Okay, you asked for it. This is a good story. It takes a while to tell.
If you will look on the fin assembly of the 2.75 rocket, you will notice there is a snap ring that locks it in place. Now, if you take that snap ring off of the rocket, you can remove the fins and the balastite. You probably should not do this where you are right now. We did it when we were in the ammo dump at MCAS Marble Mountain, about 4 1/2 miles southeast of Da Nang.
We were way out at the corner of the base but at the perimeter of the base on the shore of the South China Sea. You could almost throw a rock in the sea from that corner of the base. We had our hootch out there with our ammo, way away from tent city where everybody else lived.
It was nice. We had a nice WOODEN building that we lived in. We had two Vietnamese girls that kept our hootch clean, did our laundry, shined our boots. Yes, shined. Even tho we were in a war zone, we were on a base and some things had to be done. Like a hair cut every week or clean your hair extension every month, and polished boots.
So, anyway, we got bored easily when we went any length of time without receiving incoming from the enemy. Anticipation made us nervous. So, being young men, Marines, we would find things to do. Now, all of the ammo on that base came thru us. So, we had our hands on a lot of fun stuff.
We assembled about 2000 2.75 rockets a day for the different squadrons. We got a lot of returned, “could not fire” rockets. But you know a lot of that was just due to the rocket pods or something else. Anyway, we took one of the “duds” and took the fin assembly off. Inside was this translucent red balastite. It was maybe the most beautiful red I had ever seen. But it didn’t hold much promise for something to do. Even there we knew we couldn’t just light a whole stick of balastite and watch it burn. So we put that aside.
We turned our attention to the shiny little electric igniter. THAT had possibilities. Now we knew it was electrically fired, so we wondered if the “clicker” for a Claymore Mine would be enough to set it off. So, we dug a deep hole in the sand, everything there was sand, and we buried that little igniter. Not knowing how strong that thing was we buried it pretty deep. SLICK ! Nothing. CLICK, CLICK. Damn. It doesn’t work. So, we dig up the igniter. IT DID WORK!! We just had it too deep.
So, we take apart another rocket, take the shiny little igniter, bury it. But not so deep. CLICK! POOF! Pretty good pile of sand blew up into the air. We were onto something.
We take TWO more rockets apart. Now, guys, I don’t want you thinking we were taking brand new rockets apart. That would have hurt the war effort. Nope! We were taking apart the ones that were returned to us.
So, like I said, we take two rockets apart, get the igniters out, wire TWO of them together, bury them, CLICK! BANG! THAT was pretty good. Well, blowing holes in the sand was no fun. We needed something to DO with those igniters.
I don’t now how these 2.75 rockets are packaged today, but in Nam, they were packed four rocket motors, and for warheads, in a wooden box. Then inside the box, each rocket and each warhead was packed in a heavy cardboard tube that looked like it had tar on it to seal it. Those tubes fit very snug on those rockets.
So, someone says lets stand the rocket tube up in the sand, we will put an igniter down into the tube and put a cardboard lit on the tube and see what happens. So, we did this. CLICK! That lid came off the rocket tube, but is wasn’t anything special. So, someone says, lets use two igniters. That really worked! We shot that tube lid pretty high.
Okay, now what were we going to do with this? Someone says, hey, lets put a frog on the top of the tube and launch him. GOOD IDEA!!! There were PLENTY of frogs around there. So, we stand the rocket motor tube up in the sand. We take THREE igniters, wire them together, put them down in the tube, slip the cardboard lit down over the tube, set the frog on top of the lid, and just as we were ready to launch, the damn frog jumped off. How the hell are we gonna make that frog stay there. TIE HIM UP!! Nah, that’s no fun.
Somebody said lets make him a parachute! No!! Lets open up some pop-up flares and get the parachutes out of them. GREAT!
We get some parachutes, cut them loose, tie the lines together. Now, not a one of us knew anything about packing a chute, so we just tied it to the frog, and wrapped it around the frog being careful to wrap his legs so he couldn’t jump off the the launch vehicle.
We wrap him up, drop three igniters down into the tube, put the lid on, place the frog on top of the lid, CLICK!!! KA BOOM!! We launched that sucker into low level orbit. Pretty soon we saw him coming down. The chute had opened just like it was supposed to. We did this for a while and then it was chow time.
We pack it in, get cleaned up, drive to the chow hall for dinner, and the whole time we were in the chow hall all we heard was Marines talking about the strange explosions that were going off on the base.
Seems these explosions didn’t sound like mortars, didn’t sound like rockets. What the hell was the enemy throwing at us? Never heard that kind of weapon before.
Well, needless to say, the days of the H&MS-16 Ordnance Space Administration were over. We put our launcher away and pretty soon the talk all died down. Damn, they never did learn what kind of weapon the enemy was using against us that day. Seems we weren’t as far out in the boonies as we though.
Such was the story of the flying frogs in Vietnam. We had fun, but it wasn’t worth “Office Hours”, or A Court Martial. Was fun tho.
Now, DO NOT TRY THIS IN IRAQ. You may not get away with it like we did.
Semper Fi Marines!