Leprechaun! (Under development, your input welcomed!)

Contributions by Bob Bihari, Chuck Dougherty, Dick Guthrie, Gary Quint, Rigo Ordaz and Jim Sheppard

www.ichiban1.org, 2003. All rights reserved. (Copy permission at bottom)

Webmaster's Introduction The M113A1 armored personnel carrier used in Vietnam by the 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 50th Infantry was a versatile military vehicle, with a host of variants serving different purposes. Some of these variations were an official part of the M113 family of vehicles, like the M577 command track, the M109 and M132 mortar tracks, the flame track and others. Some weren't, among them two trialled by the 1st Battalion (Mechanized) 50th Infantry in Vietnam, nicknamed the "Leprechuan" and the "Minehune".

  • Dusters, Quads & Searchlights Association Historian 08:57:53 05/28/03
    :Fellow vets,
    I am looking for information on "The Leprechaun" which was a quad 50 from E-41st (E-11) that was mounted on a C/1/50th APC. It was active between 25-Mar-68 and 2-Apr-68 when it was specifically targeted and destroyed by a land mine that killed the Company A driver and two cannoneers from E-41.

    I am looking for any people involved in the incidents from that time period and any pictures of the modified APC with the quad on top.


    • Bob Bihari, "A" Company, 1st Bn (M), 50th Inf. 11:49:29 06/04/03

      Hi; I remember that day very clearly..( I was on the track directly behind the Quad when it hit the mine, #113 {or 413..we changed the track numbers about that time]). If I remember right, we were heading back to Uplift (not sure on this), but it was late afternoon, we were driving up a slight rise in the road, when the mine went off (think it was a command-detonated 250 LB bomb)...the track went straight up in the air, flipped, and landed upside-down, the quad unit blew 30-40 feet in the air, and landed a few yards away. Track started burning immediately, rounds cooking off..lots off fire going out from the other tracks (I remember a couple of old peasants being hit and med-evac'd out)...we only hung around for a little while, because it was starting to get dark, and the position was un-defendable (surrounded by hillocks/brush, etc) we pulled back (toward the coastline...but still in view of the track). Watched the track burn all night long..next morning, went back, pulled the track upright (they had to scrape the driver out of the hatch, nothing but bones in the back compartment..I thought there was only one man sleeping in the back when the mine went off..but not sure...only knew the driver...the quad crew were not with our company. Another bad day...
      I think two of the "loaders" were wounded a few days before the incident...I think they were wounded in the feet, because of the shields on the .50's...but I can't be absolutely sure. I remember the Gooks hated the quad...it was an awesome site to see when it was "working out"...ripped up a lot of real estate....but I don't remember working with it for a very long time (A company).
      That's about all I can remember off-hand.. Good luck with your efforts.......Bob Bihari "A"Co. 1/50
      2/68 to 5May-68 (WIA An Bao)

      • Dusters, Quads & Searchlights Association Historian 19:19:17 06/04/03
        Great first hand account of events. Thanks again to all responding. Still have a few questions:

        Does anyone have any idea where the name "Leprechaun" came from? Was there a name or artwork associated with the Quad or APC?

        There was reference to additional armor plating (2-feet high) added to the sides to protect the feet of the cannoneers. Does anyone remember any odd looking plating on the sides?

        Did the Quad have what we call "Bat-Wings", flat shields on the side of the turret in front of the ammo and cannoneers?

        Any idea how the quad was attached? Welded or bolted.

        Anyone with a picture?

        Thanks again,
        Paul K.

        • Bob Bihari, "A" Company, 1st Bn (M), 50th Inf. 20:53:16 06/04/03

          Hi Paul;
          I'll try to answer your questions as best I can...'been over 35 years, and I don't remember
          working with the quad for more than a few days / week before the mine incident...but here goes:

          Just how awkward did the configuration look?

          -Actually..it didn't look that awkward at all...I was never "in" the thing....but I was fairly close to it at various times..it didn't
          look any more unusual than a "duster" (Twin-40mm) or an "Ontos" (The Ontos, officially the Rifle, Multiple 106 mm, Self-propelled, M50, was an American light armored tracked anti-tank vehicle developed in the 1950s. It mounted six M40 106 mm recoilless rifles as its main armament, which could be fired in rapid succession against single targets to guarantee a kill.)

          Do you have any idea where the name "Leprechaun" came from? Was there a name or artwork associated with the Quad or APC?

          -No idea...The guys manning the Quad were not with the 1/50...though I know the driver was with 1/50 (KIA). I don't specifically
          recall any artwork...but that doesn't mean it didn't have any...even the track numbers (big white ones) got obliterated by dirt/dust
          very quickly when we were running off the "paved" roads

          There was reference to additional armor plating (2-feet high) added to the sides to protect the feet of the cannoneers. Do you remember any odd looking plating on the sides?

          -There were definitely gun shields on either side of the "bucket" (for want of a better word) that the gunner sat in ...If memory serves.. the gunner sat in some kind of pivoted cage, the four .50 guns on either side and above him...the loaders stood next to /
          behind the guns and changed ammo cans....there were "shields" in front of the loaders...but I can't remember if they were curved, or
          angled plate....but they were definitely not just a "barn door" (lousy description...wish I could draw a picture...)...
          I distinctly remember that just a day or two before the mine hit...the loaders got wounded in the feet because there was a gap
          between the bottom of the shields, and the top of the track... I was talking with my old driver, Wayne Sodam, a few months back and he seems to remember the loaders were shot in the head. We talked about the quad and had different memories. I think he knew the driver [Queen...I think] much better than I did since the drivers tended to hang together.

          Did the Quad have what we call "Bat-Wings", flat shields on the side of the turret in front of the ammo and cannoneers?
          -As I stated above....I seem to remember the shields being either curved...or angled plate welded together.....but I remember
          the gunner (guy firing the guns) sat very low in the cage...head about "crotch level" to the loaders)

          Any idea how the quad was attached? Welded or bolted.
          - I don't really know how it was attached because I was never in the track....but when the mine went off...that thing flew at
          least three or four stories (30-40 feet) in the air (like in slow-motion)...and I remember it was very easy to swing back and
          up and down when it fired....but I guess that was part of the quad "unit"...not the framework that attached it to the track..there
          were also lots of sandbags on top of the track (and inside most of the APC's because of mines)...sorry...if I had had a chance
          to get in it, or on top of it....I could give you a better description....again...Wayne might have gotten a better look.

          Do you know of anyone with any pictures of the APC/Quad?
          -Afraid I can't help you there....most of the "boonie rats" didn't have cameras with us....there were a lot of pictures of Uplift
          taken by the guys who spent time there...but Wayne is the only person I've communicated with (and him only recently) from
          the old 1/50....only know of two others that made it through 5-5-68 (Quint and Davis) from A co..and I haven't talked to either
          of them.
          Sorry I can't give you any more information....that's about all I can remember of the Quad (I vividly remember watching it in
          action though....amazing site watching all those .50 rounds and tracers literally tearing up the tree lines....too bad it only
          lasted a short time...awesome firepower.
          Good luck with your endeavor.....please let me know if I can help in any way.
          Take Care....Bob B.

          I didn't answer the question about the plates protecting the loader's feet...
          I really don't think there were...I seem to remember the top of the track was pretty
          "clean"...our tracks had the "Cav kits" on them with the .50 cal in an angled "tub"
          and shields on the two M60s on the sides...and piles of sandbags, flack jackets,
          and various "junk" all over the top....
          Just came to me after I re-read the message (I have a bad habit of sending
          e-mails, and THEN re-reading them....bad habit)
          Later...Bob B.

    • Dusters, Quads & Searchlights Association Historian 01:01:43 06/04/03 )
      Thanks to all for the info regarding this incident. I think we have the KIAs figured out and some of the history. Not sure if there were others injured. Have not found anyone with photos of the before or after.

      Paul Kopsick
      Duster, Quad and Searchlight Historian

    • Chuck Dougherty, "A" Company, 1st Bn (M), 50th Inf. 18:46:01 06/03/03
      Bob Wuestenberg, see roster, was wounded when his track hit a mine. This happen about time period you are referring to.
    • Rigo Ordaz, "D" Company/Recon, 1st Bn (M), 50th Inf. 15:45:47 06/01/03
      The Casualty database for that day lists the following KIAs by explosive device:
          1. QUEEN, DONALD WAYNE (11B20)  1st Bn (M), 50th Inf
          2. SANCHEZ, PABLO DEMEO- (13F10) Automatic Weapons Crewman 1FFV
          3. WOODLAND, THOMAS JR. (13F10) 1FFV                                                                                                                                                                                               
    •  Dick Guthrie, former "B" Company Commander 00:03:27 06/03/03
      If I am not mistaken, the quad 50 was with B Company, and Sp/4 Queen was the driver. He was one fine soldier.
      By that time, I was no longer with B Company.
      Dick Guthrie

    Historian's Update:  

    In July of 2006, I revisited research on this incident. I found that SP4 Queen was assigned to Bravo Company, but was working with Alpha Company driving the modified APC in question....which may have belonged to "C" Company!  Confused yet? ~grin~.  Queen was killed along with two members of the Quad team involved...who were not 1/50th personnel.  Complicating our collective memories were the following.  The "DQS" (Dusters, Quads & Searchlights Association) Historian claims the Quad 50 was mounted on a Charlie Company APC...while Queen (the driver) was with Bravo Company (Possibly "On Loan")  The incident happened with "A" Company and is accurately documented by Bob Bihari of "A" Company...as well as recent confirmation from Jim "Doc" Fitzgerald, the A Company Medic involved.   According to Jim, he had to remove the remains of Queen, and the incident was as traumatic to him as An Bao. He has difficulty bringing it back to mind to this day. Further confusing others was an incident the day before (1 April 1968) involving an APC from "B" Company hitting a pressure detonated mine at coordinates CR021719 and involving a separate Battalion KIA at approximately 1340 hours.  The Quad 50 event was on April 2nd at coordinate BR 999783 and occurred at approximately 1700 hours.   The time involved matches description above by Bob Bihari: "we only hung around for a little while, because it was starting to get dark".  Below is a map of the grid...due East of LZ Ichiban and below the southern end of Lake Dam Trao on or near Route 505.  Jim Sheppard, Association Historian/Archivist

    SP4 Queen Casualty: BR999783

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