"Shifta Attack of '64"
by John Sims

It was early evening as we returned from the Oasis after eating and having a couple of beers. Silves met us at the door with the news of the impending attack. He had just returned from a meeting with the company officers and NCO's where he had been appointed as Sergeant of the Guard, ("SOG" we called him) for "C" trick. Our Lt. Deveraux, a mathematician who yearned to be a dance instructor, was the OIC. The word had come from "High up" that a force had formed in Somalia and was marching with the purpose of destroying Kagnew. There was no doubt that we were to be in for a helluva battle..... Brave men trembled!!

Silves and the supply sergeant issued our carbines. The company had recently received M-14's but had almost no ammo for them and very little for the carbines. There was enough for each man to be issued fifteen rounds so Capt. Couch came up with the idea of issuing each man three clips with five rounds each... said the ammo would last longer like that. This decision was very reassuring to us.

We were assigned post to walk---- it was two hours on and four hours off. The situation was very serious with very little wise-cracking and F.T.A's at first as each of us contemplated the lives that were passing in front of our eyes. Ernie Petrovich was proud of his post at the top of the clock tower near the front gate..... until he realized the target he presented for the hordes howitzers. He offered to exchange his excellent vantage point for that of any of the guys at the windows below. (He remembered that in the movies the guy in the clock tower was always taken out first.)

The guard duty was in addition to our regular jobs where a little more effort was being put into twisting those knobs and trying to get some idea of what the hell was really happening..... no information was forthcoming. Thirty caliber machine guns were mounted on the top of the Trac "C" site building and on the Opns co. barracks. (Someone suggested putting our 50 cal up there but big Jeff Townsend theorized that it would quickly burrow itself through all three floors when the shooting started.... so I think they put it near the motor pool.) I had recently qualified as EXPERT with that 50 Cal at the rifle range but did not insist on manning it.

At the site, Len Thomas was given a M-14 and assigned to protect the Comm Center outside the "magic" door. While visualizing attackers wall to wall down the hall, he was desperately trying to remember, "is the safety on when its up or when its down? Damn!, if I'd just paid more attention in boot camp... Hell, the best I've got is a fifty-fifty chance of firing on the first try if they come."

By the next day the excitement was beginning to wear off. We were back to the club on our four hours off dragging our carbines and showing off our bullets. Everyone was pissed because they called off "bathtub rum night". With our training we were sure ten or twenty good drinks would steady our aim... Sgt Armacher wouldn't buy it. Then... word came that a Navy carrier was steaming into the Red Sea to provide us air cover..... Damn this IS real. More time, more rumors, nothing happens.......

The next morning we were told "Never Mind", "Turn in your guns and ammo and forget the whole thing". Well, in spite of the relief we all felt there was a pretty loud expression of FTA's and that was that..........................


John Sims 63-65


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©Copyright Rick Fortney 2001 All Rights Reserved