In Memory Of Frank Mebs

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FSB                                    Veghel - May 1970 to September 1971

                                  Charlie Battery, 1/83, an 8"/175MM Battery                                    moved to Veghel on 23 May 1970. We spent the                                    first night at the base of the hill. One strand                                    of barbed wire surrounded the battery. At the                                    time we were an all 8 inch battery. The next                                    day we moved up to the top of Veghel. A 155                                    battery was near the center of the hill, a 105                                    battery occupied the knob just to the north                                    of the 155 battery and we moved to the arm a                                    hundred meters north of the 105 battery. There                                    were two landing pads, one north of us at the                                    end of the hill and a pent primed pad just east                                    of us on an arm of the hill with a steep gully                                    running between C battery and the landing pad.                                    The only structure we had was a two story building                                    the fire direction center on the bottom floor                                    and the TOC with the chief of smoke and his                                    runner were in the second story. Powder and                                    projectile bunkers, wooden pads for the guns                                    and burms were also in place. A deep trench                                    had been dug running the length of eastern perimeter,                                    this would hold our bunkers. We had no cover                                    so everyone slept wherever. I found a large                                    shed on wheels that the engineers used. It sat                                    high enough so that I could set up a cot under                                    the axle.

On May 27 I was asleep when there was a bright                                    flash, like someone had stuck a flash bulb in                                    my face. Several seconds later there was an                                    explosion followed by a lot of debris hitting                                    the shack I was sleeping under. All night long                                    guys were walking by my cot moving toward the                                    landing pad to our north to be medivacked. At                                    one point I just got back to sleep when one                                    of our officers, Whisky Bravo, woke me up. As                                    I sat up I hit my head on the axle of the shed                                    I was sleeping under. Whisky Bravo wanted to                                    make sure I was all right. Several of our cannon                                    cockers had been injured by flying debris. Piecing                                    it together I learned that an American mortar                                    platoon had fired a short round. It landed in                                    a large ammo dump in front of the 155s. Two                                    Cat D-6 bulldozers and about 20 guys tried to                                    put the fire out. At one point an officer told                                    everyone to cut and run for cover. One of the                                    bull dozer operators, Frank Mebs, stayed on                                    his dozer and continued to fight the fire. He                                    was blown up - no trace of him - parts of his                                    dozer came down all over the hill. One guy on                                    guard duty was killed. I firmly believe Frank                                    saved the lives of a lot folks on that hill                                    when his dozer took the entire force of the                                    blast. With all the shells and powder at the                                    155 location the blast from the explosion may                                    have started a chain reaction reaching the 105                                    battery and possibly our battery. The army told                                    the family only that he had been "blown                                    up" no details. It took me 30 years but                                    I finally tracked Frank's family down and told                                    them the real story. Frank's name is on the                                    "Wall" I visit him every time I go                                    to DC.
by Donald W. Aird

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