He could hear the rockets from a distance. He could see the flashes of light off in the night sky. He was too busy swinging cargo to worry about the noise, the light, and the probable destruction and death that came with the powerful explosions. He had been at this station for the last 48 hours straight working his winches to hoist and swing the cargo over the side of the ship into the waiting LCU’s and LCM 6 boats that were taking this precious cargo to the beach.
His actions, thoughts, and mind slipped into automatic. John, his shipmates called him John “Easy”, was guiding his cargo with steady confidant hands. He was still a deck seaman, hoping to make Boatswain’s Mate Third Class…he had become very skilled at his tasks at hand. His training had been done in all seriousness. Although in his early training aboard this cargo vessel he thought to himself, “man this is so lame”. During John’s training, he would spend endless hours hoisting, swinging, and lowering dummy cargo over the side of the ship. Little did he realize that soon he would be swinging real cargo…small arms ammunition, howitzer shells, bombs, and all sorts of armament needed for a beach assault conducted on targets held by the Viet Cong.
The Marines, who were engaged in the beach assault needed this resupply in order to continue their assault on the target. Red Beach One was once a Viet Cong stronghold but was now in the hands of the US Marines.
The continual swinging of cargo was becoming monotonous, however John knew he had to complete this tasking in order for the Marines embarked on his ship to make a successful beach landing. He took a quick swallow of stale coffee that had been brought up to the winch deck by one of his shipmates. As the hours dragged on, he realized he had been swinging cargo for almost 72 hours straight. His eyes blurred with loss of sleep and exhaustion but he kept hoisting, swinging, and lowering his cargo into the small craft alongside. Suddenly he heard a loud clang, the sound of metal against metal. He briefly looked down on his winch deck and noticed a one-quarter inch shackle that had not been there before. He looked down on the main deck and saw the First Lieutenant smiling at him and then yelling, “wake up John Easy”. “We are almost finished with this offload. When we are finished take a well-deserved break sailor”.
Yes, the First Lieutenant tossed the shackle at BMSN John “Easy”, but he took it in stride as he knew the Marine’s needed his cargo on the beach. He knew that today’s operation was extremely important to the ongoing operations that his ship was involved in and that a decisive victory was needed.
He then crawled down from his winch deck platform and grabbed some much needed sleep.