Extract from interview with David Young, 15 January 2008
Reproduced with permission of Neville Manins
I can remember another time when there was a fire mission called at night, when [Australian] 102 Battery was being overrun. And we, we were the, a battery that was to the side of them, and we were called in to put the guns on high elevation, which meant virtually sticking the barrel straight up in the air and lobbing shells round their, their boundary until, until the gunships and Snoopy came in to, to, to, to give them perimeter protection.
Snoopy being a spy helicopter, or...?
No. Snoopy was a DC3 [aircraft] that down the port side had Gatling guns mounted all down the port side. And it literally flew very tight circles at 1500 feet and a three-second burst would put a round, a round on the ground every six inches to cover a football field. And, and, and it was just red streaks coming off – when it dipped its wing on the port side and fired, it was just like red, red streaks coming down. And it literally defoliated things as it went down too because it was firing either 30 or 50 cal [calibre] Gatling guns.
I can remember when the fire mission was called, the noise and everything. And I was laying in my slit trench, which I'd built a sandbag wall over the top of it so, so I only had a little, like an Eskimo hut. It was like an Eskimo hut, except I was under the ground, and I only had a little Eskimo entrance into the, into it. And I can remember laying there and being so stricken with fear, I could not respond to the orders.
And it took me until halfway through the fire mission to actually respond, and then when I did respond, I responded so blasé that I almost went from total fear to nothing in the world mattered, and, and, yeah...
How amazing. Did your commander have anything to say about that?
No, didn't miss me. Middle of the night, guys running everywhere, the gun was operating well – no one missed me. I, part of my embarrassment, or part of the thing was the fact that, that I thought I would be missed, and then found I wasn't missed. And it's something that is never really – you never really discuss or anything, because it's also the embarrassment of actually being struck like that, that you can't respond and hold your end up.
Vietnam War Oral History Project, Manatu Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage