Another Close Call

Tony Zegenhagen


I was informed by my brother of an incident involving USS Meeker County that I believe deserves mentioning on this page.

With the knowledge that I have I believe the date was June 28, 1970.

Around 3am the USS Meeker County was berthed at De Long Pier – Vung Tau. A Seaman onboard county spotted a swimmer at the stern of the ship and commenced firing with small arms at the contact. A second swimmer was sited and an exchange of small arms and grenades were hurled in the direction of the swimmers.

The bridge was informed and the duty officer called in support from Australian CDT3 (Australian Clearance Diving Team 3). Divers from CDT 3 located a water mine attached to the port rudder of the ship.

The mine was successfully removed and towed away to a safe distance while divers checked for any other mines that may have been attached. The mine later exploded causing an 11 meter high explosion, which had it not been removed would have certainly sent the Meeker County to the bottom.

Former Commander US Naval Forces Vietnam, Vice Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, later sent a letter of commendation to CDT3 and a special mention to Able Seaman Kershler and Able Seaman Kingston for the courage and professionalism shown in their actions on that morning.

Special mention also went to the two sailors onboard the Meeker County for detecting the presence of the elite group of 10 Swimmer Sappers, who had placed the mine.

Tony Zegenhagen
Brisbane Australia