Thursday, June 02, 2016

Is that Vietnam?

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In 1970 I was an avionics technician assigned to Helicopter Combat Support Squadron One which was based at NAS Imperial Beach, CA. We flew Kaman SH-2 Seasprite helicopters aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31),  These helicopters were used as plane guards to recover the aircrew of planes that would crash or ditch during carrier flight operations.

There was no GPS at the time and I never had a clear idea where we were unless they told us. One mysterious day we found ourselves off the coast of a landmass. Unlike other ports there was no liberty call. Rumor was that the landmass was Vietnam. Normally bombing missions were conducted from Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Years later I discovered this passage in a Wikipedia entry for the USS Bon Homme Richard:

"In 1970, at the request of the South Vietnamese government, the Bon Homme Richard docked at Da Nang harbour to show the alleged pacification of the region. This was the first U.S. capital ship to do so. Bon Homme Richard was ordered inactivated at the end of her 1970 deployment. She was decommissioned on 2 July 1971, becoming part of the Reserve Fleet at Bremerton, Washington."
In 1971 I took that final trip to Bremerton. That was fortuitous because after taking a bus to Vancouver, BC I eventually met my wife in a disco. A disco with an Egyptian theme named "Pharaoh's Retreat".

Pacification in Da Nang Harbour