We Were Never There – A Follow Up…..

A little while back I posted the following story showing my Awards Record when I was stationed aboard Sailfish and the crew was awarded the Viet Nam Service medal (Below).

We Weren’t There……

Taking things one step further, Ronnie Slack submitted the following letter dated August 24, 2018 to the Military’s National Records Center requesting reinstatement of the award based on the records of others who we served with onboard during that time frame.

Just this past week Ronnie received the following reply…..

I pretty much knew that this would be the outcome since I had done the same research several years ago when I was working as an Analyst for the Department of the Interior in Washington DC.  I still held a little hope though – if for anything else, maybe just the ability to ‘Right a Wrong’ that happened so many years ago.

I’ve really never considered myself a Viet Nam Vet and am way more proud of what I did during a ‘War That Never Happened’ while sweating my nuts off in an engine room listening to the sound of 800 RPM rock crusher diesels turn generators that fed power to the boats two main motors…..

I suppose my question is…….  If the Sailfish was never in Viet Nam since a couple days in 1970, then how would some people on the boat who were on the boat at the same time get to keep their awards?

I guess maybe one half of the boat was in country while the other half…… (the half me, Ronnie, and Bogie were on at the time)……. wasn’t…….

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Author: Lanny

Known as the 'King of Run-on Sentences", Bill "Lanny" Lanahan served aboard the Sailfish as an Engineman from November 1971 until June, 1975. After 7 years in the Navy, Lanny spent 15 years as a Caterpillar Marine Analyst before accepting a position with the Department of the Interior working for the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Lanny retired in 2012 and currently resides at his "Mini-Wildlife Refuge" located in Middle Georgia with his wife Connie and his dog Griffin.

7 thoughts on “We Were Never There – A Follow Up…..

  1. Steven Oelkers says:

    One more time I was on duty as auxiliary man on watch I went up to the conn to check on something the officer on the scope said here take a look at this so I look through the scope I see a town or city I said so what town is that he said that town is Hanoi so the question is how close are we to Hanoi considering that the scope is only 3 to 6 foot above the water.

    1. Lanny says:

      I’d say that the boat was pretty close to be able to see the lights of a city! Thing is, most of us remember being there, but WHY would our own government say that we were not? Neither the 1971 West Pac or the 1972-1973 West Pacs are not listed as Sailfish being within the boundaries of the war zone, and with our awards being stricken from our service records negates any possibility at all from any of the crews to claim any ‘Blue Water Navy’ compensation for diseases such as the side effects of Agent Orange.

      Our Senator here in Georgia (Senator Johnny Issacson) has spearheaded an effort to have the Blue Water Navy included in any VA claims for Agent Orange during Viet Nam, but has run into a ton of resistance from….. the VA itself…… since they estimate that it could cost the VA an additional $1.1B in compensation to over 90,000 affected Navy Veterans over the next ten years.

      Since all of our Viet Nam Service awards were stricken from our records, and no record of the Sailfish ever being in Viet Nam since a couple days in 1970, we – the entire crews of both the 1971 and 1972/73 West Pacs have no recourse of claims to the VA for diseases stemming from exposure to Agent Orange such as Type 2 Diabetes (which I suffer from) along with many other health issues tied to the chemical.

      Yes, we know we were there, but our own Government says we were not – why?…. Pretty obvious I say….

  2. Steven Oelkers says:

    I’m not sure but I think that we may have been in Nam
    This was during our 40 days at sea with 1 shower tour only surfaced once during that deployment & that was to clean the scope (on a moonless night I think). I remember that once we got back to port the boat stunk like dead fish for awhile.

    1. Steve Oelkers says:

      While we were on that 40 day patrol as A-Gang on duty I went to the
      Conn I think Mr Anderson was in the conn he said take a look at this I was looking through the scope I that’s a nice town what town is that he said that is Hanoi my guess is we spent 40 days patrolling in Hanoi harbor I’m thinking that we might have been in Vietnam not sure before I was on the Sailfish I was on the USS Dubuque LPD 8 and we stopped in Cameron bay so I got 1 medal for that anyway

  3. Al Martin says:

    Yes, we were in the “war zone” on our first west Pac after transiting the Canal in 69, And yes we were awarded and allowed to keep our medals, at least until now….as far as I know. I was a Storekeeper from 68-70 .

  4. Thomas Place, Sr. says:

    I was part of the A-Gang crew for 2 Viet Nam patrols. 1969-70 & 1970-71, and it definitely was on Sailfish, since that’s the only Boat I served on. We were awarded the Viet Nam Service Medal from the first patrol, and 2 bronze stars for the second, and as far as I’ve been able to see from my two DD-214’s, they definitely were acknowledged, along with a couple of other pieces of ‘fruit salad’ we were awarded for that second patrol. Man, I don’t know what happened to you guys with that, as much as I hate to admit it, the only thing that seems to fit is, like you said, politics! It just serves to further my belief that the majority of politicians are almost as trustworthy as a Rattlesnake.


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