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The FReeper Foxhole Remembers the U.S. Merchant Marine in Vietnam - Jan. 2nd, 2003
USMM ORG ^

Posted on 01/02/2003 5:38:45 AM PST by SAMWolf

U.S. Military History, Current Events and Veterans Issues

Where Duty, Honor and Country
are acknowledged, affirmed and commemorated.

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The FReeper Foxhole is dedicated to Veterans of our Nation's military forces and to others who are affected in their relationships with Veterans.

We hope to provide an ongoing source of information about issues and problems that are specific to Veterans and resources that are available to Veterans and their families.

In the FReeper Foxhole, Veterans or their family members should feel free to address their specific circumstances or whatever issues concern them in an atmosphere of peace, understanding, brotherhood and support.

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Click on the pix

Military Sea Transportation Service
(MSTS)


In February 1951 the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) aircraft carrier Windham Bay, was the first large ship to navigate the Long Tam River since 1925. While the ship was docked at Saigon (French Indochina) 17 hand grenades were tossed at the ship by terrorists.

The Military Sea Transportation Service was established in 1949 to provide sea transportation to the military as a successor to the Army Transportation Service. MSTS operated a fleet of ships and had charter agreements with commercial shipping firms. MSTS was succeeded by Military Sealift Command.

In 1954, after the partitioning of Vietnam, MSTS evacuated Vietnamese refugees from North to South Vietnam. USNS Howze was one of many MSTS ships involved in "Passage to Freedom" bringing 300,000 refugees and 200,000 tons of Cargo from North Vietnam.

The Military Sea Transportation Service had the job of bringing war supplies to Vietnam -- 10,000 miles from the Pacific coast. MSTS had four separate customers to serve: the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. MSTS ships were staffed by "civilian" crews, but carried 95% of the supplies used by our Armed Forces in Vietnam including bombs and ammunition into combat zones under fire. Crew members were given Navy grades and rank identification in event of enemy capture. During Vietnam, MSTS first utilized roll-on/roll-off ships and container ships which speeded loading and unloading.


SS Overseas Rose with landing barges lashed across her deck


MSTS took about 100 Victory ships out of the National Defense Reserve Fleet (mothball fleet), repaired them, and assigned them to private companies for operation to carry ammunition across the Pacific. MSTS carried guns, tanks, trucks, trains, riverboats, barges, helicopters, bombers, fighters, reconnaissance planes, food, fuel, and medical supplies. By 1965 MSTS had 300 freighters and tankers supplying Vietnam, with an average of 75 ships and over 3,000 merchant mariners in Vietnamese ports at any time.

Early in the Vietnam War, troop ships such as the USNS Upshur, Geiger, and Gordon carried two thirds of U.S. troops to Vietnam; later, most American troops traveled by air. However, Korean troops were transported by MSTS throughout the war, with the first 2,000 coming on the MSTS Mann in March 1965. In August 1966 USNS Patch and Darby carried troops 12,500 miles from Boston to Vietnam, the longest trooplift in U.S. military history. In October 1966 the converted Liberty ship SS Benjamin Chew and the SS Meredith Victory were added as troop carriers. Men and equipment of the Army 1st Cavalry Division went to Vietnam aboard the baby flattops USNS Kula Gulf and Point Cruz which were taken out of mothballs to transport the 434 aircraft and other equipment. Other escort carriers which saw WWII duty included the USNS Core, Card, Croatan, and Breton.

Da Nang harbor was the home of the Marine Amphibious Force Logistic Command which handled the gear necessary to support 81,000 Marines. MSTS brought 96% of their war materiel including tanks, airplanes, ammunition, and food -- including ice cream.


USNS Point Cruz loaded with CH-47 helicopters, F-5 fighters and truck trailers in 1968


Between 1965 and 1969, MSTS carried 7.6 million tons of supplies for the Air Force, about half going directly to Vietnam, the rest to staging areas in the Pacific. MSTS delivered the goods "Special Express" and kept some of its 19 ammunition ships anchored offshore near combat areas as floating warehouses to ease storage problems experienced by the Air Force. SEA Express was the name of the program which delivered other Air Force supplies from Oakland, California to Saigon between 1965 and 1967, in an average of 23 days.


Damaged SS Baton Rouge Victory under tow


In 1965, US Coast Guard Squadron One, composed of 17 patrol boats was sealifted to the Philippines for Vietnam duty on the SS Pioneer Myth, SS Transcaribbean, SS Aloha State, and the SS Ocean Cloud. MSTS delivered bulldozers, cranes, steel and cement for use by Navy Seabees. MSTS and the Merchant Marine transported oil and aviation gas to support Navy fleet operations.

In 1968 MSTS sealifted 19 million tons (39 billion pounds) of cargo to Vietnam for the Army at a cost of $570 million. The MSTS Corpus Christi Bay, which housed an Army aviation-maintenance battalion, was positioned as necessary along the coast of Vietnam to provide aircraft maintenance facilities.

MSTS and chartered ships delivered to many ports in Vietnam during this "War Without a Front." The following were among the 46 precautions to be taken by the crew of the SS President Garfield (and other ships) during the particularly hazardous 35 mile river transit to Saigon:

  • Bridge personnel in helmets and flak suits.
  • Sandbags around bridge. Wheelhouse doors and windows open.
  • Grenade screens secured on portholes.
  • Engineers to go to full engine speed at first indication of attack without notifying bridge.
  • Only necessary persons on duty in Engine Room or on open deck. Off duty crew spread out in alleyways.
  • Purser standing by with medical kit.
  • Fire fighting equipment ready.
  • Bilge and ballast pumps warmed up, ready to use.
  • Towing wires ready for tow without assist from ship crew. Both anchors ready for dropping.



Security for arrival of the USNS Core in Saigon, whose sister ship, USNS Card, was sunk in 1964 by a mine placed by skin divers


Just as in World War II and Korea, merchant mariners in Vietnam were subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Effective December 1966, the military was granted authority to take disciplinary action against merchant mariners.

In 1975 MSTS helped evacuate refugees from Da Nang and later, Saigon. On March 28, 1975 the Pioneer Commander, the Pioneer Contender and the Navy's U.S.S. Miller evacuated about 10,000 refugees each. Returning the next day when the Communists had already overrun Da Nang, the ships evacuated thousands more.

On May 12, 1975, the SS Mayaguez was seized by Kmer Rouge. US marines suffered heavy casualties during the attempted rescue of the 39 seamen and the ship. Six mariner volunteers from the USNS Greenville Victory received Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal for their role during the action.
Capture and Release of SS Mayaguez by Khmer Rouge forces in May 1975.


Harbor at Cam Ranh Bay

A Special Thanks to Dan and Toni Horodysky,
Who so graciously allowed me permission to use the information on their Site.



TOPICS: VetsCoR
KEYWORDS: freeperfoxhole; merchantmarine; msts; usms; veterans; vietnam
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To: The Real Deal
Evening ALL.


51 posted on 01/02/2003 5:35:43 PM PST by GailA
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To: SAMWolf
It was O.K. Every day is the same, and no two days are alike.
52 posted on 01/02/2003 5:35:47 PM PST by The Real Deal
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To: GailA
Hi Gail, I hope your day went well.
53 posted on 01/02/2003 5:37:21 PM PST by The Real Deal
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To: GailA
I've got to go out for awhile. I'll check back in later.
54 posted on 01/02/2003 5:39:14 PM PST by The Real Deal
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To: The Real Deal
Here too. SSDD!
55 posted on 01/02/2003 5:49:36 PM PST by SAMWolf
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To: GailA
Good evening GailA.

Think you'll ever run out of great graphics? You have quite the collection.
56 posted on 01/02/2003 5:50:36 PM PST by SAMWolf
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To: SAMWolf; AntiJen; MistyCA; xJones; E.G.C.
My older brother was Class of 1965 at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y.

They sailed their Third Class year ("Sophomore") and he sailed as a graduate. His training was engineering and his service was in the engine room.

He remarked on delivering ammunition to Vietnam in ships "held together by rust and public opinion." That they would be moored off-shore to avoid providing a too-tempting target.

That their rules ashore included avoiding bars not equipped with mesh over the windows to prevent grenades, avoid shoe shine boys and news boys for the same reason.

Regarding later opportunities, he was an engineer for RCA, then a firm of consulting engineers, finally an independent engineer.

He and his wife have now moved into their fifth home, and brought along the tallest flagpole for a radius of several miles from which to fly the American flag.

His choice of the USMMA was for its engineering curriculum which, judging by an examination of his texts, was rigorous.

To keep the engine running to deliver the ammunition was no mean feat, and a skill useful today.

We now recognize the utility of preposition, fast cargo, and roll-on/roll-off.

Here's to the delivery of vast quantities of the world's best ordnance to be delivered by the world's UPS:

United Payback Service

God Bless Our Troops and Veterans and their Families

God Speed Swift Victory and Safe Return from the Mission

SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING TO SADDAM HUSSEIN: Disarming now greatly improves your chances of seeing 2004.

57 posted on 01/02/2003 6:39:14 PM PST by PhilDragoo
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To: PhilDragoo
Evening PhilDragoo.

I thank your brother for his service in the Merchant Marine!
58 posted on 01/02/2003 6:42:12 PM PST by SAMWolf
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To: SAMWolf

These mariners were killed by mines, rockets, snipers, and explosions. Some are Missing in Action and presumed dead. They paid the Supreme Sacrifice while serving their country. They should be recognized as veterans. Their names belong on The Wall.

May they rest in peace. Glad bless them.

Thanks so much for this thread, Sam.

59 posted on 01/02/2003 7:16:19 PM PST by Victoria Delsoul
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To: The Real Deal
Thanks for the ping. The good die young. No matter how old they are, it's still too soon.
60 posted on 01/02/2003 7:20:49 PM PST by Eastbound
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To: AntiJen
Bump ...
61 posted on 01/02/2003 7:24:39 PM PST by manna
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To: Victoria Delsoul
You're welcome, Victoria.
62 posted on 01/02/2003 7:55:11 PM PST by SAMWolf
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To: SAMWolf
Hi Sam, how are you doing?

How was your first day at work after a well-deserved break?

63 posted on 01/02/2003 8:35:33 PM PST by Victoria Delsoul
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To: Victoria Delsoul
The late nights are catcing up with me.

Luckily it was a slow day so I could ease back into the work routine.
64 posted on 01/02/2003 8:37:19 PM PST by SAMWolf
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To: SAMWolf
Well, at least you had a little break there. Hopefully you should feel better tomorrow.
65 posted on 01/02/2003 8:53:44 PM PST by Victoria Delsoul
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To: SAMWolf
Got to hand it to you with these posts Sam! This is the first one I have replied to and for a very good reason.

This is how I served my country! Graduated in 1967 from Kings Point and sailed on numerous ships to the war zone.

What is really wierd, is that I sailed on the SS Badger State the year before it sank! I knew it had sunk but didn't know it had to do with the cargo.

I used to be with Masters, Mates and Pilots Union...Local 88 out of New York and just picked ships when I got to the union. There was no problem getting a berth in those days. One usually registers at the union when you get off a ship and get a number. In the Viet-Nam era, you could literally walk into the hall, register and get a job within minutes. The number gets better as time goes by. The lowest number (earliest registration) has dibs on any ship they want. Many jobs went begging. We were missing a mate on more than one ship. The Captain even had to stand watch on some.

You could also Night-Mate out of the union....stand watch between 4 PM Midnight or Midnight and 8 AM, to relieve ships officers who don't work nights in US ports. That used to be a nice, sought after job.

Thanks again for the trip down nostalgia lane.
66 posted on 01/02/2003 9:04:02 PM PST by TheLion
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To: TheLion
Thanks for your service to our Country and for sharing your story.

Glad we were able to provide you with a trip down memory lane.
67 posted on 01/02/2003 9:14:45 PM PST by SAMWolf
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To: PhilDragoo
Great story Phil, and I really like your message to Saddam. LOL
68 posted on 01/02/2003 9:31:03 PM PST by The Real Deal
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To: Eastbound
That's right!
69 posted on 01/02/2003 9:33:23 PM PST by The Real Deal
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To: The Real Deal; Eastbound; PhilDragoo; SAMWolf; MistyCA; Joe Brower; AntiJen
I've just received info regarding the memorial service for General Foss on January 9th in Scottsdale. If anyone would like the details of that, sending cards to the family, or the family's wishes regarding donations in lieu of flowers, FReepmail me tomorrow. I'm headed for bed now, but will respond then.

HJ
70 posted on 01/02/2003 10:06:36 PM PST by HiJinx
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To: PhilDragoo
BTTT!!!!
71 posted on 01/03/2003 3:09:43 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: AntiJen
Thanks for your reply. Yeah, Muffin had her problems exactly a year ago. Took her to one emergency vet who said she had "kidney failure" and had an infection. He said that she would not make it past February (2002). We took her to our vet and he treated her for the kidney infection and although he said there could be a little damage there, she is doing excellent. We feed her special kidney food although she does cheat a little. The vet said that's really no problem as long as she eats SOME of the kidney food to balance things out. She has 90% of her weight back, likes to run around, and even chases the younger cats around. She'll be 16 this year in August. Muffin is special because my aunt asked us (my mother and I) to take care of her a few days before she died of cancer in 1995. Muffin was born in Texas. I know it is a dirty secret that pets will leave us one day (or we leave them), but it is no excuse to write them off at the crack of a bat. We paid $800 to $1000+ for Muffin and would do it again.

We have another cat who will turn 16 in August, Pansy, a green eyed, grey, tan, and white calico. She is doing quite well too, likes to run around a lot. The only issue with he is every three months like clockwork, she gets upper respitory infections due to some allergy. We know every three months, she goes to the vet for medicine.
72 posted on 01/11/2003 6:27:26 PM PST by Nowhere Man
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To: AntiJen
Thanks for your reply. Yeah, Muffin had her problems exactly a year ago. Took her to one emergency vet who said she had "kidney failure" and had an infection. He said that she would not make it past February (2002). We took her to our vet and he treated her for the kidney infection and although he said there could be a little damage there, she is doing excellent. We feed her special kidney food although she does cheat a little. The vet said that's really no problem as long as she eats SOME of the kidney food to balance things out. She has 90% of her weight back, likes to run around, and even chases the younger cats around. She'll be 16 this year in August. Muffin is special because my aunt asked us (my mother and I) to take care of her a few days before she died of cancer in 1995. Muffin was born in Texas. I know it is a dirty secret that pets will leave us one day (or we leave them), but it is no excuse to write them off at the crack of a bat. We paid $800 to $1000+ for Muffin and would do it again.

We have another cat who will turn 16 in August, Pansy, a green eyed, grey, tan, and white calico. She is doing quite well too, likes to run around a lot. The only issue with he is every three months like clockwork, she gets upper respitory infections due to some allergy. We know every three months, she goes to the vet for medicine.
73 posted on 01/11/2003 6:27:41 PM PST by Nowhere Man
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To: Nowhere Man
I sailed for two years in Viet Nam in the Army's navy aboard a 338-foot, 2,000 ton displacement ship functionally similar to a Navy LST. Because of the shortage of dock space, we would often come alongside a Victory ship at anchor. They would offload a portion of their cargo onto our deck, and we would carry it onto the beach at Cam Ranh or any number of landing beaches up and down the coast. On one of these runs, we tied alongside the SS Berkeley Victory (Most Victory ships were named for colleges.) I decided to have a bit of fun at my Mom's expense. I had a photo taken of myself standing alongside her name board. I sent it home with a letter subtitled "Mario Savio Is Alive and Well in Cam Ranh Bay." The scathing letter I received in return was the source of uproarious laughter throughout the crew.
74 posted on 03/04/2003 4:03:45 PM PST by kilowhskey
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