Survivor Remembers Vietnam-era Assault on Landing Craft

Story Number: NNS080530-15Release Date: 5/30/2008 2:03:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Larry Foos, Navy Region Southwest Public Affairs

CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) -- Amphibious Base (NAB) Coronado held a memorial service for Landing Craft Utility (LCU) 1500 on May 23. LCU 1500 suffered a rocket attack in Vietnam on Feb 28, 1968.

"I heard a real loud whistle and then an explosion," said Paul Eagle, former crew member of LCU 1500. It knocked me down on the deck. I got back up and I could see we took some pretty bad losses."

Forty years later, Eagle addressed ACU-1 personnel during the memorial service. He described the rocket attack as it was operating in a river near Cua-Viet, Vietnam.

"We were in a heavy firefight up and down the river. But we had relaxed from GQ (general quarters) [when the attack occurred]," said Eagle.

ACU-1 Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Chris Landis shared with his unit's Sailors what happened.

"The unit loaned LCUs to Naval Support Activity in Da Nang, Vietnam, an important port in Vietnam," recalled Landis. "On February 27, 1969, [LCU 1500] was unloading ammunition and came under attack again. A rocket hit LCU 1500 and destroyed the craft, killing all personnel on board-13 men. The [nearby] barge, YFU-78, was destroyed and eight men killed on it, along with three Sailors on the ramp."

Since then, ACU-1 has held a memorial service that now extends 39 years. Landis believes the memorial service is a tradition that is important in many ways.

"First and foremost, it is to honor the service and dedication of those Sailors from this command who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country," said Landis. "But also, most of my command has no idea. So what I'm trying to do is get the folks that knew what the command was like when they served."

Along with Eagle, former ACU-1 crew member Donald Brown spoke at the service. Brown is a former quartermaster-signalman who was attached to the unit in the mid- 1950s. Former crew members were also in attendance, including Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class John Domingo.

"I was on the LCU 1629 when she was a brand new boat. We went over right after the 1500 was attacked in Da Nang. We didn't even recognize it. It was pretty devastating," said Domingo.

LCU 1500 is such an important part of ACU-1's history that a permanent memorial site was built in the form of a cabana, which is adjacent to the piers where the craft is moored at NAB Coronado. Pictures of the LCU 1500 and her crew can be found throughout the cabana and ACU 1 compound.

Eagle summed up his tribute to LCU 1500 with some advice to the some 150 crew members in attendance.

"All wars will be remembered. But let's not forget the men and women who made the sacrifice for their country," said Eagle. "There were some great people that taught me a lot on the 1500. Even a seaman taught me some things. We all stuck together ... continue to remember your fellow shipmates now and in the future."

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