|The Day the Tube Exploded|
In March or April of 1969, we were having our 175 mm gun pad replaced. Later that night we had a fire mission. We had fired about three rounds when one of them went off in the tube. It was like a huge muzzle blast. When the smoke cleared I heard the XO, who was at the aiming circle, yell "Anyone hurt?" I started checking myself out. I couldn't figure out why because I was about fifty feet back from the track, but had blood spurting from my right shoulder. I thought I was dying but it was really just a small piece of shrapnel that cut a vein in my shoulder.
Before the gun blew up, I was standing beside the track with Wiggins. He was also injured. I believe he got a laceration on the arm. The gunman, whose name was Aiken, might have been in shock, but I don't believe he had any other injuries. I don't remember the name of the fourth man on the gun, but I believe he received perforated eardrums from the blast.
After all these years I remember faces but names don't come easy. I guess its called age. As I sit here trying to put these events into words, I can't help thinking how young all of us were when we went to that place in Vietnam and how much we grew up while we were there. I just hope and pray that no other 18 or 19 year olds have to endure what we endured and then have to come home to what we came home to.
I remember one other thing that might bring back a memory or two for someone. That damn walkway we had to build so that the brass wouldn't get their boots dirty. All of that work and , then they didn't even show up.
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