requested and received approval of an inter-theater transfer allowing me to serve in Germany as my next duty station. In early May I had R&R in Bangkok, Thailand (a second R&R came with the six-month extension). I was promoted to CPT in early June, completed my extended tour of duty in RVN on 16 June, and returned to the USA.
July 1971 – October 1973
Although I had been authorized the inter-theater transfer, the US Army required that a soldier who had served in RVN had to spend a period of time in the USA before traveling on to Germany. Hence, I returned to Ft. Sill to attend the Artillery Target Acquisition Officer Course, Class 1-72, from which I graduated in late October 1971. In November I arrived in Germany, was assigned to 36th Field Artillery Group at Babenhausen kaserne, and became the Headquarters Battery commander. During my tenure, the unit was re-designated the 41st Field Artillery Group. In 1973, I transferred to HHB, 2nd Battalion, 83rd Field Artillery, still in Babenhausen. I served until 1 October 1973, when I resigned my commission to return to civilian life, having spent approximately four years and four months in active military service.