John Daniel Shewmake, SrSergeant First Class
329TH TRANS CO, 159TH TRANS BN, 5TH TRANS CMD, USA SPT CMD QUI NHON, 1 LOG CMD
Army of the United States
15 May 1933 - 04 November 1971
Panel 02W Line 062
The database page for John Daniel Shewmake, Sr
I have a silver bracelet with his name on it. He is my American Hero.
A Note from The Virtual Wall
The 329th Transportation Company (Heavy Boat) was part of the 159th Trans Bn at Qui Nhon and was responsible for most of the coastal missions performed by the 5th Transportation Command between Chu Lai and Dong Ha. The Company's equippage included Landing Craft, Utility, commonly known as LCUs, which were used for lighterage purposes as well as coastal deliveries of heavy and/or bulky cargo. LCU-1563, the boat involved in this incident, was not small - a 501-Class LCU, it was 115' long with a 30' beam. It also had a cargo bay that was open to the weather, but the 501s had proven themselves seaworthy over their 25 years of service.
LCU-1563 (in Army markings, "LCU-63") departed Danang on 02 Nov 1970 enroute to the Army port at Hue, Tan My, with eleven men aboard. Although the worst of Typhoon Patsy hadn't yet hit the coast, the weather was bad and the seas rough - bad enough to swamp and sink two RVN gunboats a bit further south on the same day LCU-63 departed Danang. At about 10 AM the following day LCU-63 was sighted capsized and driven ashore on the beach several miles south of Tan My. Initial search efforts failed to locate any of the crewmen, but on 06 Nov one body - that of PFC Billy H. Peeples - was found near Cu Lao Island (sometimes misspelled "Cu Loi"), which is about 20 miles off-shore east of Chu Lai and a very considerable distance south of where the wreckage was found. Although PFC Peoples was wearing a life vest, autopsy results proved he had died of drowning.
Salvage efforts failed to move the wreckage either closer to or further away from the shoreline, forcing US and Australian divers to work in heavy rain and pounding surf while they searched the vessel's interior compartments - but to no avail. The US Naval Forces Vietnam Command History for November 1970 contains this entry:
"At 1300H on 3 November U.S. Army Support Command YFU-63 was found aground and overturned about two and a half miles southeast of the CG 12 base (YD 875 300). There was no sign of any survivors, and it was concluded that the eleven crewmembers had been lost at sea. Efforts to salvage the craft, coordinated by COMNAVSUPFAC [Danang], continued without success until 21 November when it was decided that any further attempts would be fruitless. The poor weather made the operation extremely difficult throughout and at 1900H on 19 November, the ARVN security group stationed on the beach at the site took some small arms fire from an unknown number of VC ..."
On conclusion of the search and rescue effort PFC Peoples was known to be dead and the other ten crewmen were classed as missing. At the first annual review, the Army board concluded they had been lost at sea and their status was changed to "Died while Missing; Drowned; Body not recovered" with an effective date of death of 04 Nov 1971, a year and a day after the incident. The eleven crewmen were
Seven years later, on 16 March 1977, the remains of SGT Perry C. Kitchens were repatriated. The remaining nine men have not been recovered.
The POW Network's biographies on the ten missing men claim "There are several descrepancies in the case of LCU-63 which should be noted." Their points are
Those interested in the LCU-63 accident should review the information at http://22.214.171.124/lcu-63.htm - particularly with respect to weather conditions, the investigation board's conclusions, and the diver's recollections of salvage operations.
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 22 Sep 2006
Last updated 08/10/2009