M-79 – M-148 – M-203 in Vietnam

327 Infantry Veterans

M-79 – M-148 – M-203 in Vietnam


Is the M203 of 1970 and 1990 still called the 203 or is it M203A1. I must have used the modern version with the NG.. Would like to get to Campbell before I get in the ground.
I only saw the M-79 for a grenade launcher and it should have stayed in the inventory. The grunt would say, one less item to carry but they were great when used under our application.
If you come across David’s pic of the M203, send it this way. I love ancient history and that’s what we are. When I visit my son in Virginia, I travel to Ft. Eustis [we called it useless] and visit the transportation museum. CH45A skycrane, old RT’s [rough terrain forklifts] and everything else I drove for 20 years in the Guard. Felt right at home.
Will look for some pics.

I don’t know if the M-203 is still designated M203 or not.
Maybe one of our Active Duty Brothers can tell us that. My brief visit to Ft. Campbell was terrific. Spending time with the 327th brothers on Active Duty was exhilarating, The cocked and locked and ready to rock! They are going to write some big pages of 327th History.
Yankee Jim

The early, over and under’s, 66-67, were not M-203s. They were XM-148s which were different in a number of respects.
Mike Clancy


They must have pulled the 203 for modifications since and then reissued it in ’70. According to Dan O’Brien they still had troubles in the early ‘90s with the sights. The short model 203 I saw at Campbell in June, looked deadly but I didn’t hear any plus or minus comments while there.
No Slack!
Yankee Jim

The over and under with the long trigger extension was an XM-148 and was made by a different company than the M-203 and thus was not just a modification.

The 203 goes clear back to late 66 or early 67. I can remember them coming into the jungles sometime after Troung Luong but I’m not real sure of the date.But I’am sure it was after the firefight in June 66.
Russ A/2/327 NO SLACK 66-67

They must have withdrawn the 203 for some tinkering. I don’t recall seeing one during my tour which ended in Sept ’70. I was out of the field by August. Mouse and David Pitts were still with “our” A Company and said they were issued/reissued late summer in ’70 to them.
No Slack!
Yankee Jim

From the number of comments about the weapon of 66-67 it was problematical and I guess they pulled it out of the field. I don’t think the M-203 had as many problems but the sights kept breaking.
No Slack & Above The Rest!
Yankee Jim

The picture is of of me with my M203 (Over-n-Under). I was with A Co, 1/327th from July, ’70 to Aug ’71. I was sent to Camp Eagle from the bush in either Aug. or Sept. to learn how to use the new M203’s and then was issued one.
Michael A. Carretero

Mike Carretero

There was also an Experimental 3 shot semi-Auto, type of M-79 around for a short time in 67 also, But It had serious problem’s (CRS) & didn’t last long as a Primary Weapon, in the woods..
Doc Teeters

I wonder if anyone has a picture of the semi-auto thump gun? I know a good thump gunner with the 79 could make that bad boy, deadly effective. I don’t recall anyone using the sights on the M-79 just shoot it by instinct. Besides the HE rounds they also carried illumination rounds, CS rounds and shotgun rounds. Great versatile weapon.

I remember the M-203 or something very similar being issued to us in 1967. It was tricky to use because of the sights but some got pretty good with it.
John Davis

O.K. , now I have to add my 2 cents worth. I was with 2nd Platoon A/2/327 from Oct 66 to Oct 67. I was a thump gunner for the first 7 mo. I recall seeing some Platoon leaders (LTs) with a M-16 over and an M-79 under, however, I don’t remember what it was called. But it was definately there in ’67. I wanted one, but they wouldn’t issue me one.
Gary Bills
No Slack!

As I see it, the sights were superfluous anyway. A good grenadier didn’t much use them anyways. I would have sawed the barrel mount off of my 79 if I could have found a hacksaw. The damn thing was always getting hung up on one thing or another.

I remember the Shot Gun & H.E. round’s , but CRS on the others. When I think about the M-79 & those 3 pack bandaleiro’s of H.E. rounds, I Alway’s think of My Home Boy, Clairance Brooks & The Bodacious Loads He used to carry up & down the hills & valleys + M-60 belts, claymoores, C-4, granaides, and the Lord only knows, how much other important Stuff, He Muled up & down those hills. I used to constantly be trying new way’s to cushon his lower back, with 4X6 feild dressing’s & oientments , due to the raw blister’s, from His Ruck Sack rubbing Him Raw , just above his Tail Bone. He was A Hell of A Gentle Giant .
I still miss Clerance & His Smile. God Bless Him.
Doc Teeters

I remember my platoon (Summer??? 1967) was on top of a very high bluff overlooking a stream with another of our platoons pinned down below us by some hostile force on the opposite side of the stream… we could not see our platoon but we could see some of the hostiles on the other side of the stream… they were firing with M-16’s, but not the M-79??? I asked one of the M-79 grenade guys why he didn’t fire supporting rounds from where we were on the bluff, down to where we could see the bad guys? He told me he was afraid of hitting our own troops directly below us. I looked at the distance and angle then took one of the M-79’s from a gunner and fired a round that landed nicely on the other side of the stream where the hostiles were located… Then the real Thump Gunners took over and laid siege to the enemy from on high!!! The angle just looked hard, but it worked with the
distance and gravity, etc… Nice weapon!
‘Doc’ Alan Wilkerson

The following is so everyone can compare the XM-148 and the M-203
Mike Clancy

In ’67 there was an over/under prototype called the XM-148 in existence. It was a hokey jury-rigged affair for sure, but it (mostly, anyway) worked OK. For whatever reason, they didn’t bother to try attaching the gizmo to the new M16A1s we received in late NOV67, so I always assumed there just wasn’t anything like it in the Army’s inventory from then until they started producing the M-203…whenever that was.

I remember that “thump gun” too (M-79). We popped an ambush around Nuoc Ngot one night and our thump gunner tripped as he was moving, triggered his thumper and nailed our medic in the collar bone with a round!!! The round didn’t travel far enough to explode (Thank the Lord) but it clobbered him good enough to bust some bones in there! And then there was another time on FSB Tomahawk when we were loading off a deuce 1/2… another accidental firing of the Thumper left one of those dang old HE rounds lying on the ground about 1/2 foot away from MY foot!!! Again, not having traveled far enough to explode. Nice safety feature incorporated in there… I’m glad somebody thought of that. And one other thing: it always sort of made me nervous to hear that “thump” if it was out of my sight until I heard the round explode somewhere where I wasn’t!
No Slack 1969-70 B Co 2/327

I saw two accidents with the M-79. Somewhere in the flatlands between Nuoc Ngot and FSB Tomahawk coming in from bush we had two VC get up and Dee Dee out of a hamlet, must have been around Oct./Nov 69
The second squad thump gunner was “cherry” coming in-country about three four weeks after me. Anyway he threw an HE round at the runners and it hit some bamboo about six feet in front of him and came back intact/unarmed and hit the squad leader right in the groin. Unexploded it fell to the ground along with Sgt. John Coleman who was in excruciating pain. Flash ahead to 1988, John Coleman and I are in New Orleans and we look up the thump gunner Jack Ponson, who we had not seen since Nam. Well after some hugs Jack says to John “You might not remember me but when I was a Cherry I fired the thump gun and the round came back and hit you in the nuts!” John’s reaction was “THAT WAS YOU!” Of course I could hardly control myself. It was funny years later but when it happened it scarred the you know what out of me, and SGT. Coleman for sure. He had to have some surgical work in that area about ten years ago…

The second accident was a lot more serious. Late April early May ’70, my platoon was in the mountains North of FSB Los Banos. It was 1st squads turn to do a water run. Their thump gunner was loaded with a shotgun round and against SOP had the breach closed. A ‘wait a minute vine” snatched the 79 from his hand and it fired when it hit the ground. The buckshot took the calf muscle off George “The Bear” Tolsty. We were in such thick canopy they took ‘The Bear” out on a jungle penetrater winched into the Evac Slick. I remember he had to be raised and lowered a few time because it was tangling in the growth on the way up. I ran in to George back in the world two years after Nam. He had had multiple operations to graft skin over the wound, just to get it to heal. Lost touch with him along the way…

There is one other incident that I heard of, but didn’t witness. Maybe it’s one of those Boonie Rat Rumors, I can only hope so. Here’s what I heard. Three guys on a FSB are fooling with the 79’s illumination rounds. They take the timing fuse from a parachute flare and build it into a HE round hoping to create an air burst, HE round. When they fire the round it explodes in the tube and kills them. Like I said I hope it was a tale…
No Slack!
Yankee Jim

HEY!!! Holy Cow! Incountry I heard that very same “Boonie Rat Rumor” with the M79 on one of the FSB’s… In fact, I think it might have been either Tomahawk or LosBanos where that was supposed to have occurred.
Well now, that’s a real interesting way to get a new squad leader!
We had some other interesting accidents… about the unfunniest one involved a Huey Cobra thinkin’ we was gooks! Before that day, I always felt real good seeing them up above us. Afterwards, I got preeety darn nervous whenever they was around. No one got hurt by the Grace of God thanks to a mechanical jam on the first round with the mini but he whacked off 2 of those rockets at us… (Don’t like getting shot at by Cobra’s). His gun run was already messed up with the jam in the mini so his second choice shot was a “go to plan B” deal and he missed. A number of years ago, I wrote about that incident and plan to put it in my computer one of these days and I’ll send it along. Problem is, life is so doggone busy! I have a few pictures but the scanner doesn’t seem to pick them up very well. But also I am quite new to this computering stuff and it plays havoc with my thought processes!
No Slack

As a old 101 vet I was a thump gunner for a while and swore by them, sucked in the jungle. Only heard about the 203’s in the 70″s…In late 66 tested some flashette rounds for the 79, but the Geneva people at the test fire ruled them not humane….did not need the sights, used a para cord with knots set at 100 to 500 meter in 50 meters sets for defensive positons…just put the butt on the ground and use the knots for ranging in gun on targets…If Any remember it was a trooper from the 101st that came up with the vest idea and the government did start issuing them. Remember showing the guard guys in the states the cord trick before they got the 203s…most of the gunners carried M-16s as a backup…..by the way my First 16 was a xm-16 one of the first.
Old Tiger,

I spent two months as a grenadier in the 173rd Abn. Bde. The M-79 was a great weapon with one exception: it had the most dangerous safety of any weapon in the US arsenal. I personally saw two men killed and two wounded within six months with M-79s and they weren’t negligence issues. I saw a number of accidental discharges also. It became so bad in the 173rd Abn. that it became the hard rule that the weapon had to be carries with the breech open unless under fire or in the rain. With the breech open and the thumb on the back of the round so that it wouldn’t fall out, the weapon could be closed buku fast by just removing the thumb and swinging the front upwards until it locked; then fire away!
But it was such a good weapon, that the Communists in SVN, Laos and Cambodia always tried to capture as many as they could.
We also had a 12 gauge shotgun shell adapter. Inserted into the breech (it was about 4 inches long), it made the breech small enough so that a 12 gauge shotgun shell could be used; either double ought buck or flechette rounds. You could carry a lot more 12 gauge rounds than you could canister rounds and they were just as good. The adapters were hard to get and if a grenadier was KIA or WIA the adapter was always recovered and kept in the squad it was in. I never saw them again after I left the “Herd”.
Andy Roy

I don’t recall if it was 1968 or 1969 but I remember seeing two varients of the over/under M-16, M-79 thump gun. They were being field tested by two men that I assumed were with the 2/327th but now wonder if they were just attached to one of our companies to test the weapons in the field. One was surely the M-148 varient because the barrel slid forward to load and cock for firing. The other was loaded by cocking the barrel to the right like a single barrel shotgun. I don’t recall what the trigger mechanism looked like. Talking with the guys that were carrying them, both thought that the one with the barrel that slid forward seemed the better idea. Looking at the latest design I guess that it did win out.

I remember that the thumper had frag, 12 ga. shotgun, flechette, CS, parachute illumination, red and green star clusters and who knows what else. There was also a 12 ga insert barrel as well as the 40mm shotgun round. At Ft Benning I saw an incendiary round and what was called a “ring airfoil grenade” that was supposed to “fly” 1200 meters like a frisbee. Later there was dual purpose and AP but that might have been for the M-203. I saw a couple of the early (XM-148 ?) weapons in mid 66. I remember an ARVN general with one. Excellent weapon. Like to use them for recon by fire of woodlines and at night before MGs would fire. That was the theory but all hell would always bust loose from minute one anyway. Experienced gunners never needed the sights. Do you remember they used to sell home made vests in the village for up to a couple of dozen rounds?
Bob Vaughn
XO, C/2/327 1965

As a thump-gunner with 2plt Bco 2/327 from Sept 67 – Feb 68 (Hue got me on the 25th) , I will assure you that the M-79 was a wonderful weapon. Have won many bottles of JD over what it could and could not do. CS HE Buckshot, flechette, smoke, flares and not to mention a great baseball bat.
Think maybe I’ll cut a wood mock-up of one, unless someone has….
James Schmidt

Williamson, David O.

I can tell you, I never saw that sumbitch the whole time I was there.
No Slack!

I carried one for short time at the end of my tour in spring 67. I don’t remember how it functioned. But humping it meant you had carry 200 plus M-16 rounds and 40 plus M-79 rounds. that was the reason I didn’t care for it.
Bob G.

I can’t speak for any other unit, but it was informal SOP in my platoon that a cherry was never given a thumper, as we worked mostly in mountainous jungle. A cherry is to apt to fire airbursts over his own guys. I think, but not absolutely sure, you had to be on the line for something like 3 months before you could get a thumper.
Mike Clancy

In October of 69, Alpha Co. No Slack was rebuilding from a recent walk in the Ashau. Two incidents I was told about were a booby trapped AA gun ammo supply that took out twenty guys and a short found from a 8” gun that smoked my platoon (2nd) anyway I think that the squad/team leaders and a few Spec 4 were the only people with any time in the field the rest of us were cherry to varying degree. I imagine they moved to the flatlands to rebuild during the monsoon for next spring’s mountain adventures out of tactical necessity. We were doing good until they put Mouse Hammond in the field.

The vest that you are referring too was invented and made by my father Sgt Carl Mennare C co. 2nd 327 inf 101 Abn Div. His father was a tailor and while my father was growing up my grandpa showed him how to sew. When he entered service in ’65 he was made a 79 gunner. The biggest complaint that he had was that he couldn’t carry enough rounds using the bandoleers that were issued, so he came up with the idea for a shotgun style vest. It carried 36 rounds and he didn’t have to worry about them falling out. If you are interested there is a picture of my dad and the vest on page 152 in the U.S. Army Uniforms of the Vietnam War written by Shelby Stanton.
Thanks for your interest,
Carl M. Mennare Jr.
82nd Abn Div

We had a Puerto Rican brother in A 2/327 that carried an xm-148 He was hell with the thing. I think he was on his third tour and got his third WIA award on my birthday — August 16, 1967.. Wish I could remember his name!!!!
We started the day getting picked in a big rice paddy at the bottom a big hill that had been out LZ the day before.. Since we had picked up a little activity in the area they were dropping a leg outfit on the hill above us that morning too.
Just as we deployed for the pick up the 155 rounds starting land in our PZ.. They were trying to prep out old LZ and missed.. We were very lucky that no one got hit..
That gunner landed on our destination LZ in the first wave and they deployed on a hooch complex down in the valley below us and started taking fire from it. You could sure tell it was him because when he was moving he would always fire five 16 rounds and then the thump. I think he was with the 4th platoon. We sure missed him after that day.
Charlie Cato

Reference to the first grand-pa thump gun, saw it in Oct 67 while with 2nd plt, B/2/327 ‘NS Bat’
I also saw this M-16 with a 40mm grenade launcher under it.; just as a note, I did not use it, but had instead an M-79 “elephant” gun -loved that thing- and a .45. Carried 80 rounds of mixed HE, gas and buckshot.
The mystery 40mm GL, if my memory is correct – we’re talking 35+ years here!- was loaded by rotating the hinged firing plat -located to the rear of the 40mm barrel /assembly- down and to the right as you held the doubled-weapon assembly, muzzle downwind. I recall that the protective plastic hand-guard was round, a plastic alloy(?) rather then the normal triangular plastic-aluminum affair of the M16 fame.
Never used the original ‘over and under’ thing; have a vague idea that the guys had M-79 before the mystery 40mm GL came in, then went back to the ’79 as it, the mystery 40mm GL, was removed from theater, as I was coming in, (Oct, 67).
The M-79 carried the name(s) of “blooper”, the “elephant gun”, ‘hip-pocket artillery’; I recalled only to well that it was smashing in a direct fire mode, that the off-keyed “PLOP” of a round departing was funny, that the soft “CRUMP” of the HE explosion at a distance was less than impressive, that the effects were impressive and sure; the rapidity of fire during a good fight was good if you had the speed to get your butt-pac off your ruck, and that when I was wounded just to the south of Hue during the end of Tet , the M-79 I was carrying was hot as hell, that the load I had put out at small hut on the hill to my front was suffering from my M79 and a nearby M-60.
Got carried away,,,,, Sorry
James Schmidt

Can’t find my photo with the M-203 right now but here is the TM cover, anyone who wants info out of it I will send.

Hey everybody, never did see any over-under while I was there, 68-69, didn’t even know they made such a beast, I carried a M-79, 10 months and loved every minute of it, had no 45 or sixteen carryed 100 H.E. rounds, 3 flares, 5 cs gas and 12 shot gun rounds, for thump gun didn’t know they made any thing else then, never saw no 12 gauge insert either, in open country used to be able to hang 5 rounds in air before, first hit ground at approx. 200 yds. no way now, but would love to try. haha love you guys.

The m-79 replaced the 60mm mortar which mortar men had to hump in the bush in the early days of the war. The marines were still humping the 60mm mortar in 68 according to a buddy of mine who did just that. The Xm-203’s that we had from late 70 on in the 1/327th were prone to wear of the locking latch. This caused the barrel assembly to move forward and eject the spent shell like a winchester 1200 pump. This made it faster than the m-79 to shoot. I don’t know if the modern versions do this.
Anyone know?
Uncle George

Refering to the links provided for XM-148 and M-203, while that may be a XM-148 or something simular, the carbine is not what was available in ’67 when the XM-148 was made available in Army units in RVN. The 30 round magazine, and forward assist make it a more modern weapon. The M-79 I carried for a few months, incidently had it’s winter trigger cut short. I don’t know if this was a “Armorer’s” work or a grunts own dealings with a clumbersome, dangerous trigger. The saftey was beyond help.
In INF AIT they taught us to fire it with the thumb folded to the right so the safety wouldn’t bite it.
Uncle George

Wasn’t M79 maximum range 250 meters

I don’t really know what the range on the M-79 was,but I do know I have seen it take down targets 500-600 yds away. If you were on high ground the range was a lot greater.
Russ Palm A/2/327 No Slack 66-67

More like 400 or a little more … check out link for The “Blooper” http://www.diddybop.demon.co.uk/blooper.htm

Semper Fi!

The max range of an M–79 is 475 meters. Was a thumper for Co. B 2/327th Inf, 101st Airborne/Airmobile 1969-70 Can’t beat a mini-mortor!!!!!!!!!!
“CHERRY” Lemons

What I found on the net.
The M79 was a single shot weapon that looked like a sawed off shotgun. It could shoot an explosive round 350 meters in a gentle arc. Its muzzle speed was slow enough to watch the egg shaped grenade on its way to the target. It kicked like a mule and was rarely fired from the shoulder as intended. Instead it was fired from the hip using the “Kentucky windage” method of aiming.
Point 15 Close 40 Effective 150 Long 300, Extreme 400 (300 and 400 distance ineffective for hitting target)
Jeff Paige

The maximum range is 400 Meters according to Army Specs.
Above The Rest
Dave Gratton
Tiger Force 1966

I carried the M-79 for 7 months for A/2/327 never a missed round, I won a case of beer off a it one time. He was the mortor plt. leader. The range was 425 yds. he shot two rounds and missed. I shot 2 rounds and on the second round I hit the hutch, caught it on fire. I think this was in August 66
Freddy Pitner

Freddy and I once played reverse leap frog as our platoon retreated under fire. Freddy and I were left in position and alternated covering fire. Freddy would fire his M-79 and take off running as I laid down a stream from the M-60. I would take off and Freddy would fire a couple of rounds down the trail. Both weapons complemented each other … fire power of the M-60 and the thumping grenade shooter. Odd bed fellows, but effective for our team effort.
Rick Salazar

As a former M-60 gunner I have to agree the two weapons often complimented each other. I recall having to cut down a paddy dike to get at the NVA behind it. While I was whittling it away 2nd squad” thump gunner, Jack Ponson was keeping them pinned to the backside with HE. They lost!
No Slack!
Yankee Jim

I too carried the 79 with Co. B 2/327 th Inf. 101st Airborne/Airmobile. Never saw a 12 gauge adapter —- would have been nice to have as I carried 114 H E, 5 illumination rounds, 5 star clusters(red, green, & white), 10 fleshette rounds and 10 buckshot rounds. The buckshot round were never worth totting . I put 5 dents in the primer and never did have one fire for me. Usually just chunked them when I got the chance. Everthing else was good to go though. Carried 3 HE rounds in each of four canteen pouches on my web-belt. The rest I carried in an Alice pack attached to the top of my ruck for easy acsess. First time we had a medivac I got the quick release strap off the left side of the guys ruck and replace my right shoulder strap with the quick release. Could drop that ruck in an instant and get about “takin’ care of business”. Also good to have when we were CAing into the Ashau Valley since they set us down in a bunch of bomb craters full of water and deep too. That ruck would take you straight to the bottom. Must have weighed 125# with eight days C-rations, two gallons of water, and everything else-not to mention all those1/4# HE roounds.
Loved my mini-morotr though!!!!!!!
Buz ” CHERRY” Lemons

Last time I participated in one of these discussions I incorrectly stated 1965 instead of 1964. And nobody corrected that and my signature block was printed for everyone to view. I sat down here 16 hours ago to read some mail while awaiting the polls to open. Most of the stuff I have read today pertained to the M79. I have been thinking about the over/under thing for the past week. I had one somewhere, but it was in 64-66 (crs).
Now someone wants to know how far it will shoot!
This is a physics question. I remember in 1972 a good ole boy from Chattanooga stating that a shotgun (M79?) and a pistol and a rifle fired at the same time could not reach the ground at the same time. My professor (Bill Blass) said that a pound of feathers and a pound of lead dropped at the same altitude at the same time, would arrive on the ground at the same time. {How about a 125# paratrooper and a 225# paratrooper?}
Next, what are they firing? An HE, shotgun shell, etc. And what about the guy on the top of a small mountain versus the guy in the valley? And what about the windage factor of the assholes that sent us there? Military Manuals are about as accurate as their body counts.

For point targets, 150 meters. For area targets, 350meters max range 1100 meters which I always believed was an engagement from a high hill. But you could add the height of the elevation of the hill your on to the range due to the extension of range due to trajectory.
Thank You, Be Safe, Enjoy Life, Live Long, and Prosper, and Good-By:
Henry B. Morton

The M-79 was use mostly as a mortor. you’re right it was shot from the hip. It was loaded one shot at a time. It had a cluster, High B round, and it all had to travel I Think 50- 75 meters in order to arm it self. It also had an illumination cluster, or flare. They were all classified or no enclosure with the first letter L( Sample L142,1453,144,145, to indicate the type of flare. Green, white, green, or white phosphorous. I know cause I was an ammo Sgt for a few months while recuperating from my wound.

My recollection is that the spin-setback arming sequence distance for all M-79 rounds was 33 meters. In the mid-70’s DOA toyed with the idea of reducing the spin-set back arming sequence to 15 meters when it introduced the final version of the duel purpose round, which was anti personnel and anti armor up to two inches of homogenious, big word for man made) steel. This was because of the envisioned close duels projected for anti armor fighting. The HE round was gradually used up and the duelie took its place as the HE master. There were also signalling rounds, red, green, white, and white star cluster and parachute illumination; war fighting, the HE duelie, gas, smoke, White only, shotgun, flechette, and the practice rounds, mostly colored blue in accordance with STANAG. Later, non lethel were introduced, bean bag, rubber pellet, large, and rubber pellets small, round, 16 to the round, gas, CS/DM, and even a small net projection round which went no where. When I was on my third tour, 69-70 the only XM148 systems I saw were with the ARVN. None were in the two Ranger Companies I served in, as we, mostly liked the chopped at the pistol grip 79 hung off the LCE by a taped snaplink as a backup. Believe it or not, this round is still evolving, and it remains a good round and with its “thinking” initiator will allow ensing air bursts in the future.. Porter, who was a thump gunner in my platoon on Bleskans day, and through it all, problably kept me alive by slapping me in the chopper due to my blood loss. I had told the platoon in classes that they were not to let any wounded go to sleep, and to insure the wounded were in the choppers heads towards the fire wall, and avoid inducing sleep that occurrs in the heads down towards the pilots seats. I really think he did it out of pure meaness because of my earthy anti VD classes, and the malarial tablet regime that all medics enforced. Porter is in California some where. In any case so much for the small talk.
Thank You, Be Safe, Enjoy Life, Live Long, and Prosper, and Good-By:
Henry B. Morton

When the 1st Brigade deployed, we did take the M-79 Grenade Launchers with us to RVN. A member of C Co 2/327 was the one who designed the vest that held M-79 Rounds.
Bill Keller
S-4 Sgt 2/327 64-66

Were you with us (A/2/327) the day we landed on a DZ just north of Chu Lai and we had a guy with his foot stick to a land mine? While the CO and the rest of the CP were trying to figure of what to do a thump gunner accidentally put a round about two feet from the CO’s butt? It didn’t go far enough to prime but it sure did piss the CO off. I think the CO’s name was Pepper… I think this was August of 67. Seems like we had moved the BN forward base camp from Duc Pho the day before.
That was a strange day for sure. They choppered B and C companies straight out of the base camp at daybreak.. One of the companies went in on a hill real close to where we were going and it was mined… For some reason they trucked us several miles North of Chu Lia before picking us up.. Must have been a chopper fuel deal or something! By the time we hit out hill the Air Force had dropped a couple of blockbusters on it and exploded the anti personal mines on it. After we sand bagged the trooper he dove over the sand bags and nothing happened.. It was a dud. Lucky dude for sure..
As we descended into the valley below we started seeing small bits of metal.. The close we got to the bottom the bigger the pieces were.. At the bottom it turned out to be a marine jet fighter that had crashed a while back. We were able to ID the pilot remains pretty easy.. His billfold was still in his pocket…
Charlie Cato

Just to add a different note to the M-79. I hated the son of a gun. Didn’t get any training on it prior to VN (66/67) and after P Training I was given an M-79 and no time on the range prior to being sent out to the field with it. The M-79 was all I carried, no M-16 so I wrote my Dad and he sent me a .38 S&W snub nose which I carried for over 6 months before it was taken by the Plt Ldr.
Back to the M-79….The only rounds I ever had was HE and 4 or 5 buckshot. I carried the HE in a couple of claymore bags, my rucksack, a couple of standard ammo pouches, and my pockets. The buckshot rounds were supposed to have been turned in sometime around the fall of 66 because we weren’t supposed to use them against Charlie (Why?). Those were the only two types of rounds I ever saw for the M-79.
Always carried it with a round in the chamber and the breech closed. Never once had an accidental firing. The darn thing got caught on eveyr wait a minute vine, bush and stalk of elephant grass from Tuy Hoa to Kon Tum and the straps from the claymore bags combined with the straps from the rucksack did their best to cause the upmost pain in my shoulders.
One thing I will admit though….it was an excellent weapon when it came to dropping those little 40MM HE’s where ever I wanted them.
Why Waltz When You Can Rock And Roll

I know Im gonna get some flak from M-79ers, but in my combat experience, the M-79 60mm HE round was largley ineffective, except in close quarters. The shrapnel produced at longer distances was minimal and in most cases produced only superficial wounds. It was an excellent weapon though in combat assualts in keeping heads down.
Ted McCormick

I think the real concensus amongst most line dogs I know is that we loved our mini mortar gunner but we were damned glad we didn’t have to carry it .A sweet talking sixty and a good thump gunner carried the day many times in Nam and when working in unison it was a deadly duo.
Anyhow Joe says much respect to our grenade slingin thump gunners and Inever knew how far the consarned thing would shoot all I know is some guys could really make it fly em out there and some guys were lucky they didn’t wipe out the whole damn Company sometimes….
No Slack
Joe Berry

In 1967, around Chu Lai , I was talking to one of our 2/327 brothers, he had received a direct hit from a M-79 HE round in his chest. It hit right where the heart is, (breast pocket). In his pocket was his Bible, the Bible had the imprint of the round and on his chest was a large red bruise. I don’t remember the troopers name, but I saw the Bible and the bruise. I think the round was fired by the enemy, (maybe not). Point is the round did not detonate because the round has to make 17 revolutions after it is fired before it arms itself. It would be nice to hear from anyone that remembers this incident or remembers his name.
Harry Gilchrest

Another few cents of my opinion, ya know, one of my brothers in Vietnam was a Thump Gunner, me I just humped the 16. To get to the matter at hand, Charles Cotton , the Thumper or 79 carrier was informed to always be near the 60’s. That’s already been thoroughly discussed and its the team work and deadly mix of lethal force. However in my platoon we never discussed how far it could be flung, we only knew when we used it, they and the range was always to damn close. However, at times of leisure as we all had from time to time, we played cowboy. Makin bets on who could shoot what and at what distance with accuracy. One day as we were playing some old hand got to pickin on ole Cotton. A case of beer was the bet, an old hootch was the target, the range approx. 400-450 meters, slightly undulating to even terrain, some brush and tall trees. Well, Old Cotton sits his’ self down smells the wind, looks at the hootch several minutes, gives it a serious look sets the thumper between his legs mini-mortar fashion, pops in a round, snaps it shut an let er rip. Behind this hootch about 50 meters was this old banana type tree about 40 feet tall. While the round is still out going, Cotton says, “changed my mind, don’t wanna shoot a hootch, I wanna pop the top out of that tree, upon his words the tree top burst with a small kruump. Tree top fell off. We never even considered range again,we always figured with Cotton and the 60 gunners, we was a walkin in the park.
David Williamson C/ 2/327

Suppose you can call me a crazy, but my very first weapon as a cherry PFC in an Armored Cav unit was a Cal 45 “Campbell Soup” Tanker’s Gun. It was that or an M1 and, being a “wall of steel” kind of mech grunt, I figured 20 rounds out of a magazine beat the dickens out of eight rounds out of a clip! After all, most times Charlie didn’t engage us at 500 meters – it was up close and very personal! Fast forward to early 1969 and I’m now a scary cherry LT (OCS) in command of a team that gets assigned to the Screaming Eagles and, two days in country, we get plopped into the Ashau into the middle of you crazy mothers of destruction! We also danced with Blackjack and the 187th – another story. Anyway, I discover a Thumper and, brothers, I fell in love! I know all the horror stories, but God and Old Abe must have been watching out for me. Carried HE and what we called “Buckshot” (40mm) rounds. One buckshot always loaded. No need for illum or star clusters – just screwed up the night vision stuff anyway! If Charlie or his NVA big brothers jumped up, we’d have a “Come to Jesus” session with the 60 and my Thumper as my warriors with the 16’s went target selective. This was five (Buckshot) to 25 meter (HE) stuff off the Valley floor towards the border. Anything over 300 meters and I’d call for the FA, first round 100 up! Because it’s fun to mess with LT’s, I get orders to be an aerial observer when we’re in the rear on stand downs at Evans or Eagle. Call sign, “Gunners Eye.” Believe I was the first to fire a Thumper out of an OH-6A (now the way too cool Blackbird being flown by the Night Stalkers at Campbell) – scared the crap out of the Wobbly One flying the LOCH on the pink team mission, but the snakes above us had no doubt where the target was! My humble opinion — the M-79 used properly was a great close in equalizer and I gladly humped the rounds. The M-203 never did it for me when it came on line. Too many buttons and bells! The new stuff, auto 40mm launcher included, is okay for open areas like Iraq, but where we were in country under the triple canopy, the only new weapon I’d hump today would be the SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) which is one wicked sister! Still, give me my Thumper and Cal 45 pistol back and I’m GTG. Oh, strange twist. Retired after 37 years last November. Get a note from BG Mick Zais, USA (Retired), son of the late LTG Melvin Zais, who’s now the president of a college in the city where my Number One Lady and I retired. He hired me on as a part-time professor. Son is a lot like our former CG – smart and squared away. You Screaming Eagles are all heroes and I’m proud to have served with you. Hooah!
All The Way – Airborne!
K. Douglas “Grunt” Cook
Grunt Six

I was reading the section in the site about the M-79. I’m not much on whats it called, nomenclature, but if you look at my pic ( 2/327 E Co John Robert ) you’ll notice I’m carrying one of those over & unders…….so whats it called?

For several weeks, I did carry the M-79……but I also had an M-16 at same time and the two were a bit too much for me. While carrying the 79, I was able to come up with one of those vests they’re mentioning….I never realized they were designed by someone in the 2/327, but they sure were convenient, I applaud the designer.

Also, along with the HE rounds, I carried a few shotgun rounds and a few WP rounds. To answer Dew’s question about why they took back his shotgun rounds, I was told that like the WP rounds, they were against the Geneva convention? I guess that means they weren’t fair? Well, I guess our platoon was not required to play fair because we always had access to both (67-68).
Anyways, now I’ve added my $0.02 worth too.

The over and under weapon you carried must have been a M-148. I understand that this weapon had an unusual trigger mechanism that was prone to failure and was withdrawn (after you left?) By my tour their were only 79s (9-69/70) every gunner did have a vest, a great invention to say the least. The shotgun rounds were back too. Unfortunately the only practical application I saw removed the thigh muscle from my buddy George THE BEAR Tolsty while on a water run in the mountains north of FSB Los Banos. The Thump Gunner had the breach closed contrary to SOP when a wait a minute vineor something caused him to drop it and it accidentally discharged.

Near the end of my tour or shortly after the reissued the Thump/M0-16 combo as a M-203. Mouse Hammond (I believe) and David Pitts carried them. I understand that they improved the trigger mechanism. Last June I was at Ft. Campbell and Patti too this picture of the Charlie Co. No Slack Armorer with the latest version of the over under. I believe the 16s are now called a M-2 and I don’t know what the combo gun is called.
No Slack!
Yankee Jim

Do not adjust your picture, that really is YJ, doesn’t look as good without Patti on his arm, does he?
Good thing he has a weapon in his hands.

In response to Yankee Jim’s questions….yes, we now fire the M-16A2 – subtle changes like an ejection deflector for “lefties” and some other stuff. The M-203 is still in the inventory and issued in the somewhat enhanced (more annoying crap hung on it) version. The M-79 is essentially gone. Now we use the Humvee or IFV-mounted 40mm auto launcher which poops out lots of HE rounds per minute and looks like a short, over-sized Gatling Gun with a trigger rather than a crank! It’s impressive….if you can get a prime mover to get it to where you need it (like I stated, open terrain weapons). SFOD uses this thing on their assault vehicles (dune buggies with a bite), but still wouldn’t be worth squat on Hill 937, Dong Ap Bia! Oh, did I mention we now fire “green rounds?” Yes, they are environmentally safe rounds so we don’t leave that nasty lead stuff in the ground to poison the water. I believe I retired at about the right time. Hooah!

K. Douglas “Grunt” Cook
Grunt Six

RE Grenade launchers and the 67 vintage “over and under”

The photo is of what was then brand new ordinance, the one I am holding by the bunkers at the flat arty position. It was being ” field tested”. Most of us who had been using the m 79 did not like it because the long “coat hanger” trigger required lots of pull, was something that often got caught on the “wait a minute bushes” and like others noted required a double load i.e., m 16 and m 79 ammo. The one big advantage was how ever, when in situations like I was on mothers day hill, I would have had an effective weapon in the heavy jungle. They just would not issue a .45 to grenaders in early-mid 67. The current versions are supposed to be much improved, the shot gun rounds were a waste.
Steve Black

Mid 67

One thought on “M-79 – M-148 – M-203 in Vietnam

  1. C-4-503rd Inf., 173rd Airborne. My M79 was broken, the mechanism faulty, the rear sight useless, and could never get it replaced, while the further back one went through the chain, the newer the equipment and weapons — an old Army phenomena, I’m sure. 11Bs always have to make do.

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