There were three generators under roof; two running and one in standby mode. Every half-hour we would check the generators’ oil and fuel levels and refuel or add oil when necessary. We would also make sure that the generator’s maintained a constant 120 volt, 60 cycle output. Adjacent to the open generator area was an “office” with a small desk, overhead light and fan. it was here where the Marine on duty would sit out his four-hour tour. The generator shack was bunkered, along the back and side walls, with steel corrugated roofing against which were stacked sandbags to a height of about five feet. The right side and front of the shack had a low wooden wall topped with screened windows. Most of us would read or wrote letters. We had no TV or radio and, even if we had, we would not have been able to hear much over the din of the running generators. On that particular March night, I had the midnight-to-four watch. I was about two hours into my shift and had settled into a familiar routine. Between generator checks, I had read the latest letters from home and my girlfriend, Mary Beth, and was in the process of writing her back. As I sat at the small wooden desk, a page of Mary Beth’s letter was blown to the floor by air from the overhead fan. As I bent down to pick up the letter, the relative quiet of the night was interrupted by a series of loud bangs that sounded like someone throwing rocks at the back of the shack. I yelled out the rear screen window at whom I thought was either a Marine or ARVN guard having a little fun at my expense. There was no response. About two minutes later, another handful of “rocks” pelted the shack. Again, I yelled out for the culprit to cease and desist so that I might finish the letter I was writing my girl. Again, no response. The rest of my shift was uneventful. I had finished my letter to Mary Beth and the generators gave me no problems. At 0400 I was relieved of my watch and proceeded to my barracks for a little shuteye. At about 0900 the next morning, I was on my way to the mess hall for breakfast when I noticed an large number of people milling around the generator shack. There were more high-ranking brass from the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps than I ever had seen in one place at one time. As I got closer, I bumped into a Marine I knew from the motor pool and asked him about all the commotion. He said we had been attacked by snipers sometime that previous night and the officers were looking for the Marine on duty at the time. No one was anymore surprised than I. I approached a Marine major, who looked like someone in charge, and told him that I had been on duty during the time in question. He took down my name, rank, and serial number on his  clipboard and wanted to know what I had seen and heard. Unfortunately, I told him that I had seen nothing and thought the “banging” noises I heard were the results of rocks being thrown at the shack by friendly guards.  It was then that I noticed what some of the MPs and other people were doing. With knives and bayonets, people were digging out rounds (bullets) buried in the sandbags stacked against the shack. Another Marine was taking photographs of holes left by rounds that hit the front wall of the adjacent post office and sign. More interesting to me were the holes in the generator shack screens.  Three rounds had entered through the right-rear screen and existed through the front left. When some of the guys and I retraced the trajectories of the rounds, they passed directly over the desk at which I had been sitting. Even more astounding was when I sat at the desk. At least one of the three rounds should have caught me square in the back of the head. Retrieving my girl’s letter that had fallen to the deck, probably had saved my life. The other rounds had simply missed and wound up in the surrounding sandbags and post office walls and sign. Some of the people investigating the incident believed that snipers had fire dozens of homemade “miniballs” at the shack. The noise from the generators most likely masked the sound of the gun shots. None of the Marines or ARVN soldiers walking guard near the generator shack that night heard or saw a thing. This attack became one of the first recorded incidents of enemy fire being directed at US military personnel in Vietnam.  In the following weeks, attacks by snipers would increase. At Danang, we began driving the road from mainside to the airfield at much higher rates of speed. Snipers were beginning to target our vehicles on that busy road. A couple of months later, two Marines on liberty in the Danang area were kidnapped and never seen again.
Three bullet entry points in the right, rear screened window of the “office.”
Dark photo of me sitting at the desk in our “office.” The right rear screen with the three bullet holes is directly behind me.
Bullet exit holes in the front left screen of the “office”. Any one of the three rounds could have had my name on it.
Concrete walls and front sign of our post office had been hit by dozens of rounds. The post office was directly across; about 50 feet from the generator shack.
Village that bordered our base on two perimeters literally was a stones throw from the generator shack. The sound from a weapon fired from inside one of these huts would have been effectively muffled by the thick walls and thatched roof.
Generators
“Office”
Ernie W. and myself checking out a few of the slugs we dug out of the sandbags stacked against the back wall of the generator shack.
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SPY ARTIST One night in March, about one month after my arrival in Danang, I made my way to the generator shack to take my turn at generator watch; a four hour shift where we monitored the 75 KW generators used to provide electrical power for the compound.