The crossing from Hawaii
to Vietnam was a good experience for this old Arizona boy, the
seas were beautiful and like glass most of the way. I also
remember the flying fish ending up on the tank deck, and the
dolphins playing near the bow of the ship. At night they would
leave trails of blue sparkling phosphorus in the water.
Do you guys remember swim call? Remember when we got into
the jellyfish? Man I don't know when I had anything sting so
The day we were scheduled to pull into Danang, a bunch of
us were up on the flying bridge hoping to be the first to
sight land. We kept hearing this booming noise, and I remember
thinking, there really is a war going on over here! The
booming was actually a thunderstorm, but there also was a war
going on there. We used to watch the choppers at night
shooting down streams of tracers, and hearing the explosions
of ordinance going off.
I remember getting liberty and when we hit the beach, it
still felt like I was on the rolling deck of a ship. I know
now why sailors have that swaggering stride, it really has
nothing to do with ego, and everything to do with a pitching
How many of you guys lost your wallets to the kids with the
razor blades? They would run up behind you and slice open your
rear pocket, and another kid would grab your wallet as it fell
out and off they would go.
I only made one of Delp's famous supply runs. We went with
him to pick up a truck and we were waiting in the Quonset hut
when everyone started yelling "HIT THE SHELTERS"
there was a blinding flash, and an explosion before we could
move even a few feet. Then everyone was up and back to work
like nothing had happened. I never did find out if it was a
mortar, rocket or what.
Once we had the supplies, we were on top of the truck
enjoying a crate of fresh oranges when a Young well-endowed
Vietnamese girl came running up yelling GI, GI, and bared her
breasts, the guys whooped, and tossed her at least a dozen
oranges before Delp made them stop. Somehow we made a wrong
turn and ended up in the wrong part of Danang. We were all
quite nervous before we got turned around and headed to safer
I remember walking by huge crates of beer setting out in
the hot Vietnamese sun. We were told that they put
formaldehyde in the beer to keep it from going bad. All I know
is the beer had a peculiar taste, and it gave me one monster
of a splitting headache.
I was one of the lucky ones to get to see the Bob Hope
Christmas show, way up on a hill and it seemed like a mile
away, but it was still fun.
The night we were mined I was in the charthouse writing
letters home when I heard all the shooting, and the grenade
explosions. We had been pumping fuel to the base at Qua Viet
as we had done so many times before. It was night and it was
raining, if I remember right? We went to general quarters and
got underway and we steamed out about 3 miles. Captain Cass
asked for the UDT team to come out and inspect our hull, but
because of the muddy waters they found nothing. The Captain
got on the intercom and told us to secure from general
quarters, but to be prepared for the worse, that he had a
feeling that we were carrying a mine.
I went below to my bunk and tried to sleep (yeah right! A
floating gas tank with a mine really makes for a restful
nights sleep). Some wise guy told me not to worry, that if any
thing happened we would go 3 miles in every direction and I
wouldn't feel a thing! I must have finally dozed off, because
the next thing I remember was a tremendous explosion, and I
was up on the bridge and water was still coming down.
General Quarters sounded and I made my way back to
secondary steering. I put on my headphones and started
listening to the damage reports coming in, not good, big
hole in the side, the sentry lights are still on and I see
mattresses and other debris floating by. Meanwhile the Viet
Cong are hitting the base at Cua Viet, lots of noise and huge
fires we assume are the fuel bladders we pump off to.
I am feeling mighty alone and vunerable back at secondary
steering, I make sure I have my pocket knife, I have visions
of gooks swarming over the side, and I need a weapon. I am
also uneasy about the Noxubee going down, I have seen those
sea snakes, and the sharks. I Realize what I thought was a Mae
West, was actually a gas mask, so I talk a passing sailor to
climb up into the motor whaleboat and hand me a lifejacket.
We are pumping fuel from the port tanks to the starboard
tanks now, and the ship is starting to list, soon the damage
will be above waterline and we will stop taking on water. No
gooks coming over the side, I am starting to feel we might
We Make it to Danang, and the USS Grapple fits us with a
temporary repair until we can reach the dry-docks at Subic Bay
in the Philippines. So what does the Navy do? Instead of the
Philippines they send us right back to Cua Viet where all this
trouble started in the first place! Only now we have to go up
the Cua Viet River and pump off to the AMMI barges.
I don't remember how long we stayed "on line" but
we did finally make the Philippines, and that is another