Sunday, June 5, 2011

Vietnam -- The day I went to LAW school

One of the enjoyable aspects of being a stringer is that of finding articles and then convincing the powers that be to let you write the article based on hands on experience.  One of those articles involved going over to the training area where many of the men and -- I might add -- women went to so they could understand better the various kinds of weapons we used.

In a couple of instances, we were actually able to fire some of these weapons. One of them was a LAW.

Weighing 2.37-kg (5.2 pounds) complete, the LAW was designed as a discard able one-man rocket launcher primarily for use as an anti-tank weapon.  Its payload was a 5 pound  High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) warhead that could penetrate 14 inches of metal.

But we weren't using them for tanks, we were using them for bunkers, rock piles, holes in the ground and out houses that were to nasty to shit in.

One soldier could easily carry two -- a total of ten extra pounds -- and they were less bulky to carry than old school bazookas. 

Another fact that made these "disposable" weapons attractive was -- with their protective caps on both ends -- they were air tight. With many situations where men had to traverse deep pockets of water, carrying these meant you also meant you were packing your own light weight artillery with you.

When the LAW was handed to you, both the front and rear sights were folded down. Once you took both the front and back air tight covers off, and pulled up the sites, you could pretty well figure out what you had to do next.

You had to guess the distances between you and the target.  Mine was an APC about 250 meters out. You looked through the cross hairs in the back and lined up the number with the location of the target where you wanted the round to go.

Once you expanded the LAW, you owned it. Meaning, you had to fire the round. All you had to do is calmly fire the LAW down range.

Only problem with all of this is the fact that the firing button was covered with a a piece of rubber that  made it hard to fire. Because of this, you had to be steady and maintain sight of your intended target through pulling the trigger.

The LAW surprised me. It had about as much kick as my favorite weapon in Vietnam -- the M79 grenade launcher. I aimed for the APC's top part of the track and hit it dead on.  No real big explosion, just loud.

LAW school was over. With another believer in the LAW.

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