Page opened 13 JAN 01
"The Bunker"
Last updated:
Monday, May 31, 2004 11:59 AM

C-2 (Charlie 2), was a small fire base about 4 miles south of the DMZ, and about 3 miles South of A-4 (Con Thien). At one time or another, almost every individual in the 1/11 Inf, 1/61 Inf, 1/77 Armor, 5/4 Artillery, 4/12 Cav, and the "line" platoons of A Co, 7th Engineers spent some (or a lot) of time based there. It was larger than A-4, but still quite small, and the living accomodations were crude at best. The following is a retype of an article which appeared in VFW magazine, May, 1996.

Notes: The base name was C-2 and was always written that way. "Charlie" is the phonetic alphabet for "C" and in oral communication, the base was "Charlie 2".

Some of the details are still hazy - if anyone has further information, please advise me. (enjunier@optonline.net)

On May 21, 1971, 29 Americans were killed
in a single NVA rocket hit on a bunker atop
Firebase Charlie 2. This is their story.

In the summer of 1971, US forces turned over responsibility for the DMZ to the Army of South Vietnam (ARVN). But before the change was complete, GIs were struck by a tragedy that turned out to be be one of the single highest death tolls of the war. "A single 122mm rocket made a direct hit on the sandbagged roof and, in one screaming flash, 29 GIs were dead", is how author Keith Nolan described it.

At a firebase known as Charlie 2, the 1st Bn., 61st Inf. Regt., 1st Bde., 5th Inf. Div. (Mech), had come in for the night in May 1971. In this case the bush would have been much safer.

The firebase, located 4 miles south of the DMZ, had been under frequent rocket attacks. Troops had almost become accustomed to the incoming rounds, especially since the enemy's aim was often innacurate.

But that changed on the 21st around 5:30 p.m. Six hours before, just north of the base, two 122mm rocket sites and their crews were reported. Gunships attacked them and grunts on the ground clashed with the regulars. During the encounter, two US recon helicopters were shot down with three wounded.

Unfortunatly, this did not deter the barrage on Charlie 2. In the middle of evening chow, GIs left the mess hall to take cover in the nearby club bunker, 16 by 32 feet. That proved to be a fatal mistake.  "Virtually all the dead and more than half the wounded were reported to be victims of a single, 100-pound rocket that struck a bunker", reported the
Associated Press.

An officer said the bunker "took a direct hit with a time delayed fuse rocket that went through six feet of cover and then exploded. Just about every one in the bunker was killed or wounded. Only four or five men escaped."Twenty-nine died; 33 were wounded.

Less than two months later, on July 10, the last 500 members of the 5th's 1st Brigade departed Charlie 2. Two separate contingents of 50 American Artillerymen and technicians reamined at Charlie 2 and Alpha 4 to monitor radar sensors and man a battery of 8-inch guns.

America's last days on the DMZ ended much as they had begun - in despair and death. From now on, the war in this no-man's land would be waged by the ARVN. The 1st Brigade. 5th Division, left Vietnam on Aug. 27, 1971

The names listed below are
those provided by the
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
for May 21, 1971: four man
did not die in the attack.
If you can help verify those
actually killed on Charlie 2
please contact
VFW magazine.

Arenson, Marcus E.
Bebedetti, Vincent M.
Bigley, Christopher J.
Boddie, James E.
Crawford, Charles M.
Curry, Alvin C.
DeLehant, Thomas F.
Gayoso, Joe F.
Glasspoole, Randall J.
Gross, Columbus V.
Herring, Billy D.

Hjorth, William H.
Jennings, William C.
Jones, Billy J.
Kenedy, William M.
Kowalk, Charles N.
Lavellee, Karl J.
LeCates, Robert B.
Matykiowicz, David B.
Mitchell, Stephen M.
Najmola, John H.
North, Bernie L.

Oatman, Leo C.
Olson, Jerome A.
Prutt, Osier L.
Ramirez, Alberto A.
Saylor, William, Jr.
Smith, William T.
Summerlin, J.C.
Taylor, George T., Jr.
Tighe, James E.
Westerberg, Kenneth G.
Wolfe, William E.

Memorial service held on 25 May 71 for the seven engineers killed in the rocket blast. Photo courteasy of Lee McCain, who left Viet Nam 21 May, the day of the attack. Someone from the 7th Engineers sent the photo to Lee.

Webmaster's notes:

The names in red in the "In Memoriam" are believed or known to be 7th Engineers.

The article lists the names of 31 men who died in Quang Tri Provence on 21 May 71. Four of those men died in actions not involving the C-2 rocket attack. These four included SGT Columbus Gross and possibly 3 members of his squad in an ambush between Rock Pile and Khe Sanh. On 14 Feb 71, SGT Gross's NCO Academy classmate, SGT Richard Covert was killed along with three others. SGT Gross escorted SGT Covert's remains home to Pleasanton, CA., then returned to duty with the 7th Engineers. The information about SGT Gross was provided by Alfonso Varela, Jr., who witnessed the ambush, and described in a May 96 letter to Tom Tucker.

The article is somewhat misleading about the accuracy of the 122mm rocket, I believe. As I recall, it was a balistic weapon and used, as artillery would be, as an area kill weapon, not as a specific aimed target weapon