On April 27, 1969, I was the OIC of a small communications detachment assigned to 1st MAW in DaNang. One day, while working in the office, there was a huge BOOM and the fluorescent lights in our small working spaces came tumbling down. One hit the Gunny in the left shoulder, more of a surprise than an actual injury. Then, there were a series of smaller, but just as dangerous, explosions. We stepped outside the spaces, actually a small hut surrounded by a sandbag revetment, to see what was going on. We could see a lot of smoke in the direction of 11:00 o’clock. Then, all of a sudden, we could see this shock wave heading towards our area. Finally, after an hour of this, I had no choice but to shut down our comm link with III MAF across the DaNang river. In the meantime, in accordance with our standing procedures, all the rest of the detachment reported in for duty. “All present and accounted for, Sir.” It must have been about 10:00 the next morning when the all-clear was sounded.
The story I heard at the time was that some local hires were burning some brush which got away from them. 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 assigned to 1stMarDiv, OIC was Capt Jim Bolson. It was like driving an obstacle course there were bombs lying everywhere. The damage was unreal. Jim Bolson’s det was back up and running also. 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 was literally leveled.