The amphibious vessel LARC, to be dedicated Tuesday, sits in front of Biloxi's seafood museum. During Hurricane Camille, the building was the headquarters for the Mississippi National Guard's 138th Transportation Battalion. Wallace Farragut, the logistics officer, says, "We kinda gauged what we were supposed to do based on what we heard but we had no idea the intensity of the wake, of that water comin' across, the damage. No one could anticipate that, it was amazing."
Wallace Farragut and the company commander, Glenn Ryan, were in charge of getting the guardsmen and the LARCS where they were supposed to be. The crews evacuated nearly 300 people from Camille's raging waters. Farragut documented their stories. "It was rescues from all angles...from tree tops, telephone poles, attics. It was unbelievable," Farragut says.
Ryan and other battalion members who stayed in the building to guard equipment soon found themselves forced out by high water too. Lucky for them, one LARC was available. Ryan says, "I wound up having to use the one here, yeah, for us, not to help anybody else but to get us outta here." With water up to their necks, Ryan says their only other choice was to swim. "I guess we probably could have swam our way out behind the building to Myrtle which was also covered with water and down where the Palace is now there was about ten feet of water. So, yeah, what could we have done."
Farragut and Ryan say the LARCs played a huge lifesaving role during Camille; one that will now become part of the hurricane history in the seafood museum.
24 awards were given to the guardsmen who saved people. Wallace Farragut says that's the most ever given in peace time, to a single unit of the Mississippi National Guard.