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Old warships die, but their pieces live on

With the recent decision by the Navy to dispose of the ex-USS Charles F. Adams (DDG-2) rather than donate it for preservation, the calls went out for other military museum ships to come get what they could carry for use in their on-going efforts. You see, when you visit a museum ship, you are bound to see, touch and tread upon relics from dozens of other historic vessels.

Case in point:

The USS New Jersey battleship museum in Camden “brought back two tripods for .50cal guns, electronics parts, and flooring for the CIC restoration, tools, and equipment to fill in empty racks on the ship, and a bore sight for the 5″ gun, among other odds and ends.”

Fall River, Mass’s USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr (DD 850) museum, a vessel that shares much with the Adams, made extensive use of the offering:

For use in JPKs restoration, we acquired another torpedo dolly for the ASROC/Torpedo magazine, the ASROC deck guides for the ASROC loader crane, thermometers, valve wheels, and misc engineering parts, casualty power cable, three DC Chart holders for our repair lockers, blackout curtains, key internal parts for our DRT table in CIC, SONAR and ASROC system test sets, dozens of information and safety placards, CPO locker handles, glass globes for the ASROC magazine, a cleaning gear locker, and much more.

To preserve the history of DDG-2, we acquired both her throttle wheels from her After Engine Room, both sides of her Engine Order Telegraph in the Pilot House, information placards from her 5”54 gun systems stamped DDG-2, and some navigation instruments all marked USS Charles F Adams. These items will be saved for use in our future renovated Admiral Burke National Destroyer Memorial and Museum.

In short, Adams will endure.

DDG-2 Charles F Adams, in the Atlantic, 16 November 1978. USN 1173510

That My Khe beach aesthetic, tho

Here we see an excellent photo of a Vietnamese Ranger of the ARVN clad in sandals, shades and an nón lá “rice hat” over his U.S.-supplied duck hunter/frog lizard camo uniform (which was popular at the time among irregular units around Indochina). Armed with a similarly surplus M1911 .45 in his belt as well as what looks to be a French MAS 38 SMG over his shoulder, he sports binos and a commercial transistor radio for the latest in Saigon-based AM stations.

Note the more traditionally-equipped ARVN infantry behind him, armed with M1 Garands.

Speaking of which, this beauty came from a recent blog post over at the “WWII After WWII” blog examining M1 Garand use in Vietnam.

More of that here.

50 years ago today: The worst morning on the Big E

At 8:19 a.m. on 14 January, a MK32 Zuni rocket loaded on an F-4J Phantom overheated due to the exhaust from a nearby starting vehicle aboard the USS Enterprise (CVAN-65), setting off a chain of events as the carrier was about 70 miles off Hawaii.

The rocket blew up, setting off a series of explosions. Fires broke out across the deck of the ship, and when jet fuel flowed into the carrier’s interior, other fires were sparked.

In all, 27 sailors lost their lives and another 314 were seriously injured. Although 15 aircraft out of the 32 aboard Enterprise at the time were destroyed by the explosions and fire, the Enterprise herself was never threatened.

More here

Black Ponies at 50

Vietnam War-era patch for the Black Ponies of Light Attack Squadron (VAL) 4 via NAAM

On 3 January 1969, the Navy established Light Attack Squadron (VAL) 4, the famed “Black Ponies.”

Prior to its disestablishment on 10 April 1972, the squadron flew OV-10 Broncos on hot-and-heavy close air support missions in the Mekong Delta of South Vietnam supporting not only Navy and Marine forces but also ARVN, South Vietnamese Navy, and U.S. Army detachments as well. It was a wild 40-month ride, all of it in forward-deployed.

Look at that loadout…not bad for “light” attack

A U.S. Navy Rockwell OV-10A Bronco of light attack squadron VAL-4 Black Ponies attacking a target with a 12.7 cm (5 in) “Zuni” rocket in the Mekong Delta, South Vietnam, ca. 1969/70. PHC R.A. Hill, USN – Official U.S. Navy photograph No. 1139900 via National Naval Aviation Museum

U.S. Navy North American OV-10D Bronco (BuNo 155472) at the U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation shown in the VAL-4 livery complete with “UM” tail flash and Ponies crest. Originally an OV-10A which flew with The Black Ponies during the Vietnam War, she was transferred to the Marines after the unit was disestablished converted to a “D” model, retaining the aircraft in USMC service until 1991. She is one of only 14 Broncos on display in the U.S.

 

Tapping in, 53 years ago today

(Abbreviated Warship Wednesday due to the holidays). 

USS Independence (CVA-62) (foreground) and USS Enterprise (CVAN-65) rendezvous in the Indian Ocean on 21 November 1965– OTD 53 years ago.

Photographed by PH3 E.R. Pomponio. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 97717

Independence was en route to Norfolk, Virginia, after six months on the line off Vietnam. Enterprise was headed for combat duty in Vietnamese waters.

Just two weeks later, on 2 December 1965, Enterprise became the first nuclear-powered warship to see combat when she launched air strikes at the Viet Cong near Biên Hòa, South Vietnam.

Nasty making it back

Official caption: “MACV/SOG Naval Advisory Detachment: Two Nasty-class PTF’s returning at dawn from a sea commando mission into the DMZ area in 1971. This was a particularly successful mission, with no friendly casualties.”

From the Frederick J. Vogel Collection (COLL/5577) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division

With the hundreds of wooden PT boats all liquidated shortly after WWII ended, the Navy in the 1960s found themselves in need of a handful of small, fast, and heavily armed craft for “unorthodox operations” in Southeast Asia.

These wooden-hulled Norwegian-designed 80-foot boats, powered by a pair of Napier Deltic turbocharged diesel engines, could make 38-knots but, with a 40mm Bofors single, an M2 .50 cal/81mm combo, and 20mm cannons, they could deal some hurt.

Crew members man a 40mm Bofors gun on a PTF Jan. 5, 1973. Photo by Fred Maroon. NARA DN-ST-88-07400

Gunnery exercises aboard PTF

Some 20 were acquired in the early 60s (numbered PTF-2 to PTF-23), six lost in combat, and, laid up at Subic after 1973, retired by 1981.

PTF Nasty boats laid up at Subic Bay

More on the Nasties here

Jolly Rogers and tigerstripes

AP Wire Photo: 4 August 1964

Dig the M1 carbines and tiger stripe camo. Hallmarks of the mid-1960s Mike Force units.

Official caption:

Skull and Crossbones on the Cambodian border. Two leaders of a special South Vietnamese government platoon, identified by the Skull and Crossbones kerchief they wear, lead [a] group along a canal that marks the Cambodian border in the Plain of Reeds west of Saigon. The special outfit undertakes terrorist actions against the Viet Cong villages.

Both the Vietnamese Rangers (Biệt Động Quân) and Special Forces (Lực Lượng Đặc Biệt) used tigerstripe as did the “Sea Tigers” of Republic of Vietnam Marine Corps (TQLC) and Green Beret-organized CIDG units.

Of the latter, Mike (Mobile Strike) Force units, recruited from Hmong, Nung, and Montagnard peoples, often used Jolly Rogers in their locally-made insignia and “M.F.” patches.

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