“LAND THE LANDING FORCE” – These simple words made up the latest order coming from
the sqwaukbox, over the noisy activity of the attack cargo. Overhead the sky was dotted
with planes. The gunsand rocket launchers from the fire support ships of the task force
were continuing their earsplitting job of working over the enemy beach defenses.
The “softening up period” was almost over. Now the star role in the action was to be played
by the assault boat coxswains, whose briefing had just been completed.
Over the squawk box came the awaited word: “Boat crews, stand by to be lowered”. LCMs
and LCVPs were lowered into the water.
Seaman ________prepared to move his LCVP up to the cargo net on which the troops
would scramble down the ship’s side and into his craft. The mother vessel to _________’s
craft was attack transport ___________, one of several taking part in an early dawn
___________ jockeyed his craft into position under the cargo net. A fast running sea
tended to force his LCVP to drift sternward. Steadying lines ran from the craft up to the
transport’s main deck where they were manned by topside deckhands. These lines helped
snub the pitching and bobbing LCVP against the ship’s side.
But the force of the sea placed a powerful strain on the lines. It was up to _________ to
relieve the deck hands of some of that strain before the lines were wrenched from their
hands. He did this by keeping a varying number of turns on the propeller and different
degrees of angle on the rudder. This called for a combined steersman – throttle man skill – a
skill which all assault boat coxswains must possess.
After the last combat – loaded infantryman had scrambled down the net and dropped into
his craft, _________ maneuvered away from the ship’s side and joined other LCVPs of his
wave – “Wave One, Blue Beach One”.
Together the LCVPs proceeded in toward the “line of departure”. This position was marked
by a small amphibious ship which served as control vessel.
Following the time schedule of the operation orders, the control vessel gave the “go” signal.
Lined up like a football team at kickoff, the LCVPs picked up momentum. Soon they were up
to speed, each craft keeping space of the other.
It was a 4,000-yard run to the beach from the line of departure. The final 80 yards was the
surf zone. Here, the shoaling of the water turned the rolling swells into breaking combers.
Handling a craft in these dangerous waters calls for boatmanship of the four-point-oh brand.
_________ recalled his training: “A swamped landing craft is a useless landing craft – a
hazard on the beach and an obstruction”.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw other LCVPs riding the up-slopes of the combers. Their
speed was gauged to that of the shoreward rushing combers. Far down the line one LCVP
forged ahead too fast. For a brief instant it rode the comber’s crest. In another moment it
would have plunged over on the down-slope, broached and swamped. The coxswain
maneuvered his craft skillfully, cutting its speed. Splash one LCVP – almost, thought
__________. That would also mean: splash one crew and one load of troops.
Like every assault boat coxswain, __________ felt the responsibility of a skipper to his won
craft. In his case, this was an eight ton, 38 foot long, metal hulled vessel driven by a 225
horsepower marine diesel engine. ______________’s crew consisted of two deckhands and
The LCVPs of Wave One had now hit the sea wash line, within a few seconds of the
scheduled time. Timing is important. A miscalculation of two minutes could snarl up the
landing. Too early – it might have meant shifting of the fire support schedule to avoid being
hit by shells from the gunfire support ships. Too late – it might cause a traffic jam on the
beach. Other waves were already on their way in from the departure line.
As soon as his boat slid to a standstill on the beach, _______ ordered the bow ramp
lowered. Concentrating on his next job, he only half-heard the troops double timing down
the ramp, through the ankle deep water, to begin grouping for the inward push.
The last infantryman was hardly across the ramp before it was being raised. __________
threw his clutch into reverse and gunned the engine to retract from the beach. Between him
and the transport lay the breaking surf. He’d have to back through that. Then the 5,000
yard run to the transport, which his LCVP would take in its stride.
Aboard the __________ were more troops and cargo to be brought ashore. The assault
boat crews delivered their first passengers in the first light of morning. It was high noon by
the time they brought the last of the troops to the beach. They shifted to equipment
carrying runs, which continued until sunset.