This young Kennewick resident found himself in a sea battle in Vietnam and wrote home about the experience. This article was published two days before the My Lai massacre. Also during March President Lyndon Johnson announced he would not seek re-election.
You can see a timeline of the Vietnam war at pbs.org/battlefieldvietnam/timeline/index.html
Tri-Citian has sea battle baptism
By the Tri-City Herald staff
Published on March 14, 1968
A Coastguardman's baptism by fire in a battle zone is described in a recent letter to his parents.
Tony Floor, 20, aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Winona, wrote of his experience after the battle: "I lay down in my rack and thanked God for watching over me. I couldn't sleep for the rest of the night realizing what had happened."
Tony, who enlisted in the Coast Guard last July 17, told his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Antone Floor, 326 N. Zillah St., Kennewick: "We are the first Coast Guard ship to be fired upon through the whole war."
His account of the battle, here abbreviated, follows:
"We were on our way to investigate a Vietnamese fishing trawler. At 1:30 in the morning all hands were ordered to 'Man your battle stations.'
Myself and my partner slowly moved to our machine gun, put on our bullet proof vests and helmets. At 2 a.m. we turned our 2-million candlepower light on a large fishing trawler.
"Immediately they went full speed ahead and headed straight for the beach. We also noticed they were dumping stuff (weapons?) over the side.
"We fired a warning shot over their heads. They kept on running. It was a steel-hulled boat and about 150 feet long.
"Since they did not give any signs of stopping we opened fire with No. 1 machine gun. Shortly after No. 5 opened up. My partner was firing No. 1 and I was standing behind him.
"All of a sudden they opened fire on us with Russian machine guns and one 30-caliber machine gun. I hit the deck fast because the bullets were screaming all around us.
"We then opened up with the 5-inch and the battle began.
"After seven minutes of fighting one of our 5-inch shells was a direct hit. The ship was only 600 yards away and it blew completely to hell.
"I looked up and the flame was like a huge H bomb. There were pieces of steel going everywhere from the Viet Cong ship. The smoke cleared and there was nothing, not even a trace of scraps.
"I found a square piece of steel a couple feet from me that was practically melted. Luckily there were no casualties. Leonard Hofferber, the big boy from Yakima, got his shirt and jacket torn by a bullet.
"He was only about four feet away from me.
"It was all like a big dream. One minute we were fighting a war and the next there was nothing.
"The Coast Guard 82-footer had the commander of the district board, who commended us on a fine battle. The 'head honcho' who was on shore watching the fight radioed us immediately and said he thought it was the finest naval battle fought in the Vietnam war.
"We were awarded three additional medals from the Navy, and the captain is putting in a report for bravery and a dangerous conflict well done.
"Well folks, I hope this letter didn't scare you. This was very unusual for the battle to take place. If it happens next time we will be better prepared and have valuable experience in our minds."