In the infantry you have to become good with all weapons. These weapons are the infantrymanís tools, and with any tool you have to make it work to its maximum efficiency in order to survive, or get the job done.
I started my training of light weapons on the job training. This training consisted of my firing at stated targets by my NCOIC. I think the NCO in charge of my training was named Roberts? This NCO would transfer to the Phoenix program. This program was covert operations. Roberts would take me to the edge of the firebase we were protecting and point out a target he wished me to engage.
During this process I learned to fire and hit the target. The weapons were the M16A1, M60 machine gun, 90mm Recoilless Rifle, and the 66mm light anti tank weapon better known as the LAW. The law was a weapon that was used to destroy fixed gun emplacements, bunkers and other structures.
SSG Roberts gave me a quick class on the law and then placed a live one in my hands. First I removed the spring loaded end covers and then I pulled to extend the weapon. When the law is extended a small sight pops up once this happens, you place the weapon on your shoulder look through the sight line up the target, and before you press the trigger, you yell back blast area clear. You say this because when the law is fired gases from the rocket explodes out the rear of the device. This plum of gas can really do a dame dame on you if you are its cone of escape. I aimed the weapon at the designated target which was a tree picked out by the NCO and pressed the trigger.
The noise from the rocket firing was loud and my aim was true. The tree disincarnated and its branches flew in all directions on impact from the exploding warhead. I had hit the target on the first try. The SSG liked what he saw and said you are ready FNG welcome to the infantry. The skills I learned this day would later become invaluable to my squad and me.
The very first time I fired a law in anger, was when I was pulling point for the company. I had a compass in my hands and was being directed by a LT as to which heading or direction the patrol was to recon. Walking point was a job that I loved doing, even though you were looked upon as cannon fodder, because of the likely hood of you getting your young ass booby trapped, bullet peppered, punji pit stuck, and all around have a bad day. You are the early warning system. When you as point man can say OH SHIT as it hits the fan, you are lucky because in most cases you are first to go. My luck as point man, consisted of a # of OH SHITs and Iím here to talk about it.
The heading and the direction of our pace placed the company and myself at the end of the jungle and the start of an open rice patty. I had a compass in my hand and as I looked up from the devise, a shot rang out. Instinct had me drop to my knees and scan my surroundings. Ahead of my position I saw this hooch. The building was about 150 yards at the far end of the clearing on the other side of the rice patty. I saw glint of light coming from the house. This flash of light could mean only one thing, we were being watched and in the middle of someoneís cross hairs.
Without any hesitation, I took the law I was carrying off my shoulder extended the weapon and fired at the suspected enemy structure. The law rocket flew straight and true and exploded with a dull flash and subdued boom a side the structure wall.
I was congratulating myself when the LT came running and asking what was going on up front. I explained to the LT what had happened and why the action I took. The LT called the RTO to move up to his location and get Bravo 16 on the horn. I could hear the LT giving the coordinates to the battery of 105s located on a firebase close by. The LT shouted round out as the distant sound of a cannon being fired reached my ear.
Looking out at the target and waiting fro the marking round to hit, to my amazement the white phosphorous marking round hit and exploded in a white puff of smoke on the roof of the house. This is when the LT asked was that the target? I nodded yes and the words fire for effect was shouted into the PRC 25s headset.
In the distance multiple booms could be heard from the guns firing from the base. Soon the eerie screams of many artillery rounds tore open the morning sky as they found their mark. In instant plumes of smoke obscured the house at the edge of the patty. These plumes of smoke were gray and black in color as they tried to reach the sky with subdued multiple explosions.
The dust began to settle and the target, or what was left of the target came into view. There was nothing left except a pile of smoking rubble where the hooch once stood. I looked at the LT and said, Sir that was some good shooting. The LT replied, you are not so bad your self LAW MAN.
Others in my squad heard this reply from the LT, and the moniker stuck. I became so good at firing the law that if I received fire from any source and I know where it was coming from, that target received a 66mm heat round up their Asses.
This weapon of choice was always by my side, and when needed, it got the job done. The lessons learned On the Job were lessons well learned, from the best instructors, the Combat Infantryman. This story is dedicated to all who taught me how to survive in a hostile world and become the man I am today. AIRBORNE.
The story continues.
WM Roland Hayes.