At sea with the United States Navy

Submitted by gerryp on Tuesday, 1 June 2010 - 10:51pm

Together with two other RNZN Ensigns, I was sent on an USN Junior Officer Exchange in 1971. We joined the destroyer USS Eversole (DD-789) in Hong Kong, for a two day passage to Subic Bay, Philippines. From there we flew in a Grumman C-2 Greyhound COD aircraft to an arrested landing on the deck of the carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63). The carrier was patrolling Yankee Station - an operational zone off the DMZ. During our four days aboard, Kitty Hawk was the platform for the launching of bombing raids over North Vietnam, or, as I recorded in my journal at the time, '...air operations against enemy forces in Vietnam'.

Transferred by helicopter to the destroyer USS William H. Standley (DLG-32) we found ourselves members of the 'Gulf of Tonkin Sailing Club', patrolling PIRAZ - Positive Identification Radar Advisory Zone - not far off the coast of North Vietnam. Operating some 200 nautical miles north-west of Yankee Station we were the forward picket/operations control for the strike operations over the North, and tasked with providing early warning of North Vietnamese air and sea-surface activity. Daily patrol routines were often interrupted by Search and Rescue missions to recover the crews of ditched aircraft, some hit by North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gunfire or missiles as they returned from their sorties.


Gerry Purcell

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