The Day the 175mm Gun Tube Exploded - Quan Loi, Vietnam - 1969

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The exact date is uncertain, if you know it please write to us.  In late March or early April, 1969, the tube of Number 4 gun, a 175mm  gun exploded between 1:00 to 3:00 a.m. at Quan Loi, South Vietnam.  Roomer had it one of the crew members threw a t-shirt into the breech before it was closed and then the gun fired.  The long tube exploded! 

Could that have caused the explosion or was it a weak tube?  No one knows for sure and it is possible the command never learned of the t-shirt roomer.**

Fortunately, none of the crew members were seriously injured, but everyone present in the firing battery that night remembers the frightening incident. If they had a camera they took photos the next day and one Cannon King had an 8 mm video camera and he shot video of the after effects.  Certainly, it reminded everyone of the dangerous job of the gun crewman.

Here you will find a written memory, photos and a video of the the incident.

**See Ralph Porter's memories of a similar incident at Bravo Battery.

Comments Received:

6-18-2018  From:  Larry Hutchison  Charlie & HHB  Sep 68 to May 69"

Don’t know the date but what I recall was a lot of shrapnel went through the EM Club in HHB Battery across the road. Fortunately no one was in there, but if it would have happened a few hours earlier when several guys would have been there, it would not be pretty. Guys would write to their state representatives and ask for a state flag and then hang it up in the E Club. I had an Illinois flag in there and Norm Wolfinger had a Florida flag."

7-5-2018  From: Carl C. Nelson   Battery Commander - A Btry 6/27 Arty  Sep 68 to Sep 69
"I was the BC of A Btry when that 175 incident occurred but do not know the exact date. I was in the officers bunker next to FDC and saw the brilliant flash and ear-splitting crack noise. Came out to see the broken tube laying on the ground.

I know several years later could not find any final determination on what the cause might have been.

For about a week following we were besieged by mobs of "tourists" arriving to see the gun and heard hundreds of conflicting "expert" opinions. I remember one older civilian tech rep who was telling several visiting senior visitors that the gun crew must have tried to force the round in "sideways."!!!!! The poor gun crew went through constant interviews They definitely had been using the required depth of ram gage which was supposed to prevent any poor rams. Serious mystery."

7-6-2018  Additional Comment:

"I remember arguing with some of those visiting "experts" and some of the visiting VIP colonels and generals who were not in our chain-of command who tried to blame everything on the gun crew. I knew they were following procedure exactly even in rush fire missions. I had been observing the night firing shortly before I went to my bunker. I had the greatest respect for individuals irregardless of rank who demonstrated dedication to the mission of supporting troops in the field even if they hated being there. I observed a lot and spent most of my time around the guns but didn't need to micro-manage ever. We had a tremendous group of folks from the lieutenants & NCO's, down through the various sections of the battery. The gun chiefs and their sections and the FDC carried the greatest burden. But even admin, supply, and motor pool were great.

During the few slow peaceful periods, there was some relaxation time and time for fun and pranks etc. Not quite like "MASH", but like "MASH," everyone jumped into mission mode when necessary. We also had a brief period when we had unauthorized use of Frenchy's pool!!!!!! The motor pool was the observation post for when the French ladies played tennis!!!!!!

You can quote me on any of this. I thank the good Lord that we lost no one, especially during the 2 ground attacks (I was with Bn. HQ for the 2d one.) and during the convoy ambush enroute to Loc Ninh with the two 8 Inch and long line of ammo trucks. But those are other stories. I find that many other veterans like to remember "fun" war stories like the time the Bn officers were at Quan Loi for a monthly meeting and grilling BBQ when we must have pissed off Charlie when he saw us with steaks and beer.
We got fired upon and an RPG went through the little officers club shed (size of i-car garage) and exploded inside our fridge!!!!!! It had ben a peaceful Sunday afternoon!!!! We lost all out cold beer!!!!!!!!"
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