I have been very busy lately with custom models for clients and have not had much time to work on the Aquia Line. I will post info on those projects later as some do relate to ACW Railroading
I have been recently doing a lot of research on maritime subjects for a couple projects I have underway. In this post I would like to share a story about from my high school days that has been enhanced by some additional information I recently learned.
|I, Frank, and my twin brother|
Rob during Army commissioning ceremony
He continued with the merchant marine for many years. During the Vietnam War, he received a commendation for heroism when his ammunition carrying ship was attacked by Viet Cong mortar fire.
When I was a senior in high school, Frank was making regular freight trips to Puerto Rico. He called it the banana run, as they were frequently hauling bananas to New York. It was about a bi-weekly cycle. He had a car and an apartment in NYC, but he didn't like leaving his car there. So he made me a deal. I could use his car while he was gone, as long as I picked him up in Brooklyn when he returned from a trip. He would usually stay at our house during his shore time.
I said, "OK." I Called my parents to let them know what was up. Then I went to his stateroom in the upper superstructure, and since it was late, I hit the rack.
The next morning I got up and dressed. When I went on deck, I was shocked to learn that they put the ship in dry dock while I was asleep. I had breakfast with the crew. They gave me a detailed tour of the ship.
|Transcolorado in Vietnam|
Frank passed away several years ago, but I frequently think about him and that night, and many other pleasant memories.
A few weeks ago I was curious if any pictures of the Transcolorado existed. So I did a search, and sure enough I found several. The Transcolorado started out as a USNS Troopship called Marine Adder. It was a bit late for WWII, but participated in the Korean and Vietnam wars. After the Korean War it was converted into a US flagged merchant ship, with a set of distinctive cranes. About a year or so after I was on the ship it participated in the Vietnam Refugee operation.
I was very surprised to learn that the ship I spent a night on was involved in that operation. It turns out the Vietnam mission was very well documented with text and videos of the operation available on line.
This website has a good description of the overall mission. The comments are also worth reading.
The book, "The Lucky Few", has a section describing the tragic conditions on the overcrowded Transcolorado during the evacuation. It was a chaotic time.
I know several Vietnamese people who were rescued after the war, including one of my sisters-in-law. While it would make an incredible coda to the story, she didn't come here on the Transcolorado.