VICTORY AT SEA
Talk about the ship is that it’s a light rain topside and rough seas, best to have your poncho on when you topside. “Surely they’re not going to allow us to travel over to the docks in this weather” Wrong! Instead of walking down the side ladder to get on board the Mike Boat, they had a cargo net strung over the side and we are to climb down the net into the boat! I’ve seen this in movies and thought it looked easy, I found out it’s not! As I looked over the side, I could see our boat bobbing up and down, side to side, I watched as sailor after sailor tried to get into the boat and failed. Some falling into the boat, some getting their feet tangled in the net. People were yelling to let hte boat come up to you on the net, let go and step back into the boat. Looked simple enough, and I studied the situation I could see it works Then they call up our boat, Danang Docks. I climbed over the railing and grabbed the net and started lowering my self down into the boat. I looked down at the boat rising and falling in the water and judged just about where the boat had it’s highest rise on the net and stopped there and waited for the boat to come up. As soon as it got to the highest point, I had my feet on the section of netting that touched the bottom of the boat. I let go and stepped away from the net. I did it. I stood there in the boat away from the net and watched as other guys tried to do the same thing. all in all , only a few misshaps and we were under way. The sea was rough and we bobbed and rolled and rocked for half an hour to we got into the river where the docks were. The Chief was there waiting for me and said “Rough trip uh kid?” I told him I’m going to figure out some way to make that into an Amusement Park ride, sell tickets and make a fortune Little did I know that the trip back tonight was going to be even more of a challenge.
Being here now almost a month I’m learning about what the plan is and who’s all here and who’s coming There’s about 400 Seabees coming on board each week to build roads and remodel and bring up to Military specifications several old French barracks and camps for future Marine Divisions. The scuttlebutt is that the Third Marine Division is scheduled to land along with other military personnel schedule to begin an offensive here in the I core area of Vietnam. In the meantime along with bringing old French establishments up to specs, There is a lot of new buildings and infrastructures that have to be planned and built. That’s where I come in. A whole slew of Captains and admirals both from the Navy and the Marine Corps. would come into our little office (Garage) and submit a request for everything from a outhouse to a building complete with running water and plumbing. Water! Water being what’s in least supply. One of the things I’m involved in is finding water.
Lt. Malera called me over to his office one day and we sat down with a whole bunch of Photographs of the area around us and said “We’re going to find some sources of Potable water that we can distribute around this valley to all the different Military bases.” After about 6 hours we marked out some possible areas of freshwater and making a request for Military support we were ready to check out these areas starting tomorrow Morning. Now it was about time to head back to the U.S. Baxr.
Now the Seas are still rough and once we cleared the river and got out into the harbor we really saw how rough they were. We bobbed like a cork in a Hurricane and forward progress in getting to the ship was hampered by a head-on wind. We did finally get there only to be slammed against the hull constantly as they tried to lower the net over the side and into our boat. Sameo sameo, when the boat comes up from a wave, grab onto the net and as the boat falls with the wave, you start climbing as fast as you can before the boat comes back up, but now I have this huge duffle bag of clean laundry wrapped around my wrist and it’s hitting me in the face as I reached up for to grab another rope in the net. I made it! Luckily we only had one more instance of rough weather before we got land base barracks.