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Clutching an Ammo Can
Comment on Amphibious Landing Problems.
Ken Schweim’s comments on going down the nets for an amphibious landing are pretty much the way I remember it. It looked easy in the movies, but very tricky in rough seas. I am surprised more Marines did not get hurt just getting off the ship. But those who suffered from sea sickness did not care… they just wanted to get off the ship and on dry land. I will also add that going from the landing craft to board ship was just as bad. Grab the net when the landing craft was high… then before you could get your feet in the net you were dangling in the air. Grab the net when it was low… the net is bunched at your feet. Climbing up the net with all your gear was a bit harder than going down.
As to Ken’s question, we did such landings in the early 1970s, the last I remember was 1974. I am sure others will contribute other dates. I will add one personal landing net story. While I was on Okinawa, a BLT had been at sea for some time; and for some reason had come in, but did not offload. Someone decided the Marines on board needed to be paid, and I got elected to pay on one ship. Pay was in cash. Basically, the pay officer went to some heavily guarded building, someone handed you the payroll, you counted it and signed for it, and placed the money in an ammo can. If you as the pay officer came up short, the missing money came out of your pocket. My driver/armed guard and I picked up the payroll and went to the dock. I naively thought the ship would be there. Oh no. The ship had sent a landing craft. The ship was within sight, but way out there. When we got to the ship they threw the landing net over the side so we could board. Ever try to go up one of those things with one hand (and the other hand clutching an ammo can with well over a year’s worth of your pay)? We discovered another use for a web belt. Everyone was paid and happy. I did not come up short or drop all that cash into the Pacific. As I was about to debark down the net I really wanted to heave that ammo can as far as I could into the Pacific. Proper decorum dictated otherwise, so I carried it back down.
We also did landings by going off the back end of LPDs in LVTs. That is a whole different experience and in some ways worse than over the side and down a net. Hope someone will write about that experience.
The attached photo: from my first landing 1970.