"Friendly Fire" at Nui Dat


In one of my weekly "Updates" I passed along this question from an Aussie, John Hopkins. He asked...

I would like to ask about a friendly fire incident where fire from the guns of 83rd B battery dropped on A battery some time between September 1966 and May 1967.
I was in service with HQ battery 1st Field Reg Royal Australian artillery at the time. It was in the early hrs of the morning and still dark at the time. We were told at the time "the VC had hit the yanky A battery" this bs was never cleared. Can any of your members recall the detail as I understand there were American service men hit.
Kind regards hope you guys are well fond memories (you guys gave us the 50 pair cable to wire the task force phone system)
John Hopkins"

Here is my reply...

"Can you provide any more details of this incident? Are you saying our "B" Battery fired on our "A" Battery? The 1/83rd arrived in Vietnam on October 31,1966. "A" Battery went to Nui Dat. "B" Battery was at Bear Cat and then Ham Tan until the entire Battalion went north to I Corps in Feb 1968. I was at Nui Dat from the time we arrived in Vietnam until I went home in late November 1967 and I know of no such incident."

Can anyone shed any more details on this?

In reply, I received the following reply from Don Roberts (66-67). Don's reply is what I and others suspected may be what John was asking about. His facts and dates were just off.

"Hi Bill,
This is in reply to John Hopkins’ (the Aussie) query as to the friendly fire incident. I think the time he is referring to was when we (A Battery) were firing nighttime H&I missions and one of the 8" guns was firing directly over the ammo dump. On one particular round they had installed a bad fuse that caused a premature detonation almost immediately as the round left the tube. It exploded directly over the ammo dump, setting a number of fires and really got everyone's attention. A few people grabbed fire extinguishers and ran into the dump and started trying to douse the fires before the whole thing went up. A couple of them were given Soldiers Medals for their risks.
I don't remember the exact time of the year that it happened, but it was in 1967, probably around May or June.
It was friendly fire, but it was one of our own guns that caused the problem. As I recall it, no one was seriously injured either in the initial explosion or while fighting the fires.

Don Roberts (66-67)

I then replied...

"Thanks Don, that is what I thought (as did some others) and I conveyed that to John. A buddy of mine from HQ Battery (Jim Kennedy (66-67))jumped in our water truck (Juicy Lucy) and drove it down to the Ammo Dump to help fight the fire. He received some medal for that."


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