HALPIN, DAVID PAUL
Group burial scheduled 06/17/2010 Arlington
Name: David Paul Halpin
Rank/Branch: E3/US Navy
Unit: Naval Support Activity Da Nang, Support Detachment, Cua Viet, South
Date of Birth: 05 June 1948
Home City of Record: Watertown NY
Date of Loss: 28 September 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 165340N 1071042E (YD320690)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: David L. Dixon (killed)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 April 1990 from one or more of
the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence
with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W.
SYNOPSIS: Machinist's Mate Petty Officer Third Class David L. Dixon and Fireman
David P. Halpin were assigned to the Naval Support Activity Da Nang, Support
Detachment, Cua Viet, South Vietnam.
On September 28, 1968 at approximately 2:00 p.m., at the Naval Support Activity
Detachment, Cua Viet, South Vietnam, Dixon and Halpin were working on a boat
which was tied up to a barge from which contaminated fuel was being pumped.
Fireman Halpin was working onboard the boat. Petty Officer Dixon and two other
crewmembers were working in the engine room. A shipfitter, unaware of the fuel
being pumped, came to complete a welding job which had been started earlier that
day on another boat. Almost instantly after the shipfitter struck an arc with
his welder, the fuel fumes near where the fuel was being pumped into the water
ignited. Flames engulfed the entire waterfront.
One sailor in the engine room on LCM006 escaped, stating later that after he
left the boat, he returned to the engine room to see if anyone might still be
there. At the moment he returned, there was no fire in the engine room, however,
it was filled with heavy smoke. He attempted to search for anyone who might be
there, but was forced to leave due to the smoke and heat.
The fire on the water spread quickly and the escaping sailor received burns on
his face and shoulders while swimming ashore. Halpin attempted to get clear of
the boat and was last seen in the vicinity of the fire.
Fire on the water extended far out into the channel, rising to heights of two
hundred feet. Explosions from the boats' ammuniton and fuel tanks saturated the
entire width with burning debris. Due to the intense heat and flame, the fire
raged for over ten minutes before fire-fighting equipment could be put into
effective use. The boat itself was totally engulfed in flames.
Boats were dispatched to check for possible survivors in the ara. An extensive
search of the entire area was conducted with negative results. Due to the
circumstances, little hope for survival was held for Dixon and Halpin. Both men
were initially placed in a casualty status of Missing, but Dixon's status was
changed that same day to Killed in Action. Halpin was maintained in Missing
status until late November, when a Casualty Status Review Board changed his
status to Determined Dead/Body Not Recovered.
There is little hope that Dixon and Halpin could have survived. For some of
their comrades, however, there is ample reason for hope. Mounting evidence
indicates that hundreds of Americans were abandoned as prisoners of war at the
end of the war and remain in captivity today. For the honor of those who died in
Southeast Asia as well as the honor of our country itself, those live Americans
must be brought home.
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