Our Secret Weapon-The Double Bubble Bullet!

By Jack Stoddard

Donít let anybody tell you the Army donít take care of their own. Every four weeks like clock work we lucky guys received our own personal care package! It was a huge box issued to each tank crew and contained the following goodies:

3 ea bar soap 1 box tropical candy bars
4 ea cartons of cigarettes 1 box chickletts
3 pkg writing paper 1 Lg box double bubble gum
3 ea pens 1 box matches
4 ea disposable razors 1 box jelly candy
1 can shaving cream 2 ea chrome can openers (P38)

On the great day this sundry box arrived it always caused a big stir. It was like Christmas. Everybody wanted the same items so myself, being in the position of Tank Commander, had to be the one who decided who got what. Strickland and Harry usually got the writing paper and pens (they wrote home a lot). Bill and I were the only smokers so we got the smokes (we traded off the menthols). And the other goodies we split up. Nobody wanted the tropical chocolate bars (we couldnít even give those away!). They were designed for hot climates, they wouldnít melt! What ever they did to make them do that, also made them taste horrible. The rest of the gum and candy would go into a cubby hole somewhere in the tank.

Our tank was a M48A3 and fired .50 cal and .30 cal machine guns. The main cannon was a 90mm cannon and we carried a variety of main gun ammo. We had H.E.. or high explosives, and we had SABOT. It was armor piercing and last but not least there was the canister round. There were 2 types. The new one looked like a large bullet. It had a timer built on the top ring of the round so that you could set the flascet arrows that were inside to go off at a given distance after being fired. The round held 40,000 small metal arrows about 1/2" long called flascets. The old style canister round looked like a shot gun round being black in color and flat on top.

One day we were getting a refill of ammo. This involved 2 men from each tank going into the middle of our tank circle (logger) and breaking down ammo crates then carrying the ammo back to their own tanks. The whole crew would then load the ammo into the tank and fill up all the vacant spaces. On this particular day Strickland dropped one of the old style canister round on itís side and the top cap fell off. These rounds had many layers of tightly wrapped metal pellets inside the top portion. Well the top layer of pellets fell on the ground. I was on my way over to chew out Strickland when I heard him say, ďsaid whoa, thatís cool! Letís pack it full of double bubble gum and put the lid back on.Ē So thatís what we did and the first of many double bubble bullets were born!

We always rode with a round loaded in the main gun but we couldnít put the old style canister round in because it would come apart due to vibration. Once we left the security of the base camp we always had all weapons loaded with the safety on. Only when we returned to the base camp did we unload our guns. But at night we loaded our special round in the tube. On one dark rainy (that good ole monsoon season) night our perimeter was getting probed. I alerted the crew and we were all in our positions listening to the radio to hear where and if the VC were trying to get into the perimeter. All of a sudden a trip flare about 50 yards in front of our tank went off. I gave the command ďon the wayĒ and fired the main cannon. Strickland reloaded the main gun while I sprayed the area with 50 cal fire. We fired 3 main gun rounds and 1 box of 50 cal ammo in about 10 minutes. The two tanks on our flanks also opened up.

Everything quieted down after that and it was a sleepless night until dawn with the exception of parachute flares dropping into the darkness and providing us with a sense of security. Thank God for those mortar crews who worked all night to help keep us safe. The next morning our unit sent out a recon patrol to search the area. You wouldnít believe what happened next. They came back and reported they had found 5 dead Viet Cong soldiers and that one of them was completely covered with what looked like bubble gum! At least they said it sure smelled like it! My crew and I didnít say a word, but soon after somehow word got out and every tank had a few double bubble rounds on board. Even the old manís tank! Of course he didnít know it!