Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Attack of July 15, 1967 on the Danang Airbase

Of the many attacks on the Danang airbase, the artillery attack on the morning of July 15, 1967 was the most devastating. A total of 83 NVA 122mm and 140mm rockets hit the base in the early hours before dawn. We suffered 8 killed, 175 wounded, 10 aircraft destroyed and 49 aircraft damaged.

I was working the grave shift in the 366th AEMS shop at the south end of the base. The NVA artillery unit working south of Danang began a sustained attack that morning. One of the first rounds hit the building we had vacated the week before. Had we not vacated the building I, and many other AEMS personnel, would probably have been killed as the shop took at least one direct hit:



The APO mail distribution directly across the road from the old shop caught the blast and shrapnel:





Our new shop compound, where I was during this attack, took several very close rounds. Both of our buildings, just beyond the photo recon trailer, had shrapnel damage:


The 140mm Russian-made rocket (Katyusha) is a contact shell meant to hit anything above ground level with shrapnel (see the mail building above):



This crater shows that the 122mm Chinese-made rocket is a penatrator for cratering:

Remains of AC130:

In all, we had over 60 aircraft destroyed or damaged. In addition to the 83 NVA artillery shells that hit, our own bombs on aircraft at the south end of the field cooked off. We probably sustained more damage on the flight line due to our own ordinance:



The south cantonment area across the road from the flight line was heavily damaged by rocket fire:

















The crew of this crash truck were killed when a 250 pound bomb on an F4 cooked off while they were fighting the fire. Three of the crew were the morning bartenders at the compound snake pit (beer garden). We lost some fine friends:






Damage to the old French revetments is testimony to the force of the bombs on our armed aircraft going off. The pictures were taken after the F4 wreckage was removed:







 As I noted earlier, these pictures were collected across the 'net. My personal pictures of my tours in Vietnam were destroyed. However, many were nearly identical to these.


22 comments:

  1. Hi Fisherman,

    I was at Danang AB from the first week of Jan '67 to 20 Dec '67. I had been looking for some info on the web about that period, but, until I found your page today, I hadn't had much luck. I worked at the Finance Office, so, I might have processed you in or out, or paid you in piasters. I lived in tent B-4 in the cantonement area, and had a couple of people I knew killed in one of the barracks which appear in your pictures. Their names were Jerald Sumida and James Price.
    They worked in the CQ's office next to the office I worked in. They died in their bunks, by one of the first rockets to hit. One of the mortars in the Feb. attack hit the building behind the one I worked in, and some shrapnel tore through our office, narrowly missing all six of us. We had hit the deck as we heard the round coming in. I retrieved a piece of that shrapnel as a souvenir! I came out unscathed, as I hope you did too. I was ready to "didi" when my rotation date arrived.

    Thanks for posting the pics and especially the stats. I hadn't heard the actual numbers, before reading your page. I did have the unpleasant job of closing out the pay records of the fire-crew killed in the July attack. I imagine you know that they were declared "Missing in action" initially. Very sad for their families.

    Thanks again, fellow Vietnam vet!

    Frank

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    1. Hello Frank,

      Good to hear from you and glad you found the site. It's hard to believe that was 47 years ago. I haven't heard from many but have run across a few 366th vets. http://366th-tfw.net/ used to have a message board but the site hasn't been maintained since Don Bach passed away in 2002. There is some more info at http://366fightergroupassoc.org/ as well.

      Take care and thanks for service,

      Daniel

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    2. Have a question. Were there any Air Force Weather Observers killed in that or subsequent attacks?

      Thank you

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    3. Hi David. Thanks for visiting the site. Although I have the dates and total casualties for the many attacks at Danang, I don't have a breakdown by unit. The 3 killed in the July 15, 1967 that I knew personally were on the crash truck.

      Daniel

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    4. Thanks for the pics,I was probably the only Army guy there at the time. I was in a hanger waiting to go to Chu Lai to see my brother a Seebee there. It was set up by the Stars And Stripes newspaper. I was with a new guy fresh out of jungle training and was always curious what became of him. Thanks again Dave

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  2. Hi Daniel,

    Thanks for your response.

    I have actually found one guy I knew, on the message board. I will be trying to contact him later today. It's a long shot, as his message (and e-mail address) is dated 2003. After 11 years he probably doesn't have the same e-mail address.
    His name is Mike Carson. He was from Denver, CO. I believe. I have some photos of some of my fellow airmen who worked in the Finance Office, which I would like to send to them, if I can locate them.

    I remember that the camaraderie was very good among the group, despite the
    difficult circumstances.

    Wishing you the best!

    (S/SGT) Philip (Frank) Osborne

    Kansas City, MO

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  3. Hello! I was cleaning out my shed the other day and found this book about my town, Sandstone, MN the Quarry City. Anyway, in it I found a sentence in there that my dad was in the Viet Cong tet offensive in 1967. Pardon me if I'm not saying it correctly. My dad would never talk about Viet Nam so I thought I would Google the info and found your blog. Now I have a small idea of what he saw that day. His name was TSgt or MSgt, not sure when he got promoted, before or after Viet Nam, Vergil E Nielsen. He was a jet engine technician. Thank you for posting this. He's gone now, died Sept 17, 2002 but I think about him always.

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  4. Hi Christy,

    I appreciate your comments and glad the information posted here was of value. I didn't know your dad personally but I knew them all in a way.

    The actual Tet offensive was in late January of 1968. We began taking artillery at Danang in February of 1967 with the attack of July 1967 being the heaviest. We were a prime target of the NVA due to our air campaign over North Vietnam, our interdiction of the Ho Chi Minh Trail and tactical support for places such as Khe Sanh. We were flying 90 missions a day by late 1967.

    Your dad would have been there during this period and been quite busy. We may have worked on the same planes at the same time as we avionics types also took care of engine instrumentation. We certainly shared the same flight line and the engine shop was very close to ours.

    Take care,

    Daniel

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    1. Good Morning, Daniel,

      Thank you very much for sharing this, I'll also share it with my sisters as we never knew anything about that part of his life. I appreciate your blog and that you answered so quickly. Thank you again!

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  5. This happened on my dad's first day in country at Da Nang A.B. His barracks was one the barracks that was hit. He was lucky to have come away injured

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  6. My late uncle, Bob Maloy, was Wing Commander of the 366th TFW at the time of this attack.

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  7. Hi Bryan and thanks for the posting you comment. I recall Col. Maloy as being a very well respected commander and pilot. When he was shot down it was very tense until he was rescued. If memory serves me, he came out of the incident with only minor injuries from the ejection.

    Daniel

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  8. I was there also for the July 15th '67 as well as Tet '68 attacks. during this time period if memory serves me correct, we were switching places with the VNAF. They went to the North end and we went to the south end of the flightline. Anyone remember when the viet govt sent a surveying team onto Danang? We got clobbered shortly after. I worked the flight line on F-4's as an jet engine mechanic and remember well the sniper fire, mortar and rocket attacks. July 15th I remember well as I was on the Flight Line when the attack happened. It was chaos. I hope alot of my buddies are still alive and would love to hear from them. A2C Thomas Twitchell

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  9. Wow, I have been looking for a long time trying to find out this attack. I was there and still have night mares of it. I was in the 366th Security Police and that night was in a perimeter tower behind the barracks area that was hit so hard. I was unable to get down out of the tower because of all the incoming and the fires. I have had bad dreams of the night, I can still hear the calls for help and see the flames. It has taken me 50 years to seek help to try and clear my mind. With the help of the VA here in Cheyenne, Wy I am getting better. Would be great to here from any of my old friends from that time. I was also in the 377th in Saigon in 68/69.
    Robert D joy Sgt

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  10. I was there the night of the july 15th rocket attack and remember it like it was yesterday. I was a weapons troop in the 390th T.F.S. We had just finished the midnight shift after loading all our F4's with bombs when the rocket attack began. I well remember the scenes of devastation depicted on this site but have no pics of my own so I really appreciate all the photos other vets have submitted. I would appreciate hearing from any vets who were in the weapons shop that night.
    Ken Emmons

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    1. This may be a long shot. But my dad was a weapons troop during this period also. His name is Tony Matela. He still doesn't talk about his time in country. Would love to know more. I am a Iraq war vet myself.

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  11. I was with Hq battalion post office 1st marine division just outside of danang when they hit. I remember it well, as we took a few short rounds. Thanks for posting the photos. Just was thinking about this and decided to type in infor on it on google and came upon your sight.

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  12. I was with Hq battalion post office 1st marine division just outside of danang when they hit. I remember it well, as we took a few short rounds. Thanks for posting the photos. Just was thinking about this and decided to type in infor on it on google and came upon your sight.

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  13. I was crew chief on General Walt's Huey that night and we made numerous trips to evacuate the wounded. Flew til dawn then picked up Gen Walt to fly over the area and assess the damage. I was with VMO-2 at Marble Mt.
    Gene Day in country June 1966-to late Dec 1067

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  14. I was living on the air strip during that attack and a couple others that were not so bad. I worked at the R&R processing center until october 1967. Thanks for posting the photos.

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