Holcomb, Peter Otto, BTFN

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Last Primary NEC
BT-0000-Boiler Tender
Last Rating/NEC Group
Boiler Tender
Primary Unit
1964-1966, BT-0000, USS Mahan (DLG-11)
Service Years
1963 - 1966
Official/Unofficial US Navy Certificates
Cold War
Neptune Subpoena
Order of the Golden Dragon
BT-Boiler Tender

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

6 kb

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by John B. Bruneel, Sr. (DocAsaurus), HMCM to remember Holcomb, Peter Otto, BTFN.

If you knew or served with this Sailor and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Casualty Info
Home Town
Grandy, Minnesota
Last Address
Grandy, Minnesota

Casualty Date
Mar 13, 1966
Non Hostile- Died Other Causes
Drowned, Suffocated
Vietnam, North (Vietnam)
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
15E 060

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

Cold War Medal Order of the Golden Dragon Cold War Veteran Cold War Veteran

 Military Association Memberships
Military Order of Foreign Wars of the United StatesAmerican Cold War VeteransBlue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans AssociationVeterans of the Vietnam War
  1961, Military Order of Foreign Wars of the United States - Assoc. Page
  1964, American Cold War Veterans
  1966, Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association [Verified]
  1966, Veterans of the Vietnam War

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1963, Recruit Training (Great Lakes, IL)
 Duty Stations/ Advancement Schools
USS Mahan (DLG-11)
  1964-1966, BT-0000, USS Mahan (DLG-11)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1966-1966 Vietnam War
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Jul 15, 2012, General Photos
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

During the Vietnam War there was no overriding reason to keep close track of names of the men and women who died as a result of military service in the war zone. When, a decade after the withdrawal of US forces, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was approved for construction, the service branches went back through their records to identify our dead by name. Inevitably some men who should have been on the "Wall" were not, and others who shouldn't have been were.

Over the years additional names have been inscribed on the Wall - some were men who died as a result of wounds, and others were men whose names were overlooked in earlier years.
Peter Otto Holcomb's name does not appear on the Wall - but it should.
When USS MAHAN departed San Diego for duty in the Western Pacific, Holcomb was a member of the "black gang" - the ship's engineers. Holcomb was "striking" for rating as a Boiler Technician, and with the other members of the Engineering Department he spent part of his duty time engaged in engineering plant maintainance. One particularly necessary job - a very dirty one, too - was cleaning the firesides of the boilers and stacks. Stack cleaning was accomplished using live steam and water - equipped with a high-pressure hose, you climbed up within the stack and sprayed the interior to break up and wash off carbon deposits.
On the night of 12/13 March 1966, as the MAHAN steamed through the Gulf of Tonkin on one plant, BTFN Holcomb climbed into the forward stack to clean it. While he was engaged in this task the steam/water line ruptured, filling the stack with scalding water and suffocating steam. Unable to escape, BTFN Holcomb died in the accident.

Almost 40 years later a researcher, Robert Sage, found a file in the LBJ Presidential Library that included the Letter of Condolences sent to Petty Officer Holcomb's family. When Robert realized that Holcomb had died in the Gulf of Tonkin but was absent from the Wall he initiated action. One result of Robert's action was the location of several of Holcomb's shipmates - men who had not forgotten Peter Holcomb and who did not realize his name was not on the Wall.

The casualty database contains the names of eleven men who died on 13 March 1966. Those names appear on Panel 06E, lines 002 to 005. There should be twelve names there.
Peter Otto Holcomb's name isn't on the Wall yet, and may never be - but he is remembered by the men with whom he served.

NOTE: Peter Holcomb was added to the Wall in May 2011.
Peter Otto Holcomb was posthumously promoted to BT3.

From His Cousin
Pete was born as his family was fleeing East Prussia at the end of World War II. He grew to be a kind and gentle soul, especially fond of dogs and horses (and Sugar Babies), and always wore an ear-to-ear grin. He considered it his extreme honor and privilege to serve the country that gave his family refuge and a fresh start, and never was there a prouder young man than Pete when he joined the United States Navy.

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