Home Veterans My First Deployment as a Vietnam Era Marine: Part Five

My First Deployment as a Vietnam Era Marine: Part Five


The next day the ship was under way. We floated for a couple days and refueled in the ocean with another ship. It was pretty cool to see how it was done, watching the huge hoses going from ship to ship. I could tell this was a big job for the sailors and took a while to complete… and then we were off cruising again.

Ships refueling at sea
“Heaving in and connecting up ‘The Probe’ – Refuelling or RASing. By passing lines between two ships and connecting the ‘span wire’ to a strong point onboard the receiving ship, at a distance of between 80 – 120 feet apart. The RAS Party would heave in on the ‘hose line’ and the probe would travel down the span wire until it slammed home in its receiving ‘bell’ housing. Once connected up the engineers would start pumping and fill our tanks. Service was poor no-one ever once offered to check the oil or wipe the windows!” Photo from gunplot.net

We were told the cruise was heading to Singapore and would not be returning to the Philippines for a while. It would be another couple days at sea before we arrived. Singapore was really different from Hong Kong; the buildings weren’t as big and as fancy. There were a lot of people, people everywhere. There were kids coming up to you to sell all kinds of stuff. I was told to keep my people away from them as they were selling black market contraband. All we wanted was to find a good bar with cold beer. We had only one day to enjoy Singapore.

The ships pulled out across some of the most beautiful water with a stunning backdrop of mountains covered in green jungles. We were only underway for a short time when our commanding officer called formation. He gave us the news that we were headed to Vietnam and we most likely wouldn’t see any action. He said that President Nixon was giving the order to pull the American Embassy out of Cambodia and the war was going to be over. When we were dismissed, most of us headed to the fantail of the ship. I believe that most of us were scared. We never thought we would make it to Vietnam.

The ships arrived in some bay about twenty miles from the shore of some land that was called Vietnam. The ship floated in the area for several weeks and general quarters had been called during that time. Some of us were getting cocky, saying we wanted to go and kill some gooks. It was kind of strange, the fellows that were bigger and bossier then the rest of us seemed to be the ones scared the most. They seemed to be the ones talking to Jesus, reading Gideon’s bible. It humbled me to see such a sight. Seeing these big bad ass Marines weeping and praying. I guess we all thought that we were along for a big party.

To everyone’s relief the ships finally pulled out. We were given the word that the next float was going to get the job. I saw smiles everywhere on ship and we were told we were going to stop at a couple more islands and then back to Subic Bay. We were only going to stay for a few more weeks and the cruise was going to be headed back to Japan.

It was a big party when we got back to Olongapo City, we partied all we could. Then before we knew it, our time was over. We were underway and headed back to Okinawa. I was only back for about two months before it was time for me to rotate back to the States.

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Ed Heinkel Author and US MarineAbout the Author: Ed Heinkel signed up for the Marines in 1971 because his father hated Marines, as he was a sailor. He went to Boot Camp in San Diego (Hollywood Marine) and spent most of his time at Camp Lejeune. Ed trained at Norfolk, VA for Atomic Demolitions Munitions and caught a float in Okinawa, Japan. He rotated back a year later and was stationed with Forest Troops and traveled to Vieques, PR for the last 6 months. Ed was discharged honorably after four years, married his sweetheart, and has been together with her for over 38 years. He’s a salesman by trade, but writes whenever he gets a chance. His first book was published in December, Climbing To The Top!

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