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A Christmas Story: The Day Christmas Burned Up

By Sgt. Michael Pectol


Actually, thinking back, the most memorable thing about this story for me is the fact that I don't remember it. So technically, I don't have a Christmas story. All I have is the story of WHY I don't have a Christmas story, haha! The Christmas was 1967. That was the year my Christmas along with every thing else I owned was destroyed in a Fire @ FSB Grant (also known as Loc Ninh, I think) on Dec.9th.

I had gotten one of those big beautiful through the mail boxes of cheeses, crackers, breads, sausages, etc. that places like Hickory Farms do. It was HUGE, probably about a hunnert dollars worth, and would definitely would 'augment' my and my section's rather ho-hum diet of Cs. Burned to a crisp.

My brand new Petri TTL 35MM camera and hundreds of great pictures, same-same Crispy-Crittered! Long Story Short - For me, Christmas went "Up in Smoke" that day! 16 days BEFORE the actual fact.

I subsequently re-named that operation Operation Prairie Fire

I, and many of the people, on that base were really worried about whether or not we would live to see Dec. 10th ....much less the 25th. The rainy monsoon season was over and the 6 foot Kunai (elephant) grass in the clearing was really dry. Even though it was trampled down in the first day, it still made a great bed of "Kindling."

The fire ensued when a Chinook on Ash & Trash run picked up a sling load of trash with a hidden fire in it. The Gun Bunnies were burning off powder and it had been covered over with trash. The blades fanned it, he saw it and set it down right next to a "Cord" of fused 105 Rounds and from there, it was all over but the runnin', duckin' and prayin'

Back and forth with each shift of the wind, all day we were barely one step ahead of that ragin' inferno! Well, bottom line - with most of our equipment destroyed, including my section's RTT rig and our duffle bags of clothes, pics, etc........we were sent back to the Ranch to re-equip so we could continue the operation.

We never could figure out why the VC/NVA didn't take advantage of the situation and massacre us! I have my personal theory on the matter though. I think they were so weak from rolling around on the ground laughing at a bunch of American BOZOS scurrying back and forth - forth and back, they were just unable to fight! I can almost see the tears rolling down their cheeks, and them trying to get up, and fallin'back down, heehee! Too weak to stand up!

Sooooooo, - we just happened to be actually "at home" at the Base Camp for XMAS. One of the rare times we were able to be there. I do remember though, that we had actually gotten a cook who could actually cook to replace the one before. Specifically, this guy was of all things - a chef for cryin' out loud. Anyone's guess as to how a guy who was doing one job in civilian life actually wound up doing the same job in the Army, haha! Also anyone's guess as to how an actual chef did not end up working at the very least...in some Brigade level Officer's Mess in Cu-Chi! Strange things happen in the Army, no doubt about it!! So I know we did have a true Christmas Feast with all the trimmings. That I just know. Standard Operational Procedure for the Army. There was probably some kind of show in the Mess, which doubled as a theatre after Dinner in the evenings for the REMF types. And that was where I saw the last show I saw the night before heading over to the 90th Repo Depot for DEROS. So, it stands to reason. Since we were getting rocketed and mortared around 3-5 times a day, even in Base Camp....that also stands to reason, just another part of "Life in the Big City"

We were there until Dec. 28th, the day we headed up to "Burt" same day two of my men and I were broken down in the road, waiting for hours and hours for the last track in the convoy to come along and tow us into Burt, and barely made it right at dusk. December.....NOT a great month!
:-)

Michael Pectol,
Former Sgt.2/77FA,
4th & 25th Inf. Divs
RVN, 1967 - 1968
Web Guy, 2/77FA VN
277arty.
Focus11c.

Battle of FSB Burt information for 3 BDE 25 INF.

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