Newsletter One - 1 April 1969

TREASURY DEPARTMENT
UNITED STATES COAST GUARD
 
 
COMMANDING OFFICER                                                                                        1 APRIL 1969
USCGC SEBAGO (WHEC-42) 
FPO
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 99601

 

USCGC SEBAGO NEWSLETTER 

THE PURPOSE OF THIS NEWSLETTER IS TO KEEP ALL DEAR TO PERSONNEL OF SEBAGO AS WELL INFORMED OF OUR PAST MOVEMENTS, ACTIVITIES AND GENERAL WELL BEING AS POSSIBLE. SINCE OUR DEPARTURE FROM PENSACOLA ON 29 JANUARY, MANY HAVE NOT HAD THE TIME TO WRITE AS OFTEN AS OFTEN AS THEY WOULD HAVE LIKE TO - THERE HAS BEEN LITTLE TIME TO SIT AROUND AND REFLECT UPON HOME AND THOSE WE LEFT BEHIND, NEVERTHELESS, WE ARE FAST BECOMING ACCLIMATED TO OUR NEW ENVIRONMENT AND BEFORE LONG EACH OF US SHOULD HAVE OUR PERSONAL "ROUTINE" INTEGRATED INTO THAT OF THE SHIP AND THERE WILL BE MORE TIME FOR PERSONAL MATTERS, STILL IN ALL, AS MANY OF YOU FATHERS WHO ARE CONTEMPORARIES OF MINE AND WERE IN THE MILITARY DURING WORLD WAR II OR KOREA , KNOW ONLY TOO WELL - MILITARY LIFE (PARTICULARLY IN A WARTIME SITUATION) IS OFTEN A MATTER OF "HURRY UP AND WAIT," THUS THE "ROUTINE" HAS ITS FRUSTRATIONS AND WHEEL SPINNING AND THOSE ANNOYANCES I"M SURE - BE REFLECTED IN SOME OF THE MAIL YOU RECEIVE. REGARDLESS, DELAY IS OFTEN AN ATTENDANT TO BEING WELL PREPARED AND FORE ARMED. BETTER THAT THAN SCRAMBLING AROUND ONCE YOU GET IN A SITUATION IN AN EFFORT TO BRING ORGANIZATION OUT OF CHAOS. 

WE HAD OUR PROBLEMS ENGINEERING-WISE WHEN WE FIRST LEFT PENSACOLA AND WERE DELAYED ONE DAY ARRIVING AT THE PANAMA CANAL. THIS WAS NOT ENTIRELY UNEXPECTED SINCE WE WERE SO RECENTLY OUT OF A SHIPYARD OVERHAUL PERIOD WITH NO TIME FOR A "SHAKE DOWN". HOWEVER, THE ENGINEERS STUCK WITH IT AND BY THE TIME WE ARRIVED AT PEARL HARBOR THEY HAD THINGS WELL UNDER CONTROL. SINCE THEN THE PLANT HAS SHOWN THE SAME UNFAILING RELIABILITY WE EXPERIENCED DURING THE EIGHTEEN MONTHS JUST PRIOR TO OUR DEPLOYMENT

AFTER SIX DAYS IN PEARL HARBOR WE LEFT FOR SUBIC BAY VIA GUAM FOR REFUELING. THIS PART OF THE VOYAGE, WEATHER-WISE, GAVE US A CONTINUATION OF THE SAME SUNNY WEATHER WITH THE FOLLOWING SEAS WE HAD BEEN BLESSED WITH EVER SINCE DEPARTING THE PANAMA CANAL. IT WAS HARD TO BELIEVE THAT BACK IN THE NORTHEST AND MIDWEST THEY WERE HAVING SOME OF THE WORST SNOW STORMS IN RECENT YEARS. AFTER A NIGHT IN GUAM WE LEFT WITH NO REGRETS AND HEADED FOR SUBIC BAY - THE LAST LEG OF AN 11,000 MILE JOURNEY. MOST, IF NOT ALL OF US WERE TIRED OF DAYS AND DAYS OF CRUISING WITH NOTHING MORE THAN ROLLING SEAS FOR SCENERY. 

WE APPROACHED THE PHILLIPINE ISLANDS ABOUT MIDWAY DOWN THE EASTERN SIDE OF THE GROUP, PASSING THROUGH THE SAN BERUARDINO STRAITS AND COMING OUT THE WEST SIDE OF MINDORO ISLAND, JUST SOUTH OF MANILA BAY. THE TRIP AMONT THE ISLAND TOOK ABOUT 15 HOURS AND UNTOLD ROLLS OF FILM. THE MOUNTAINS DOWN TO THE BLUE WATERS EDGE, WITH A BRIGHT SUN AND COAST-WISE TRADE VESSELS, BOATS AND OUTRIGGERS IN THE AREA ALL BLENDED TO TO PROVIDE A TOURIST LIKE ATMOSPHERE (EXCEPT FOR THE EVER PRESENT MILITARY ROUTINE.) I REALLY THINK WE ALL ENJOYED IT THOUGH AND, AS WE APPROACHED CLOSER AND CLOSER TO SUBIC BAY LOOKED FORWARD WITH ANTICIPATION (APPREHENSION?) TO FINALLY PARTICIPATING AS A UNIT OF THE SEVENTH FLEET. 

AT SUBIC BAY WE MOORED ALONGSIDE A LARGE NAVY DESTROYER TENDER FOR NEARLY A WEEK, MAKING VOYAGE REPAIRS, BEING BRIEFED ON THE "NAVY WAY OF DOING THINGS," "EYEBALLING" THE ELECTRONICS EQUIPMENT AVAILABLE THROUGH THE EXCHANGE AT SUCH GOOD PRICES, AND SAMPLING LIBERTY IN OLONGOPO, THE NEAREST PHILLIPINE TOWN; PENSACOLA WASN'T A BAD LIBERTY TOWN AFTER ALL. 

OUR FIRST STATION ASSIGNMENT WAS TO PATROL RIGHT AT THE DMZ, TO PREVENT INFLILTRATION BY SEA FROM THE NORTH AND TO BE SURE THAT NO U.S. VESSELS INADVERTENTLY PROCEED NORTH OF THE DMZ. THE HEAVY CRUISER (8" GUNS) USS NEWPORT NEWS WAS IN OUR IMMEDIATE AREA; AS WE WATCHED HER FIRE, WE COULD FEEL THE CONSUSSION. IT WAS SOON EVIDENT THAT OUR 5" GUNS WERE NOT REALLY NEEDED IN THE AREA AS LONG AS NEWPORT NEWS WAS THERE; CONSEQUENTLY, WE SOON WERE MOVED ABOUT 110 MILES TO THE SOUTH, STOPPING FIRST AT DA NANG FOR A BRIEFING - WELL WITHIN EARSHOT OF BOTH OUR FIRING AND THAT OF THE VC AND NORTH VIETNAMESE.

AFTER THE BRIEFING WE PROCEEDED THE REMAINING SIXTY MILES SOUTH TO OUR PRESENT AREA OF OPERATIONS. 

HERE WE ARE PATROLLING A BARRIER ABOUT 20 MILES OFF SHORE TO INTERCEPT ANY TRAWLERS FROM THE NORTH THAT MAY ATTEMPT TO INFLITRATE SUPPLIES TO THE NUMEROUS VC AND NORTH VIETNAMESE LOCATED IMMEDIATELY INSHORE FROM US. WE ALSO INSPECT JUNKS FISHING IN THE AREA, TO ASSURE THAT THEY NOT CARRYING CONTRABAND, AND PROVIDE GUNFIRE SUPPORT TO OUR TROOPS, AND THOSE OF SOUTH VIETNAM OPERATING ASHORE. WE RESUPPLY FROM NAVY SUPPLY SHIPS WHICH SHUTTLE ALONG THE COAST WITH AMMUNITION AND/OR FUEL, COMMISARY SUPPLIES, AND GENERAL STORES. 

RESUPPLY IS AN INTERESTING OPERATION WHERIN WE PULL ALONGSIDE THE CARGO SHIP AT A DISTANCE OF 80 - 100 FEET, BOTH OF US RUNNING AT 12 KNOTS AND TAKE FUEL ABOARD FROM HOSES RUN DIRECTLY TO US, AND OTHER SUPPLIES USING A LARGE NET SUSPENDED FROM A TROLLY RUNNING BACK AND FORTH ALONG A HEAVY LINE SUSPENDED BETWEEN THE TWO SHIPS AND MAINTAINED UNDER CONSTANT TNESION. IT USUALLY ENTAILS ABOUT AN HOUR ALONGSIDE THE OTHER SHIPS TO RECIEVE SUPPLIES AND FUEL BOTH AT THE SAME TIME. THIS IS A PERIOD DURING WHICH EVERYONE REALLY TURNS TO. WORKING SPACE IT AT A PREMIUM AND ALL SUPPLIES MUST BE RAPIDLY MOVED FROM THE AREA OF RECEIPT TO THE STORAGE SPACES. THIS, PLUS OTHER DUTIES RELATED TO THE TENDING OF THE REPLENISHMENT RIG ITSELF, REQUIRES A MAXIMUM EFFORT BY ALL INVOLVED. 

I AM PROUD TO SAY THAT OUR GUN CREW IS ONE OF THE BEST, AND YOU MAY REST ASSURED THAT WE ARE EXTREMELY WELL PREPARED TO DEFEND OURSELVES WHILE AT THE SAME TIME CARRYING OUT OUR GUN FIRE MISSIONS. DURING PRACTICE FIRING AT SUBIC BAY, THE NAVY GRADED OUR EXERCISE OUTSTANDING, GETTING 8 DIRECT HITS WITH 8 ROUNDS AND EARNING 100 POINTS OUT OF A POSSIBLE 100, COVERING NOT ONLY RESULTS BUT PROCEDURES. WHEN WE ACTUALLY FIRED ON A VC/NORTH VIETNAMESE STAGING AREA THE OTHER DAY, OUR FIRST ROUND WAS RIGHT ON TARGET AND WE SUBSEQUENTLY DESTROYED ENEMY HUTS, 7 STRUCTURES, 2 SAMPANS, AND A GRAIN STORAGE FACILITY WHILE HEAVILY DAMAGING 9 BUNKERS AND 12 STRUCTURES. 

PERHAPS OF THE MOST INTEREST TO US THOUGH IS MEDCAP (MEDICAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM). WE HAVE PERFORMED THREE OF THESE IN THE 10 DAYS WE HAVE BEEN ON STATION. IN EACH INSTANCE EITHER OUR U.S. PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE DOCTOR OR OF CHIEF HOSPITAL CORPSMAN GOES ASHORE TO TREAT THE ELDERS AND CHILDREN IN THE VIETNAMESE VILLAGE LOCATED IN OUR AREA. ADDITIONALLY, FIVE OR SIX OF THE CREWMEN GO ASHORE TO "SIGHT SEE" OR GET THE FEEL OF FIRM GROUND AGAIN. THIS IS ALL A PART OF OUR "PEOPLE TO PEOPLE" PROGRAM - AND IS A NATURAL AT LEAST FOR THIS CREW SINCE THEY CONSISTENTLY TRY TO HELP THE OTHER GUY. 

AS FOR THE FUTURE, THERE IS LITTLE I CAN SAY. BEING ENGAGED IN MILITARY OPERATIONS IN A HOSTILE AREA, FUTURE OPERATIONS AND MOVEMENTS ARE CLASSIFIED. NEVERTHELESS, ONCE THEY ARE PAST HISTORY WE CAN GENERALLY TALK ABOUT THEM. IT IS MY INTENTION TO GET OFF A LETTER SIMILAR TO THIS ON A MONTHLY BASIS - IN AN EFFORT TO KEEP YOU WELL INFORMED ABOUT OUR ACTIVITIES. 

FINALLY, PLEASE LET ME SAY THAT I HAVE, IN REVIEWING MESSAGE TRAFFIC, SEEN NUMEROUS INSTANCES WHERE ANXIOUS PARENTS AND WIVES HAVE INQUIRED THROUGH THE RED CROSS AS TO THE STATUS OF THEIR LOVED ONES - NOT HAVING HEARD FROM THEM IN RECENT WEEKS. I KNOW HOW CONCERNED YOU ARE; AND YET, WE HAVE NO REAL SCHEDULE FOR WORK, SLEEP AND SPARE TIME. WE BOARD JUNKS DAY AND NIGHT, PROVIDE GUN FIRE SUPPORT WHENEVER CALLED FOR, REPLENISH WHEN THE OPPORTUNITY ARISES, TRY TO KEEP THE SHIP IN GOOD SHAPE IN BETWEEN ALL THIS - AND CATCH UP ON OUR SLEEP WHEN WE CAN. THERE IS USUALLY TIME FOR EVERYTHING, BUT NOT IN A PREDICTABLE WAY, THIS PROVIDES FOR FRUSTRATIONS AND OFTEN UPSETS OUR BEST MADE PLANS - TOO OFTEN IN THE AREA OF LETTER WRITING.  I REALIZE IT IS EASIER SAID THAN DONE, BUT PLEASE DON'T BE TOO ANXIOUS - FOR IN OUR CIRCUMSTANCE NO NEW IS GOOD NEWS MORE OFTEN THAN NOT. IF YOUR HUSBAND, SON OR BOY FRIEND HASN'T WRITTEN, HE'S JUST BEEN TOO BUSY OR IS JUST PLAIN POOPED. IF HE IS IN SUCH POOR HEALTH THAT HE CAN'T WRITE, YOU'LL HEAR FROM ME. AND YET IF THERE IS ANYTHING AT ALL THAT I CAN DO FOR ANYONE OF YOU - OTHER THAN GET YOUR MAN OR SON HOME SOONER - PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO DROP ME A LINE. YOU INDIVIDUALLY CONTRIBUTED TO GIVE ME A WONDERFUL CREW TO GO TO SEA WITH, AND ANYTHING I CAN DO IN RETURN, IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, I WILL DO. 

VERY TRULY YOURS,

                                     

         D. C. GOODWIN, JR. \
         COMMANDER, USCG 
              COMMANDING OFFICER
                       USCGC SEBAGO (WHEC-42)

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