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War Stories

Navy Bombs DaNang - 8 Jan 1973

Brian "Stretch" Harrison

with Dennis Hogan, Wayne Moose and Joe McCourt - News Article - other comments


The 11th Combat Aviation Group records for 8 January 1973 states:

"DaNang AFB received a misdirected LORAN strike causing light damage to one building and one UH-1H aircraft. Six member of the 11th CAG were slightly injured with minor cuts and bruises."


HaiVanPassComments from Dennis Hogan:
Do you remember the day (8 Jan 73) that a flight of four Navy Phantoms pickled their bombs on the DaNang tank farm?

I was coming through the Hai Van Pass at the time and was told to hold there that DaNang was under attack.

When we were finally given clearance to land our maintenance ramp was littered with shrapnel.

Hootch Maids



I picked up a piece of the shrapnel, and as we headed back to Tan My we still thought it was a VC attack. I showed the shrapnel to my hooch maid and said see VC attacked Da Nang. She took the piece of shrapnel and shook her head and said no same same B-52. On our next trip back to DaNang is when we found out that it really was shrapnel from 500 pounders.

Tank Farm




Here is a picture of the Da Nang Tank farm taken later that morning on another trip between Tan My and DaNang"



Tank Farm


Comments from Wayne Moose:
"I flew down to Danang on Jan 9th and took this picture from a Huey jump seat".









Comments from Joe McCourt: I was a F/4 maintenance crew chief based at DaNang and took this picture of the burning fuel tanks (on the right) from the ground that morning. My normal walking route to work was right past the tank farm to Camp Swampy but luckily a fellow with a jeep picked me up and we went a different way that morning.

see additional photos of Camp Swampy, DaNang in McCourt's Photo Album.


Associated Press News Article:

SAIGON (AP) - An American flight leader mistakenly guided five U.S. fighter-bombers into an accidential attack on the Da Nang Air Base yesterday. Ten Americans and one Vietnamese were reported wounded by shrapnel or injured while running for cover. No deaths were reported. The western part of the base where the bombs hit is thinly populated. The U.S. Command reported that about half a dozen U.S. AC 119 gunships and one helicopter were lightly damaged by flying shrapnel and four fuel tanks were destroyed. The command first reported the explosions at 7:20 a.m. as an enemy shelling attack. Seven hours later, it announced that an investigation showed five Air Force, Navy and Marine

fighter-bombers “flying above a heavy overcast accidentally dropped 34 500-pound bombs at Da Nang Air Base.” The intended target was suspected North Vietnamese and Viet Cong positions near Da Nang. The flight leader reportedly ordered the bombs dropped at the wrong map coordinates. The planes, an Air Force F4 Phantom, two Marine F4s and two Navy A7 Corsairs, came from two bases in Thailand and from a carrier off the coast, and the pilots may have been unfamiliar with the Da Nang area. The U.S. Command reported continued heavy aerial assaults on North Vietnam’s southern panhandle with the object of slowing war material moving down to South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.


On the ground personal accounts (not Centaurs):

1. Danang Air Base, January 8, 1973. Keith W. Steward. 6498th Security Police Squadron.
"It was the eighth of January 1973, and Tiger Flight (night shift) had just gotten off duty. I now had a room on the second floor of a two story barracks in Gunfighter Village, on the east side of the base. I was working nights supporting Tiger Flight from the vehicle section. I remembered just getting ready for bed when I heard a strange whistling noise. All of a sudden the world is erupting in explosions. It sounded like rockets right outside of the building. the barracks was shaking and I was sure, when I headed for the door, I was going to find dead Momma-Sans all over, since they would just be coming to work. I ran out of the west door, and seen nothing. Everything looks normal until I look to the northwest across the base. there are several columns of black smoke headed skyward from the area of the VNAF (Vietnamese Air Force) POL (Petroleum Oil Lubricant) storage. the big question was why were the explosions so loud? It turned out we didn't get hit by rockets at all. It was an Air Force F-4, two Marine F-4s and two navy A-7 Corsairs dropping a total of 34 five hundred pound bombs. the story was the Air Force pilot in lead was unfamiliar with the area, and due to overcast conditions, ordered the bombs dropped on the wrong coordinates. The base newsletter had a nice article which I saved, and my folks saved a couple from the local papers. It was said that Danang was the only US air base in Vietnam ever bombed by American military forces. I think even at a mile away, it was too close. One of the large storage tanks burned for days afterward."

2. "I was there! I was stationed at FASU as a Navy air crewman. One day I was sitting in our aircrew shack by our revetments, I am sure it was a Sunday, I was writing my mom. Then a screaming od jets came... louder and louder. As a Navy Crewman I knew it was unusually loud, like a jet landing on a carrier not on the runway close by. As it became evident this was so abnormal and sounded like something crashing I tried to make it to the bunker outside the aircrew shack, jumping over a table or something and then got thrown into walls from the concussions... when I got outside there we 2 F$ Phantoms peeling off. The fuel farm was blowing up and a fuel tank... large fuel tank was on fire and burned for days making it like daytime for nights... some people had a patch made with the "mistaken bombing of DaNang on it.. sorrowful I have lost it."

3. I was there.. it blew up my guitar which I carried back and had it rebuilt and still have it.