Coming up in April this year, it will be 50 years since the ship I was stationed on, the USS Newport News (CA-148)–a heavy cruiser–was deployed for the third time to Vietnam. In June, I will attend a ship’s reunion in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
No, the ship no longer exists. She was decommissioned in 1975 and was scrapped in 1995. The reunion committee arranged for use of the USS New Jersey (BB-62) for a memorial service during the reunion. That battleship is parked on the Delaware River across from Philadelphia.
I haven’t been able to attend previous reunions, so I hope there are still some shipmates who remember me at this one.
In 2015, I attended the memorial service conducted by the town of Springfield, PA, just west of Philadelphia, for one of my good friends who died on that deployment. He was part of a wonderful Philadelphia Italian family. I got to meet my friend’s brother and much of the family and that was an incredible experience.
This trip, I plan to tour Philadelphia and its historic places.
I bring this up largely because this event will dominate much of my year 2022 with planning, travel, and all. Some posts here in the summer may be related to this trip as well. I entered the US Navy in 1970, largely due to the draft that was active at the time, and I had no deferments. My draft number that year was 35. I decided to choose the service I would join. My time in the Navy was full of great experiences and some not-so-great. I got to travel to places I would not be able to visit otherwise. I lived on that ship for more than two years and made a lot of great friends, some I’m still in contact with.
If you are interested in the ship and what we did, there is a lot of information in the ship’s web site linked at the beginning. Sadly, much of the history of that time is fading from public memory and the Internet. Yes, I probably hold those months in the combat zone at a higher level of importance than most historians, probably because certain events and experiences are permanently burned into my memory. But, I suspect that once those of us who served then are passed, there won’t be anyone to remember.
Thanks for your patience.