!!! The YRBM 16 !!!
Lionel Burns CS3, who was there, supplied this photo
The following is an Eyewitness account
of events after the bombing occured.
taken from an Email from Dick Strandberg
As you can imagine, that Thanksgiving night has left me with lasting memories. The bomb/mine/explosive charge - however you want to refer to it - went off right at the bulkhead between the engine room and River Section 522's sleeping quarters.
One of our men was killed immediately by the explosion. Another was trapped under an AC unit and couldn't get out (they heard him screaming in the dark). He and three other men drowned there in the compartment.
I was an officer, so I was up forward in Officers Country. Still, the explosion blew us out of our racks. Smoke filled the rooms and passageways. The explosion also blew the hell out of the fuel barge alongside. The diesel fuel ignited. We finally made it out into the night air to find a fire raging high up into the sky. The heat was so intense we couldn't get aft to our PBRs. A whole crowd of us ended up slipping our way down one of the ramps to a Mike boat. That's how we survived.
Others from 522 made it across the mess decks, and they got the PBRs under way.
At first General Quarters sounded. I guess initially they thought it was a mortar attack. Anyway, one kid went up to the crow's nest. When the fire erupted, he was trapped, and he leaped through the flames. The canopy broke his fall. Even so, he was horribly burned. I heard he died later. I assume this was ETN3 Gray. I knew he died, and I knew a man named "Pappy" died --was that EN2 Flowers?
I suppose this sounds like I'm bragging, but the YRBM would have been on the bottom of the Ham Luong River were it not for the boat crews of 522 and later 521. Some of our boats raced back and forth bringing foam, while others kept pumping foam into the fire.
The Captain meanwhile kept the YRBM crews back aboard the Mike boats until we finally managed to get back on board the barge with the hoses. I guess he was afraid the magazine was going to blow. I don't mean this as a criticism of the YRBM's enlisted men. Never would I do that. Once they were allowed to join us, they were great.
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