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Dave Sekol - United States Navy

LST is short for Landing Ship Tank, and the navy had hundreds in its fleet.  First built and launched during WWII, LSTs are as versatile as they are ugly.  The messy evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940 demonstrated to the allies the need for a shallow draft landing craft to carry men, military equipment and vehicles to and from the battlefields of Europe and later, the Pacific.  During WWII, many LSTs were used as mobile equipment repair facilities complete with blacksmith, machine and electrical shops.  Also, equipped as hospital ships, surgeons aboard LSTs treated tens of thousands of wounded men during the invasion of Europe.  A few LSTs in the Pacific were even modified to serve as mini aircraft carriers to launch and recover small observation planes. 

My boat was four hundred feet long with a fifty-five foot beam.  Flat bottomed and fitted with two fourteen-foot clamshell doors at the bow, the Vernon County carried tanks, artillery, vehicles and troops – whatever anybody needed transported.  As shuttles for on-board personnel, the LST carried three, 40-foot open boats made of plywood. 

In the Mekong River in Vietnam, the standard joke was LST meant Large Slow Target, but the boat was not without offensive muscle.  Armed with three, three-inch cannons that fired sixty, thirteen-pound exploding projectiles a minute to a range of five miles, the Vernon County could hit hard.  Also, two fifty caliber machine gun turrets were mounted on either side of the boat.  Big, ugly, but not entirely toothless and ready to do just about anything, the Vernon County reminded me of half the girls in my high school, and for the next three years, I spent six to nine months at a time aboard her patrolling the rivers in Vietnam.

  Excerpts:

1. The Vernon County
2. "Fine, I’ll join the army."
3. Rewarding conformity
4. The LST
5. Freedom tax
6. Interrogating VC
7. Zombie-like
8. Yolanda
9. Dog therapy
10. Anger rush
11. EDMR therapy
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