Why Won’t This 175mm Gun Fire?
Did We Keep the Powder Dry?
By Carl Lanier

As far as I can remember, I was only scared twice while in Vietnam. One time I was caught in the open, talking to a Marine Gunny Sgt who wanted to borrow a vehicle to bring some supplies from the LZ. I had neither Steel pot nor flak jacket. An incoming round landed close by and we both ran for cover. I was scared, but once I got my Jacket and steel pot---Schzaaaam, I was invincible. When I went to find the Marine, I was told he was medivaced. He got hit when we turned and ran for cover.

The other time was a lot more hairy. We were firing hot and heavy when one of the guns had a misfire. We went through the misfire procedure twice more than the book called for. I wasn't going to get anyone hurt. Particularly me, as I was the one who had to reach in and grab the powder bags that may or may not be smoldering, and with the first bit of oxygen could make me a crispy critter. Any way we cleared everyone away from the rear of the gun, had the bucket of water in the well to drop the powder into to keep the powder from blowing up. I just knew that the powder was going to fry me as I was directly behind the breech. I told the gun chief to open the breechblock as fast as possible. When He opened the breech, I grabbed for the powder---AND THERE WAS NO POWDER THERE. They had been firing so fast that they had forgotten to load th powder. Man was I relieved not to be cremated before my time.