MATURE SUBJECT MATTER, VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED: WEDU is honored to present the personal Vietnam War experiences of our local citizens. The stories presented here have not been edited and are presented as originally shared by the author. The content may contain coarse language, images, or remembrances that may be disturbing to some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.
Robert S.’s Story
Shared on July 14, 2017
Between November 1966 and December 1968 I served as a Gunner aboard the USS Westchester County (LST 1167) in the Mekong Delta of South Vietnam. We carried a company of the 9th Infantry Division and provided transport and support for their operations throughout the Delta, operating primarily in the vicinity of our base camp at Dong Tam. The Westchester County was affectionately referred to as “WESCO” by all who served aboard her. She was one of the three most combat active LSTs out of over 1,500 built. She earned 15 engagement or “Battle Stars” during her service and while I was aboard, suffered the US Navy’s greatest loss of life (KIAs) during the entire Vietnam war, when on November 1, 1968, a VC frogman team detonated two giant underwater mines on her starboard side, killing 25 men.
When I joined the Navy in the summer of 1966, my father bought me a small wind up 8mm movie camera which I took with me to Vietnam. The attached You Tube hyperlink is the film I took during my service aboard the WESCO and includes a glimpse into the life of a “WESCO WARRIOR”, including the only known film of the aftermath of the mining and beaching of the ship for repair of the two 20 foot holes in her side.
Sponsored in part by
Retired Officers’ Corporation at Freedom Plaza
Production Credits: THE VIETNAM WAR is a production of Florentine Films and WETA, Washington D.C. Directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Written by Geoffrey C. Ward. Produced by Sarah Botstein, Lynn Novick and Ken Burns.
Funding Credits: Funding provided by: Bank of America; Corporation for Public Broadcasting; PBS; David H. Koch; The Blavatnik Family Foundation; Park Foundation; The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations; The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; National Endowment for the Humanities; The Pew Charitable Trusts; Ford Foundation Just Films; Rockefeller Brothers Fund; and Members of The Better Angels Society: Jonathan & Jeannie Lavine, Diane & Hal Brierley, Amy & David Abrams, John & Catherine Debs, Fullerton Family Charitable Fund, The Montrone Family, Lynda & Stewart Resnick, The Golkin Family Foundation, The Lynch Foundation, The Roger & Rosemary Enrico Foundation, Richard S. & Donna L. Strong Foundation, Bonnie & Tom McCloskey, Barbara K. & Cyrus B. Sweet III, The Lavender Butterfly Fund