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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