Let me start by saying that if I get this information wrong, please feel free to explain what I’m trying to describe . I can assure you my friends, my feelings will not be hurt.
As it was told to me, the VC/NVA would collect the 250 lb. bombs that didn’t go off when they hit. They would tie this bomb on a small tree, pull it back, and place a small explosive charge under the tree. When the smaller explosive went off, it would cause the small tree to spring forward with more tension and consequently forcing the bomb in to the air with some power. We would hear the smaller explosion and the bomb cutting through the air. I’m not sure how to spell the sound it would make but if one was ever thrown at you, you know what I mean when I say “cutting through the air”. The worst of it all, you didn’t know what to do (‘to sh– or get’)! Anything that big doesn’t have to land on top of you to “put your health records in to the red”. The upside to all of this, believe it or not, is that the bomb still had to hit on it’s head in order to detonate. Still, I don’t know too many guys who didn’t need to go to the head after going through something like that.
My first experience with a Lob Bomb, we had sit up in our night position somewhere in our A.O.. It was as dark as the inside my boot and a few of the guys were talking but not very loud. In a short distance, I hear that small explosion and this strange sound—like someone had thrown something real big and slow in the air. Those Marines who had been in country awhile ran for their holes! Not knowing better, I moved a little slower into my fighting position and waited. All of sudden, I heard this thump just short of our lines and then nothing. The next morning, one of guys who had been in Vietnam couple of months longer than me explained what had happened last night and how it was possible for the VC/NVA to do what they did. Wait! I’m being serious, I just now wondered how did they know ahead of time that we would be there in that area?
I wish this was the end to my story but not just yet. The second time I witness this effort to use a 250 lb Lob Bomb as a weapon against us was when we were on Liberty Bridge. There was an ARVIN compound setting on this pile of dirt with a village right outside of it. It “was” the one sitting on the right hand side of the road as you were traveling south to north from An Hoa. Anyways, one quiet night we were settling in our area when that small noise and big sound came from along the river. We all got set but the bomb hit the ARVIN compound instead and half of it was gone in the flash. Some Marines had been operating some heavy equipment inside the compound during the day; so Red’s squad and myself (radioman) ran up the hill to pull the Marines out and do what we could to help the ARVINS and call in some choppers. What a mess!
Now I have been in country for about 8 months and thought I had my “head and a– wired together” “my sh– in one bag” and all those foolish thoughts that went through our minds because we had made it this far (I got hit sent home two weeks later—they showed me). We’re getting into our night position and the new Platoon 2nd.Lt. is starting to listen to what the “old guys” had to recommend to stay alive. Some “newbies/boots” started make noise as they were getting settled in. I explain to the Platoon Lt that they needed to be quiet or we would get hit in their area of the line. Sure enough, we all heard that small sound and that “ungodly” noise of a lob bomb coming right at us. After some long seconds, we heard it hit the ground with a thump. The next morning I explain to the Lt what had happen and how the VC/NVA were able to lob a 250 lb into the air.
I’m not kidding, all of these situations are true and I’m pretty sure there are other Marines reading this that are thinking—Amen Brother! The VC/NVA were masters at using everything and simple things against us including our habits and games (ever play kick the can?).
Semper Fi Brothers and Sisters and may peace be with y’all
Footnote: That same ARVIN compound was hit a different time with a Lob Bomb and, again, it was successful in taking out that unit during a Zipper attack on Liberty Bridge.