U.S. Navy – Vietnam
LST technically stands for Landing Ship Tank, although some of its crewmen referred to them as “large slow targets.” They were some of the most remarkable pieces of equipment in Vietnam, if for no other reason than their endurance. More than 90 LSTs performed vital roles there; all but about ten of them had been built during World War II.
The large, flat-bottomed vessels were designed for hitting the beaches during the invasions in Europe and the Pacific to drop off tanks and other heavy equipment. But because of their load capacity, they were ideal for hauling large shipments of supplies and equipment, as well as armament. That made it functional for two roles: resupplying military units all up and down the whole length of South Vietnam, and patrolling the waterways and coastline of the Mekong Delta, intercepting suspicious vessels.
Jigs Warren arrived in Vietnam to serve on LST 819, Hampshire County, in February, 1967. He had graduated from Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, and attended amphibious school in San Diego before going to Vietnam.
“We moved a lot of food supplies, ammunition, building supplies.” he said, “We also, on occasion, would support river patrol boats with fuel and ammunition.”
It was grueling and dangerous work.
“I really looked at it as a job. I was never and have never been busier in my life,” he said. “We usually worked 20 to 22 hours a day and slept for three or four hours. In 18 months on board ship, I never slept for more than four hours straight.”
His 18-month tour kept him in Vietnam through the Tet offensive in early 1968.
“We had just dropped off some supplies in Hue to build an enlisted club,” he said. “We were out of there by the time the attack happened.”
Jigs said that the Hampshire County was fired upon every single day. At night in Da Nang, the sky sparkled every night with tracers, the illuminated rounds fired by automatic weapons.
“It was nothing but a curtain of tracer bullets around the entire city, every night, every night for a year ,.. that’s all you saw, the entire city engulfed in tracer bullets.”
Jigs felt compassion for the people who suffered most from the war.
“I guess the thing I remember most is the people in Vietnam who were practically overrun by military efforts all the time.”