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!!! THE YRBM 20 !!!
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The YRBM 20 Pusher Barge Fire

The YRBM 20 Pusher Barge Fire

!!!19 July 1970 !!!

All Barge fire photos on this page are from Dave Dean
EMAIL:dcdean[ at ]

3 Crewmen were injured by this fire.
Paul Fogle was burned and recovered in 5 days onboard the YRBM 20.
2 others were flown to Saigon but returned a month later.
One of them was Mike Daviduk.
Another of them was Sweeny?.

Michael Daviduk [email= PATRICIADAVIDUK [ at ]] Describes the Pusher Barge Fire.

To the crew of YRBM 20. The story put forth by Kent, is a very inspiring and heart felt account of my time on the"20". To say what had happened on the day of the pusher barge fire. My name is Mike Daviduk. And the events of that day, will forever be remembered. As years go by, and time seems? To be a part of life we all. Seemed to recall, I remember, sitting on the forward section of the "20". 10:00 - 11:00 am ??? Suddenly a blast from the aft, rose me and 2 others to our feet. To look up in the sky to see a huge ball of fire.

We ran back (as the distinct sound, something went wrong) The first thing to catch our eyes were the fire shooting out. and a person dazed and floating in the water, maybe 15-20 feet away. His arms were spread out to each side of him.( his name I can,t recall?) but he was a 3rd. class?? of the three of us, one man grabbed a axe and started chopping at the mooring lines that held the fuel barge tied to the main ship. I remember the heat alone was searing and the main concern was hoping the gas and fuel aboard would not blow.

---- In the mean time 3 of us jumped on a MIKE boat and swung around to get that guy who got blown off out of the water. We got close and 2 of us jumped in to pull him out. As we grabbed his sleeves to pull him up, we noticed his skin was hanging down (like someone, had peeled in off ) I remember his eyes, just staring, never heard him say a sound. --- I remember grabbing the back of his pants by the belt and some one grabbing the front the same way. We got him up and took him back, to the side by our "LOUNGE" the corpsman took him along with 5-6 guys. We jumped back in the MIKE boat and swung it around to the burning barge and pushed it away.

We could hear these drums boiling. They were double stacked, I remember seeing them more or less melting the metal drums and ( the same effect as putting cold french fries in hot oil) the contents spewing every where. 2 of us got sprayed by this boiling oil? me and a 2nd. class?? It was a reaction to jump in the water to stop the stinging. By this time I remember a "vietnanese" officer along with the members of the 20 coming to pull us out. The vietnamese officer grabbing me to pull me out. I never realized I was burnt until I looked down, to see my shirt was melted to my chest and my thighs were black. My hands were peeled off as was the guy we pulled out earlier. The other guy with me I never saw, they had him laying down.

I remember the "doc" giving me a shoot of morphine and the only response I had was give me a coke, I was dying of thirst. The "doc" was a friend of mine, and him telling me I was in shock, And him saying jokingly, he knew I was short, but this was one hell of a way to get home early. I laid on the stetcher, just looking around and wondering what the comotion was about. The last look at the 20 was on that stretcher and seeing it fade away.

We were sent to a field hospital? Where? My mind didn,t register too much. I was either too drugged up or out of it to care. I did ask, what happened to the other 2, the one (the one blown off first) was sent to Ft. Sam Houston burns center. and the one who got burnt with me was in the same field hospital, with me. We then were sent to Saigon, then I went to Yaukuska Japan. Later to end up in Bethesda Naval Hosp.

----- My story is not one of anything, but my account of my time on the YRBM 20. The people I remember, were the three of us on that MIKE boat, one was a Latino or of that likeness, he steered that MIKE boat that day, he was a Seaman. The 2nd. class,------ I remember a lot, the Chief Bm. A short guy, he would talk to me as a friend. He let me do the dubious task of getting a R&R. and offering me his own money to go.

For every person who came to that country, lies a memory a story and a thing we hold with us forever. Not one could know ! only what we hold in our memories. I now live in Florida, at the age of 52, my scars are long but healed. The care given by the navy made me able to maintain a very usefull life. My time on the 20 will be one, of the same as yours. It was an HONOR to have served among all of you.

Sampans on the Silver river

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Photos courtesy of Dave Dean
[Email= dcdean [ at ]]

Pusher Barge Fire
Dennis Burke the YRBM 20 Yeoman, watches the fire float down the river

Pusher Barge Fire
An Explosive fireball scorches the trees on shore as the Pusher Barge Fire approachs the shallows.

Pusher Barge Fire
The Pusher Barge Fire floats far down river.

Pusher Barge Fire
Pusher Barge Fire eventual runs aground and burns out.

Photos above, courtesy of Dave Dean
[Email= dcdean [ at ]]

YRBM 20 Diesel Outboard pusher barge
YRBM 20 Diesel Outboard pusher barge

Page Created - November 1998
Last Major Edit - Sept 2003

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