Swift boat brings back memories for Vietnam veterans

Hundreds of vets gather in San Diego for reunion

SAN DIEGO - A two-year effort to make it happen and hundreds of hours of restoration work all culminated into a single, emotional, heart-stopping moment for some military veterans when the engines were fired on the San Diego Maritime Museum's swift boat.

"I had tears in my eyes," said Vietnam veteran David Marion, one of hundreds of veterans in town for a reunion.

"It was very emotional because as an Army advisor, the sailors on these boats saved my life more than once," Marion told 10News.

The swift boat obtained by the Maritime Museum was actually a training vessel for sailors in Coronado in the late 1960s.

Malta used it as a patrol boat for several decades after that, before the museum worked out a deal to get it.

Don Farrell commanded a similar boat in Vietnam 42 years ago, and he said, "It's hard to describe the feeling coming on board."

Another former sailor, Bill Nelson added, "When the engines fired, 40 years disappeared quick; it was just like yesterday."

The museum plans to eventually offer paying passengers a ride on the vessel in about a month.

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