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The following poem was written by then, Seaman Daniel Peter Kurant, as a tribute to three Strike Assault Boat Squadron TWENTY crew members who were KIA on Friday night, April 3, 1970, by VC/NVA enemy forces while their STAB boat number 712 was in Waterborne Guardpost on the Grand Canal in the vicinity of the village of Phuoc Xuyen, in the northern Mekong Delta near the Cambodian border. The enemy initiated a firefight against the STAB, firing three B-40 rockets and automatic weapons fire, striking the crewmen down. The three Sailors were EN3 Edward J. Baker, USN, GMG3 George R. Crabtree, USN, and FN Joseph D. Johns, USN. The Patrol Officer, BMC William C. Spencer, USN, was wounded, but survived the attack, and the Boat Captain, BM1 Albert C. Maxon, USN, was not wounded. Their STAB boat call sign was RACING DANGER 12 .

Was a Dastardly night,
  Reminded me of home,
When the wind played the treetops,
  Setting them to moan.

The lightning was flashing,
  The mosquitoes were plenty,
The night was a dark one,
  The starlight was scanty.

The flashes increased,
  And flares lit the night,
Then suddenly the rains came,
  The mosquitoes did not bite.

Along came the midnight,
  Moments later, a red flare,
And something about its color,
  Spelled death in the air.

I went to the fantail,
  As Seaman, took the watch,
Nothing could be heard,
  Least the falling of big drops.

When suddenly I heard,
  In a whisper from the cockpit,
"There's a boat down the river,
  One of ours, it's been hit!"

We crowded the radio,
  With hearts pounding in our chests.
Not a thing could be heard,
  'Cept our laboring for breath.

Then, a split second later,
  Came a voice on the line,
"Four men we have hit,
  One dead, two are dying."

Our emotions went wild,
  Curses murmured in vain,
When we found out at that time,
  That our buddy was slain.

Then, "Flash" on the radio,
  "Not one dead, but three,
The names of these men,
  Are Baker, Johns, and Crabtree."

A prayer for the families,
  Each and every one,
One wife lost a husband,
  The other parents lost their sons.

When the shock finally eased,
  What stuck most to me,
was the voice on the radio,
  Saying, "Baker, Johns, and Crabtree."

Author: SN Daniel Peter Kurant, USN 3 April 1970.

The names of Baker, Johns, and Crabtree appear on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, on the Mall, Washington, DC, on Panel 12W, Lines 86, 88, and 89. Many of the details in the poem's introduction and epilog were provided by Ken Burkett who was an FN on STAB Boat 714, on April 3. 1970. Many thanks, Kirk Ferguson

This story was contributed: Kirk Ferguson