M102 Howitzer

The article on the M102 Howitzer that appeared in the Spring 2024 issue of On Point was very well done and brought back many memories.

My association with the M102 goes back to my time in 1st Battalion, 21st Artillery, in Vietnam. I was not in-country for the initial fielding, but called-in thousands of 105 rounds as a forward observer and battalion liaison officer (now called a fire support officer) with 3d Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. During a second tour in Vietnam, I commanded an M102 battery for over six months in II Corps. Later as a battalion commander, our 9th Infantry Division Artillery General Support Battalion had three batteries of M102s along with one 8-inch howitzer battery—strange organization but we were in the so-called High Technology Test Bed experimenting with unique systems and organizations. Then as the 7th Infantry Division Artillery commander, we had three M102 battalions along with one 155mm battalion. Finally, while in the 7th, we were the first to field the M119, which replaced the M102. Because we had just completed new equipment training, we decided to take the trusty M102s on Operation JUST CAUSE instead of the brand-new M119s.

The M102 served our Army well for many years. Thanks for highlighting an old friend. 

Lieutenant General Joe DeFrancisco, USA-Ret.
Arlington, Virginia

I enjoyed the article on the M102 article in the Spring 2024 On Point. I was particularly interested because I commanded a battery of M101A1 howitzers in Vietnam. It occurs to me that you might want to do a piece on FADAC, the Army’s Field Artillery Digital Automatic Computer, which, like the M102, was introduced in Vietnam. I’m sure field artillery units use much more sophisticated fire control systems now, but it would be interesting to know how they have evolved since FADAC.

I also wanted to let you know that I thought Dallas Looney’s piece on General Gordon Sullivan was well done. I knew him (Sullivan, not Looney) slightly; he was a good guy.

Lieutenant Colonel Clayton R. Newell, USA-Ret.
Galena, Maryland

I enjoyed the Tools of War article on the M102 105mm Howitzer in the Spring 2024 On Point. I thought you might give a nod to the battalion that fired more 105mm rounds using the M102 than any other, 2d Battalion, 2d Field Artillery (2-2 FA). 2-2 FA may have fired more M102 rounds in support of the Field Artillery School than all other M102 battalions put together. I believe there is a historical plaque of the unit citing over one million M102 rounds fired. My six years serving in 2-2 FA (second lieutenant to captain and return as lieutenant colonel as battalion commander) were absolutely great.

Colonel Rickey E Smith, USA-Ret.
Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Digital On Point

In the Mail Call page of the Spring 2024 On Point, it indicates your outstanding publication will be in digital format.

Is that accurate? If yes, receiving a magazine in digital format is like ordering/paying for a fine restaurant meal and in lieu of actual food, the server decks your table with descriptions and photographs of the menu items ordered—a rather tasteless disappointment.

Well, I do (sort of) understand. Money drives everything, including Army history. Unfortunate and sad, but it is what it is. Quoting a Vietnamese I once happened upon in very unfortunate circumstances: “Number 10 GI, Number 10!”

Master Sergeant James Purkhiser, USA-Ret.
Lugoff, South Carolina

General Bruce Clarke/Unit of Choice

Congratulations to Josh Cline on his fine article, “A ‘Damned Nobody’ To Four Stars: The Life and Career of General Bruce C. Clarke,” which appeared in the Spring 2024 issue. His paragraph regarding General Clarke’s suggestion to Army Chief of Staff, General William C. Westmoreland, that a Unit of Choice program would entice prospective soldiers to join the emerging All-Volunteer Army resonated with me.

When I reported to the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR) at Fort Lewis in early 1971, the Regiment was beginning its transition to an all-volunteer organization with Unit of Choice enlistees guaranteed sixteen-month stabilized tours with the Regiment. The Regiment reached its all-Regular Army goal of 900 enlistees largely through the efforts of the troopers already assigned to the Regiment who recruited in the Puget Sound area as well as their hometowns.

Unique to this program, the Regiment conducted its own Advanced Individual Training in three phases. The first phase included general military subjects, weapons training, and land navigation. The second phase was military occupation specialty training. Infantry and Armor training was at the Yakima Firing Center; Field Artillery training was at Fort Lewis. The final phase was on-the-job training at the troop, company, or battery level. The 3d ACR’s Unit of Choice program resulted in a well-trained and cohesive formation.

Lieutenant Colonel Lee F. Kichen, USA-Ret.
Sarasota, Florida


In the article on the 20th General Hospital in World War II that appeared Spring 2024 issue of On Point, author Joseph-James Ahern’s last name was spelled incorrectly in the byline.

On Point apologizes for the error.

Compliments? Critiques?

Send your Letters to the Editor to Matt Seelinger, Editor, On Point, at, or Editor, On Point, Army Historical Foundation, 1775 Liberty Drive, Suite 400, Fort Belvoir, Virginia 22060. Letters may be edited for clarity and length.