Veterans show off their Navy Swift Boat during Festival of Sail

It took more than 3 years to get boat back

SAN DIEGO - This year's Festival of Sail was especially meaningful for a group of Vietnam War veterans.

They gave their first public tours of the latest addition to the Maritime Museum fleet: a Navy Swift Boat that was given to Malta in 1971.

Getting it back to the United States was not easy. The Swift Boat Sailors Association had to convince the Maltese government the vessel would be best kept in San Diego, and it took more than three years to get it back.

Virgil Erwin says many veterans were passionate about bringing the Swift Boat back home because of the emotional connection they had to it, adding it brought "back memories of invincible youth."

After spending close to $200,000 in repairs, volunteers were able to get the boat "tour" ready. Most of the fixtures on the boat are originals, but they did have to replace electronics and tools.

It is giving veterans like Dave Bradley, who was also stationed aboard a Swift Boat, some closure as he moves forward.

"We came back and nobody really appreciated what we went through and what we did … did for them," said Bradley.

Now, they are sharing their stories with the future generation.

Monday is the last day for the Festival of Sail. Admission is $5.

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