Daryl L. Keen (1965/07/16)
"We are sitting in the Chu River that goes through Da Nang right now," Daryl Keen wrote home from Vietnam on July 14, 1965. "We are going to load supplies and take them to a base down the coast." This would be the last that his fiancée and family would hear from him as he prepared to move down the river to supply a US Marine detachment.
Daryl La Verne Keen was born on June 8, 1944, to Kermit and Helen Keen. Daryl, along with his brothers, Don, Eugene, Jerold and James, and his sister, Sandra, grew up in the family home on Laurel Street in Santa Cruz. He was described as "a quiet, shy, good-looking blonde young man with bright blue eyes that saw a future as an architect or construction engineer."
At Santa Cruz High School Keen excelled academically and was admitted to the Hi Tow Tong boy's honor society. In addition to being a surfer and strong swimmer he was also a member of the school's undefeated wrestling team. Following his graduation from high school in June 1962, he enrolled in Cabrillo College to continue his technical studies.
In the latter part of 1962 Daryl Keen enlisted in the US Navy and after completing boot camp in San Diego, was trained as a quartermaster. In 1963, he and Susan Riep, a local Santa Cruz girl, announced their plans to marry following his discharge in June 1966.
Quartermaster Third Class Keen was sent to Da Nang where he was assigned to Assault Craft Squadron 1, Division 12. His vessel, the USS LCU 1493 based in Da Nang, supplied ammunition to US Marine units fighting in the area. While serving in Vietnam, Keen wrote home to share his impressions of the conditions he experienced.
“It is hard keeping the writing paper clean. If I take a shower, I am covered with sweat before I dry off. I guess you will have to settle for a grubby letter. The temperature must be a least 110 degrees in the middle of the day...We got a surprise and a let-down this afternoon…It looks like we won't be relieved and sent back to the states like we were supposed to be. I can say for certain we will be over here at least until September.”
Daryl also described the deep weariness of marines leaving after months of battling the Viet Cong, "they only sent the marines home who were just too worn out to fight any more."
Appreciating the problem of over-taxed sailors and marines, Daryl volunteered to extend his service time in Vietnam by an additional year to help relieve manpower shortages.
Daryl Keen was drowned on July 16, 1965, while moving ammo down a river in Quang Tin province of South Vietnam to the US Marine's Chou Lie base camp. His body was recovered and returned to Santa Cruz. Father Donald E. Strano, a close family friend, conducted a memorial service for Daryl; his remains were buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno.
(USDVA; VVMW; VVVW; SCSn July 18, 1965 Mobile Riverine Forces Association-Vietnam, Assault Squadron #1, ACD 12, www.mrfa.org/Individual.Units.htm [16 September 2008])