In a few weeks, this country will be taking some time out to remember our fellow brothers & sisters who paid the ultimate cost in a distant war (both time and mileage). This coming Memorial Day, please take a minute out of your day, and say a prayer for our fallen brothers & sisters and their families. As the Chaplain reminded us just before we left for Vietnam, “In combat, there is no such thing as an atheist!”
A few things from the “old days” for your reading pleasure…
This is from a “sea story” told by a friend who was flying off the Bonnie Dick in 1967…
A Whale Tale
The Russian “Trawlers” (Russian AGI or intelligence collector) with what looked like one thousand”fishing” antennas plied the Gulf of Tonkin on a daily basis…needless to say, it was a cat and mouse game to see what havoc they could raise with our two carriers operating there 24 hours a day.
Since the U.S. government had proclaimed the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin three miles off the coast of North Vietnam and Hinan Island , People’s Republic of China , to be international waters, American ships in the Gulf were bound to obey the international rules of the road for ocean navigation.
This meant that if the Russian ship maneuvered herself into the path of an aircraft carrier where she had the right of way, the carrier had to give way even if she was engaged in launching or recovering aircraft. The navigation officer was constantly trying to maneuver the ship so that the trawler wouldn’t be able to get in position to abuse the rules of the road and gain the right of way.
Sometimes he was successful in sucking the trawler out of position, but the room available for the ship to maneuver was limited by our on-station requirements, and sometimes the trawler was successful interrupting our flight operations. The pilots of the air wing were strictly forbidden to take any action against the Russian ship, but on this day CDR John Wunche, the commanding officer of the heavy tanker KA-3B detachment, had finally had enough of the Russians’ antics.
John Wunche was a big man with bright red hair and a flaming red handlebar mustache. He was a frustrated fighter pilot whom fate and the BUPERS had put into the cockpit of a former heavy bomber now employed as a carrier-based tanker. CDR Wunche flew the tanker like a fighter and frequently delighted the tactical pilots by rolling the “Whale,” as we all called the KA-3B tanker, on completion of a tanker mission. Consequently, John ‘s nickname was “the Red Baron.” On 21 July 1967 he proved just how appropriate that name was..
The Bon Homme Richard had nearly completed a recovery. The Russian trawler had been steaming at full speed to try to cut across our bow, and the bridge watch had been keeping a wary eye on the intruder. For a while it looked as if the Russian would be too late and we would finish the recovery before having to give way to the trawler. But a couple of untimely bolters extended the recovery and the “Bonnie Dick” had to back down and change course to comply with the rules. The LSO hit the wave-off lights when the “Whale” was just a few yards from the ramp. John crammed on full power and sucked up the speed brakes for the go-around. The “Bonnie Dick” began a sharp right turn to pass behind the Russian, causing the ship to list steeply, and there, dead ahead of John , was the Russian trawler.
He couldn’t resist. He leveled the “Whale” about a hundred feet off the water and roared across the mast of the Trawler with all fuel dumps open like a crop duster spraying a field of boll weevils. The Russian disappeared in a heavy white cloud of jet fuel spray, then reemerged with JP-4 jet fuel glistening from her superstructure and running lip-full in the scuppers. The Russian trawler immediately lost power as the ship’s crew frantically tried to shut down anything that might generate a spark and ignite the fuel.
She was rolling dead in the water in the Bon Homme Richards wake, the crew breaking out fire hoses to wash down the fuel, as we steamed out of sight completing the recovery of the Whale.
Needless to say, the Red Baron was an instant hero to the entire ship’s company.
I originally had this forwarded to me (by hand) from another Vietnam veteran. I took a few minutes out and read it. It seems to be dead on from the way I remember the reports in the late 70s. I would hope each and every one who reads this, please think about what is said here.
These are the real, researched numbers, not hype or rhetoric. only the truth…
Vietnam War: Facts, Stats & Myths
Credit: Capt. Marshal Hanson, USNR (Ret.)
and Capt. Scott Beaton, Statistical Source
9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the official Vietnam era from August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975.
2,709,918 Americans served in uniform in Vietnam.
Vietnam Veterans represented 9.7% of their generation.
240 men were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War.
The first man to die in Vietnam was James Davis, in 1958. He was with the 509th Radio Research Station. Davis Station in Saigon was named for him.
58,148 were killed in Vietnam.
75,000 were severely disabled.
23,214 were 100% disabled.
5,283 lost limbs.
1,081 sustained multiple amputations.
Of those killed, 61% were younger than 21.
11,465 of those killed were younger than 20 years old.
Of those killed, 17,539 were married.
Average age of men killed: 23.1 years.
Five men killed in Vietnam were only 16 years old.
The oldest man killed was 62 years old.
As of January 15, 2004, there are 1,875 Americans still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.
97% of Vietnam Veterans were honorably discharged.
91% of Vietnam Veterans say they are glad they served.
74% say they would serve again, even knowing the outcome.
Vietnam veterans have a lower unemployment rate than the same non-vet age groups.
Vietnam veterans’ personal income exceeds that of our non-veteran age group by more than 18 percent.
87% of Americans hold Vietnam Veterans in high esteem. (but it’s taken 30 years to get there)
There is no difference in drug usage between Vietnam Veterans and non-Vietnam Veterans of the same age group (Source: Veterans Administration Study).
Vietnam Veterans are less likely to be in prison – only one-half of one percent of Vietnam Veterans have been jailed for crimes.
85% of Vietnam Veterans made successful transitions to civilian life.