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DaNang Ammo Dump, April 27, 1969 Admin |


DaNang Ammo Dump - April 27, 1969

On April 27, 1969, I was the OIC of a small communications detachment assigned to 1st MAW in DaNang. That Sunday as I was working in the office, there was a huge boom. The initial explosion caused the fluorescent lights in our small working space to tumble down. One light hit the Gunny in the left shoulder - it was more of a surprise than an actual injury. A series of smaller, but just as dangerous, explosions soon followed. We stepped outside our work spaces (which was actually a small hut that was surrounded by a sandbag revetment) to see what was going on. We could see a billowing cloud of smoke in the direction of 11 o'clock. Some would say it looked like a nuke's mushroom cloud. Suddenly, we saw that a shock blast wave was heading toward our area - and they kept coming. After an hour of this, I finally had no choice but to shut down our comm link with III MAF across the DaNang River. In the meantime and in accordance with our standing procedures, the rest of the detachment all reported in for duty.


The explosions would continue for about 17 hours and the dump wouldn't completely "cook off" for several days. The white phosphorus bombs lit up the night sky. When it was over, millions and millions of dollars of ammo had been destroyed.

It must have been about 10 a.m. the next morning when the all-clear was sounded. "All present and accounted for, Sir!"

The story I heard at the time was that some local hires were burning some brush that got away from them and, as a result, caused the series of explosions in the DaNang ammo dump. It sure did a lot of structural damage!

After getting all affairs back in order and re-establishing comms with II MAF, I headed up to Freedom Hill in the detachment's jeep to check in with the detachment that was assigned to 1stMarDiv, of which Capt. Jim Bolson was OIC. The drive on the way was harrowing - it was like navigating an obstacle course. Bombs, including unexploded ordinances, were littered all over the ground and the damage was unreal. There was shrapnel everywhere and miles of berms were blackened.

When we arrived at Freedom Hill, we found that Jim Bolson's detachment was back up and running. They had suffered some minor damage, but nothing that couldn't be repaired easily. Dog Patch, the civilian makeshift residences outside the 1st MAW compound near the foot of Hill 327, was literally leveled.

Arthur Kidd
Capt Ret

Do you have a story about the DaNang ammunition dump explosion in 1969 Vietnam? Share it with the SGT GRIT community below to connect and share your personal experience. And be sure to check out other stories about Vietnam on the SGT GRIT blog.


I was posted at the III MAF Brig as an MP. Does anyone have pictures or recall the burning of wastes with diesal fuel in drums in this area? Veterans seeking disability through the PACT are having to prove there were burn pits in South Vietnam.

Michael W. Ennis,

My father was 1st Sergeant Henry Hayes USMC at Ammo Co Camp Monahan. I am trying to find anyone who may have know him. Feb 1969-Oct 1069

Henry Hayes Jr,

I was with Delta Co 3rd MARINE BATTALION ARMED FORCES POLICE DANANG I was there that morning
on the road to the American Brig and Pow encampment that was behind the ammo dump I was delivering correspondence to the brig. I want to emphasize that it was a Vietnamese who lived on the left side of ammo dump was burning trash I noticed it going in I don’t know if it was intentional or not
by the time I finished my business at the brig it was to late! I called for Navy Tanker trucks and run like hell, several times I stop my Jeep and dived into the dirt as you could hear them whistling in! I made it back to headquarters in DANANG and watched the percussion’s one right after another cross the sky.
I had only weeks left and was put on a C-130 with I believe 11 others and a lieutenant with 17 American prisoners going to Portsmouth Naval prison Kittery Maine turned in my 45 and was given transportation to Boston Logan airport. That’s what happened that morning it was a Vietnamese not Marines!

Phil Wingo,

April 69 I was in country for 5 months. I’ll never forget that Sunday, our battalion headquarters 3rd MP battalion was approximately a quarter mile west of the ammo dump that dump blew sky high! My CO ordered my squad to man the line adjacent to the dump. We hauled ass to the perimeter line. It’s a miracle none of us were done in or wounded! That shrapnel was raining down huge red hot sharpnel I’m not stretching it! It was a few feet away from me! We thought Victor Charles, penetrated the dump!! Later we found out it was a weed burning detail!! What dumb shits allowing them to burn weeds along side the dump. We were on the line for hours, that shit landing all around us. 1st tanks came in and hauled us out of that area and took us to Hill 134 I felt like John Wayne, aboard that tank!! Man those plumes were unbelievable man they blew sky high! 17 hours non stop! Our batallioin area was burnt to the ground. Sea Bees and all of us rebuilt the batallion huts etc.
I crack up whenever I think about it!! Thank you weed burning idiots!!!

Semper Fi!

Gil Jimenez

Gilbert Jimenez ,

My father was stationed at Da Nang when the explosion went off, he took numerous pictures, one of which has a clear massive shock wave. I don’t know his group or anything other than he worked on electronic counter measures for F4-Phantoms, and electrical radio work. He was a staff sergeant by time he was discharged, but I’m not sure what his rank was at the time of the ammo explosion.

His name was Tim Heil (66-70)—the only identifiers I know are from his Marines graduation book: 1st Battalion, Platoon 1076. He arrived at Da Nang in Oct 66 I think. If you were there and knew my father please contact me at


was there that morning ,just got in from alnight,i was with ammo co, camp ej monahan,it blew up the camp,we had to move to hill 34 it went up 3 days the blast from bombs knocked over jeeps it was raining shapnel hot we was out n field rolling around

richard williams,

My father gave my son three 6 inch by 6 inch or so pieces of mortar/metal that he brought back from Viet Nam. He wrote a note describing them:
“scrap that came from the remains when the VC blew up the Denang ammo dump. I came across the pieces when a mortar hit the HQ office and we were searching the area for wounded.”
I never knew about this nor much else about it. Thank you for sharing. It is a part of his history that we know little about.


Gerald Jenkins I was there with that same unit

Paul Warren,

I was on a Guard Tower, on Hill 60, 20 miles South of Danang, on the morning of April 27, 1969, facing the area where the Ammo Dump was. I saw what appeared to be a missile, coming from the east, directly hit the ammo dump. There was one large explosion, followed by hours of additional explosions that lasted throughout the morning. I have pictures of the event. No one believed me when I told them what I saw. I was with the Marine Corps, 1st Marine Division, 7th Engineer Battalion, ‘C’ Company at that time.


I was on Hill34 7th Comm Bn just west of the dump. I got some great pictures of the explosions. We counted 16 explosions that we call “nuclear “ type. These explosions were accompanied by shock waves. The shock waves made the air ripple just like water ripples. The explosions lit up the sky, next came the ripples and a few seconds later the concussion. Thankfully we had no enemy movement that night.

Jim Bean,

I was there on that Sunday. The explosions started as described. Exactly !! I also was in the shop that Sunday. The ordinance stopped going off the next morning. Rack after Rack of large 250 and 500 lbs bombs going off in high order. We would see the explosion and watch for the concussion wave coming. Jumped in bunker and came back out after the concussion wave passed. A truck full of 81s with willy peter blew up all at once. It was one of the coolest explosions I have ever seen. This huge fire ball with what looked like lady fingers billowing out of the explosion. Burned down the refugee village referred to as Dog Patch. MABS-11 MAG-11 68-69

Philip Smith,

I was in the III Maf brig across the street from ammo company when this happened. Shit jumpin bad. As shrapnel and unexploded artillery was hitting around and on us. One thing that was parriculary galling was the NVA and VC prisoners were moved out at almost the start of the explsions and we incarcerated marines were kept locked in until there was a massive explosion. I got lifted off my feet and tossed aways.
So I really have nothing good to say about the usmc. Or the crotch as it was more comonly called

Curt Taylor,

I was with MWSG 17 Marine Corps Fire Dept. We Rolled to Happy Valley on a grass fire call. As soon as we got around Hill 327/ Freedom Hill. The dump started blowing. We battled that fire for 3 day. It also started the ARVN bomb on fire. I had been in Danang 2 1/2 years was due to leave June 10th. Didn’t think I was going to make it. The Air Force dump did get hit in 68.

Doug CABE,

I was there with the 282nd ASLT helicopter company, watching the bomb dump blowing up

Jerry Staggs,

I was there that morning. I was with the 1st MAW, MWSG 17 to be exact. I took a patient to the hospital ship that morning. Not long after getting there Someone told us that we should get back to our unit. Because the ammo dump was blowing up. We could see the shock waves coming toward us across the water shaking the hospital ship went hit. Later came the loud booms. Upon arrival back to our ambulance we tried to get back but we were told that our unit had been evacuated to the Air Force side of the Da Nang airstrip. Exact location unknown. We drove until we saw on of our ambulances. What a relief.

Gary Smeltz,

I was at mag 11 clinic, it was blown apart. The shock waves and flying debrie cause severe damage. We had guys in a ward, we tried to get them out before the ceiling fell we were hit by door that blew open and had cuts from glass. We got the guys out. We were told that it was “friendly fire”. Someone started a fire at the bomb dump to burn grass. Didn’t seam smart.

Gary Stempin,

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