Wow, didn’t realize it was that long ago, but on 22 January 1968, the USCGC Halfmoon (WHEC-378) returned home from that “other ocean”, on a patrol guarding what coast.
The traditional “Naval” Welcome Home was in order. What I didn’t realize at the time, what that tradition would mean to me, and I think others on the Halfmoon would feel years later.
Others who served in Vietnam didn’t have that welcome home.
As usual, about a day out from home port, I would call my folks and tell them when I would arrive back to Staten Island (SINY). They were there (I haven’t scanned those pictures yet, but I have them) waiting for the old ‘rust bucket’ to come under the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge to arrive at Base St. George.
We had left there on April 1st 1967 on “an extended patrol”, that was announced about 17 days earlier. Being “at sea” for months, we didn’t realize what was going on, on the other side of the world. But, we knew something was going on, because a month or so earlier, we had returned from GITMO, where we had played our normal games with the U.S. Navy. We had a bunch of engineers come aboard and had Air Conditioning installed is several spaces on the Ship. That was weird, but in GITMO, we had issues keeping our electronic equipment running in the heat.
We departed SINY, caught up with 2 other Coast Guard Cutters and when to the Panama Canal and on to Hawaii arriving at Pearl Harbor on 24 April 1967 to meet 2 more Cutters, take on ammunition. The 5 Cutters would then proceed to the Philippines.
10 May 1967, the USCGC Barateria (WHEC-381), USCGC Bering Strait (WHEC-382), USCGC Gresham (WHEC-387), USCGC Halfmoon (WHEC-378), and USCGC Yakutat (WHEC-380), became the Coast Guard Squadron Three, to join the U.S. Navy in Operation Market Time. We had become part of the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet.
Two things we did frequently was to to UNREP, or “UNderway REPlenishment” or Replenishment at Sea, where we would take on Ammo, Food, Supplies, Movies, and Mail.
We would share our goodies with smaller Coast Guard Cutters, and Navy Swift Boats. We could go to “deeper” water to meet the Navy and closer to shore for the smaller boats. I recall the Movies were the almost as important as the mail.
So, 54 years ago today, we returned to SINY to our family and friends. Our “battle” records report:
During her tour, Half Moon conducted nine naval gunfire missions along the coast of South Vietnam in support of forces ashore. On 12 September 1967 she was ordered to fire on a Viet Cong (VC) build-up in An Xugen Province; her gunfire killed at least one VC soldier and destroyed three fortifications on that occasion. During her tour, she was credited with killing at least 13 VC soldiers, destroying 64 military emplacements and structures, and sinking four sampans. Half Moon also served as a home base for 50-foot (15.25 m) U.S. Navy Patrol Craft Fast and participated in search and rescue operations.
Half Moon concluded her Vietnam War tour on 29 December 1967.
As an aside note, My recruiter and his two brothers, were shipmates.
We would learn later that another of our shipmates would return to Vietnam and be killed there. I am sorry I didn’t get his full name in the photo, Morris S Beeson (I think on Panel W28)
Bravo Zulu to my Shipmates and “Fair Winds and Following Seas” to those who are no longer with us. Rest in Peace.
Welcome home, 54 years ago.