82nd Transportation 


Amphibious Maintenance Support

Marine Maintenance Activity Vietnam


from Steven James


see also http://grambo.us/fms.htm



J boat full of guys (machinists, welders, mechanics etc.) going to off work for the day on the FMS

LCU in for repairs at Redline Beach

FMS (Floating Machine Shop) operated by the Unit. I cannot remember the vessel number. It remained anchored in the Harbor all during my tour and work crews shuttled back and forth.

"Floating Dock" or "Jack up dock" [DeLong Pier] being deployed at Cam Ranh Harbor. Before that everything was offloaded by landing craft and amphibs.

Harbor fueler or YF I think, anchored off redbeach. I'm not sure about the vessel immediately behind her. I think it might have be a Army sea going tug that had just been delivered. I remember one coming around that time. In the harbor is a commercial boat waiting for space at the floating or jack up dock.

parts barge on redline beach and the newly installed docks in the background. I think one of those docks was strictly for offloading fuel.

Technical Supply office for the Unit (82nd)

 supply (parts) barge I worked on for several months

one of the J boats tied up along side the Parts Warehouse Barge I ran with a guy named Toby (can't remember last name. The barge was beached adjacent to Red Beach or Redline Beach where landing craft would come in and beach for repairs.

My full name is Steven M James (M for Melvin but I never use my middle name) I was born and raised in Ventura County, Southern California. I came into the world Nov 7th 1944. Childhood mostly normal. Graduated High School 1962, some College but wasnít sure what I really wanted to do so I dropped out. I was working for an Industrial and Automotive parts supplier when I was drafted Aug. 1965.

I Went to Fort Polk for Basic (Fort Ord was closed due to meningitis) and two weeks before graduation my orders were change from Infantry training at Fort Ord to 61C20 (Marine Engineer) school, Ft Eustis Va. Seems I scored high on mechanical aptitude. After training, I was in transit for about a month around the Christmas Holidays 1965 then transferred to Viet Nam February 1966.

When I arrived in Cam Ranh the unit designation was 82nd TC Marine Maintenance. Most of the guys had come over on a old troop ship the preceding summer and from their stories I guess it was the trip from hell. I flew in to Saigon, two days processing, then flew sitting on top of a bunch of cargo in an H-46 from Saigon to Cam Rahn. The company area was right on the bay, on a sand spit point next to an abandoned French built light house. We lived in tents with dunnage lumber floors, pitched on the sand and used old palettes as side walks so we did not have to slog through the sand everywhere. After awhile , you just got used to sand being in everything, your bunk, your food, clothes, everything. The only semi permanent structures were the CO, the Mess Hall, and the NCO club. Everything else was tents. During my tour the unit changed from a Company to an Activity (MMAV). We were responsible for major maintenance and repair on all Army craft including LARCís, BARCí! s LCMís LCUís, and J-Boats, we operated an FMS ( manned the boat, supplied the machinists and mechanics etc) and were the supply source for marine repair parts. We did a lot of engine replacements, prop and shaft replacements, transmission overhauls etc. I was originally assigned to a engine repair crew and because I was small I spent a lot of time in the bilge of LCM-8ís, under the engine dropping oil pans on my chest and replacing oil screens then replacing the pan. Fun work when it is 100 + degrees. I could do a couple a day (in the morning) and ate salt tablets and drank Cokes the rest of the afternoon to try to replace fluids. I worked mostly on LCM-8ís doing every thing from blower replacements to disk drive and trani replacements to compressor rebuilds. Got to do some test runs but never got to run the boats as much as I wanted to. When the CO found out that I had Parts Warehouse experience as a civilian I was assigned to work sorting out the floating warehouse which had bec! ome a floating disorganized mess. I spent the rest of my tour on the barge or chasing down misplaced shipments of marine parts that got sent to Depots all over Cam Ranh. I did make one trip with a Sergeant on a BARC being towed ( I think by a civilian tug) from Cam Ranh to Nha Trang. We went past one fire fight on shore but we were just out of range. It was a little freaky since the tug had cast us free because our wheels were not pinned and the front wheels had turned out and were acting like a sea anchor so we were making no way. Of course that was right when the fire fight was going on ashore so we started drifting towards the shore as we fired up the engines, got hydraulic pressure, aligned the wheels and pinned them. Then we had to sit wait for the tug to come back and pick us up in tow and watch a lot of fire power going back and forth on shore (50 cal, mortars and rockets). I was the only weapons system on the boat. Me, one M-14 (we had yet to receive M-16ís) and 60 rounds ! of ammo. We were about a Ĺ mile off shore when the reluctant tug arrived. Needless to say I was relieved since I donít believe I could have put up much of a fight. The whole thing took about an hour.

Cam Ranh was pretty secure so not much went on n the way of hostile action. We did maintain a night manned guard tower at the end of the point. Towards the end of my tour Cam Ranh became secure enough to be designated as an in country R&R center. Though I heard that just after I left in 67, Cam Ranh was hit in the Tet offensive but I do not know for sure. I traveled several times from Cam Ranh to Quinohn and that road was never secure. It was pedal to the metal the whole way.

There was not much to do on Sunday (only day off) except go to South Beach on the ocean side of the peninsula and hang out. As I remember, Cam Ranh village was off limits most of the time I was in there.

We hung out in the NCO club in the evenings, drank a lot of beer or played cards in one of the compound tents. Mostly it was just work and trying to cool off.

I left Viet Nam Feb 1967 and was reassigned back to Fort Eustis and was assigned to a training company getting guys ready to go to Viet Nam to run the boats. I was discharged from active duty Aug 1967. Some years later my experience and training helped me get a job as a Harbor Patrolman/ Rescue boat Operator in California. I worked 15 years in law enforcement (7 in marine enforcement) working my way up to Chief Deputy Harbor Patrolman at Ventura Harbor. I left law enforcement and started working for the National Park Service, Channel Islands National Park my last assignment there was Maintenance Supervisor. I spent 10 years at that park. I am now assigned to North Cascades National Park as a Construction Representative for contracted construction projects in the Park and serve as a member of the NPS Pacific Great Basin Region Environmental Audit Team.




Marine Maintenance Activity Vietnam