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James W. Steffes

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Chief Petty Officer James W. Steffes (ENC), USN, (ret.), is the author of Swift Boat Down: The Real Story of the Sinking of PCF-19.

According to the book description of Swift Boat Down: The Real Story of the Sinking of PCF-19, “This sailor was aboard another Swift Boat, PCF-12, patrolling south of the sunken boats position. Ordered to the scene to assist in the rescue, PCF-12 came under attack by helo type aircraft, identified as hostile, receiving one rocket and machine gun fire. This Swift Boat returned a deadly barrage of 50 caliber machine gun and other small arms fire causing the two helos to break contact and run away. The crew believes that one of the helos was damaged or shot down by this hail of gunfire. The investigation findings were "friendly fire" mostly because of the lack of wreckage of the helos and the pieces of Sparrow missiles found on board USS Boston and HMAS Hobart. News accounts attempted to connect the two incidents by blaming the same pilots for attacking the ships and sinking the Swift Boat. This book uses official records, logs, and message traffic to back up eye witness testimonies that refute the "friendly fire" decision. There are many people affected by this story. Those of us that were there have carried pieces of this incident in our memories for 37 years. Families and friends of the dead and missing have wondered about the truth behind the decision of "friendly fire" vs "hostile fire". This book will answer many of those questions and put many lives at rest again.”


Swift Boat Down: The Real Story of the Sinking of PCF-19
James Steffes  More Info

One reader of Swift Boat Down: The Real Story of the Sinking of PCF-19 said, “As a young petty officer, James Steffes was assigned to PCF-12, a Swift Boat patrolling the inland waterways of Vietnam. In June of 1968, he took part in an operation to rescue the survivors of a sister boat, PCF-19, which went down due to two rockets impacting her hull. Three personnel died, one was classified as MIA, and two more were seriously injured. Eyewitnesses and the US Navy are in agreement on the facts above. What Steffes brings to light is that there are serious discrepancies in the related events both before and after the attack. While the attack was classified as "friendly fire" at the time, Steffes brings evidence to light that there may be more to the story, and presents a believable argument that the boat was sunk by hostile fire, using official documents and eyewitness accounts. This book is well researched, and provides a glimpse into a little known and definitely underappreciated facet of the US Navy in Vietnam. It is a good read for anyone interested in brown water operations, either current or past, or for those curious about the search for MIAs from the Vietnam War.”

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