Reaching An Loc
By Alfredo G. Herrera
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I was sent to Ft Eustis, VA for transportation school training. I am not sure why, but I was given instructions on port facilities with military landing craft, loading, and unloading personnel and material from ships. I was at Ft Eustis for eight weeks. I was given a 30 day leave when I departed Ft Eustis. Traveling by train I arrived at my home. I was met by my mother, Maria and my father, Jose. My wife and children were also at the depot when I arrived in Klamath Falls. My parents had always been proud of my service in the US Army and displayed their pride when I got off the train in my uniform. When I left home after leave I was sent to Inchon, Korea. We left Seattle, WA on December 24, 1955 loading on a US Navy troopship, the USNS Marine Adder. My wife, Rachael, traveled with me to Seattle. I left her with the many other wives and relatives on the dock of Pier 91 in Seattle. That was my first real separation from my wife and children and it was emotional and very sad. I can still visualize my wife, waving to me from the pier.
We left Seattle in early evening of the 24th of December 1955. After the evening meal we went to our bunks in the lower decks. There were Red Cross ladies and men giving each of us a gift, cards, games, etc. We all then went to sleep. I awoke about four or five hours later when I heard someone throwing up. Our bunks were four high with about two feet between for walking and getting out of the bunks. I saw the guy on the top bunk across from me. He was throwing up on the floor. I might have been fine but when I saw that his vomit was splashing on the bottom guy, who was still asleep, I got sick myself and headed for the head (latrine). On the way there were guys vomiting into large garbage cans at the ladder wells. When I got to the latrine, all the commodes were plugged from guys vomiting in them. The ship was rocking and rising up at the front and dropping back down very hard. It was miserable! We found out later that we hit a storm right out of Seattle and it was very bad. I couldn’t find anywhere to throw up so I went to the deck area. It was storming and blowing very hard. I was the only one on the deck as we had orders to stay below. I just grabbed on to the rail and threw up over the side while the ship was rocking all over the place. I guess God was watching over me because I didn’t get thrown overboard.
I don’t think many of us ate the first or second days. Finally, we made it to the mess area where we ate standing up. The trays of food were sliding back and forth on the metal tables. We had to watch our tray or the guy next to us would take a bite of food from the tray in front of him. I am not exaggerating in the least. To this day I have never had a more miserable trip by any means of transportation. We were on the ship for 30 days! We never saw another ship, land, or any other living creature even on the water. When the weather was calm, everyone sat around on the decks talking, playing cards, reading, or making rings out of spoons taken out of the mess hall.
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