!!! MAJOR EXPLOSION !!!
AT BINH THUY NAVAL BASE
In the Spring of 1972, the Binh Thuy Naval Support Activity Base was being transferred to the Vietnamese. What had once been the largest U.S. installation outside the continental United States was shrinking, American forces were being reduced and before the end of the year, it would no longer serve as a headquarters for U.S. forces.
A mortar or rocket attack by enemy forces hit an ammunition dump, setting it ablaze.
William J. Lee credits the Viet Cong with "a lucky shot":
EMAIL: JessWJL[ at]aol.com
The night of April 16, 1972, the Logistic Support Base/Naval Support Activity Detachment Binh Thuy was hit by hostile rocket fire. The major explosions were ammunition cooking off after the ammunition dump was rocketed. For 48 hours the dump cooked off sending white phosphorus shells tumbling through the air setting fire to every thing that they dripped on.
My commander, Walter Bell and I scouted the ammunition dump area and hangars to insure that we were not being infiltrated.
All in all, it was just a lucky shot from some Viet Cong with a rocket.
Dick Bosin describes the event, which occurred shortly before the base was turned over to the Vietnamese:
EMAIL: dbosin[ at ]plix.com
The base was hit on April 1st 1972.
The ammo dump was hit with rockets and mortars. It burned for days. The night started with a ground attack on the US Army Base. When it was stopped they started the rockets.
The South Vietnamese were running the ammo dump at that time. They also ran the Army base that was west of the ammo dump. This all happened during the Spring of 1972 Offense. The US Army Base was only about 200 guys at that point. The Navy was very small and the Air Force Base was all Vietnamese. By the beginning of May we stood-down the Army Base and moved to Can Tho.
Randy Gast was on the base when all Hell broke loose:
EMAIL: rpg97404[ at]netscape.net
My name is Randy Gast and I was stationed at Binh Thuy from 71- April 72. You asked about an explosion, is this the one that happened during April 72 (Easter Tide)?
If so, what happened was that we were surrounded by VC and thought they would over run us since there were so few of us left on the base because of the turn over. They lobbed morters into the ammo dump and sat back and watched the fireworks. There were 500# bombs, rockets, morters and anything else that was stored there going off.
It was quite the night, something I won't forget. When this happened we had already given up the side by the river and were moved into the officer barracks, most of the this side was fenced off also. We were no longer allowed to go off base, only certain times were allowed to have friends from town on base. Any locals working on base had a hard time getting through the gate.
When I left in April I was one of the last troops to leave. Anyway, I'd like to hear back from you so we can talk old times.
Walter A. Bell has a piece of shrapnel from the explosion that missed him by six inches:
EMAIL: WBELL[ at]jam.rr.com
I served at Binh Thuy from December 71 through December 72 and then spent a couple of months at MAC V Siagon before leaving country. I have plaques on my wall for NAVSUPFACDET, Delta Naval Advisory Unit, Naval Advisory Group CTF212, 57th Army Med Detach and 42nd Med Detach, Logistic Support Base, Delta Naval Forces, (all from Binh Thuy) and one from ISB Ca Mau.
Don't recall the date, but the ammo depot adjacent to Binh Thuy was hit by mortar fire one night and that thing kept exploding all night. I have a good size piece of shrapnel which missed me by about six inches while cherry red hot. I waited until it cooled and picked it up thinking that if that one didn't get me I'd probably make it out of there.
It was interesting to walk down memory lane. Thanks for the memories.
Lieutenant Commander Walter A. BELL, USN (Ret)
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