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War Stories

Loach Ordnance

by Tom "Sam" Dooling

Things we threw at the enemy - also see Homemade Bombs & Homemade CS Bomb stories

During my tour (Jan 69 – Aug 70), the scout crews used various type of ordnance for their mission. They always had the smoke grenades for marking, but they also carried hand grenades (baseball grenades), Willie Pete, CS and homemade bombs. There were even a few of them that carried land mines, but that was short lived – they weighed a lot (30 lbs?) and getting out of the shock wave from the explosion was sometimes dicey since they went off on impact.

There were several Crew Chiefs that were very good at throwing the baseball grenades into tunnel entrances and spider holes. One of the best was Steve Dobry. I remember on one mission we were working north of Tay Ninh in a jungle area that had be somewhat thinned out with agent orange. We found a few spider holes/tunnel entrances and received permission to recon by fire. Dobry ask if he could throw a few grenades (he was not my regular crew chief – just happened to be flying with him that day), and I was a little skeptical about being able to hit an 18-24” opening from 75-100 feet up (there were tall trees in the area).

I came around for a slow pass at about 100 feet and I expected Dobry would simply drop the grenade and try to hit the hole. Nope – he was standing out on the skid and threw it like a baseball (hence the name baseball grenade) and it went right through the opening and exploded inside the bunker or tunnel! I teased him that it was dumb luck and he said let’s try another one. Came back around over another hole – same set-up – and I’ll be damned if he didn’t do it again. We threw all of our grenades (probably 10) in this manner and he batter about .600. It was really amazing.


My personal favorite was the homemade bombs. We would take the cans that the WP grenades came in (they were metal cans that you took the top off like the old fashion peanut cans - with a twist key). We would then stuff the can full of C4 (about one and a half sticks - probably 2 lbs.) and then place a baseball grenade on top and safety wire it onto the can.

strandPhoto of Strange Strand on the right making a bomb sitting in a Loach (you can’t really see the bomb in the picture). We loved these things because they had about the same explosive power as a 10 lb rocket (not as much shrapnel though).

One of my favorite experiences with the bombs was when we were supporting an ARVN company that was clearing old bunkers near the Cambodian border. I suspect the complex was a supply depot since the bunkers were fairly good sized. I was flying the cover Cobra with the Scout down low providing perimeter defense. The GI advisor to the ARVNs asked it we had any extra hand grenades since they had exhausted their supply clearing the bunkers and still had a few to go.

The process they used to clear the bunkers was standing near the opening, throwing in the grenade and then stepping to the side. There was one guy that instead of following that procedure, would stand on top of the bunker and drop the grenade through the opening and then step back to avoid the blast.

My Scout had several grenades and a few bombs, so he landed and gave them to the GI advisor. They were distributed to the ARVNs doing the clearing and they went on their way back to the bunkers. My Scout called me and said I might want to come down lower and watch the guy that was doing the clearing from the top of the bunker, so I dove down to about 300 feet AGL and made a turn around the guy just as he dropped a bomb into the bunker. Well, a couple of pounds of C4 makes a slightly larger explosion that a single hand grenade – particularly effective in an enclose space. The explosion blew about half of the top of the bunker off, including the ARVN that was standing on top – he flew several feet into the air. Fortunately, he was a tough guy and survived the experience with a few bruises and bumps (maybe some hearing loss). The GI advisor call us up and sort of laughingly scolded us for not warning them about the bomb’s effectiveness ... the crew all had a pretty good laugh on the way home.