Mortar Explosion Aboard PCF 9
Three crewmen of PCF 9 were killed and two were
wounded when the boat's 81mm mortar exploded onboard at 0936 on 18 October 1966.
PCF 9, in a position one-half mile off the east coast of Phu Quoc Island, was
firing mortar rounds in support of US Special Forces operations when the fatal
accident occurred. Minutes before the explosion a white phosphorous round had
been fired successfully. At the command to fire a high explosive round, PCF 9
suffered an explosion which was observed by personnel onboard PCF 6 and PCF 73
stationed some two and four miles away respectively. The mortar was totally
destroyed. The after .50 caliber machine gun was blown over the side and the
after deck section of the craft was damaged extensively.
An investigating board found no evidence of malpractice, negligence or misconduct on the part of the crew. All cartridges and fuses aboard PCF 9 were removed and regarded as "suspicious" until checked out by the Naval Ordnance Systems Command.
The crew of PCF-9 on October 18th 1966
Officer in Charge - Stuart Michael Novak, LTJG - WIA
Hubert Tuck Jr, BM2 - KIA
Gale Jackson Hays, EN2 - KIA
Eugene Lawrence Self, QM3 - KIA
Lucio Garcia Valdez, RM3 - WIA
Lane Mcbride Markle, GMG3
Note: PCF-9 was delivering Naval Gun Fire
Support, using its 81mm mortar, in support of some U.S. Special Forces operations. Naval
mortars, unlike their infantry counterparts, are not fired by
dropping rounds into the tube, where they strike a firing pin and are immediately launched. The naval mortar round is inserted into the muzzle, as with the infantry version, but the gunner decides
when to fire and does so with a conventional trigger.
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This page was last updated on: March 30, 2008 at 22:39