- Paul J. DeNicola -
United States Army - Republic of Vietnam
3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry (MRF), 9th Infantry Division
Paul spent the majority of his time in Vietnam on the water, and the photos on the left clearly reflect that. In the top photo, he is cradling a High Explosive (HE) round. Center photo is of Paul at the 'business end' of his M30 "Four-Deuce", and in the bottom photo, Paul is center frame.
"In 1968 I was sent to Vietnam as a rifleman/RTO and assigned to the 3rd Battalion 60th Infantry 9th Infantry Divisionís Mobile Riverine Force. The MRF was unique since it was comprised of Army and Navy personnel. My ďbase campĒ was a Navy barracks ship the USS Benewah and we were transported through the waterways of the Mekong Delta by a flotilla of Armored Troop Carriers and Monitors.
Later, as part of the 3/60 HHC (Headquarters and Headquarters Company) riverine warfare unit I was assigned to a Four Deuce Mortar platoon which was located on portable barges complete with living quarters. There were two barges with two gun pits each. One barge also housed the Fire Direction Control. These were anchored in the turn basin in Dong Tam harbor. Dong Tam was the 9th Divisionís land based camp for non-riverine units and was located 35 miles south of Saigon. The barges having no means of self-propulsion could be towed via Naval vessels anywhere to support troops in other parts of the delta or remain stationed in the harbor for fire missions.
I was a gunner on one of the M30ís. I remember the times when the round would get hung up in the tube and I would need to kick the barrel as hard as I could to try and dislodge the round. If that didnít work I would need the assistance of a couple of the crew who would proceed to lift the barrel from the base plate, tip the barrel and I or someone else would catch the live round. We would then disarm the round and have it destroyed.
In March 1969 while docked in the turn basin the VC shelled the ammo dump that was located near the harbor. The ammo dump eventually caught fire and 500 tons of ammo blew up. The shock wave sent the barges crashing into the riverbank and it literally rained shrapnel. Miraculously, all of the mortar crews sustained minor injuries since we were at the last minute able to dive into the protected part of the barge, which was surrounded by ľ inch steel and where we slept. We fired counter mortar for hours until we ran out of rounds. As I recall we did not receive re-supply for 3-4 days due to the total loss of mortar rounds stored in the ammo dump."