USS Noxubee AOG56

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Noxubee Rescues Helo Crew

By Submitted by Richard Bland

Noxubee Underway A sharp-eyed Navy warrant officer and an efficient motor whaleboat crew from ServPac's gasoline tanker USS Noxubee have been credited with the rapid recovery of a helicopter crew whose helo was forced down in Da Nang Harbor because of engine trouble.

The quick reaction of Noxubee's command duty officer and the crew of her motor whaleboat turned out to be the key ingredient in the success of the operation as the motor whaleboat was dispatched minutes before the Navy "chopper" hit the water.

CHMACH R. D. Bland, CDO at the time of the incident, spotted the helicopter wavering over the harbor and realized it was in trouble and about to ditch.

He immediately dispatched Noxubee's whaleboats at full speed to the area about 500 yards from the ship where he thought the helo would fall.

The whaleboat manned by SN Lloyd J. Grawien, coxswain; FN Larry M. Schmidtendorff and SN Lawrence W. Saliba was first on the scene and was able to rescue the helo crew in less than one minute after the crash.

In a letter of commendation from the commanding officer of dock landing ship USS Hermitage, Senior Officer Present Afloat at the time, the boat crew members were cited for a performance which was ". . . outstanding In all respects, reflected their high degree of readiness and was In keeping with the highest traditions of the Naval Service."

Noxubee returned to her homeport of Pearl Harbor In late September, ending her most recent six-month WestPac deployment. While deployed, she pumped more than eight million gallons of fuel to U. S. and Free World Forces in the I Corps Zone of the Republic of Vietnam.

Her WestPac operations consisted mainly of ferrying petroleum products from ServPac's Naval Support Activity, Da Nang to tank farms at Cua Viet (Dong Ha) , Tan My (Hue) , Chu Lai and Duc Tho.

As reported in the "COMSERVPAC INFORMATION BULLETIN", December, 1967