Deep Sixed

Deep Sixed

Ddick: Once again Ddick has become my Muse regarding Amtrack operations off an LST. The one part of the launch he doesn't mention (because it's not apparent to those riding inside is the "deep six" portion which involves the tractor accelerating down the ramp and actually going 5 or 6 feet under water before bobbing to the surface (hopefully) and heading for the rendezvous circle. This is a little intimidating the first couple of times its done, but being Marines we would see how deep we could go. I think I've related this story before but here it is again. A second LT. platoon leader pulled me aside and asked where the driest place was inside when we launched because the cargo doors on top of the tractor weren't water tight and became a torrent while getting off the ship. I assured him that the driest place would be sitting on the machine gun platform in the front. Just above the platform was the machine gun turret with the gun taken out, it was rotated to the rear and a redwood plug was inserted where the barrel went. I told my crewman to rotate the turret to the front and remove the plug. As we "deep sixed" off the ramp a solid stream of cold seawater shot from the hole into the chest of the 2nd. LT. I kept my eyes glued to my vision block but snuck a peep to see how it went. He was staring at me with fire in his eyes but I'm sure he never asked to be kept dry while part of his platoon was getting wet. Ya gotta love 'em!

Ddick is right on the traffic signals on LST's, the older ships had them mounted horizontally over the ramp door. On the newer (post Korea) ships it was on the driver's side and mounted vertically. The WWII LST's had no turn table so you had to drive the tractor just in front of the ramp where a sailor would heave a "monkey fist" connected to a throw line that was in turn connected to two haul lines that the Amtrack crew would place on the rear cleats. You were then literally hauled to the ramp by the ship's crew until contact was made with the ramp and you reversed aboard. The newer ships had "turn tables". You drove straight up the ramp, through the bow doors and onto the "turn table". The table turned the tractor around and you backed into your slot on the tank deck. We carried "Grunts", chow, Artillery, Mortars anything that needed to go ashore. The picture is for SGT. GRIT, the cannon cocker.

Cpl. Selders
 

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