A sea story...


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280PLUS
June 11, 2006, 08:44 AM
From this quarter's newsletter

Working Party: E-6 and Below

By Dean 71-75

In the spring of 1972 the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) started a major offensive across the DMZ which was later named the “Easter Offensive.” Many stories have been told and written of the events of the first two weeks. Among them are Bat 21, The Rescue of Bat 21, The Bridge at Dong Ha, and The Easter Offensive.
This story about working parties is one of many I remember.
I was a Junior Third Class ET aboard the BUCHANAN. We were off the coast of Vietnam at the DMZ when it started. Our NGFS (Naval Gun Fire Support) was in very high demand because of heavy cloud cover that kept our aircraft from operating effectively. Our NGFS was needed to neutralize the NVA’s armor, artillery, and SAM (Surface to Air Missile) sites.
Our major problem was being able to get enough ammunition to fire. One time the magazines were completely empty and all we had left were the dummy rounds used for testing the handling equipment – so we shot them. I am sure they did little damage, but hopefully we made them duck. When we could go alongside an ammo ship we would take all we could, topping off both magazines and leaving pallets out on the ASROC deck. We would then fire missions until room was available in the magazines for the ammo that was still topside.
That Westpac we fired over 15,000 Rounds of NGFS and received over 1,000 rounds shot at us.
Between calls for fire we would run to sea and grab what ammo we could. So the routine was General Quarters, working party to handle ammo, couple hours sleep, and back to G.Q. The SPA 25 Radar Repeaters started crapping out one at a time, so for three days it was working parties, General Quarters, and fix a repeater. (I blamed the recoil from the guns’ firing so much. We had cases where tubes shook out of their sockets and fuses would fall out of the fuse holders).
The number of hours sleep I had in three days could be counted on one hand, with fingers left over. The port repeater on the bridge had died just as we finished a strike at sunrise, and I started to repair it.
Soon we were unrepping some ammo. Normally I would have to wait till after Unrep but the OOD liked to use that repeater on strikes, and I couldn’t work on it at night without screwing up the watch’s night vision. Now we had been doing this for several weeks. At first the working parties were E3 and below, then E4, then E5, as more people were getting OK to continue their work, as unrepping was a priority.
I don't know if was because they actually needed us Junior petty officers to keep the ship running or if we got better at making excuses to stay clear of the working parties. I was told by my Division Officer John Moore to work on the port repeater right through the unrep. When they didn’t have enough people in the working party, it suddenly became all E6 and below (I only saw that twice). When my first class Holden heard he was to report to handle ammo, it occurred to him that I might need his help to "fix" that SPA 25. I am sure if someone had pointed out that it only took one ET to fix a repeater, I would have been the one sent to handle ammo.
So here we are, two ET's with the repeater open working in the area between the repeater and the bridge windows. I had sat down on the deck with my back propped on the bulkhead beside the Port Captains ( Commodores) chair reading a schematic across my lap. Then Holden wanted to check something and took the schematic from me, and after several minutes he realized something was not right because I had not moved in all that time.
He realized it had been at least 15 minutes since he had seen me move and that I was sound asleep. So he put schematic back on my lap figuring that if no one including himself had figured it out in 15 minutes, he would let me catch some shut-eye. He was quite nervous because the CO and XO were within an arm’s reach of both of us. Finally, when the Skipper stepped over my legs to cross the bridge, Holden’s nerves could no longer take the strain and he woke me up.

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zoom6zoom
June 11, 2006, 09:11 AM
all we had left were the dummy rounds used for testing the handling equipment so we shot them.

Uhmm.... yeah, right.

Khornet
June 11, 2006, 10:18 AM
because it doesn't begin with "Now, this is a no sh***er".

280PLUS
June 11, 2006, 10:23 AM
LOL...

You got me there! :p

VMI 1991
June 12, 2006, 12:12 AM
280 PLUS - Just read you email. A gopher???? We'll see.

UNREP to NGFS to GQ. I believe it. We are anchored about four miles off the coast of X waiting to finish three weeks of launching and recovering helos and LCUs...

I will be glad to back to the range, after I see my wife and daughter

280PLUS
June 12, 2006, 06:26 AM
LOL...

It wasn't ME who said that! I'm just the messenger... :what:

:D

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