I was a boat officer. A boat officer was in command of a wave of eight or ten LCVPs, each carrying about thirty-six combat troops — the Fifth Marines in this case. I sat on the engine housing in the stern. It was important to keep the lines of boats straight so that each wave would hit the beach at the same time. To do that we used hand signals. The night before, each of the boat officers had been given a radio to let the naval command know that we had made our landing. But we only had one instruction session on how to use those radios. The truth is I didn't know if any of my radio messages got through, and I have a suspicion the others didn't either.

We had to discharge the troops and get off the beach before the next wave came in, but as it turned out, the beach itself was cluttered with boats that were broadside on the sand — there was a powerful cross current along the beach there that hadn't been calculated. Of course, there were patrol boats trying to get these stranded LCVPs back out to sea.

When we dropped our ramp, the Marines hesitated suddenly, and I must have said, "Good luck." Then they hit the beach. Two years ago I was asked to speak about the war. I was reading from some notes I had made — and when I came to that moment when I had said, "Good luck," it almost demolished me. I had not spoken of that in over sixty years.

—From I look Around for my Life: An Autobiography, Pearn and Assoc., Inc., 2008.