Battle of Firebase Mary Ann

By Kelly Bell

The battalion tactical operations center (B-TOC) was already thick with tear gas when the sounds of battle awoke Capt. Paul S. Spilberg from a deep slumber. Realizing the firebase was under attack, his first thought was to check on his colonel, but he could not find the commanding officer’s quarters in the gas-filled corridor. As fast as he could, he managed to feel his way to the north exit and started crawling up the stairs.

His eyes shut, he could hear the unmistakable explosions of rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and distinctive shots of AK-47 rifles. Crashing through the door, he fell flat as bullets and shrapnel passed just over him. Raising his head, he was stupefied to see darting, child-sized figures silhouetted against the spreading flames. The Viet Cong were inside the American outpost. The events of this night were the last thing he had expected when he arrived.

Four days earlier, Spilberg had ridden a helicopter to the base. He was already familiar with it; he had previously served at the installation as company commander and was now re-assigned as a marksmanship instructor. He had immediately ordered the post’s personnel to practice small arms accuracy on a hastily thrown-together rifle range.

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Soviet Fallout – The Nagorno-Karabakh War

Modern War, Issue #54 Magazine now available!

We’re excited to announce the latest issue of World at War is now available through our shop! Pick up your copy today!


  • Soviet Fallout – The Nagorno-Karabakh War: The implosion of the Soviet Union spawned or fueled several ethnic conflicts. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan was one of the key conflicts, and flared up again this past year. Here is the history.
  • Battle of Fire Support Base Mary Ann: The communists executed a perfectly planned tactical sapper attack, catching the Americans less than fully prepared, and coming close to overrunning the base. Fierce, close combat was the rule that night.
  • USA Show-Strike on Syria: On 14 April 2018, military forces of the US, Great Britain and France carried out precision strikes against chemical weapons facilities of the Bashar al-Assad regime. While geo-political backgrounds of this affair cannot be more complex, the military affairs were rather simple.
  • Operation Earnest Will: In the 1980s, one-third of the world’s oil moved through the Strait of Hormuz. This made the Persian Gulf entrance the most vital waterway in the world. The American policy was to keep the USSR out and keep the oil flowing.

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