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Apr-12-2011 16:57TweetFollow @OregonNews
Life Aboard the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam WarSalem-News.com
Blue Water Sailors; no recognition for combat service... we were just there.
(WASHINGTON D.C.) - Forward by Editor: Salem-New.com regularly covers military and veteran's issues, but most of it relates to USMC service because that is where the majority of our writers served.
We have substantial interest in health issues relating to Navy Veterans, yet the Blue Water Navy. the Veterans group representing these former sailors, remains very tight with their information. We do not understand their reluctance to work with a news agency that in turns shares their vital information with the public.
One Sailor's Story
During my tour aboard the USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) in the years of 1971-1973, I had two combat tours back to back, as my regular ship, the USS Ranger, was put out of action from sabotage.
Ninety five percent of us knew that we had to do our duty as people's lives where in our hand if we did not. However the other 5% were upset and said nothing for a long time. The repercussions from them will come later and very unexpected.
In this time, the ship had earned three battle stars and the Navy Unit Citation for the protection of our comrades on shore and bombing campaigns over North Vietnam. In addition, other ribbons and letters of commendation for the crew.
Every sailor aboard went through hell during that time; 22-hour days for fight quarter crews and others, no good drinking water, (aircraft fuel in the water) salt water to clean up in, and maybe one meal a day.
The reason was that we were at our station launching aircraft every 2-hours. These were known as Alpha Strikes, a term for all aircraft to fly off the ship fully loaded; fuel, bombs, rockets, guns and anything else they could think of.
This went on for 52 days straight without a break or help from the outside.
My Division was undermanned, overworked and people were killed from fatigue and just from making mistakes. Then the worst happened; a mutiny started on the mess deck. I can not explain it, we were all on the same ship and doing the job we were sent there to do?
Many people were injured and there lives threatened by the mutineers and the ship was uneasy from then on. When working on the flight deck, not only did you have to watch out for all hazards, but your own back at the same time!
You Army, Marine, Air Force and Coast Guard personnel were lucky in one way. You had the people that could and would watch your six. We on the Kitty Hawk did have that during this time, and for some of us never again.
For you lucky few, you are considered Combat Veterans. As for us, we are Blue Water Sailors; no recognition for combat service; we were just there.
However, while we were there we kept the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese off your butts at all costs. Day, night, bad weather. Whatever conditions, the men of the U.S. Navy on Carriers, Destroyers, Ammo Ships and all others made sure you had support!!
AS THEY SAY IT DON”T GET NO BETTER THEN THAT!
Therefore, the next time you see a Navy man or women with a combat ribbon make them feel at home. For they too are Combat Vet’s, not fishermen.
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