Probably in January of 1970 we received our dream sheet for first assignment.  There were three choices of duty station and either East or West Coasts.  Bill Miele and I were young, stupid and motivated.  We put Riverine as our first choices and destroyers for 2 and 3.  West Coast of course.  The Senior Instructor (LT Ruff?) called us in to discuss our first choice.  He said in words to the effect The Navy has spent too much money training you to get killed in the first year.  Your choices are destroyers, destroyers and destroyers.  With a cheery Aye Aye Sir, off we went.

Name:  Thomas M Krupp


Phone:  913-530-1642

Class:  1970

Degree:  B.A. in Political Science

Service:  USN

Years in Viet Nam: 1971-1973

Viet Nam Story:


Probably in January of 1970 we received our dream sheet for first assignment.  There were three choices of duty station and either East or West Coasts.  Bill Miele and I were young, stupid and motivated.  We put Riverine as our first choices and destroyers for 2 and 3.  West Coast of course.  The Senior Instructor (LT Ruff?) called us in to discuss our first choice.  He said in words to the effect The Navy has spent too much money training you to get killed in the first year.  Your choices are destroyers, destroyers and destroyers.  With a cheery Aye Aye Sir, off we went.

After graduating in 1970, was assigned to an old FRAM II destroyer (modernized WWII ship), but luckily got assigned to the USS WORDEN (DLG-18) undergoing modernization in Bath, Maine.  WORDEN was a “double ender” meaning we had Terrier missile launchers fore and aft. Bath in January can be really cold.  Imagine a Quarterdeck Watch at 31 below.  We thought we would have a normal workup and deployment to WestPac in late 1971.  While in Long Beach we found we were selected for the Overseas Family Residency Program (OFRP) in Yokosuka, i.e. work the crap out of the crew and ship and get some full time WestPac professionals.  We had 18 straight months of Combat Pay and tax benefits.  We arrived in Yokosuka in November 71 and made a quick trip to the GOT (Gulf of Tonkin (GOT) for plane guarding behind a bird farm (aircraft carrier for Airedales.)  We learned what the taste of JP-5 jet fuel tasted like via our evaporators as we were 1500 yards astern of the carriers.

We then worked up and started assignments at North and South SAR (Search and Rescue) and embarked “Big Mothers” (modified SH-3 helos with 7.62 miniguns and specially trained crews.  Read Gerry Carrol’s book North SAR for perspective.)

In late March 72 we left Yokosuka for missile systems testing at White Beach in Okinawa.  While at sea we saw a carrier that had been in port Yokosuka about to return stateside and loading cars and motorcycles while in port pass us heading southwest at high speed.  The were launching said cars and motorcycles into the sea.  That gave us a clue something was going on.

We soon received orders to head to the Gulf at best possible speed.  There was no concern about the Chicoms as we went through the Taiwan Strait as we did many times.  The “Easter Offensive” by North Viet Nam had started and the U.S. was going all out to stop them from taking the South. We were assigned a SAR station and life was busy.  At the time I was the Assistant CIC Officer, standing watch on the Bridge and spending “off time” in CIC.  The then Radarmen (now OS), Fire Control men (missiles were Port and Starboard six-hour watches.  The Captain was in CIC about 20 hours a day.

I had the Bridge JOOD (Junior Officer of the Deck) for the Mid-Watch (0000-0400) on the morning of April 16.  Having got some zzzs before the Watch I had missed that there was a major air offensive going on, “Haiphong Sunday”.  Stopped into CIC to get a brief and found out the situation.  The XO had been on the Signal Bridge watching SA-2 launches from Haiphong from our station about fifty miles away.  Situation of the Bridge was tense, but everyone was calm.  We had a “shotgun” (gun shooter destroyer) a couple of miles away.  Our SAR helo had been launched and was ready to head shorewards if needed.

The OOD and I were on the Starboard Bridge Wing, saw a couple of airborne lights, the Higbee’s (Shotgun)   running lights went out, and I moved to the radar repeater on the Bridge.  Then nothing.  Woke up a few seconds later with smoke all through the Bridge.  Assuming the smoke was not a good sign the now fuzzy JOOD went to the Alarms and sounded the General (Quarters) Alarm.  Nothing.  OK now the Collision Alarm.  Nothing.  Then the Chemical Alarm.  Nothing.  The Bosun Mate of the Watch (BMOW) appeared through the smoke and mouthed something.  I was deaf.  But the two bangs and the alarms got the crew moving realty fast. The OOD and I checked the Bridge and there were several wounded.  We and the BMOW were the only ones not wounded.  The Corpsmen and GQ assistants started showing up and triaging those there.  We had no idea what had happened.  The OOD and I looked at each other and he took the Helm and myself the Lee Helm, which I understand is now archaic on most vessels.  He spun the wheel to head due south out of harms way and, with just a little fog left in my brain remembered old war movies and rang the EOT (Engine Order Telegraph) three times for all Ahead Emergency Standard – duh.  Luckily the engineers who could not talk to us understood the intention and kicked in everything on our 600 PSI boilers and blew a few bricks (used for insulation.)

Eventually we were relieved by the GQ Bridge Team and I went to my GQ Post in Surface in CIC.  All our radars had been destroyed with the exception of our surface search radar, which we later found had half of its feed horn blown away.  We acquired what appeared to be two surface contacts make a classic torpedo boat attack and our three inch fifty guns fired on them.  The helo reported taking fire from the surface.  The gunners reported a secondary explosion.  Powers that be said later they were radar ghost.  Still don’t believe it.  Pucker factor huge.

The cruiser Long Beach at PIRAZ (Positive Identification Radar Advisory Zone or head air controller for the Gulf) dispatched their shotgun as we had no radio contact and had dropped off the Link-11 network.  We finally established comms via our helo and one working radio and were instructed to head for CTF-77 on a carrier while everyone figured out what to do.  After GQ I was directed to draft the OPREP-3 (Operational Report) indicating we had come under fire.  Unfortunately, still being a little foggy I wrote up the Codeword version for being attacked by Russians.  Nobody said anything later.  While conducting evaluations in the morning and picking up shrapnel we found a fuse with an NSN (National Stock Number on it.  How the heck did the North Vietnamese get a US Rocket?  Wrong.  Two Air Force aircraft thought we were a North Vietnamese SAM site.  Result equaled Mission Kill, one dead and 11 wounded. Courtesy of our missile fire control radars and EW shack above CIC there was no one wounded or killed in CIC.

Initial repairs in Subic Bay, We arrived there was only us and a broken British Fleet Auxiliary ship in port. For about two weeks there were only about 400 Fleet Sailors to sustain the local economy.  We then proceeded to Yokosuka for major repairs. We proceeded back to the Gulf via White Beach in Okinawa for missile system requalification.  This was the week Japan took control over the island and we were the first ones with Japanese Yen and the only ones who knew its value.  Bad few days for the body.  Send us back into the war zone.

By the time we arrived the Linebacker interdiction operations were fully underway.  Buffs (B-52s) joined in.  Then came Pocket Money the mining of NVN harbors and coast lines.  We returned to SAR stations, but with an extra task of stopping the resupply of NVN via Chinese Communist vessels that anchored off the coast.  Of course, they were inviolate and would load arms and food onto sampans.  They would also throw plastic wrapped 100 kilo bags of rice over the side and hoped they would float to shore.

WBLCs or Waterborne Logistics Craft as the Navy called sampans were fair game once they got a certain distance from the ChiCom ships.  Aircraft from the carriers under our advisory control would engage them.  DDs would close and shoot them and cut open the rice bails.  We had some motor whale boat (pre-ribs) cutting out expeditions and took back some tons of rice for orphanages in Subic.  The DDs on the gunlines had some harrowing experiences.  We were out of artillery and missile range, so it was more relaxing.  Almost started WWIII when I authorized an A-4 to illuminate a ChiCom ship.  The flare roman candled and landed on the deck while they were offloading ammunition.  According to the pilot someone kicked it over the side where it landed on the barge they used to load sampans.  Someone swept it over the side into a sampan, which they cut loose.  The crew of the sampan jumped overboard and a couple of minutes later the inevitable happened.

In January of 73 we were at South SAR, and I had fleeted up to CICO and was a Tactical Action Officer.  One morning the duty Radioman hand carried a message to me as the TAO as the Captain was asleep.  It was Top Secret, from CINCPACTFLT with the only addressee being USS Worden.  Gist was Proceed directly to Subic Bay at best possible speed. Huh?  Woke up the Captain who had the XO, OPS Boss and Chief Engineer to see him.  He requested by radio a meeting with CTF-77 and helod over to the carrier.  Theoretically we couldn’t leave station.  Turnover of South SAR was concluded in the Starboard Aft head with a helo lifting our classified material off to the carrier.

We then hiyakued (moved swiftly -each of us homeported in Japan knew at least 10 words of Japanese to butcher) to Subic saying WTH, etc.  We sent off a Top Secret LOGREQ (Logistics Request) which was declassified the day after arrival.  Heading into Subic Bay we received an in the clear request from Fortify (known to us all as the cruiser Chicago) for a Parrot or IFF check.  Since we knew the Chicago was supposed to be stateside, we were mystified.  Just then 4 little minesweepers including USS FORTIFY came steaming past us.  Pier side we were met by a Rear Admiral and a bunch of Captains.  We were to be the first mother ship for Operation End Sweep or the demining of NVN harbors and coast lines per the Paris Peace Accords.

After some modifications and embarking a CT van for COMINT (Communications Intelligence) we were off to the Gulf at best possible speed of the minesweepers to mill about smartly upon arrival.  One morning while on TAO Watch we received a call on Navy Red (secure UHF) from CTF-77 asking us what were those blips were around us?  My casual reply was something like “Oh those are the minesweepers.””  Followed by silence and then CTF-77 Actual will be sending a helicopter for your Captain.  Within the hour CTF 78, the CO and a Captain from CINCPACFLT flew to the carrier.  Good OPSEC.

Shortly thereafter we proceeded north to just off Haiphong.  Our ROE was not to act hostile in any manner.  We had our in-port deck lights on while drilling circles off Haiphong.  However, we had gun crew inside the ship near their weapons and missiles winged and finned in the Mouse House (Pre VLS.) At about 0600 with the sun rising, I was sitting TAO when EW shouted the 10 feet from their room to my console words to the effect that they had detected PT boat radars signal strength 5 (maximum) with a constant bearing.  Before the CO could be awakened two PT boats passed down our side. We didn’t bite at the provocation.

We started daily SH-3 helo ops to move the U.S. negotiating team to shore one day.  The next day they would ferry NVN officers to the ship.  I got to escort a junior officer and photographer around the weather decks.  I was accompanied by a CT (Communications Tech) Vietnamese language specialist.  Every time the officer told the photographer to take a picture of a piece of equipment, we would foil it except for our 3”50 guns.  They were designed in the late 40s.  A lot of pictures were taken.

After a few weeks we were relieved by a helicopter carrier (LPH) carrying specially equipped CH-53 helos.  It was all Kabuki as the mines were equipped to go dead after a period.  Combined with the air ops they served to get our POWs back.  Still not sure they all came back!

Here endeth the Viet Nam War for LT Tom Krupp, USN



Awards, Medals, Ribbons


Note. Pictures are stock