by “Yankee” Jim Simchera
I once had an incident with a LAW that seems funny now but wasn’t at the time. During the winter of 1970, 2nd Platoon of A Co. was in Nuoc Ngot Vil, Thu Thien Province. The Monsoon was still going hot and heavy, I’m thinking this was sometime in February. My squad (2nd) was on a night ambush with the two fire teams in mutual supporting positions. I was with the point team and SSGT Marley our platoon SGT was also with us that night. We were near the edge of the Vil set up where two trails came into the village and immediately to our front was a small Buddhist temple. Not long after we set up we began to hear voices coming from inside the temple and glimpses of light from what was a poorly concealed flashlight. SSG Marley and I powwowed and decided He, I and another trooper with the radio would move to within 20 feet of the building. Once there we would call for an illum shot from the SP 155s on FSB T’Hawk. I was supposed to fire a LAW into the building when I heard the shot out from the 155. When the LAW hit, the rest of the point team would move up to our position and join us in firing up anyone fleeing. Our Gun Team would remain in their position and act as a blocking force for anyone that escaped or anyone coming to assist the NVA in the building. A perfect plan was about to go haywire. We moved into position and SSG Marley called for the flare, when I heard the shot I pressed the firing button down just as the ground collapsed underneath me. The LAW fired as I fell until trapped at the waste in a tunnel. The only thing is as I was falling I pointed the weapon nearly vertical and it looped off to who knows where like a mortar round. I guess for a few moments I was bewildered not knowing what had happened and like a cartoon character I was running without my feet touching the ground, stuck at the waist in the tunnel. I wanted out, hoping that no one was trying to use the tunnel as an escape exit as they might think about shooting or sticking me with something. The remainder of the point team moved up and two troopers pulled me out of the hole. The NVA, well I don’t know where they went. We didn’t see them, neither did our gun team but they did leave some cooked rice behind in the temple when they left.
It was the only time I fired a LAW in combat and if all had gone as planned it would have been effective I’m sure. I think it’s a great weapon, but I still feel a better choice would be for us to deploy the RPG with our troops.
NS/ATR & SF!