At approximately 0250 hours on 18 February
1970, soldiers in Co. C, 1st Battalion 6th Infantry,
198th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, US Army, Vietnam, were struck by shrapnel from an
artillery round that exploded short of the intended target. Two soldiers were killed and seven
other were wounded. Details are available on the WIA/KIA page on this site.
Several years later, the incident its aftermath
was documentd in a book by D.D.B. Bryan and a
made for TV movie entitled "Friendly Fire." Portions of the book first appeared in the New Yorker
Magazine, and then in book form in both hardback and paperback editions. The Bantam Book
paperback version is out of print, but may be available in libraries and from used book sellers.
The 1979 movie starred Carol Burnett and Ned
Beatty as the parents of SGT Michael Mullen, and
Sam Waterston as the writer who pieced the story of the incident together. It received an Emmy Award
for Outstanding Drama. It may still be available from CBS Fox Video.
The incident occured in the "Rocket Pocket"
area west of Chu Lai, Vietnam. Preplanned
defensive targets (DTs) were plotted on likely enemy avenues of approach to the night defensive
positions occupied by Co C. When the missions were fired at approximately 0230 hours, a short
round or rounds wrecked havoc with the soldiers in their shallow sleeping positions.
This map was provided by PFC Terry Ivey, one of the soldiers wounded in the incident. Chu Lai
is located several miles to the east, LZ Fat City is directly north, while the small fire support base at
Hill 270 is shown at BT 421 047. The artillery that fired the short round was at BT 389 034, and
the Co C position was at BT 367 014. The Defensive Targets (DTs), which were to impact on
likely enemy approach routes to the southwest of the unit were on the gun-target line. Although
the artillery rounds were supposed to be fired several hundred meters away from the soldiers
on the ground, one 105mm artillery round fell short.
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