Change of Command – March 18, 1968
The USS Lynde McCormick’s ports of call on this cruise include Hawaii, Sasebo, Olongapo, and Hong Kong.
The USS Lynde McCormick DDG-8 saw extensive action on the gunline and in patrolling the Vietnam coastline. Thousands of rounds of 5-inch ammunition were expended at enemy emplacements and supply lines, in aid of U.S. troops and other Allied troops ashore.
The USS Lynde McCormick happened to be in the Sea of Japan when the USS Pueblo AGER-2 came under attack from the North Koreans. The USS Lynde McCormick steamed at full speed to assist the USS Pueblo. Unfortunately we arrived on the scene a few hours too late to be of any assistance. The USS Pueblo had been taken into the harbor of Wonson, North Korea. The USS Pueblo was captured by the North Koreans on January 23, 1968. The USS Pueblo was the first U.S. Navy ship to be hi-jacked on the high seas by a foreign military force in over 150 years. To date, the capture has resulted in no reprisals against the North Koreans. This guarantees the USS Pueblo’s place in history as a watershed event in our national conscience. The USS Pueblo was a U. S. Navy vessel sent on an intelligence mission off the coast of North Korea. On January 23, 1968, the USS Pueblo was attacked by North Korean naval vessels and MiG jets. One man was killed and several were wounded. The Eighty-two surviving crew members were captured and held prisoner for 11 months.
The USS Pueblo was captured because the Russian’s wanted the crypto equipment. It turns out they had gotten the crypto codes from John Walker. John Walker worked as a Soviet spy while serving as communications specialist for the U.S. Navy. It is estimated that he helped the Soviet Union gain more than one million messages and compromised U.S. code security. He had already retired as a Navy officer when arrested in 1985. Other members of his ring included his sailor son Michael, his brother Arthur James Walker, who also served in the Navy, and his friend Jerry Alfred Whitworth, who trained in the Navy’s satellite communications.
The USS Lynde McCormick returns to San Diego, California, 6 April 1968 and operated off the west coast for the remainder of the year.
From Deck Logs
January 1968: Berthed at Sasebo
9 January: Depart Sasebo for Gulf of Tonkin
13 January: Yankee Station
19 January: Depart Yankee Station for HK, BCC
21 January: Arrive HK, BCC
28 January: Depart HK, BCC for Subic Bay, PI
29 January: Arrive Subic Bay, PI
31 January: Month closes berthed at Subic Bay, PI
1 February: Month commences in transit to Gulf of Tonkin
2 February: Proceeding to Danang Harbor
2 February: Briefly standing in Danang Harbor before resuming NGFS
14 February: Depart NGFS in vicinity of Hue for Subic Bay, PI
16 February: Arrive Subic Bay, PI
20 February: Depart Subic Bay, PI for Sasebo, Japan
23 February: Arrive Sasebo, Japan
29 February: Month closes moored Sasebo, Japan
1 March: Month commences berthed at Sasebo, Japan
1-22 March: Steaming in Sea of Japan
22 March: Sasebo, Japan
24 March: Depart Sasebo, Japan for San Diego, CA
31 March: Month closes mid Pacific en route to San Diego, CA.
I remember being anchored in Subic Bay on December 31 1968, when we were alerted of something big happening in Viet Nam. The ship canceled all leave, and away we left, full speed and with great haste. My duty station was in Combat Information Center. (CIC) We were informed en route that 50,000 North Vietnamese crossed the DMZ (which was the beginning of the TET Offensive). As we entered the Gulf of Tonkin, we were assigned to relieve the USS SAINT PAUL CA 73 (A Baltimore Class Cruiser with 9 – 8 inch guns and 12 – 5 inch guns ) that was supporting the ground troops near and in the Ancient City of Hue. The fighting was intense as the ground forces were fighting back the onslaught of attacks by both the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). Because of the tremendous accuracy of our (2) 5 inch 54s, the ground forces were directing our gun fire support to targets as close as 50 yards from their positions. Keep in mind that we were conducting these firing missions while we were out at least 12,000-13,000 yards. What was significant of this action was that it was supporting the army troops around the famous “Citadel”. If you remember correctly, we fired around the clock except when we were taking on ammo during the night (600 rounds & powder for mount 51 and the same for mount 52). We stayed on Station until we were relieved by (I believe) the USS SAINT PAUL CA 73. The McCormick had a great reputation with the ground forces, including requests from the Republic of South Korea (ROKs) to support their efforts. Not many ships got those missions. All in all, some 44 + years later, I still cherish the (2) tours that I spent aboard the Mighty Mac. The crew was the best of the best.
While I was on board, we went through a couple of typhoons and took some of those 55 degree rolls. That was very scary. Once, I went up to the signal bridge to see the storm. We were not allowed outside on the main deck or 02 level during bad weather. I crawled out to the front handrail to get a hold of it – (as it was too rough to stand up and walk and the roll of the ship was quite exaggerated up there and in those days we didn’t think of using or even have safety devices like a safety belt with a line attached or using ear plugs when firing the guns. We shot thousands of rounds in Viet Nam)– anyway, I managed to get to the handrail and proceeded to pull myself up to peek over the handrail just as the ship came off a wave and dived into the next one. The green water came up over the bow (which was called a hurricane bow) hit the gun mount and covered that and then hit the base of the bridge and splashed up over the signal bridge. I got soaked and was given the fright of my life. I crawled back to the signal bridge shack and made my way down through the ship to my berthing space to change. I must have given the signalmen a good laugh. Needless to say, I never went outside during a storm after that. I was dumb, but not stupid. I have lots of stories to share. I look forward to meeting all of you at the reunions.