Recollections of Bob Gervers
The Case of the Missing Furniture
The following is one of my favorite “Captain Charles Bryant” stories that I thought you would enjoy. I did go over the story with Charles at the Indianapolis reunion.
During the Fall of 1966 the LST-901 was departing the U.S. Naval Base at Subic Bay for Da Nang with various cargo. The Captain informed me that he had met some Army Officers in Olongapo and they asked him to transport furniture for their Officer’s Club in Chu Lai. He said that we would be allowed to visit their club in return for transporting the furniture. So the Captain had the furniture loaded on the forward part of the tank deck. He told me to make sure that we held this furniture aside when we off loaded in Da Nang. We were then going to on load other cargo to take to Chu Lai.
After the 901 reached Da Nang, we were in the process of off loading the cargo at ramps in the Northern part of the city. I ran into the Captain on the main deck. He said “You did remember to set that furniture aside before starting to off load the cargo” didn’t you? Well guess what? I completely forgot about this!!! The Captain was not too happy!! He said, “Bob, you find that furniture or you’re a_ _ is grass and I am the lawn moor”!!
I contacted Lt. Bucci who was in charge of the Marine group that we had carried over from San Diego on our maiden trip to Viet Nam. We had kept in contact with him and some of the Marines that we had taken to Da Nang.
The Marines sent over a jeep with a driver and another guard. One of the Boatswain Mates (I believe it was Ron Cherpak) and I went with the Marines searching for the missing furniture. We went all around the outskirts of Da Nang visiting warehouses run by both the Vietnamese and our military. It was like looking for a “needle in the haystack”. After a few hours, I told the Marines to return to the ship. I figured that I might have to take a little heat over this incident.
While we were on our hunt for the furniture in the boon docks, the 901 moved to ramps in the Southern part of Da Nang. We were one of four LST’s taking on cargo for Chu Lai. We returned to the ship. I was standing on the main deck contemplating how I would break the news to our Captain. When what did I see but a fork lift bringing the furniture back on to our ship!!! I couldn’t believe it!!! What had happened was that the furniture was sent to a warehouse when it was originally offloaded. The furniture was marked for Chu Lai. So it was sent from the warehouse to the ships loading cargo for Chu Lai. By luck, it wound up back on our ship and not on the other 3 LST’s!!!! It wasn’t 10 minutes later when Captain Bryant came out on the main deck. He spotted me and said “well where’s the furniture?” I said, “what does that look like?” He couldn’t believe it!!! “How did you find that furniture?” I told him it was a long story and that maybe some day I would tell him!! I waited until the ship’s reunion - 43 years later!!!