Falcon Logo used Courtesy of Jim Bowers, 77th FA Assn.
Source this version:Field Artillery Journal
Fire Support Base Burt-2/77th Arty
The holiday truce ended abruptly on New Year's Day 1968 for the defenders of Fire Support Base BURT, a 25th Infantry Division base located 10 kilometers south of the Cambodian border. Beginning with sporadic mortar attacks in the late afternoon, the enemy sent four Viet Cong battalions against the base. Among the defending units were two batteries of 105-mm and one battery of 155-mm howitzers. The enemy ground attack commenced minutes before midnight, the official end of the truce. After a diversionary attack on the west side of the perimeter, defended by elements of the 2d Battalion, 22d Infantry (Mechanized), the enemy launched his main attack from the southeast, a sector defended by Company C, 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry, and Battery C, 2d Battalion, 77th Field Artillery. As the enemy slowly worked toward the bunker line, the artillery shifted from counter mortar to direct fire in answer to a call from the infantry command post. Battery C began firing a heavy volume of direct fire with both high explosive and Beehive ammunition. The enemy attack slowed in the face of the artillery but picked up to the south of the fire support base, a sector manned by Company C, 2d Battalion, 22 Infantry, and Battery A, 2d Battalion, 77th Field Artillery. Battery A commenced direct fire, and flare ships and armed helicopters were used extensively throughout the south side of the base. Fire Support Base BEAUREGARD, located 12 kilometers to the west, provided supporting fire west of BURT in an attempt to prevent the enemy from reinforcing or withdrawing in that direction. The 155-mm self-propelled howitzers of Battery C, 3d Battalion, 13th Artillery, located on the north side of the firebase, supplied continuous direct fire to the north, northeast and northwest. In addition to the direct fire, indirect fire from both BURT and BEAUREGARD was shifted out to the road running south from BURT. Although they were not discovered until daylight, two enemy battalions were assembled on that road as a reserve force to exploit weaknesses in the perimeter. If weakness existed, the two battalions never found them. By 0300, tac air had arrived and was pounding the area to the south. The fires of the artillery gunships and tac air disrupted the Viet Cong attack: by 0600 contact was broken and 400 enemy lay dead in and around the base.
The artillerymen of the 25th Division played a vital role in the success of the operation. In addition to maintaining a constant stream of both direct and indirect fire, artillery personnel cut out hasty landing zones for resupply aircraft and broke out and distributed over 1,500 rounds of artillery and mortar ammunition and 200,000 rounds of small-arms ammunition, all during the hours of darkness and in the heat of battle. In addition, they established an improvised aid station in the fire direction center of Battery C, 2d Battalion, 77th Field Artillery, and assisted in the treatment and evacuation of the wounded.
The successful integration of infantry, artillery and air power had saved Fire Support Base BURT. The battle of Soui Cut is a typical example of many such actions that occurred during the war in Vietnam. It is representative of well coordinated position defense and fire support.
FIELD ARTILLERY JOURNAL
by MG David E. Ott
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