Interview With Ronald D. Clements

From the interview with Ronald D. Clements of Swartz Creek, MI conducted by phone on July 14, 2005 by Oran DeBois from the Fort Worden History Center. Mr. Clements served in the 369th EASR at Fort Worden from 1951 to 1953. Here he describes the landing craft he was assigned and one of his adventures:

“I was a coxswain on the boat and I had an engine man and two seamen. (It was an) LCM6, 56 foot long, 14 feet wide, weighed about 100 ton empty, was powered by two Gray marine diesel engines, 225 horsepower a piece. We travelled all over the Sound. We had a Shore Batallion across the Sound. They didn’t have access to the mainland, so I would often volunteer for ferry service. …The Coast Guard came in from Seattle and gave us an opportunity to study all the rules and regulations of all inland waters of the United States. I studied that for my own use and for the safety of my people, because there was a lot going on across that Sound in the fog. Many times we went by a compass.

Towards the very end of my career there, the Navy came up from the Naval Amphibious Base in San Diego with the big AK cargo ships and APA transport ships. I’d walk my landing craft in there and they’d put the cables down and lift that thing right up and put it on the deck. Then they took us down to the Navy base and then we had a mock three day invasion landing off Camp Pendleton. They left us out of the ship and I dropped the landing craft down. The engine man and I went down in nets and then got the engine started. I kept it against the ship and they brought the cables down and then brought the cables loose. We got into a line of departure several miles out, we got in circles.

I think I was about the fifteenth wave to hit the beach. I remember hitting the beach with 100 Marines in my well deck. I hit the beach hard, but the tide was out and there was not sufficient gradient to get them on. They had to get out in about a foot and a half of water.

The Shore Batallion was there too. They put numbers on the beach for ammunition, food and all that. There were ten different things on the beach. After we established the beachhead then we went from ship to shore with mock equipment and so forth. All the branches of the service were involved. It was quite a thing.”

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