“OOPS” By Geoff Maple, 4 RAR/NZ
When on operations, one of the most important tasks a soldier must perform is maintenance on his weapons. This would be done at least once a day. As each platoon would normally carry three M60 machine guns, we would only carry out cleaning one of these at any given time, so to have the remaining two operational.
One day, during a rest break, one of our machine gunners had been cleaning his weapon when there was movement on the perimeter. He hastily re-assembled the weapon and took up a firing position. Sure enough, a small group of Viet Cong appeared. The gunner opened fire. One round fired and then click – malfunction. He cocked the weapon, fired one more round and click – malfunction again. Here was the gunner operating the automatic weapon as if it were a bolt-action rifle. The enemy survived and escaped to fight another day. The now much embarrassed machine gunner discovered he’d put the gas piston in back to front… oops!