Michael Chilton is with Jim Chilton.
As everyone goes about enjoying the extended weekend, let’s try to not forget what Memorial Day is all about.
The following was written by a sailor who was on the USS Lloyd Thomas when the explosion occurred on 9/11 1970. In the last paragraph (#3). The sailor who was blackened, dazed and visibly injured was my brother Jim Chilton. He would end up being flown out in a helo to a MASH unit to have his ear reattached to his face, but after realizing the surgery went wrong, they had to cut it off and reattach it a second time. He was never the same and continues to suffer from the injuries he received that day. I can’t begin to imagine what you lived through, witnessed and the pain you suffered while in Vietnam and will continue to suffer with Jim. Thank you for your service and May God Bless you and watch over you. ❤️🙏🏻🇺🇸
The events of September 11, 1970 will live in the minds of the crew of the Lloyd Thomas and their families forever. My purpose for writing this is to let anyone who reads this know that I want to pay honor and respect to those who died or were injured in the gun mount explosion. I also want people to know of the distinguished meritorious service performed by the crew of the Lloyd Thomas not only on that day , but during the complete tour of duty. I was a Shipfitter 2nd class and had served aboard the LT since December of 1967. The following is what I recall of that day.
A lot happened that day. Some of it is unclear to my memory for we were reacting to our trained instincts to control damage and secure the ship. We had been on the gun line for about a week and had become accustomed to the gun mounts firing around the clock. That day we were firing from the forward gun mount. I had just came from the mess hall and was sitting down to write my wife a letter. I heard the explosion and knew immediately that something was wrong. The sound and the way that the ship shook was so abnormal. I threw down my writing paper and was out of the aft hatch just as general quarters sounded. I was running forward to my GQ (General Quarters) station which was Repair Party 1; I was a firefighter. As I came around the starboard side watertight door near our mail room, the black smoke and what appeared to be debris was blocking my view of the bow. My thoughts at that moment were that we had been hit by enemy fire. I turned to go inside to make my way forward via the passageway, but everyone was running to get to their GQ assignments.
So I turned and ran up the starboard side of the main deck toward the gun mount. I was just aft of the stairwell that came up from the scullery when I passed one of the crew from the gun mount. He was blackened, dazed, and visibly injured. I do not even remember who he was, but his face will always be etched in my mind. At that same moment I could see the gun mount. With others near mid ships I proceeded onto the mount. DC 3rd class George Bischoff and I arrived about the same time and grabbed the hose with the extension on it that lay charged for hang fires. We stuck it in the remaining barrel and turned it on. I then told George I would get on my OBA (Oxygen Breathing Apparatus) and go below decks to control any fire or damage there.