Off-shore hits on TJ 1968
Submitted by: David Leverenz, LT, 66-68 – 03/23/07
Wow… We are reaching back some 30 years here – Yes, I do remember this (vaguely) since I also was on that cruise.
What I REALLY remember is finishing dinner in the wardroom one evening whilst Mount 31 or 52 was banging away at hapless barge boats moving south down the coast (we did some amount of shooting at Condition3 with only one mount firing) when all of a sudden … goes the BONG BONG BONG for general quarters. This was cause for reasonable alarm when steaming only 10-12,000 yards off the coast of North Vietnam at the time. We (about 12-14 officers) emptied out the wardroom in about 4 seconds, sweeping Steve Brown before us, (who had stopped to don his cover in the passageway – not precisely the appropriate move on his part under the circumstances). I went pelting aft down the passageway and thru the mess decks, swung right, and took the hatch to Plot 1 at one jump – landing squarely on my ass. Fortunately I was young and supple so no damage done. I jumped inside Plot 1 and slammed the hatch shut just in time to see Chief Tibbets shaking his head and glaring at me disapprovingly. In a couple seconds I realized he wasn’t really looking at me at all, but was listening to the phone talker chatter, which was coming at us simultaneously from 5 different sources. More confused than anyone else, I hollered for everyone to “get off the line” -only then realizing that it was Greg Chauncey (my boss – Weaps Officer) who was doing most of the talking. – from the bridge (oops) – it only took a couple more seconds for him to convey that somebody was shooting at us. Then, as if on cue, in a lull in the commotion we heard it. Outside. In the water. Thump. Thump. Thump. I said “oh f—” as I realized those were rounds landing in the water to port (I thought). Ardolino’s eyes were as big as saucers. I’m betting mine were even bigger. It was all over in a couple minutes and we were out of range. We didn’t fire back much because the manned 5″ gun had jammed. It was an hour later that I discovered we had taken a couple hits, including the one that missed mount 53 by 3 feet and wiped out the supply office (with no one in it). The air search radar antenna was hit, we had a small hole in the bow right at the waterline and some unsuspecting seaman got some shrapnel in his butt – otherwise we were OK. As I recall, the squadron doctor was aboard and so medical treatment was immediate and effective.
I think the scariest part was the jam in mount 53, where one round crashed into the one above it in the elevator before it got to the cradle.
The following day, having marked the basic position of the gun emplacements that fired on us, we went back in close (relatively) to the coast and laid a few dozen rounds of 5″ HE on the gun emplacements. Good luck to anyone still in the proximity of that area.
Can somebody help me out here and finish this story?