Upon graduation, assigned to USS Hull DD945 which was in the Long Beach shipyard. After the refitting, ship moved to home port San Diego. Since so many of the crew were new, the ship went through pre-deployment trials. Lots of training and learning before departing for WESTPAC. The deployment began in March 1971. After the usual refueling stops in Hawaii, Midway and Guam, we arrived Subic Bay, Philippines about 3 weeks after departing San Diego. Like most deployed destroyers, we spent about half the time on the gunline off the Vietnam coast and the other half on carrier escort duty, stationed several hundred yards astern of the carrier, I believe the Oriskany in our case.
One incident happened while Hull was on the gunline. In that case, there was a spotter on the ground calling for gunfire support. Hull had multiple 5 inch guns. Hull fired according to the spotter’s directions and when he was satisfied, he called for three rounds. In a panicky voice, we heard ,”Cease Fire!”. We could hear those three rounds obviously came dangerously close to the spotter’s position. An investigation was ordered and our Chief Engineer went inland as officer-in-charge to determine what happened. As far as I know, the cause was a failure of the gun’s fire control system at the exact time the three rounds were fired. I do not believe the spotter was injured, but it was a close call nonetheless.
A second incident occurred during a mail call. From time to time, Hull was able to leave the gunline and transit to DaNang to pick up mail. We had picked up our mail and were returning to the gunline at high speed. Meanwhile a sailor was in the mess hall reading his letter. Unfortunately, it was a “Dear John” letter in which his girlfriend broke up with him.
He became distraught, walked out to the side of the ship and jumped over. This was observed by crew and man overboard was immediately sounded. Based on prior training, the ship quickly reduced speed and commenced the figure 8 rescue. It really worked and the sailor was spotted. By that time, he was tired of the water and ready to get out. Once on board, the Captain had the ship return to DaNang and he was left with authorities there.
We also visited numerous locations for liberty call including Bangkok, Kaohsiung, Singapore, Hong Kong and Yokosuka. There was also an opportunity to visit Australia but it would extend the deployment beyond six months. The crew was able to vote on that option, and the vote was no. We returned to San Diego in September 1971.
Since Hull was scheduled to deploy again in 1972, I applied for Supply Corps school in Athens, Ga. which I attended from May-September 1972. In December assigned to USS Perry DD844 which was deployed to WESTPAC.
I flew to Manila and joined the ship mid-deployment. Fresh water was in short supply, and I remember we were able to take showers only on Christmas day!
Name. John F Pearce
Class. 1970 Degree. BA Economics (5/70)
Service. U.S. Navy
Years of Service. 1970-1974
Years in Vietnam. Parts of 71, 72 & 73
Commands and Locations
USS Hull DD 945, San Diego, Ca.
USS Perry DD 844, Mayport, Fl.