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Vietnam
ĐÂ NÂNG AIR BASE

BOMB DUMP EXPLOSION,
27 April 1969

© 2012, by James A. DeArment
366th Security Police Squadron, Tiger Flight
1968-1969
© 2014

Da Nang AB Bomb Dump, ASP-1: April 27, 1969 -- A grass fire started by the road at the far end of the dump area where some Vietnamese were burning trash. Supposedly, a five year old kid lit a piece of paper on fire and stuck it under the fence which started a field of dry grass burning and eventually reached a pallet of 105 WP (white phosphorous or “willy peter”) rounds. Explosions rocked Da Nang for the next three days and nights.
A B-57 Pilot is intent on taxiing to safety from falling debris from the Đà Nàng AB Bomb Dump explosions, of April 27, 1969, as the
Guy-In-Back looks on--mesmerized by massive explosions and destruction illuminated by a 155mm parachute flare. © 2014 by Don Poss.

The Đà Nàng ASP-1 Dump

I have a story to tell surrounding the ASP-1 bomb dump event, and it truly became an event for me. We were informed the night before of a B-52 strike out in the valley during the late morning hours. After being rocked out of my bunk around 10:00 a.m. to the sound of explosions, I thought the strike was on, until I heard someone yell that the ASP-1  bomb dump was going up ! I ran outside, grabbing my camera,  to the site of smoke and shock waves rolling through the big white clouds--truly a sight. I took a number of pictures and used up all the film I had. I should of saved a roll for what was going to happen to me later.

 

They started posting off duty personnel and I was sent along with three others down by the F-4 area. We were told to stop all traffic from going over to the Marines' west side of the base. After 45 minutes of turning away very unhappy Marines, my area supervisor told me and another SP that we were getting reposted and to go check out a M60, ha ha ha! "Which post," I asked and he replied, "Alpha 18." Alpha 18 is on the south-west end of the base--repeat--SOUTH WEST end of the base, at the end of the runway and only 500 yards from the on base bomb dump. ASP-1 was only a half-mile from Alpha 18!

 

Alpha 18 had a small bunker with a 8 foot by 4 foot deep firing trench. I asked why are were going out there with all the explosions going on and was told they pulled all the Marines of the line. Get this: it was too dangerous them. REALLY..!

 

The SAT drove us out there, and we were told to hurry up and jump off so they could get out of there. The SAT left so fast they forgot to give us a RADIO--REALLY? We were the only defense on the south west corner of the base--lucky us. We got set up, and got in the trench, looking just over the edge of the bunker and watched the most surreal display of explosions I've ever seen. Rocket pods were going off and we could hear them swish out of the dump area. We held breaths as to wonder where they would hit. WAM... over there... and WAM over on the other side... then a 750 pound bomb would cook off and the shock wave would literally roll overhead. I could see hot metal flying through the air and hit out on the road 150 feet or so from us. The next day I got out of the bunker and dug out of the asphalt a piece of the shrapnel with my knife, and still have it.

 

After 90 minutes of constant explosions and crap, the SAT came racing down the road with its horn beeping wildly... and yelling for us to get in the jeep. GET IN THE JEEP! It was around 9:30 p.m..  I've got to get the M60! --LEAVE IT. Hell no... I'm signed out for it! So I grabbed the 60 and just made it in the jeep. As this was a rolling pick up... and out of Dodge City we went, wondering  what was now too dangerous for us. After what we had been going through. I asked what was happening and was told there were a couple of 10,000 pound  Daisy Cutter bombs in the dump and they think they might cook off. CRAP! We drove on down the road around the east side of the F-4 area, got out of the jeep and got down behind the blast shield, just as something real big exploded! What a sight that was, and again you could see the shock wave rolling across the runway toward us from the light of the huge plume. The the fire ball it made was like a nuke, and the shock wave hit us like a ton of bricks. And to think I had no film for all this. Nevertheless, the memory is forever in my mind, as well as that night on Alpha 18 and the ASP-1 bomb dump explosions.

Jim DeArment
366th SPS Tiger Flight
Đà Nàng AB, 1968-1969

Đà Nàng AB Bomb Dump, ASP-1: April 27, 1969

How it started -- A grass fire started by the road at the far end of the dump area where some Vietnamese were burning trash.  "Supposedly", a five year old kid lit a piece of paper on fire and stuck it under the fence which started a field of dry grass burning and eventually reached a pallet of 105 WP (white phosphorous or “willy peter”) rounds. Explosions rocked Đà Nàng for the next three days and nights.

Aftermath: The Bomb Dump was obscenely pockmarked with scooped out craters and cooked-off cannon shells. In many places craters festered like opened sores and steamed like Yosemite Valley in California. For weeks, EOD unearthed and disarmed unexploded bombs that had fallen from the sky like rain and embedding in hard-packed red earth, like a macabre statuettes of man.

The world's busiest Air Base was closed during the calamity. The control tower was evacuated. Take offs were at pilot's discretion only. Parked aircraft were quickly shuttled to far ends of the flight line for safety. And all the while, Charlie wisely kept his distance, unwilling to tangle with a wounded animal uncertain as to what caused his pain. -- Don Poss

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