Summary of witness statements
for Captain Stuart's report of 6 Feb,68
ISG Johnson: Was emerging from
bunker following a mortar attack. As I left the bunker, a new attack started.
I immediately entered the bunker and sat facing the number one mortar.
About 7 rounds were fired and a misfire occurred- proper drop but no ignition
sound. Expecting a cook off, I dove for cover. Looked back at the tube
and saw sparks coming from the end. Did not see the round leave the tube
but sounded like a 4th of July Sparkler coming from the end. The Mortar
Squad gave a short round warning, relayed the call and dove for cover.
I notified the Mortar Platoon Section Leader to keep all the mortar canisters,
ammo and packing crates in place until an investigation was conducted.
On 2 Feb, I searched for the short round but was unable to locate it.
Gunner 1: Smithey: Had just finished
firing counter mortar mission- new attack started. I was gunner. My crew
was returning mortar fire and we had fired 5 rounds in effect. Just set
new deflection on the sight. We were firing searching fire- Fire 2 rounds,
drop the tube 2 turns fire 2 rounds, After each two rounds I would turn
traverse knob 2 turns to the right, fire two rounds ,then traverse two
rounds to the left. On the 7th round, we had a short round. Yelled warning.
A few seconds after the mortar left the tube explosion, an officer came
up to my gun and ordered cease fire- telling us that the round had hit
the BOQ. The gun was taken apart and turned into the FDC. My crew was split
between the other guns. From the time I was ordered to cease-fire, I was
incapable of thinking clearly. I personally do not believe that the short
round was capable of hitting the BOQ. The tube was pointing over the opposite
side of the BOQ. I believe that the round that hit the BOQ was incoming.
Gunner 2: Cecieta: All the guns
had been firing counter mortar fire when Smithey yelled short round. His
position was approximately 60 meters from my own. During this time incoming
rounds were falling in and about the messhall and BOQ. Kept busy the rest
of the night. At day break, observed the area in which the incident occurred.
The fatal round had fallen about 2 or 3 feet from the opposite side of
the BOQ. I don't think the trajectory from number 1 Gun could possibly
co-incide with the position of the explosion. Small amount of Shrapnel-
too small for an 81 MM and I believe the short round detonated or is still
in the mud.
McGill: Witnessed the short round.
We had fired 5 rounds before we had a short round. Had cleared the tube-
Tube was not hot. The round hit the bottom of the tube and started to burn.
After 5(?blurred) seconds the round left the tube. We did not see the round
go off. Told to stop firing. The next day I went out to check the place
where the round went off. Looked to me, from the way it hit, it must have
Gregory: Observed the round that
killed 4 officers. Just before I saw it hit, I observed one that hit in
the vicinity of the artillery. I heard another explosion. Can't positively
say where the sound came from, saw an explosion by the BOQ. From my position
it looked like the rounds had been called in.
Bogdon: Saw a round hit the
top of the fort. A puff of black smoke went up. A puff of black smoke also
went up from the round that hit the BOQ. I believe that the round
that hit the BOQ was also enemy because the color of the smoke was
Phipps: Was standing in the gun
pit near the BOQ. When I started up the wall to talk to CPT Reed, as my
head cleared the wall sparks flew and the concussion of the explosion knocked
me back into the gun pit. From the force of the blast, I don't think
it was one of our rounds.