Story 50 - Nasho Numbers in 104 Sig Sqn

By Jeff Fewson


45 PistolWhen serving in Vietnam as a Radio Operator with 104 Sig Sqn, I was detached to the small hamlet of Xuan Loc, manned by US Military and ARVN soldiers.   Xuan Loc was commonly known throughout the military fraternity as Xray Lima (XL).   My problem started when I purchased a .45 calibre pistol from an American soldier for a paltry sum of money. 

Unfortunately I had an unauthorized discharge (UD) with the pistol, which is a very serious offence and much looked down upon by the military hierarchy.   However it did indeed have a funny side to it as well, at least I thought so.  I will not go into the details of how it came to occur as it is long and involved but needless to say the results were earth shattering.

Unauthorized Discharge

It was early morning and my roommate (can’t remember his name) was laying back on his bunk opposite me with his hands behind his head looking up at the ceiling and probably wishing he was back home like we all did.  I threw my legs outside of my bunk still nursing a hangover from the night before, as we had had a few drinks with yanks.  I picked up my newly acquired .45 from the top of my kit bag and proceeded to clean it with an oily rag, which was a ritual, cleaning it with the magazine on was not a ritual.  Being ritualistic, I then proceeded to cock the weapon, clean it further take a sight picture of the floor and fire the action, the resulting chaos was truly fantastic to see and you really had to be there to appreciate the funny side of it.

The noise in that tiny confined space was deafening and the room immediately was filled with smoke and the smell of cordite. When the round hit the floor it ricocheted into the locker across the way putting several holes in the folded up poncho liner of my roommate who by this time had leapt out of bed because a small chip of concrete had nicked him in the chest drawing a drop of blood.  This and the deafening noise and seeing me sitting there with a gun in my hand caused him to fly out of the room into the hallway shouting “he is trying to kill me; he is trying to kill me”.   Absolutely dumb struck I walked out into the hall behind him still carrying the gun only to find an American negro soldier just coming back from the shower with the smallest towel wrapped around him. He dropped the towel and threw both hands in the air shouting “don’t shoot man”.  At about that time I thought things can’t get any worse than this so I walked back into the room, unloaded the .45 and stripped it down.  Moments later an American Sergeant came racing in and collected all the weapons in the room including the M72 rocket launchers I had, and beat a hasty retreat.   I had M72 rocket launcher in the room because I was on the Ready Reaction Force for Xuan Loc.  The next thing I hear is him telling some officer on the phone. “Sir we got some crazy Australians here trying to shoot one another up”.  At about that time I figured they would try me before sundown and put me up against the wall at dawn.  As luck would have it they decided not to do that and I was eventually sent back to Nui Dat to face the music.

Charged at 104 Sig Sqn, Nui Dat

Whilst being charged my roommate was asked if at any time it really looked like he was trying to shoot you and from memory I believe he said. “well, he could have been”. When It came to my turn to speak I said “Sir do you really think I would not hit him if I was sitting three feet away with a .45”, not to mention the fact that a rocket launcher would have done the trick nicely.   Anyway it was indeed an accident and I would never afford any fellow soldier and mate of ours any harm. To my roommate I do indeed apologise for the horrific fright he got at the time and hope he is living a long and happy life.

My reward for creating so much chaos and mayhem was five days field punishment (eating, sleeping and working with all my webbing on), of which I only spent one day doing in the kitchen and was then attached to 1RAR in the field on an operation. Perhaps they were trying to get rid of me. (Joking)


Anyway that is the official version of what happened in case any of you were wondering and there is no evidence to the contrary.   Live happy and wonderful lives my old mates.

Jeff (Fewy)

Jeff Fewson at Xuan Loc

Jeff Fewson (Centre) and unknown US Army Soldier in the Villiage of Xuan Loc 1969

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