Adairs Boat Crew; PA91-15
The last intact boat crew to attend a reunion

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by
Louis R. Helsel

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View 2 Videos:  LOADING     or    LANDING

.................Boat Coxswain: ....S1C - Lynn Credille (Coral) d. Jan 2003
.................Motor Man: .........F1C - Shirley W. Curtis, Port Huron, MI
.................Signal Man: .........S1C - Lelon Brush, Indiana
.................Gunners Mate: ....S1C - Louis R. Helsel, Woodenville, WA..

These four were paired up at Fort Pierce, FL. Their training was on Higgins boats, but the boats on the Adair were built by Chris Craft.

Lelon Brush, the signal man or flag waver, had a duel job. While Helsel operated one gunmount, he had to operate the other gun mount. When the ramp was dropped upon hitting the beach, they worked together to knock the chocks off the chains that were holding the ramp up. Then when the ramp was brought back up, there was one crank to wind the chains in which was Curtis's job but Brush and Helsel had to help him.
Usually the hitting of the beach was quite a smooth process but sometimes the tide was not in favor and the boat was stopped by coral. If this was the case while taking supplies to the beach, a barge was on site to tie up to and supplies would be transferred to Buffalo Amphibious boats. One time, PA91-15 had this coral problem, there was no transferring available and when they hit the coral, "Coral" ordered the ramp dropped, "but we're not close enough, I'm the coxswain here, drop the ramp." Well there load was a jeep towing tank trailer, maybe water, and it drove off and disappeared.
LCVP's were used to transport supplies from the large supply ships to Adair. As each load was lowered in the boat they could see the names on the boxes. Some of these could peaches, pears, etc. and when the cases were stacked, some them found there way into little cubby holes around the sides or under the deck. All the boats crews found this to be a standard process when bringing in supplies. As they cruised to the Adair the boats would compare the booty and trade.


Another convenience for Helsel was that he was well acquainted with the electrician who was in charge of the movies and the ice rooms. He found time to make ice cream which could include, say some of his peaches.

One bad experience was when the PA91-15 was on duty in Okinawa and an Air Raid sounded. The Adair sailed away to safety. When this happened, the LCVP's were on there own, and this time they moored up to a LSD which had a pier extending to it's stern. They were instructed to leave two men on board and allowed the other two aboard for chow.  Well an alert was sounded and the PA91-15 was ordered to move away, the LSD was getting out of there too. "But we have two guys missing", "Move away." The left on board PA91-15 were called the "Gold Dust Twins"; Curtis and Helsel. They pulled away, going near shore. It was dark and getting cold. They kept the motor running, laid life preservers on the motor to warm them up, then put them on, shut down and hurtled under the housing over the motor. They drifted through the night. Later they come upon Coral and Brush who had been put off the LSD into another LCVP. At day break they found them self's miles down the beach, the Adair no where in sight.  Heading back up the beach they encountered gun fire from shore as they were only 2 or 3 hundred yards off shore. Brush and Helsel returned fire and encountered no injuries. Soon the Adair was in sight. When close enough, she was easy to pick out as there was no other APA with a stern built like hers. The Adair is one of a kind.

Near the end of their duty, the Adair moved many troops to Korea, making two trips, one to Jinsen (Inchon) and one to Pusan. In Pusan, Helsel remembers the great tide differences. The first time they tied up to a mooring, he could see out across the landing into the city. The second time he had to look up to the landing. Pusan is where the Japanese Invaded Korea, over and over back in the 14th thru 17th Centuries during the Josean dynasty, their last dynasty. The "TURTLE BOATS" were then created.
While in Pearl Harbor, during one of these trips, a jeep was left unattended beside the Adair, The captain ordered the jeep picked up. This made two jeeps available for transportation while making several ports. Near the end though, at a port in Korea, The Captain ordered Helsel to take the jeep some where inland and loose it, a very unnerving project for Louis. He advise to U.S. guys to take it and ran back to the ship.

The last commander, Capt. C. Lee, had duty through the entire war back in D.C. To obtain his next rank he had to command a ship, which was the Adair. One strange order of his was to paint every corridor, at it's wall with a three inch white stripe with an adjoining three inch strip along the floor. This was an aid to viewing clean white stripes during inspection. On these quiet trips across the Pacific, Helsel was assigned to be an orderly, seated right next to the door of the Captains quarters. To keep Louis busy, Louis was to review and record the ships names of each task force, starting with the carriers and on down and write names of their commanders next to the ships name. The list was large. When coming within range of other ships, the commander would take his binoculars and have Louis at his side, " Helsel, what ship it Cruiser #12 and who is in command"? Louis would respond and if the persons name was somebody he knew he would make arrangements to have dinner with him.

The last thing Louis told Vern was that many guys who wanted to, got a chance to shoot off a few rounds of the 20mm guns before the Adair made it's final port call. All landing boats were off loaded in Little Creek, VA. Only the captains gig was retained.

Read about the Higgins LCVP salvage project in July 1977; April 1999; July 1999 and October 1999 Photos