A Photo of Another Era, Another Place

i shared a photo memory on Facebook several days ago, and a man, a good man, whom i now consider a close friend, Hays Mershon, made a comment about our not reading the sign:

i responded with a sea story i would like to share with those who read my posts and aren’t on Facebook:

Oh, we read it, Hays. We just decided it didn’t make a lot of sense.

It was the Market Time outpost on the peak across the channel from the Army port of Qui Nhon.

On an earlier trip, we had some beers in the Army’s small O’Club hut on a peninsula at the end of the base. A Vietnamese man in a small narrow boat was coming in from a fishing trip. Apparently, the lookouts in the post in the photo thought the fisherman was a bad guy. They began to fire their .50 cal at the fisherman.

They weren’t very good shots and the Army lookouts at the post at the very end of the base thought someone was firing at them and began to return fire. We were caught in the middle of the crossfire and hunkered down between some concrete and steel piles outside the O’Club.

The fisherman calmly continued down the channel and pulled in boat into a small pier beside his village.

Finally, the two outposts realized they were shooting at each other. The crossfire ceased.

We went back in the club and had another beer before going back to the ship.

On the next trip, we went over to Market Time and the village over on that side of the channel and visited. Thus, we took this photo.

After we came back to the ship in a small skiff, just after midnight, Viet Cong zappers blew a hole below the waterline of the cargo ship aft of us (i’m pretty sure we were the target because we had just dropped off 1500 ROK troops and were to load 1500 the next day to take back to Pusan).

The blast blew through the cargo hold and out the other side. When i looked out my after cabin porthole, the cargo ship had a 30 degree list and the huge tires for pier fenders were bouncing down the pier. The Filippino crew began running of the ship with seabags and suitcases. A number of them tried to hire on our ship, the USNS Upshur to no avail.

The cargo ship finally was secured to the pier with its list. When we came back about 22 days later, it was gone.

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