Thomas Eugene HollowayQuartermaster 3rd Class
PCF-51, COSDIV-11, TF-115, USNAVFORV
United States Navy
27 July 1947 - 12 April 1969
New Castle, IN
Panel 27W Line 064
The database page for Thomas Eugene Holloway
Quartermaster 3rd Class Thomas Holloway was the helmsman ("cox'n") aboard PCF-51, a "Swift boat" assigned to Coastal Division Eleven. On 12 April 1969, eight PCFs of CosDiv-11 were ambushed by a VC heavy weapons company; three men died in the abush - Petty Officer Holloway aboard PCF-51 and Lieutenant Donald Droz and Chief Hospital Corpsman Robert Worthington of Underwater Demolition Team 13 aboard PCF-43.
Notes from The Virtual WallOn 12 April 1969 eight PCFs of CosDiv Eleven were providing transportation and riverine assault coverage for a Vietnamese Marine sweep operation on the Duong Keo River. PCF-43 carried a crew of six, one TF-115 staff officer, ten men of Underwater Demolition Team 13's Det Golf (led by LTJG Peter Upton), and over eight hundred pounds of high explosives.
PCF-43 got underway from her mother ship, USS WESTCHESTER COUNTY (LST 1167) about 4:30 PM and joined with the other seven boats about an hour later. The PCF-31 was the command boat and took the lead, with the heavily laden PCF-43 bring up the rear. The eight PCFs entered the Duong Keo and headed up-river.
At about 6 PM the boats were ambushed by a Viet Cong heavy weapons company equipped with rockets, recoilless rifles, machine guns, and small arms. The VC waited until the greatest possible number of boats had entered the killing zone and then opened fire. The PCFs responded by returning fire and accelerating out of the hostile fire area ... but PCF-43, in the "tail end Charlie" position and heavily laden, was very badly hit. A B-40 rocket exploded on the fantail, killing HMC Worthington and wounding two other men from the UDT team, while others were hit by small arms fire. Worse, another rocket exploded in the pilot house, killing the boat's OIC (LTJG Droz) and wounding the helmsman. With engines at full power and no-one at the helm, PCF-43 ran herself aground on the north bank of the river - directly in front of the VC emplacements. The 14 survivors found themselves in a frantic fight for survival.
PCF-43's radios were out of action and the UDT team's handheld PRC-25 lacked the power to break in on the PCF radio net. Fortunately, the next boat ahead in the column, PCF-38, realized that PCF-43 was in trouble and re-entered the killing zone in support. She promptly was hit in the pilot house by a rocket, severely wounding her OIC and disabling her steering gear. Her cox'n was able to use her twin screws to steer the boat back up river and out of danger.
The command boat, PCF-31, and PCF-5 then entered the fire zone, with PCF-31 pulling alongside the blazing PCF-43 while PCF-5 stood off to provide covering fire. PCF-31's crewmen and embarked Vietnamese Marines were able to recover all 17 men from PCF-43 - 2 dead, 12 wounded, and 3 untouched - and withdraw up-river. Shortly thereafter PCF-43's cargo of explosive detonated, demolishing the boat.
Rather than risk a night passage down-river, the PCF force established a defensive position overnight. On passage down-river the next morning, the force passed PCF-43's wreckage.
Summarized from the account by LTJG Peter N. Upton (UDT-13 Det Golf OINC) at
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one who remembers,
7 Oct 2002
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 10/23/2003