Ron Van Orden EN3
I have lots of pictures I took aboard the Chilton ( June 58 - September 61). I also took lots of movies, many of the landings (I was a boat engineer). I reported aboard in June and ship left the next day for the Med, My first time in a boat lasted 20 hours. We landed the marines in Beirut, Lebanon.
I read with interest the marine's account of the Bay of Pigs. I missed that phase of the operation.
The day before, or maybe earlier that day, chief Bass asked me if I wanted to take a vacation. I said yeah. He said be ready in 5 minutes. I grabbed my tooth brush and bathing suit. Five minutes later I was in an LCU with about 10 other guys headed for Key West.
There were 3 LCUs in all and we followed a destroyer all the way to Key West. The LCUs were used by the invading Cubans. They were chucked full of weapons of all kinds. We opened up cases of hand grenades and threw them overboard one by one. Nobody had the nerve to pull a pin.
It was great duty as we had no officers on board but before we got to Key West an officer came aboard from the can and told us not to take anything from the boat or say anything to anyone about what we did. He threatened us with 10 years in Leavenworth if we told anyone about what we did.
I took movies of the whole thing and considered hiding the rolls of film but then thought better of it and threw the undeveloped rolls overboard. I kick myself now. I should have kept them. We landed in Key West and got a liberty that lasted what seem like 5 minutes.
I remember ordering a beer (at the EM club on the naval base) and before it came we were ordered to report to the can we had followed. We were really out of uniform and looked like a rag tag bunch. I had no hat. The guys on the can wanted to know who we were but we couldn't say anything. That caused a lot of hard feelings.
Anyway, you can use anything I send you for your web site. However, my movies are the old 8mm film. I think I can get them on a CD. I took quit a bit of footage of all phases of the landings. Getting back to the Bay of Pigs. I too remember all the numbers painted over on all the ships (the most ships I ever saw in one place) also, no American flags flew from any ship. I had film of it all but.... hey, I'm not going to Leavenworth am I? (kidding).
Ronald Van Orden, EN 3