19500901 1900 11twm0

Crossing the Han




Early on the evening of September 1, 1950 we slipped majestically out of San Diego's magnificent harbor and headed into the setting sun. It was an unforgettable experience. As a Marine band played "Goodnight, Irene" a favorite of the moment, the thousands of troops crowding the deck of the USSBayfield (APA-33) broke into song. The families and loved ones swarming on the dock soon joined in. As we eased past Point Loma into the darkening Pacific, the harbor reverberated with that haunting refrain.





Although 3/11 was spread over seven ships, I directed that each battery commander and key staff officer do his best to conduct whatever training was feasible. On the USSBayfield (APA-33) the FDC and communications section, among others, were able to get in urgently needed drills. In fact, the FDC had to be organized and trained almost from scratch since we had brought only four trained men from Camp Lejeune, or about one third of the needed complement. That the FDC was rendered functional at all in the less than three weeks available and under the crowded conditions aboard ship was commend­able. That it was managed with such success was in equal measure due to Major Callender's (Jimmy) knowledge and dedication and the quality of the Reserves we received at the last minute at Camp Pendleton. About 170 men, or about 25 percent of our strength, joined the night before we embarked. The Reserves were mostly from the state of Oregon and Houston, Texas. Many were college students or recent graduates of the University of Oregon or Oregon State. Their intellectual capacity was such that they needed to be told the details of their jobs only once. Jimmy's FDC was filled with men who had scored over 140 on the General Classification Test (GCT), high scores even for officers.

The FDC, the three firing-battery executives, the eighteen gun section chiefs and their gunners, and the communicators that tie them all together make up the gunnery team. The gunnery team is the heart of the field artillery battalion. It is a heart that must beat powerfully and with precision, promptly converting observer calls for fire into battery fire commands. The fire commands are then quickly translated into range and deflection settings for each howitzer. The speed and accuracy of this operation is the real measure of an artillery battalion. Of course, the battalion must be positioned and repositioned tactically so that it can do its gunnery job most effectively. The battalion must also be protected from interfering forces and supplied with ammunition.

The FOs, the communicators, and the service elements are also a vital part of the battalion, but it is the gunnery team that must deliver the battalion's fire-power in appropriate quantity where and when needed. This takes knowledge, training, teamwork, and dedication to the fire points of gunnery at every level. That proficiency in this critical area was attained despite the handicaps (not the least of which was the cold fact that the FDC had not controlled a single round of the battalion's fire in training) speaks volumes about the caliber of 3/11 personnel.