Swift Boat from Vietnam War Comes to San Diego

Maritime Museum will add P-24 to its collection and preserve its history

By Gitzel Puente
|  Wednesday, Sep 19, 2012  |  Updated 8:47 AM PDT
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Tall Ship Esmeralda Sails into San Diego Bay

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The historic P-24 swift boat that was originally donated to the Republic of Malta in 1971 made its way to the waters of San Diego today with 35 Vietnam veterans on-board.

"This has taken us three years to get it here and we are really excited," expressed one of the swift boat veterans Virgil Erwin.

Erwin is one of the 3,500 Vietnam veterans who served on these vessels also known as Patrol Craft Fast from 1965 to 1973 to patrol the coast and to stop weapons from entering South Vietnam.

"It was a little dangerous because in the rivers you're a lot closer to the possibility of being hit by an ambush and we were a lot, but we just felt that were were doing the right thing" explained Erwin.

Erwin is also part of the Swift Boat Sailors Association which will repaint P-24 to its original Navy colors and prepare it for future use.

"We're going to refurbish it and make it look as much as it did in 1969 as possible," added Erwin, "We want to try to help people understand what we did."

The Maritime Museum will provide rides to visitors, while they ride with retired swift boat veterans who will talk about their past war roles on these boats.

The restoration will take about four months before museum visitors can go on a boat tour.
 

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