Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry

The Gunfighters



Shotgun causes

MP big problem by Alan Allen 1968


     The photo below was taken at LZ Bayonet after the five of us had hitched rides on a deuce-and-half and rode into Chu Lai -- the day the MP tried to take my shotgun in Chu Lai. 










 Top row- Thomas J. ‘TJ’ Williams (NJ). Gary Stading (CA, KIA 25 Apr 68), Irving Carter (OH, Purple Heart on hat). Bottom row- Alan Allen (TX, with pipe), Larry Boetsch (NJ) in black--


     On our way back to base camp we came to the fork in the road. Highway 1 went on south down the coast, but the road to LZ Bayonet split to the right.  In the middle of the fork was a spit-shined MP, standing on a little box, whistle in his mouth, uniform starched and pressed, directing traffic. He looked real nice in his outfit, compared to our jungle fatigues--the first clean ones we'd had in weeks. Plus, he didn't slouch like he'd been hiking the jungle hills for several months dodging bullets or hiding in a foxhole. In fact, he looked like he'd just gotten out of MP school and had flown over that morning.


 I was dawdling along as usual, and the others were 30 yards ahead when I came to the road less traveled. The MP saw me and yelled, "Hey, wait up soldier."   So I stopped.  He trotted over, which was impressive in that heat.   "Where'd you get that shotgun?" he asked.  "I was issued it," I said.  "By the Army?" he said, with a surprised look.  Which didn't surprise me, since I'd heard shotguns were against the Geneva Convention and some guys had shotguns shipped over by their folks.  "Yeah," I said.

     By this time my buddies had stopped, seen what was happening and were heading back to us. The MP asked to look at my shotgun and I handed it to him. He turned it over a time or two, and I saw him look at the serial number. Uh-Oh, I thought.  "If you were issued this weapon, what's the serial number?" he asked.  Now in the States, you'd better know the serial number of your weapon, just like you'd better know your military identification number. But like I've said, in Vietnam, especially if you're a frontline grunt, you look at things a bit differently.

     "I don't know," I said, "I think it's something like 9043450." I said those numerals because I had looked at the serial number several times before, I'd just never memorized them. Since I'd humped that damn shotgun for miles, cleaned it, and slept with it most nights, it would have been difficult NOT to have seen the serial number. Also, there are instances when there's not much to do but stare at shit like the serial numbers on your gun.  "That's pretty close," he admitted, "maybe it is your weapon."

     "You're goddam right it's his," interrupted T.J. "So what?"  The MP looked up from the shotgun to see he was hemmed in by four guys who didn't look as easy as me.  "It's his," said Carter, "give it back to 'im."  "He's killed more people than you've got friends," said T.J. (I'll never forget that one.)

The MP handed me back the shotgun.  He didn't run back, but he got on his little box right quick and started directing traffic. I saw him look at us again out of the corner of his eye.  I guess he was used to giving shit to some rear echelon guys, but wasn't used to grunts coming at him right out of the boonies.

Alan Allen

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