Remembering the Old Man’s LCI
Ralph Davis of LCI(L)-1091 called me the other night to alert me to “The Last LCI” [by Henry Allen] in the July 2010 Military History. Great article! I really enjoyed it. Fantastic layout. Allen’s father would be very proud of him.
When he wrote about the visit he and his son made to 1091, I was with him every step of the way. In 2002, during our California LCI reunion in Eureka, I had my first opportunity to go aboard an LCI.
My older brother served aboard LCI(G)-347 in the Pacific Campaign. He, too, spoke very little of his wartime experience, with one exception—when he saw his ship in an episode of Victory at Sea. After he passed away, I found a 16-page letter he had written during the war, the kind you ask your buddies to send home if you don’t make it. With that letter in hand, I showed up at the 2001 LCI reunion in Reno, looking for information. Two LCI sailors in wheelchairs took me under their wings, taught me about LCIs and pointed me in the right direction. With their help, and others’, I was able to put together a report for my brother’s seven grown children (five of whom are teachers.)
In 2002 we visited LCI-1091. Captain Ralph probably thought I was a Coast Guard inspector; I was in every compartment, nook and cranny on that ship. I felt very near to my brother, as though we were touring the ship together. A wonderful experience.
The LCI National Association has scheduled its 2010 reunion in Cincinnati August 25–29. It will likely be one of our few remaining opportunities to talk with our World War II LCI sailors; time is rapidly thinning their ranks. At each reunion, I am reminded of the remarks of General Douglas MacArthur during his last trip to the Philippines: “For I must admit, with a sense of sadness, that the deepening shadows of life cast doubt upon my ability to pledge again, ‘I shall return.’”
USS LCI National Association
El Cajon, California
Thanks for including the terrific essay “The Last LCI” (by Henry Allen, July) in your latest issue. It brought back memories. My father, Howard Broadbent, was a young ensign on USS Lycoming, APA-155, and helmed an LCVP to the beach at Okinawa. However, I’m puzzled: Why no picture of LCI-1091 as she currently rests at the Eureka, Ore., museum?
As for my Dad’s ship, Lycoming spent decades at anchor at the James River “Dead Fleet” anchorage in Virginia before being cut up for scrap. Like Allen, I too had no idea my father’s ship had been so close to me until I was able to track it down via the Internet. But by then, my father had passed away, and the ship was gone for good.
MiG Be?Not Nimble
I read with interest the article on the Egypt-Israel War of Attrition [“Suez Smashup,” by David T. Zabecki, July]. This conflict was the first I can recall watching on the evening news with my parents. One comment on the reference on P. 48 to the MiG-21 as the “nimble and proven” primary Egyptian Air Force fighter: The MiG-21—designed as a high-speed, short-range interceptor to interdict U.S. strategic bombers during any U.S.-Soviet war—was proven but was certainly not nimble. A business colleague purchased a surplus Polish MiG-21 and flew it out of Ellington field in Houston back in the early 1990s and often commented on how poorly it maneuvered. He said he could be traveling south over Houston at speed, begin a turn and not complete it till he was over the Gulf of Mexico. He did love that Mach 2 experience, however.
Hallowed Ground [“Vimy Ridge, France,” by David T. Zabecki, July] states that four Victoria Crosses were won posthumously at Vimy Ridge. In fact, only two awards, to Private William Milne and Lance Sgt. Ellis Sifton, were posthumous. Private John Pattison survived this battle only to be killed during the Battle of Lens on June 3, 1917, and Captain Thain MacDowell died of natural causes on March 27, 1960. [It was a] good article nonetheless.
I’ve been interested in your article and letters on the Pueblo capture by North Korea, since I was involved in the follow-up. I was assigned to the U.S. Air Force 67th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron at Yokota Air Base, Japan, when that occurred. We were the ones who processed and exploited aerial film from the three CIA-flown A-12 (Black Shield) missions that almost completely covered North Korea. It was on that film Pueblo was located and a North Korean military buildup documented. We also produced thousands of target materials for two carriers and the USAF “Combat Fox” buildup in South Korea, in case retaliatory action was required.
Nothing was mentioned as to why the USAF didn’t intervene. At the time, Fifth Air Force intel people told us the Navy hadn’t alerted the Air Force about a requirement for defense of a ship, so our fighter-bombers on deployment in South Korea were configured for their SIOP missions (mountings for nukes). By the time USAF fighters were rearmed for air-to-air, it was too late—the ship had been herded into territorial waters.
Pueblo’s capture had been decided by a couple of MiG-17s that a pair of our fighters on strip alert could have eaten for lunch. Nor was there any mention of the Carter Administration looking the other way when North Korea sailed Pueblo from the east coast port of Wonsan to Pyongyang on the west coast, going around the southern tip of Korea.
Roy M. Stanley II
Colonel, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)
The article “One Way to Hell,” by Stephan Wilkinson, in the July issue reads in part, “In December 1944, early in the Battle of the Bulge, the Wehrmacht captured the surrounded 82nd Airborne Division’s entire medical staff and supplies.” The surrounded division at Bastogne was Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe’s famed 101st Airborne. All we can say is, “NUTS!” We regret the error.