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War Stories

The Lost Weapons of Tan My

by Brian "Stretch" Harrison

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TanMyConexsOne of the last details during stand-down in early February 1973 was to help load two small conexes with chairs, tables, radios and weapons from all around our base at Tan My. The weapons included a half-dozen or so 50-cals used for perimeter defense, a couple of captured 51s, M-60s stripped from the all the slicks and loaches, M-16s and CAR-15s, 45 automatics, 38 revolvers, and all the enemy weapons and ammo around the base including a quantity of brand new SKSes still wrapped in cosmoline, which were offered to troop members as souvenirs. Hundreds of weapons total went into the two conexes.

After loading we chained and locked the conex doors shut. I thought we were going to transfer them to the South Vietnamese.

 

ChinookConex

 

A Chinook arrived. One of the older enlisted men on the detail hooked up the first conex, and the Chinook sling-loaded it out over the ocean close to the horizon and promptly dropped it in the ocean (right on the horizon, maybe 8 miles out). Then it came back and repeated the trip with the 2nd conex.

Big splashes.

I can't tell you how many times I've thought of these weapons. Hopefully some future underwater explorer will come across them.

 

 

 

Below are two different views of a few of the enemy weapons gathered up and destined for the conexes. From left to right (front to rear) - Soviet RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launcher, AK-47 automatic rifle, and three variants of the Soviet 7.62 RPK light machine gun. The RPK with it's integrated bipod and 75-round magazine weighed less than half of a M60 but had approximately 200 meters less range due to firing the less powerful 7.62x39mm "Soviet" round (the M60 fired the longer more powerful 7.62x51mm “NATO” round).

02/03

 

 

04peake

 

 

 

Here is Michael Peake (weapons specialist) sorting through ammunition destined for the conexes.
He is holding a CHICOM Type 36 57mm recoilless rifle anti-armor sabot round.

 

 

 

 

05Kiersy

 

 

 

 

 

Dan Keirsey, the pilot I rode with most during my short time as door gunner, kept a collection of weapons and books in his hooch which he lent out to anyone interested. The Thompson submachine gun in the picture was sold to an American contractor at Danang for $5. Some of the rest ended up in the conexes.

 

 

 

From left to right - M-16, AK-47, short-barreled M-16, CAR-15, M2 carbine (M1 carbine capable of automatic or semi-automatic fire), Thompson submachine gun, M-79 “Blooper” grenade launcher, and Smith & Wesson 38 Special revolver in holster. On the wall above the rest is a M3 submachine gun, aka “grease gun”, a cost-reduced version of the Thompson.

 

stretch

 

 

 

 

Included in the haul was “my" cherished CAR-15 that a Cobra pilot had very kindly passed on to me after he left country.

 

 

07Moose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wayne Moose was smarter than me; he claimed one of the free SKSes. Here is Wayne hand-carrying it to Camp Horn (DaNang) to fill out the paperwork to legally bring it home (I made the trip with him).

 

Those were the days!

“Stretch”