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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

USNS Sgt. Andrew Miller (T-AK-242)

Operation Frequent Wind

Eugene A. Kaptur, MSgt, USMC (Ret)

During Operation Frequent Wind in 1975 (the Vietnamese Evacuation), I was aboard the Sergeant Andrew Miller as a Vietnamese speaking Marine Corps Interrogator-Translator. Under 105mm howitzer fire in Vung Tau harbor Vietnam, we evacuated about 8500 Vietnamese refugees and transported them to Grande Island in the Philippines. During this six day operation we lost only one woman who was crushed between the barges during night time transfer of refugees from ammunition barges to the ship while underway. The Australian seagoing tug "Paiute" was towing the barges at that time. We also had a Vietnamese "Huey" helicopter crash-land on one of the barges during this time, wounding several people on the ship severely. The Captain of the Sergeant Andrew Miller was a former German Naval Officer during WWII who refused to allow the helicopter crew to be evacuated due to them endangering his ship and passengers. During our transit to the Philippines three children were born on the deck of the ship. One of them was named Sergeant Andrew J. Miller Nguyen by his father, who was very proud that his son was born an American! Hopefully this little bit of information will be preserved in the records of this grand old lady of the sea.
Prior to Operation Frequent Wind I spend over two weeks aboard the Sergeant Andrew Miller and became friends with several members of the crew. The "can do" attitude of the crew helped the refugee evacuation immensely. The carpenter built "heads" on both the bow and stern to accommodate the needs of the thousands of people crowding the ship; showers were also build on the deck; winches were installed for lowering G.I. cans full of rice down to the lower decks. In between regular meals for the crew, we were allowed to cook rice for the refugees, which was done on a 24-hour schedule with my Vietnamese volunteers. Our success in transporting such a large group of people to the Philippines could not have been accomplished without this ship. Of course we had numerous other ships from MSTS involved in this evacuation. On one of the ships, the Pioneer Contender, they had over 12,000 Vietnamese!

Semper Fidelis,
Eugene A. Kaptur, MSgt, USMC (Ret)

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