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NEWS | June 16, 2021

Seay’s Crew Salutes Army Namesake

By Leslie Hull-Ryde Military Sealift Command Far East

The U.S Army may celebrate its birthday on June 14, but the crew of a Military Sealift Command ship salutes the service of its Army namesake Soldier all year long.

USNS Seay (T-AKR 302) is named for Army Sgt. William W. Seay, a driver with the 62d Transportation Company who served in the Vietnam War. During a resupply mission, the sergeant’s convoy was ambushed near Ap Nhi.

When the enemy force halted the convoy’s movements, Seay immediately took cover behind a truck filled with ammunition and started firing at the enemy, lobbing grenades intended for him and his fellow Soldiers back at enemy forces. Seay’s swift action not only saved American lives but also killed several enemy personnel. A sniper mortally wounded Seay as he provided fire cover for others in the U.S. Army’s transportation company.

President Richard M. Nixon awarded the Medal of Honor to Seay posthumously. Seay’s family accepted it during a ceremony at the White House on April 7, 1970.

The ship named for Seay’s “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty” helps preserve the brave Soldier’s commitment to logistics support.

USNS Seay is a large cargo ship, almost the size of an aircraft carrier. It is part of Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadron 2 and provides afloat prepositioned U.S. military cargo to U.S. Armed Forces operating throughout the Indo-Pacific Region.

“The ship’s preparedness and service it provides follow in the spirit of heroism demonstrated by Sergeant William W. Seay,” said Capt. Fred Walley, master of the ship.

He says members of the crew consider it a “privilege” to serve aboard the vessel named for the brave Army Soldier. The captain adds that the crew continues Seay’s legacy of service as each contract Mariner aboard is committed to the ship’s important mission.

“This ship [and our crew] stand in dedicated service to the United States Armed Forces, just as Sergeant Seay did,” Walley said.

“The crew honors our namesake by our professionalism, our care for the ship and one another, and responding to the call.

Currently, 34 MSC ships are named for Medal of Honor recipients like Seay. Walley says naming ships after these American heroes is a “noble practice of the military to keep the recognition of these heroes alive for several generations.”


Medal of Honor Citation for Sgt. William W. Seay:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Seay distinguished himself while serving as a driver with the 62d Transportation Company, on a resupply mission. The convoy with which he was traveling, carrying critically needed ammunition and supplies from Long Binh to Tay Ninh, was ambushed by a reinforced battalion of the North Vietnamese Army. As the main elements of the convoy entered the ambush killing zone, they were struck by intense rocket, machine-gun, and automatic-weapons fire from the well-concealed and entrenched enemy force. When his convoy was forced to stop, Sgt. Seay immediately dismounted and took a defensive position behind the wheels of a vehicle loaded with high-explosive ammunition. As the violent North Vietnamese assault approached to within 10 meters of the road, Sgt. Seay opened fire, killing two of the enemy. He then spotted a sniper in a tree approximately 75 meters to his front and killed him. When an enemy grenade was thrown under an ammunition trailer near his position, without regard for his own safety he left his protective cover, exposing himself to intense enemy fire, picked up the grenade, and threw it back to the North Vietnamese position, killing four more of the enemy and saving the lives of the men around him. Another enemy grenade landed approximately three meters from Sgt. Seay's position. Again Sgt. Seay left his covered position and threw the armed grenade back upon the assaulting enemy. After returning to his position he was painfully wounded in the right wrist, however, Sgt. Seay continued to give encouragement and direction to his fellow soldiers. After moving to the relative cover of a shallow ditch, he detected three enemy soldiers who had penetrated the position and were preparing to fire on his comrades. Although weak from loss of blood and with his right hand immobilized, Sgt. Seay stood up and fired his rifle with his left hand, killing all three and saving the lives of the other men in his location. As a result of his heroic action, Sgt. Seay was mortally wounded by a sniper's bullet. Sgt. Seay, by his gallantry in action at the cost of his life, has reflected great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
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