JUST ANOTHER NIGHT AT DONG TAM
I was luckier than most guys in Nam because I could hit a cot to sleep on but then again I had to put up with a lot more mortar attacks that most. It was part of my job. From early on I worked all night long at both Bearcat and Dong Tam. It was easier this way to have all of our aircraft available for the next day's mission. The trouble was because of the mortar attacks we also often had to spend more time fixing the aircraft up from damage they sustained in a nightly attack than they had from the daily missions. The NVA /VC weapons of choice in the Mekong Delta were 82 MM(80 duece) mortars , recoilless rifles, 107 rockets and lastly the 120 MM mortar. It is the same as the US Army's 4.2 '' mortar. We dreaded those the most because you had little warning and it will go through a lot of overhead protection and blow the crap out of everything. The following pictures and 9th division report are from just one night.
' DAILY STAFF JOURNAL OR DUTY OFFICER'S LOG (AR 220-3<6)
NO OF PAGES 1
ORGANIZATION OR INSTALLATION LOCATION PERIOD COVERED
JOURNAL CLOSED. Bs TYPED NAME AND GRADE OF OFFICER OR OFFICIAL ON DUTY Smith, Buddy M. SFC SIGNITURE Buddy h. smith
On this night they bracketed the hanger with 82 mortars and just as we dove into the bunker they hit the far end of the hanger with a 120 MM contact mortar. Below is the where that round hit. All those dots are shrapnel holes.
The next round was a delay fuse 120 MM mortar that landed directly in front of the bunker which was made out of bundels of PSP. Those chunks on the ground around Haskins are concrete. They built the pad by using a road grader to level out the concrete mix to a uniform 8 inches thick.
The next round landed directly in front of our Ammo connex. It hit on top of the acetelene tanks we used for welding. They all burst into flames and several were launched across the compond area. The connex contained all of small arms , ammo and grenades that our crew chiefs had for their ships.
The next round hit on the pad where we normally kept our C+C ship. It just happened to be elsewhere that night.
The shrapnel blew across the hanger and up at the same time. It went through the roof of the hanger. The white dots are all shrapnel holes in the roof.
It went sideways and hit several of the cobra gunships including this one. However the helicopters being in the line of fire also saved those of us as we dove into the bunker.
It also hit a several slicks that were in front of the bunker.
The end result was that only three were wounded by shrapnel as they dove into the bunker. That was the only night we quit working and got very drunk after that. All of the rounds landed about 3 feet short of their intended target. If they had been on target then myself and the other 10 that were in the bunker would have been killed instantly , the ammo connex would have blown up and the hanger would have colapsed.
This was not the only time that Dong Tam was hit by 120 MM mortars. On another night they blew up the ammo dump. Those of us that were there can testify to the presance of the "BIG BANG" theory. 500 tons of ammo went up.
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