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V.C. Open Fire on the USS White River
Notes from the "RAT" aka: "Binjo
The L.S.M.R. came to an abrupt stop; hitting a sandbar 25 kilometers up the Go Song Gia River.
The officer in charge gave orders to the engine room to back down port engine one third and forward one third on the starboard engine. The Viet Cong watched with intent waiting for the moment to strike. The crew was at General Quarters...."SW00SH" the sound of a rocket coming right at the boat.
The first one missed right over the bow. The second one found Gary "Shorty" Meiler at his General Quarters station on the forward 40 Mike-Mike guns...and exploded. Killing him instantly. Another Rocket followed and another. It was an all out attack.
The boat freed itself in time to turn towards the position of the firing rockets. Bonaparte gave the command to the Fire Control man on the computers.....set launcher on the horizon......FIRE!!!!........The mark 7's hit the V.C. staging area in a flash of the eye, blowing up rocks, tunnels, shrubs, everything.
They ceased firing....Lynnie Newman lay across the aft guns...slumped over. Killed by a V.C. sniper bullet..two dead. The V.C. lost 50. It was a battle that lasted 7 minutes but felt like hours. It was over quick and the boat kept firing but the Cong had dispersed.
The 0-2 spotter made several passes of the area-"No more activity". The L.S.M.R. ceased firing. Buckhorne muttered to himself, "I wonder how Christmas is going in Ohio?" The boat made it back to Cam Rahn Bay, shot up all along the forward bow and port side. So bad it looked like a bad case of measles on the extra armor plating.
"Luck" was the buzz word, at the White Hats club that night but not much conversation, except talking about two shipmates. One from Hialeah, Florida where Shorty was from and Deadwood, South Dakota, where Lynnie lived. The crew got very drunk...a few of them lay in the sand out side the club till sunrise.
This story was contributed William Geraghty.