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COMBAT
PHOTOGRAPHY
FROM PARADISE...

By the Boys Who Built the Seahuts!
1971-1973 AND OTHER FIRSTS

This page is devoted to photos of the early days, as well as any other "first photos" anyone would care to share.  Send me YOUR Photo  and Story NOW!

Check out Russell Irby's Home Page with photos from when he went ashore with UDT 12 in 1971!
 Before the LSTs could get into the lagoon, the Frogmen had to open the channel.

Once they did, in sailed the USS VERNON COUNTY LST 1161, painted in white to show her peaceful intent.

Here are Doug Brand's pictures of that very first day:

View of Diego Garcia beach head from the USS VERNON COUNTY, March 1971

USS VERNON COUNTY arrives at Diego Garcia Atoll, March 1971

Meanwhile, Welcome to Diego Garcia, 30 years ago...
Back then it was called "Reindeer Station"

Here's the logo, invented by Jim Murray:
Reindeer Station Logo - Diego Garcia 1971
Here's his picture of the Terminal:
Passenger Terminal - Diego Garcia 1971

Here's where Jim and his buddies lived - the infamous H-15 SEA Hut (see his story on the 1971 warstory page) .  Here's his explanation for this official Navy photo of the H-15. "Apparently we got loaded up and painted FTN all over the front  of the hut. The Chief made us paint it over so I got creative. I was at chow when this was taken (piss me off)."

SEA Hut (Seahut) H-15, Diego Garcia 1971 
October or November 1971.  Jeff Mead's Photo

 
The following photos are from Tildon Parker - March, 1971.

Coming Ashore, March, 1971.  The USS VERNON COUNTY - LST 1161.
Go check out Gerold Ricks' page about the VERNON!


Mike Boats Coming Ashore, March, 1971...Then there's always the sign to be built!


The UT Crew.


Tildon Parker himself.

 Be sure to Check Out Roger Allie's Photos of the Arrival of the USS Graham County - LST 1176
A Whole Page devoted to the 2nd LST to arrive!


The following 1971 photos are from Carl Reid...


The USS Graham County (above) carried NMCB 40 from Australia to Diego Garcia.

Above:  This is Carl, from Sewanee, Tennessee in his home in Hootch H4, playing guitar with a new leather strap that was a gift from EOC McCann.  Carl played everywhere, including at the Chief's Club.
Below:  A dart game in Hootch H4.  Note that the plywood and lumber is BRAND NEW!

Above:  Mike boat headed out to offload the S.S. Mobilian in October 1971.  She was part of the regular resupply program.
Below:  She looks like a rust tub from this angle!

On the S.S. Mobilian.  On the right, Carl and Mike D. Swift.
Below, headed back to the Cantonment area with the offload, which was fuel bladders in the Mike boat filled with Portland Cement to make the concrete for the runway.

Everybody gets their picture taken at Canon Point!
Below, a Lorain Crane on ground that will become the runway.

Above - this is a P&H 955 crescent scraper used to drag in coral used for aggregate for the first runway.
Below:  Carl with the 34 ton Lorain Crane in the runway area.



Above:  At the ruins of Point Marianne.
Below Left:  John McHorse, Larry Ray, and Mike Tanner with the fish they caught diving in September 1971.
Below Right:  Carl and Mike Swift with an ocean bass Mike caught in October 1971.
Above - of course there were Coconut Crab Tricks done all the time in the good ol' days!  These were caught while Carl was on guard duty.  The one hanging from his right hand weighed 14 pounds, and was reportedly, delicious...


The following photos are from Carl Villanueva - from 1972-1973...
Go Check Out His WEB SITE!  You will LOVE IT!


Here's some stuff you might not know...we were issued bicycles when we arrived; chiefs and officers used to have motorized minibikes, but they ended up being buried someplace on the island because of too many accidents; wild cats were not a problem, but there were a few 'pets'; we used to have a few treehouses for "hangouts"; we made a "houseboat"; there were boats, catamarans and kyaks left behind by the natives which were passed down from one sailor to another (I had a red kyak); I was in the "air ops" department and we used to go over to the plantation side regularly to clear the roads and party (air ops worked directly for the britrep); we used to have only one supply plane a week (C-130); we used outhouses; R&R was 1 week in bangkok; we had the last bob hope christmas show (his C-141 was the first jet to land there); we used to have to put out smudge pots for the plane to land at night; also had to chase the donkeys off the runway with the crash truck and sirens; calling home was via ham radio; I remember when the 'control tower' was a 8x8 trailer sitting on the field. the controller sometimes was in his underwear when talking to the plane because it was so hot in there (I think the air conditioner had broken); all the wagon tire valve stems were in short supply because the guys swiped them for use as hash pipes (they were perfect!)....


The original Air Ops building.  On the left, looking through the breezeway - on the right, an end shot. 
The cone shaped trailer topper is the weather station.


Bob Hope's 1972 Christmas Show, and the Christmas Tree made from bottles from the party...
And the reason they all were drunk?  Her name was Ingeborg...

...because she was there, and so were they, but no matter how much they wanted her, they couldn't have her...
(thanks to Tom Finnen for the photo - he was the cue-card holder for the show, lucky guy!)

instead, all they got was:

hmmmmm.....don't ask, don't tell...

anyway - on with the story:


The weather balloon & weather station... The Quarterdeck.


The Island Queen Party Barge.  Quarters - the infamous "SEA Huts" (stands for "South East Asia" Huts).


The Chow Hall (later generations knew it as the gym).  The main latrine (?)   From Ron Kramarz:  "Seeing Carl Villanueva's picture of the Chow hall brought back some memories. While I was there they set up a trampoline next to it but so many guys got hurt on it they had to take it down, I think it only lasted a couple weeks."


 The New Barracks - quickly taken over by everyone but the SEABEES!  The Chapel in the Palms.


The Brit Rep's Quarters, after he moved over from the Plantation.  The Main Post Office.


The Water Towers downtown.  The Dentist's Office.


One of the Tree Houses built by the Seabees.
 

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This, and everything else I write and every photo I produce is copyrighted by Ted A. Morris, Jr.