The Strauss Under Fire
1967 - 1968
There were two incidents of rounds landing close aboard that I remember. The First was probably the one Tom recalls and the second I would guess was the fall of 1968. Reason is...on Sept 17, 1950 on the heavy Cruiser Rochester in the harbor at Inchon, Korea, we went under a air bombing from a North Korean Yak 9 and here I am again almost twenty years to the day being attacked again.
As for Tom's account of the 67 incoming, I do know that John Aldredge was in the Director. We were conducting shore bombardment utilizing A-7's as spotters. When they went "Feet dry" I had them check that old abandoned 75 MM site and they reported it still abandoned. About 20 minutes later all hell broke lose when 21 sites opened up on us. I brought the A-7's in for a strafing run while the ship was setting up and then cleared them out to the east to watch us handle the sites. They called back a beautiful show... I guess the bridge got a chuckle when the pilot told us to; "Get the hell out of there" and I replied; "We got her balls to wall now!" As finale to what happened to the 21 sites, Aldredge started at the south end and worked each site until all were silent.
I was scared sh*tless... PERIOD. Especially since we had two A-7's to worry about, who wanted to get into the fight after we were out of range. They were slightly PO'd that we were sending them back to the CVA because there wasn't any action left for them. Hearing the shrapnel rain down on the roof (Signal bridge deck) and thinking, my God that bulkhead around CIC is only 1/4" thick and wouldn't stop a 22 cal bullet! I figured I couldn't hide all of me behind the radar repeater so I had to decide what part of my body I could sacrifice by letting it hang out. (I decided my left arm would be it). I didn't have time to think of what the rest of CIC was doing... Praying was one subject that was right up front in the occupation list, I'm sure...Bart
Wes Jones remembers...
I joined the ship in Subic about half way through her 1967 cruise. I guess I arrived about March 1, 1967. It was earlier on that cruise that Aldredge did his thing, and Tom remembers what Jonesy did and etc. with clarity. I've known for some time, since I discussed it with John, that there were two of the incidents. The first one was when all the shrapnel got on the deck, etc. But I wasn't on the ship yet. It was early in 1967 while I was still in Point Loma.
Now for the incident I remember. ..
It was very clear in my mind that it was our first day back on the gun line of the 1968 cruise. Jonesy and I were together on the port bridge wing, which was on the shore side, looking at the beach as we did a little light shore bomb under the direction - I'm nearly certain - of an A-4 (I don't think they had any A-1's left out there on our 1968 cruise - big loss). Jones and I were definitely together, doing what navigators do, comparing the landmarks we remembered from the first cruise, the ones that were gone, and the new ones. We were standing side-by-side, and we began to see flashes on the beach.. But they were moving down the beach, from south to north I think - in order - no skipping around. So we said, wow, somebody is really pasting that beach. We were craning our heads up, looking in the sky for the plane that we supposed was delivering this good cheer, when the first round landed in the water about 30 feet off the side - well, we joked later that were we competing with one another as to who could get under the deck grating the fastest! The rest is history.
What I remember was that this was the day that we discovered that they had 155 mm field cannons there, whereas the intel guys had us drawing the gun arcs only 10,000 or 12,000 yards offshore. We turned out, cranked up all the steam we had available, and took off. I think our spotter plane saved our bacon that day. I'm pretty sure we had his net piped up to the bridge, and every time they started walking up our wake with their fire, he would advise us as to whether to zig or zag - whichever he thought best. As we zigged and zagged, having first the port quarter then the starboard quarter to the beach, Capt. Layman would walk across the bridge, always being out on the wing that was on the beach side. I can remember to this day the look on his face as he gripped the bridge rail and looked at the beach - not a fun thing. I remember that it was 23 long minutes before we were out of range and that we were close to 16 miles offshore before that happened. I remember that the sonar guys recorded about 125+ close splashes. But I do not remember any shrapnel on deck this time - there may have been some, but I don't remember anyone showing me any or mentioning any. I also think that we figured that there were only about 6 gun emplacements firing at us this time - not the large number of the previous time. (Incidentally' I think this day was the primary cause for my hearing loss - I was out there on the wing too - with mount 51 firing right up against its cut out cams whenever it could bear - which was a good bit of the time - the muzzle nearly in our ears). The time I remember shrapnel and a hole in the radar and having to replace the radar turning motor with the one from the potato peeler in the galley was when the A-6 dropped in on us when Roy Driver was OOD that night. But thatís another story someone should write about!
Hey guys. That is one of my big brags. Tom is right, almost. Because of the long GQ for the shore bomb mission, I relieved Jim as Director Officer and he went to chow. Within 15-20 minutes we were actively engaged in a running gun battle.
I still hold good thoughts for the guys who had guts enough to put me up in that Director. But to show you how excited I was, I thought that all of the rounds were landing SHORT OF US!!!! The Skipper, Captain Elliot was doing a great job of staying out of their range. Never thought to look behind me. Dammed glad I didn't!! I know that there was shrapnel on deck after that exchange. But I didn't get any of it. Did get two of the nose covers from the magazines though.
Actually, Tom, Jim, & yours truly were in 3-sections while everyone else was in Port and Starboard for a while.
Shrapnel recovered from the site by Al Gryder
No cryllic symbols visible on this piece. It is 1 7/16" wide by 1 9/16" high as viewed in the attached pics. I found it in the starboard bulkhead of Tartar Checkout room on the 01 level. Have been told by weapon "experts", the ridges on the lower right hand side in pic 2 are the threads for a nose or fuse cap
Happy Gunners after the smoke cleared...
Next, we give as good as we get...