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NavSource Online: Amphibious Photo Archive

Lost due to enemy action, 27 February 1969

Contributed by ENCS Jerry Patterson USN Ret. LCU-1624

Harbor Utility Craft

Personnel Account of the Action of 27 February 1969
Bruce G Hoffman EN3 YFU-78

"It's been a while since I searched for information about YFU-78 and what happened. I was on the 78 that night in February and along with 4 others, managed to swim out of the mess deck area after it was sunk. Seconds after we reached the pilings between ramps, the backload of explosives erupted. I had a chunk of my thigh ripped from my leg and was lucky my leg worked, but I had swam to shore with 3 others. Our gunner came out of the water just before the backload started to explode. My leg wasn't working then and he tossed me over his shoulder and ran with the other 3 away from the eruption. I had a good look.
Anyway, it's been a long time but I remember the next day or two in the hospital and being asked about the LCU-1500 and if I knew what happened to it. I didn't but told them I was off the 78. They came by with Purple Hearts as we lay in beds in a room. The Chaplain told me I was confused, everyone was killed on the YFU-78. I told them I wasn't confused, I got off the sunken boat with 4 other men before our backload went off.

I was flown to Guam I think that day or next. On the bus to the airport one of the men was taking photographs as we went by Bridge Ramp. I had a good look at what was left of the 78. He promised he would send me a picture but I never got one. He was assisting us as the bus was full of wounded on stretchers. I remember being loaded in a C-130 hanging in the stretcher. I'm not certain as it was a blur but I remember I was in Guam the first part of March. While I was there one of the copies of the Navy Times had a picture of the mess at Bridge Ramp taken from the road. I sent a copy home and have that picture but it's the old newsprint and not the best. I left Guam in July for the USS Reclaimer.

I was wondering if you had any pictures of better quality and if I could get some. I do have a few pictures of the time I was on the 78. Unfortunately I did not get a 35mm until later when I was on the USS Reclaimer, but I have some stills I put together from November until February 27th. The RT's loading, the boat, myself on one of our beer loads, etc.

I found the web site for the Wall and looked up the names of the men I knew on the 78. I remember the Navy Times had 5 names and I had added a 6th, Lyle Zacher. I couldn't remember the 7th name but thought I had found it a couple years ago, a Bartholomew. But I guess it was Earnest Jack Buckelew. I found all 7 names on the 31W section of The Wall that were on the 78. I knew there were about 20 Navy personnel killed that night in Quang Nam Province from a web site I found 2 years ago. I didn't find out the connection with the LCU-1500 until tonight but I saw that boat at the ramp that night earlier.

Thanks for the web site with the information. It answers some questions I have had all these years."

S/S Bruce G Hoffman EN3 YFU-78

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