By Blaine Taylor I fired the M79 grenade launcher in advanced infantry training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, in 1965, and had one on the back seat of my machine-gun jeep during my tour of duty in South Vietnam in 1966-1967 as a member of the U.S. Army 199th Light Infantry Brigade. The M79 was a large-bore, single-barrel, single-shot weapon that was breech loaded and fired from the shoulder. It launched a 40mm by 46mm grenade in a round that resembled a huge bullet. The close-support infantry weapon reportedly was nicknamed Thumper, Blooper, Thump Gun, or Bloop Tube by some soldiers due to its distinctive report. But I do not recall anyone I knew calling it by any of those names. Some Australian forces fighting in Vietnam also allegedly referred to the M79 grenade launcher as the more colorful Wombat Gun. The M79 was popular with the Vietnam-era soldiers, easy to use, highly reliable, and required little maintenance. I recall in advanced infantry training that I got a sore shoulder if I didn’t hold and fire the weapon close in with the stubby, wooden stock pressed firmly against me. Many of the movies during the Vietnam era and afterward portray the weapon as being fired in the exact opposite manner that we were told to, namely with our right thumb aligned along the stock of the weapon so as not to be cut by the recoil. In the movies, the shooters always seemed to have their thumbs around the rear of the weapon, as if they were firing a rifle, which is incorrect. The U.S.
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