The Big Bang!

The Big Bang!

Sgt. Grit,

It's funny, lately, I've been meeting Marines that served during the 80's, 90's, and 00's years and when we talk about our experiences, enlistment years, and MOS I always have a hard time explaining the 106mm Recoilles Rifle and 50cal spotting rifle.  They have absolutely no idea what this fine weapon was all about and how much fun it was to shoot!

I had the pleasure of being assigned to 106's Platoon, H&S Company, 1st Bn., 8th Marines during the mid-seventies.  We fired the 106mm RR  four to five times a year at the G5-A Range Camp Lejeune, NC.  We shot at targets over the Inter-Coastal Waterway ranging between 3,000 to 7,000 yards.  Our platoon would fire over two hundred rounds per firing session.

The back blast concussion from this gun felt like you were getting slapped in the face by Mike Tyson.  On one occasion the platoon had all eight guns on line and we fired a salvo!  Each gunner depressed their triggers almost at the exact time and it felt as if the air was being sucked out of your lungs!  A lot of times the back blast would spit out a fire ball streching back several feet away from the gun.  Though we had hearing protection our ears would ring for days after the shoot.

During one live fire, we had a stuck HEP-T round with the breach partically closed, then the round cooked off and blew up the 11ft., 385lb gun and sent it spinning threw the air landing about 50ft. down range.  The back blast sent the 22lb. breach backwards past the safety berm, over the road and into the trees 400 yards away from the firing line.  Fortunately, no Marines were seriously hurt.

I'm wondering if any of the "Old Corps" Marines would want to share any stories or experiences with this gun?

Semper Fi,

Francis J. Hauser

Sergeant of Marines, 75' to 81'         

23 thoughts on “The Big Bang!”

  1. I remember the Ontos we had in Viet Nam with 6 I06s on them. A bad little track vehicle it was.

    1. I hitched a ride on an ONTOS from my hill SW of DaNang when going back to the 11th Reg. Hq. in ’67 or ’68 (forget the actual month/day). It was the only one i saw while i was in Nam.

  2. I know of two (2) Marines killed by the back blast of a stuck round in a 106 which cooked-off on Hill 273 in Nam in 1970. I was an 0331 with Lima 3/7 & we used to get fire support from 106’s off of Hill 273 when I was there. Sometimes they would shoot high explosive plastic tracer rounds (HEP-T?) which looked like balls of flame flying through the air. I’m sure the enemy thought God was on our side because we were shooting little suns at them. It was very motivating.

    1. I co. 3/7 in 1970 we operated out of LZ Ross I’m not familiar with Hill 273. I am familiar with Hill 953 and LZ Rider and LZ Baldy.

      1. I was with 3/11 f dc on lz baldy in 1970. On the northwest side of the lz was a 106 that I saw shoot several times. Pretty good backblast. Then moved to delta btry. 2/11 on lz Ross and saw the o ntos with 6. 106s. We supported 7th marines with 105s.

  3. Hello, Brother, I was in H&S 106’s Platoon in 2/5 @ Camp Pendleton at the same time. April 75-August 76.It’s always dry conditions @ Pendleton, and we started several brush-fires. Most memorable was having a HEAT round ricochet off of one target and strike another target!!! Or another time we cranked elevation up, to see how far we could hit past the impact area.Our surprise came when we impacted on other side of the mountain, shooting towards Telega Area. We had to shut down live fire very quickly! Other memories of putting C-RAT peanut butter cans & cheese cans into the fire and when it exploded, hoping no one got cheese napalm on them.Ah, the good old days…..Then I got transferred to TOW CO. in 1st TANK BATTALION.All of our 106’s came off of “ONTOS” and were pretty much worn out long before I arrived @ 33 AREA (Camp Margurita)

  4. I was with 106 Platoon, H&S Co, 2/4, 3dMarDiv in 1970 – 1971; we were firing the 106 at a range in PI, there was a tree 3,000 yds out and we gunners were trying to see who could knock it down, we would each take a turn first firing the 50 and then firing the 106. The gunner on the gun before me tore a big chunk out of the tree but the tree didn’t go down. So when it was my turn I hit the tree center mass with my 50 and then sent the 106 round down range – down came the tree! Speaking of the backblast, we use to put empty ammo boxes in the backblast zone just to demonstrate the damage that can happen, the boxes made great fire starter.

    1. My memory tells me that I was told that the Ontos was built for the Army as a small tank, but didn’t have enough firepower with 1 gun. They junked it and our folks took them, removed the 1 gun and put 6 106’s on it. Certainly seems to fit with our adapting and getting more out of less. 3/5 hill 63 & 2/5 An Hoa 1967-68 Sgt 1965-69

      1. The Ontos was originally built as a Tank killer. As I understand it from old Ontos crewman at CamLej, the Army couldn’t make it work for them and the Marine Corps bought them. In Nam seeing as how the NVA didn’t really have that many Tanks the Ontos was mainly used for convoy escort and shooting snipers out of trees. Our Company CO at 2d AT’s in CamLej would coordinate to go up to Ft Knox or Ft Campbell, KY to act as aggressors with a Tank Co CO from 2d Tanks when I was there

  5. Was in 1st Anti-Tank Bn in late 50’s. The Ontos was a great weapon. 6 106mm rifles w/50 Cal. Spotting rifles. Most fun I had in the Corps. Didn’t see many of them in Vietnam though. Terrain probably had a lot to do with it.

  6. Check out how the 106’s were used daily during the Battle for Hue and my most favorite, the Battle for Khe Sanh. Didn’t matter if they were mounted on “mules”, tripods or ONTOS, they were “nasty” and right-on target. Never could understand why the Army didn’t want them (ONTOS) and we grabbed them up. Course us Marines always knew the value of a good piece of armament. Often wondered if that the 106’s had anything to do with the old saying of “reach out and put a touch on someone (regarding the Ma Deuce 50 teamed up with the 106). Gary Ross, Fox Co., 2nd Batt. 26th Marines. Semper Fi!

  7. I was assigned to the 106 platoon H&S/1/7 in 1966-1967 in South Vietnam. While on Lantry Hill, Chu Lai, we monitored river traffic at the entrance to the Song Tra Bong River. We scored 2 KIAs located across the river and on another occasion, 5 KIAs that we spotted fleeing in a sampan after engaging in a firefight, also across the river from our location. We used our 106’s primarily as a defensive weapon. Early in February 1966, we did take a 106 mounted on a mule on a patrol, however, we found the mule too noisey and because of the terrain, we only ventured out a short distance. Also served the rest of my 3 years with 106 platoon H&S/1/2 at Lejeune. Fired the 106’s in Sardinia during a Med Cruise. Thanks for the memories.

  8. i watched what 160’s could do on Liberty Bridge in 1970 V.N. with Golf Co. 2/5. It was truly a wonderful thing to watch. Always on target !! I’m sure the VC/NVA always wondered “What the Hell just Happen” and where are the other guys?

  9. I was with A/1-11 at Camp Pendleton in 84. We were using the 198 howitzer. That was an awesome piece of equipment also. Death from a distance. Cannon Cockers.

  10. I was in the 2nd Anti-Tank battalion at Camp LeJeune, my tank commander was Cpl Haynes from Belmar NJ. I’ll never forget the first time I fired the Ontos, the 50 cal spotter round and the fireball of the 106’s going to there target were great to watch. The Ontos was an impressive weapon.

    1. Jimmie when were you with 2nd AT’s. I was with C0’s B & C in ’65-’66 as an Admin Clerk, but also earned a secondary MOS of 0353 because our CO at the time was a Tank Company CO while in the Nam and wanted to be able to mount all of his vehicles with qualified Ontos crewman. So he had everybody with other than an 0353 MOS work at the tank park to get OJT and pick up the MOS. Semper Fi. GySgt USMC (Retd) ’65-’85. 0141/0353.

  11. I can’t recall if I was at PI or infantry combat training afterward in the summer of 1960, but the instructor said it was the 1000 yd tank range and we had an old Sherman tank to fire at with the 106. We were told to pull the firing handle toward us to take the slack out and after firing the 50 caliber sighting round to immediately fire the 106 round. He said it was so that we could quickly move and not take incoming as a result of our last round going down range as in actual combat. I did what he said and in rapid order pressed the firing button twice and got one hell of a pain in my right ear. In fact, I couldn’t hear for 3 days. I told my buddies if an NCO said something to me to poke me and I’d do my best to understand. I couldn’t hear. I was afraid to report it for fear they’d kick me out of the Corps. By the way no one offered us any hearing protection and though I was previously familiar with firearms I didn’t ask for any cotton for my ears. I have hearing loss in my right ear, but can’t prove it happened during service. I’ve just learned to live with it, but in a room with a lot of background noise I am out of luck and the doctor said a hearing aid would make it worse. I just figure it could have been a lot worse. To this day I feel as though I could never repay my country or the Marines for all the things they did for me and how it changed my life and my outlook. Semper Fi and an early Happy Birthday for next November to all you Marines. God Bless Ameica. Buzz Alpert

    1. check with the V.A. explain to them your problem they just might be able help you. when you say CAN’T its because you didn’t try.

  12. Cpl.B, I was lucky to serve with 2nd Recon Bn at Camp LeJeune in 1982. We had the the 40th reunion of the 2nd Raider Bn, those were some hard Marines with some great stories. The one thing that I noticed was that the Marines were the same no matter the age, weapons change, Marines don’t. Semper Fi, [always faithful], or was it,Semper Erectus, [always hard].

  13. I was assigned to 2nd platoon, Bravo Co, 3rd Mar Div out of Camp Evans in 1967, which was located between Hue and Quang try. Our ontos platoon fired countless 106 rounds, H & I fire, from our perimeter at night. The grunts around us hated us because we would fire up the engine before letting loose with a either a single round or a double round and the grunts knew what was coming. We were very lucky that we never had any accidents in our unit because the firing pins in the breech block were known to be very sensitive and could fire on their own when they wore down. Other units weren’t as lucky, as I heard a crewman in another platoon was killed by a backblast, when he walked by as a 106 was fired. Ontos crews used their 106’s very effective in the house to house fighting in the battle for Hue City in Feb/ 1968.

  14. SOME TIMES WE HAD THE (ONTO’S) AT THE REAR OF OUR CONVOY’S WITH THE (7TH. MOTOR BATTLION) I WAS IN (B COMPANY) IN CHU LAI 1966-1967. ONE TIME A ONTO’S IN THE REAR OF THE CONVOY WITH (6- 106’S ) ONE OF THE CANNONS WENT OFF AND HIT THE LAST TRUCK IN THE COVOY, TOTALLY WIPED IT OUT (HIT THE AXLE AREA) WOW! EVERYBODY WAS OK! THANK GOD! A FOOT HIGHER ON THE GUN ELAVATION WOULD HAVE WIPED OUT HALF THE CONVOY. THOSE ONTO’S (DRIVER’S) WERE (INSANE) WITH ALL THAT FIRE POWER (WOW!) ONE MORE THING THE (ONTO’S WERE POWERED WIT A (CHRYSLER BIG BLOCK 361 ENGINE) THE TRACK’S WOULD THROW SPARK’S ON( BURN OUT’S) MOPAR TO YOU!

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