1/48th River Crossing

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Between 1957 and 1963 when the 1st Bn was assigned to Worms "swimming" the Rhine River in Armored Personnel Carriers was a regular practice.  It could be dangerous business as SFC Frank Seely, US Army Retired relates:My Image File 

It was a cold and damp day in November of 1961.  Rhine River crossing in an M-59 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) number  B33,  with 7 men aboard.

1. SSG Dixon (Squad Leader)
2. SGT Rondon ( 1st Fire Team Leader)
3. CPL Clement Evans ( 2nd Fire Team Leader)
4. SP4 Flemming (APC driver) 
5. SP4 Berringer (Riflemen)
6. PFC Frank Seely
7. PFC Cambell

The driver was trying to leave the river, but the bank was too muddy and the track slipped back into the river. The ramp and back door went into the mud so we could not get out that way. The inside engine covers blew off and the track started to fill with water. The Squads’ duffle bags were stored so they blocked exit through the driver’s and the Track Commander’s hatches. So the 5 men in the back of the track could not get out that way either. We had to let the track fill with water so we could open the top hatch.  But the release pull chains were broken on the 2 top latch’s. We always would use a hammer to open the latch, but it was on the floor and we couldn’t find it. SoMy Image File   there we were no way to get out. When the track filled with water, Cpl Evans stood on one of the troop seats and pushed so hard that he broke the two latches. The latches were ma

 But most of all Cpl Clement Evans for getting that top hatch open so we could be pulled out. The Sqd was given one day off. The next day we were back in the motor pool cleaning equipment and “The SUB” (that is the name I gave B33). I was made the new driver and we all went to Graf.

All the pictures were taken by my life long friend PFC Ronald E. McCreary.


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Ronald McCreary, who was in the 1/48th at the time, contributed the following two Stars and Stripes articles about the tragic accident via Frank Seely.  We are not sure when it occurred, maybe Jan, Feb or March 1962. It was cold out and the 1/48 had just got the new 113 APC in 1962.

 Frankfurt (special) – Three U.S. soldiers downed Tuesday morning when the armored personnel carrier in which they were riding sank in the Rhine River near Oppenheim, Germany, during a routine river-crossing exercise, V Corps Hq announced here.
    Shortly after 11AM the APC an M-113 from Co. A, 1st Armored Rifle Bn. 48th Inf, 4th Armored Group, disappeared under the surface while "swimming" the river.
    The company was participating in a battalion-size filed training exercise which included this river crossing phase.
    Of the eight men in the vehicle at the time of the accident, five managed to escape.  One swam to shore, while the other four survivors were picked up by an Army safety boat on the scene.  
    The vehicle with the bodies of the three men, was recovered from the river less than an hour after it sank
    The bodies were taken to the 97th General Hospital here, and the survivors were taken to the same hospital for observation.    
    An investigation is being conducted in determining the cause of the accident.  Names of the drowned are being withheld pending notification of next kin.

Frankfurt (special) – The three U.S. soldiers who drowned Tuesday morning when the armored personnel carrier in which they were riding sank in the Rhine river near Oppenheim during a routine river crossing exercise have been identified.
    The dead are:
    Sgt Walter L. Bradford, 24; Put Will G. Newton Jr., 19, and Pvt Floyd R. Howard, 22; all from Co A, 1st Armd Rifle Bn. 48th Inf.
    Bradford is survived by his widow, Billie June, and son whose home is Grand Junction, Colo.
    Newton is survived by his mother, Mrs. Viola Newton, of Mountain Grove, Mo.
    Howard is survived by his father Floyd R. Howard, of Tucson, Ariz., and his mother, Mrs. Viola W. Howard, Pierre, S.D.
    The accident occurred during the river crossing phase of a battalion-size filed exercise in which the men’s unit was participating.  Eight men, all from Co A, were in the armored personnel carrier when it sank while crossing the river.  Five men managed to escape.  The survivors were:
Sgt William Cherrington Jr. of Manhattan, Kan.
Cpl. Clifford W. Lowe of Detroit
PFC Alfred D. Dotson, Jr. of Washington D.C.,
Pvt Billy Franklin of Lipscomb, , Ala.
PFC Andy Dechart of Mansfield, Ohio.
Dechart is still in the 14th Field Hospital at Bad Kreuznach under observation.  All others have returned to duty with their unit.
An investigation is being conducted to determine the cause of the accident.