All witnesses seem to agree that the last round hit CPT
Reed's position. The 3 different locations for the round just prior to
the fatal hit, confuse the issue. Important missing data is the location
of Bogdon and Gregory and whether they were in a position to observe all
4 hits. It is necessary to explore the sequence of the incoming rounds
before trying to input the effect of the short round that may, or may not,
have exploded. EOD at Ft Campbell, states that mortar rounds with increment
bags that are unpacked and stored prior to firing absorb moisture. Upon
ignition, will lay in the tube and burn until sufficient pressure builds
up. Powder is drying at the same time) Distance and trajectory vary depending
on the speed of the burn. Will sound like a sparkler and continue burning
inflight until the charge is consumed.
Bogdon's black smoke is not germane (lack of dust on concrete). Bogdon and the FO state that the last round hit the CP, yet the FO only indicates 2 muzzle flashes. It is possible that several rounds were in the air before the FO became aware of the firing position. Discussion of the evidence states "as the rounds approached". The dispersion of 4 rounds in 4 to 5 seconds indicates that more than one enemy mortar tube was firing. This is not supported by the FO's statement unless the tubes were close together, simultaneously firing on command. If 1 VC Mortar fired all the rounds, the gunner would have had to make a deflection change (ammo dump to artillery area) elevation change (artillery to fort) and deflection change (fort to BOQ). It is theoretically impossible for one gunner to have made the elevation and deflection changes while firing at 1 second intervals.
In early 1989, 1LT Ed Saldivar told Brenda Reed it appeared that the actual fire was coming, not from one, but 2 different directions. He was getting an azimuth on the compass and relaying the data to CPT Reed. Lt Boardman was standing on the same level as CPT Reed. (Boardman had to be facing to the north, since he was hit in the back of his head- probably observing flashes in the area north of the river.)
In my opinion, a VC mortar section was employed, with registration to the near vicinity of our position by creeping fire. Th attack was purposely stopped for 33 minutes and the data recomputed for the second tube. The first round of the second barrage was to confirm registration of the second tube, followed by a fire for effect of 2 rounds from each tube. The whole area from the artillery area, fort and CP were hit within about 5 seconds.
I agree with Cecieta that a short round coming over the rear of the BOQ could not have landed so close to the front of the structure. I feel that the comments about the size of the round are not germane considering that the point of impact was concrete and spalling occurred.
H D Johnson, ISG, A/3/39 INF