Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Navy Days-Highline in the Gulf of Tonkin

I was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Truxtun DLGN 35 (the Tommy T). Really loved my ship and my shipmates. DLGN means-Destroyer- Light-Guided missile- Nuclear powered. The Helo (helicopter) was looking for my ship so I could set down on Her for the first time. Finally my ship was in sight. The pilot said there she is and I looked out the front window and saw her sitting in the vast ocean waters.

I decided just seconds later to look again, and to my amazement we were landing on the Helo deck. Time flies in a helicopter. I got into the bay and a first class petty officer handed me a Vietnam service medal. He saw the confusion on my face and before I could utter a word he said just take it you’re here. We were in the Gulf of Tonkin so geographically I was in the right place for the medal. I must say that it never, and still doesn’t feel right, God bless the men who had to walk the jungles in that nightmare.

About a week after I got there the USS Jewitt came along side us to deliver a few more greenhorns to our ship. They shot a line over and it was tied off to both ships and a chair was attached. The sailor got in and we pulled on the rope until he got over. This was awesome especially for me because I wasn’t out there between those two ships in the very rough seas. Suddenly General quarters sounded-battle stations. Luis Flores was in the chair right in the middle of both ships, last man to come over. Two enemy MIGS were spotted on radar.

It would have been a heck of a prize for those MIGS to catch two U.S. destroyers within a couple hundred feet of each other. Immediately the Executive officer yells an order down to the first class petty officer in charge of our line crew. We held Luis’s lives in our hands. I was on that crew. He said- CUT THE LINE- we all heard it and so did Luis. The look of terror on Luis’s face will be forever etched in my mind.

We were frozen for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably just a few seconds. The petty officer in charge turned and looked at us with wild eyes. He ignored the Execs order and yelled PULL!!! That word always brings this memory around. Well it was like there was no rope in our hands. I think we got him over the rest of the way with one yank. Luis made it and we got to our stations.

I was told later that when the ships sped off turning away from each other, the fantails (backend) came within a couple of feet from each other. Luis would have been sucked under by the screws and……… Unfortunately the Petty officer was flown off the ship and brought to justice for disobeying a direct order to cut the rope. Never saw him again. But he has a few fans from back in the day. Thanks bud, I know Luis won’t forget you. GO NAVY!!


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