Ernie Showalter's Vietnam Photos
My name is Ernie Showalter. I served in The US Navy during the Korean War as an Electrician's Mate aboard USS Calentie AO 53, and USS Faribault AK 179.
Toward the end of the war, Faribault participated in Operation Passage to Freedom. We were on station for about 3 months from 9 September to 19 November at Tourane (now Da Nang) and Haiphong, Indochina (Vietnam), acting as fleet issue ship about 20 miles from Henrietta pass which is located where the Haiphong river flows into the sea.
This was a trip with many memories. One would get acquainted with the small boats which were along side every day. One day a week there would be only one of the boats there, we were told on that day all others were out fishing.
There was always a baby in a sling on the front or back of the baby's mother. For our time there I never heard a baby cry. They stayed very close to our ship so distance was not the reason. All the leftovers at meal time would be given to those on the boats.
We were cleaning up a hold that held soda crackers. A cargo net was in the hold to serve as a means of holding all the sweepings and broken boxes. When the cargo net was lowered over the side one of the boats was loaded with what was in the net. As soon as the net was brought back aboard all the boats got together and shared what was delivered.
Going to shore was an experience. We left the ship at 1:00 PM and liberty expired at, if I remember 4:00 PM. That was where I was introduced to beetle nut. Older women would chew the stuff making their mouth a bright red. We couldn't talk to them but we would laugh and so would they. That was at Tourane Bay. Liberty most of the days was taking the motor whale boat to a beach on one of the volcanic islands. They let us swim but the water was full of some small jelly fish we couldn't see but when they contacted the skin you knew they were there because there was a burning sensation. We climbed to the top of some of the vocalic formations acting like explorers of a new land.
When we moved the cargo which was rice in 100 pound bags the natives would come aboard. For dinner they brought a small can of fish and rice that is about what we would call one helping of our noon meal and that was all they had to eat, they moved rice bags all day long. In one case they were moving the bags from one location to another in the hold. Two men would load two bags on the back of one of the female workers and she would haul the load to it's final destination.
Little did we know where we were, or what we were doing, but what happened in my three months there is in my mind more than liberty in Japan.
Below are a few pictures of my memories............
Faribault At Anchorage
Faribault and USS Karin AF-33 Stores Ship
*** LIBERTY ***
Beach party on the beach with motor whale boat, and a case of beer.
When we talked of "going on the beach" for liberty, we really did.
This is as good as it got
*** OUR VISITORS ***
The boat people came, and stayed everyday rowing against the tide for hours to stay alongside.
The boats were the only home they had.
At the end of the day, we gave them our leftover chow.
Home sweet home
We offered them jobs aboard, chipping paint and cleaning for rice and food scraps.
This child was brought aboard for medical treatment, a stingray had hit him.
He had never seen or heard a 45-RPM record player.
When the sails are up they have travel in mind, maybe out to sea to fish.
*** Some very spectacular volcanic islands ***
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