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USS White River LSMR 536

USS White River LSMR 536

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Story Excerpted from the White River Manuscript..."FIRE FOR EFFECT"

This Story courtesy of William Geraghty
EMAIL: williamm[ at ]

 Excerpted from the White River Manuscript..."FIRE FOR EFFECT"

 Christmas              Chapt 9
(A bleak and moonless strange and exotic far away land)

      It had been a long and hot day patrol for the 536, we were heading
 into Camh Rahn Bay for a 72 hour cease fire. The 536 had left the pier at
 Market Time Beach in the morning at 0600. It was now close to midnight
 as they were approaching Camh Rahn.

     The patrol had lasted ten hours, but Goldfinger had been ordered to
 tow in a P.B.R.that had broken down on the southern end of the Long
 Tau and became a sitting duck for V.C. mortar rounds. It had been a
 dull, hot and boring day. Faris Antoon, Evans and Wayne Ringate had all
 felt the same way. Everyone in the crew had bitched about everything from
 the P.B.R.guys getting our ice cream to the  Air Force planes
 spraying chemicals over them and the rivers every day.
	Hell Evans complained, [What do those damn Air Force pukes think we are
 down here, a bunch of ants?]
	The rest of the gun crews nodded their heads in agreement. It had
 been a bad day all around and ,to top it off, it was Christmas Eve. It
 had rained two or three different times on their way into Camh Rahn and
 everyone on the deck had gotten soaked,dried out, and soaked all over
       Antoon asked the Weapons officer; Fred McKay.  [Say guns,have you
 heard anything at the base about whether we'll get any Christmas Mail?]
       [I don't know] guns said.. [only if a ship out of Saigon harbor has
 it and meets us out at know what happaned last time, with the
 rough waves; losing all the mail and the Thanksgiving Turkeys. Those
 guys aren't in a hurry to get it to us.  Their not getting any over time.]
        Ringate laughed and said  [I'll volunteer to go over to Siagon and
 get it.]

 As they approached the entrance to Camh Rahn Bay,  The officer of the
 con switched on his port and starboard running lights and radioed in to
 the T.O.C - The Duty Radio man- that they were on they were on their  way in
with a crippled P.B.R..
 You never know in Vietnam, someone might have had a few too many
 drinks and open up on two strange objects coming in so late on Christmas
	When they were about 20 clicks from the pier, they thought they
 heard what sounded like Christmas carols.
        [What the hell is that?] Gun Fire Controlman Brichford asked
  	[I don't know] answered Evans. someone must have a good radio.
 [No,that can't be a radio.] said Wayne Ringate.  [They're changing
 the words around too much.]

        As the LSMR neared the pier, there they were as plain as
 day. Thirty-Five sailors sitting high on top of the ammo crates on
 the end of the pier with bottles in hand, singing Christmas Carols. Behind
 them were more singing on the sand pile.  The Sand Pile was created
 from dregging the bottom of the river channel coming into Camh Rahn to
 allow ships with deeper drafts to enter the base at closer distance to
 off-load supplies.  The sand itself was used for filling oil drums that
  used along with the sandbags, line the hootches and other
 buildings at Market Time Beach and Camh Rahn Bay, South Vietnam.
       As Antoon and the rest of the Fire Control gang and  some
gunnersmates walked off the pier, the guys on the sand pile were yelling.

[Merry Christmas river rats! All the turkeyspam is gone. Come on out and join
      [How about you guys?] Antoon said to Robin Smith; Biff
 Springborg; Rip Pisacreta. [Okay.] replied Ringate and Springborg....
      Yo to Evans(E.Bleed)  [I know you're ready to cut some Zeesbut I've
got a fifth of  booze I saved especially for tonight.]
       [OKay]  Evans said in a short minute
[Right after the Skippers debriefing; check for mail; and meet at that pile
of sand at the end of the pier.]
     The Old Man; Mr.Jack Gordon was commander at the tender age of 24 he
debriefed them in a matter of a few minutes, dismissing them early for the

	Antoon went  checking the mail basket,with no success,as usual. 
He was happy even to  get a bill in Vietnam.He walked over to 
Don English's hootch at Market Time and made sure his fifth of bourbon 
was still intact, taking off his .38 shoulder holster,and loosened his shirt. 
[Dammit]  he said  [This sure doesn't seem like Christmas. What the hell, 
it isn't  Christmas,anyway, its not Cleveland,and I am a million miles 
from Higbee's and the Terminal tower...besides the Indians sucked again 
this year finishing 6th..We are a day ahead of everyone in the States.] 

He took a slug of bourbon,and headed for the sand pile.

       The off-duty people were still singing loud and clear.The sky had
 cleared beautifully. It was Christmas-1968,and no one knew yet who the
 hell would ever win this war; and everyone was getting to drunk to care.

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