Generals I Have Known
by Donald W. Aird
Westmoreland and Abrams both visited C btry 1/83 when we were at Veghel the summer of 1970.
We had two landing pads, one dirt and one pentaprimed. The pentaprimed strip, about 100 meters from our location, was built and then not used, really weird. One day I got up and looked around the hill. There were at least 30 Cobras circling within three miles of our location. We never, never saw more than two Cobras at one time. I checked in with battalion but they didn’t know what was going on. We were told that there would be NO fire missions until further notice.
About 10 AM this shithook flew in with a load of TV cameras and reporters. Right behind the reporters came a slick and there he was, god! Westmoreland got off the slick and walked half way up to our battery. He talked to the media and then went back to his bird and left. From then on all the traffic went to the pentaprimed pad.
Later in the summer we got word that Abrams was coming to Veghel, we would have no fire missions until he left. When Abrams flew in there were no reporters, no cameras, just the General and this asshole Major that was running our battalion.
Abrams walked up to the battery and looked around. He noticed our 175’s were pointing at Laos. He asked our battery commander, Captain Sloan, “aren’t those guns pointed at Laos?” Sloan replied, “yes Sir”. Then Abrams said, “are we shooting into Laos?” Sloan replied, “yes Sir”. Abrams just stood there for a couple of minutes and then started to leave the battery.
We got a fire mission. The asshole Major tried to get the mission delayed until Abrams left. But Abrams intervened and said he would be proud to watch the cannon cockers in action.
All the guys on the guns had their flack jackets and helmets on for the General’s visit. As soon as the order came in for the fire mission the cannon cockers started throwing their gear and began working up the mission. Our asshole Major was running around trying to get our guys back in their helmets and flack jackets.
Finally Abrams said, “just let them do their jobs”. After the mission Abrams wanted to talk to the gun crew. They all lined up just standing there, no kind of military formation. Abrams complimented them on the way they did their jobs.
While Abrams was talking our asshole major stepped back out of Abram’s view and tried to get everyone to come to attention. I was watching from the aiming circle. The Major kept imitating someone coming to attention. Finally two of the guys on the far end notice our Major. After watching him slouching then coming to attention then slouching they nudged their buddies and started laughing.
Abrams never notice the charade. I always remembered Abrams as one of those Officers you wanted to serve and Westmoreland as some kind of publicity hound.