Interview With Dwight L. Chandler

From the interview with Dwight L. Chandler of Centraila, WA conducted by Pam Clise at the Fort Worden History Center on June 19, 2003. Mr. Chandler served in the 369th EASR from 1951 to1953. Most of his time was spent at Fort Worden, much to his chagrin because he had been living in Port Townsend and, as a young man eager to see the world, he had hoped to be sent abroad.

Here he describes one of his experiences as a crewman on an LCM:
“The whole regiment went up to Neah Bay on maneuvers, practice landing and all that…we got right up by Dungeness Spit and this horrendous storm came up. … the boats had these big whip antennas that were 20 feet high. The storm was so bad that you couldn’t see the top of the whip antenna on the boat next to you.

We got caught in a trough, and then it picked us up and slammed us down in the next trough. We must have dropped 10, 15 feet, just KAH-BAM. The bottom of the boat was flat, the landing ramp fell in the water and all this water is coming in. I thought,’Oh boy, we’re going to drown.’ The coxswain got the boat turned around, so the other crewmen and I tied big heavy ropes around our waists or up around our shoulders and we walked out on both sides of the boat to the front holding on with one hand. As soon as he saw us out there, the coxswain brought the ramp up and we secured it with rope so that we could go on to Neah Bay.

It stormed all the way there and it took awhile to get there. When we got inside the harbor at Neah Bay, (we saw that) some of the boats had been hit so hard by the waves that they had been thrown up on the tidal (basin) where all the logs and stuff congregate in a storm. Threw these boats, they weigh about 70,80 tons–just picked them up bodily and threw the clear up on the rocks. That’s how bad it was storming.

(To get the boats back) they had one landing craft that wasn’t in too bad a shape. It was carrying a big D9 tractor. They off loaded him on the beach and he jerked the boats off the logs, pretty easy because they were on the wood. They brought the boats back into the water, but it was pretty scary. We didn’t lose any boats and nobody was hurt. That was the first time I’d ever been in a big storm. It was interesting. I don’t regret it because it proved that when you’ve got to do it, you’ve got to do it.”

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