1972 West Pac

Vietnam Easter Offensive

USS BUCHANAN first line period in 1972 consisted of 63 continuous days of operation in combat zone off Vietnam

On station off the DMZ March 30, 1972 she was one of the first gunline ships to
fire against the North Vietnamese invading force. During those first days
of April, BUCHANAN provided gunfire support for evacuation of U.S. Marines
at the forward ground observer post, Alpha Two, the defense of Dong Ha and
the evacuation of the Vietnamese Naval Base.

On the Cua Viet River on numerous occasions, BUCHANAN took enemy troops and tanks under direct fire and has been credited with the destruction of four enemy tanks at the DMZ and numerous enemy troops killed in action at the
approaches to the Dong Ha bridge.

On April 5, with Commodore T.R. Johnson, ComDesRon 31 embarked, BUCHANAN led an operation against North Vietnam. On the afternoon she fired the first rounds into North Vietnam since "Sea Dragon" operations creased in 1968.

On April 10 BUCHANAN was directed to proceed to Danang Harbor for regunning alongside the tender USS Samuel Gompers. This marked the first time that a US Navy ship was assigned tender availability in a forward combat area
during the Vietnam conflict.

Regunning completed, BUCHANAN once again put to sea and continued
operations off the coast of North Vietnam, Several times a day her guns
hammered supply routes, SAM sites, enemy troop concentrations and coastal
defense sites.

On April 16, she led the first strike against the Do Son Peninsula off
Haiphong Harbor in company with the Seventh Fleet command ship, USS
Oklahoma City, USS Richard B. Anderson and USS Hamner.

On the following day, while engaged in a sharp exchange of gunfire with
hostile shore batteries, one enemy artillery shell found its mark. The
shell penetrated the superstructure and exploded, killing one man and
slightly wounding seven others. Material damage was quickly isolated and
three hours later BUCHANAN was again striking enemy targets. On April 18,
BUCHANAN retired to Danang for battle damage repair.

On April 19 the Task Force BUCHANAN had just left was attacked by MIG's. The USS Higbee DD 806 was severely damaged by direct hit to after Mount. She joined BUCHANAN at Destroyer Tender in Da Nang to undergo repairs. During the battle two MIG's were shot down by USS Steret

After a brief four-day period as plane guard for the attack aircraft
carrier, USS Kitty Hawk, BUCHANAN returned to the gunline.

BUCHANAN once again headed for the northern reaches of the Gulf of Tonkin
on May 8 and participated in operations in the vicinity of the Do Son
Peninsula.

One operation involved suppression of hostile shore batteries while
enabling other U.S. Navy Forces to mine the Haiphong Harbor entrance, On
the night of May 10, BUCHANAN in company with USS Newport News, USS Providence, USS Oklahoma City and USS Hanson once again returned to the Do Son Peninsula to participate in operations involving the most formidable
cruiser-destroyer strike group assembled in the Western Pacific since World
War II.

Striking against military targets in the Haiphong area, BUCHANAN is the
only U.S. Navy ship to have participated in every surface strike operation
off Haiphong Harbor since operations were initiated of April 5.

In 63 days, BUCHANAN had struck North Vietnamese military targets 49 times and also delivered over 7700 rounds against enemy emplacements while
receiving hostile fire on almost every mission. She was the first U.S. Navy
vessel to engage the enemy as the North Vietnamese forced their way across
the DMZ and is now the last of the "Charter members" in combat action to
return to port. 

On April 17, 1972 (the same day as Buchanan was Hit) an article was published in TIME Magizine on her part in the Viet Nam War.


North Vietnamese Strike !

 

 
 Outside shot of hit received April 17 1972 Shell did not explode on contact but went through Aluminum deck before exploding. You can see crease in deck where it slid before going in. Hit was between after 5" mount and ASROC launcher. Entered overhead after passageway destroying all cables in overhead. After damage control party was in passageway and was where all casualties occurred. First word was fire in magazine and no after damage control party to fight it. Forward party went aft and got under control ( we found out afterwards that the fire had not made it to magazine but Magazine had filled with smoke) Pictures were taken at sea on 17 April 1972
Dean Myers...... USS Buchanan
 
 Shells hits in Buchanan wake  
 


21 April 72 in Da Nang . We kept beer in the forward reefer for ships parties and for any chopper who brought us mail a six pack was attached to cable last time up for crew to drink before returning to ship. This got our mail to us rather fast as most of the flight crews would try to find mail to deliver to us. I suspect some of them wrote letters addressed to us just to make mail run. (smile). We did had one F-14 pilot claim he had mail to be delivered and wanted us to turn into wind and increase speed to 35 Knots and he would land on fantail. As we could not drink beer on ship we located Mike boat in photo, towed it along side and each man in crew was allowed to go drink two beers. The river boat and skimmer in photo smelled free beer and stopped in

Dean Myers.............USS Buchanan

 
 
 Shelling Viet Nam targets At approximately 0358 in the morning of 25 August 1972, the familiar report of Buchanan's 5"/54 guns was heard as it delivered a salvo of rounds on an antiaircraft site located just off Route One in the vicinity of Hon La Island, North Vietnam. This salvo was not unlike many that had preceded it, but it marked a milestone in a most eventful cruise for the Guided Missile Destroyer USS BUCHANAN (DDG-14). This salvo marked the 15,000th round shot by BUCHANAN's guns since arriving off of Vietnam in March of 1972.
 

 

USS Buchanan Strikes Back !

Buchanan was credited with at least six confirmed tank kills, four 82mm mortars put out of action, plus the destruction of numerous other targets. She received over 1000 rounds of hostile fire.

At approximately 0358 in the morning of 25 August 1972, the familiar report of Buchanan's 5"/54 guns was heard as it delivered a salvo of rounds on an
antiaircraft site located just off Route One in the vicinity of Hon La Island, North Vietnam. This salvo was not unlike many that had preceded it, but it marked a milestone in a most eventful cruise for the Guided Missile Destroyer USS BUCHANAN (DDG-14). This salvo marked the 15,000th round shot
by BUCHANAN's guns since arriving off of Vietnam in March of 1972.

This milestone occurred just a few days before BUCHANAN left the gunline for the last time on her deployment. She had passed many other milestones
to arrive at this point. She was the only ship at the DMZ when the North Vietnamese pre-invasion artillery barrage began on 19 March. As a result,
the next six days of operations were in an intense combat environment as BUCHANAN hurled round after round at the enemy in support of the Vietnamese
Marine and tank battalions. The hundreds of rounds called in by US Marines ground spotters working with SVN units effectively slowed and harassed the
enemy's advance enough to allow the successful evacuation of the South Vietnamese Naval Base located at Cua Viet River. BUCHANAN also provided
gunfire support for the defensive stand by the South Vietnamese at Dong Ha. She was credited with numerous enemy killed as well as significantly assisting in delaying the NVN invasion of Quang Tri Province by three weeks.

Freedom Train strikes began on 5 April along the coast of North Vietnam and BUCHANAN added two more milestones to her growing list when she led the first strike north and fired the first shot of the counter-offensive into North Vietnam. With Commodore T.R. "Choo Choo" Johnson, ComDesRon 31 embarked, BUCHANAN also led the first strike against Do Son Peninsula off the mouth of Haiphong Harbor on 16 April; she provided cover fire for mine
laying aircraft and was one of the two destroyers in the first multicruiser destroyer strike since World War II conducted at the mouth of Haiphong Harbor. In all, BUCHANAN participated in four strikes at the mouth of Haiphong Harbor, a record no other US warship has equaled. She steamed up and down the coast of North and South Vietnam for five and a half months, her guns hammering at SAM sites, troop concentrations, supply routes and coastal defense sites, as well as conducting overt surveillance of merchantmen attempting to off load supplies into North Vietnam. South of the DMZ, she was credited with at least six confirmed tank kills, four 82mm mortars put out of action, plus the destruction of numerous other targets.
She received over 1000 rounds of hostile fire.


The above picture of Buchanan is from the 72 cruise book. Notice the "battle eyes on the bow". Picture to left is of Starboard bridge wing with four tank kills and fishing boat was taken by BT2 Samuel Camp. When we pulled in to Hong Kong before returning to San Diego there were six tanks. The Chinese government protested about them and they were painted over with in hours of entering port. When the North Vietnamese got good at hitting us we switched to night strikes so they had to light us with star shell to see us (most of their guns were not radar controlled). After several nights they sent a small craft out with large spot light to back light us for guns. We did not think this healthy so we used 50 Caliber to shoot out light and sink boat.


Command Report

1. A RECENT REPORT WHICH I MADE TO HIGHER AUTHORITY INCLUDED THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH WHICH I WOULD LIKE YOU TO HAVE:
QUOTE. USS BUCHANAN HAS BEEN MY "ACE" OF FREEDOM TRAIN NGF OPERATION.COMMODORE JOHNSON, COMDESRON 31 IN BUCHANAN, HAS LED ALMOST EVERY MOVEMENT OF NAVAL GUNFIRE SINCE THE OFFENSIVE STARTED. BUCHANAN, HIS FLAGSHIP, HAS BEEN IN THE FOREFRONT OF THIS SERIES OF OPERATIONS ALL THE WAY. IT IS UNFORTUNATE INDEED THAT THIS OUTSTANDING SHIP WAS THE FIRST TO MEET TRAGEDY IN FREEDOM TRAIN. WE ALL KNEW THAT EVENTUALLY EVEN THE POOR MARKSMANSHIP OF NVN WOULD FIND THEIR TARGET. IN THIS CASE BUCHANAN, WHO HAS DEFIED COASTAL DEFENSE GUNS ON SO MANY OCCASIONS, WAS HIT, CAUSING THE DEATH OF ONE CREWMAN AND INJURY TO SEVEN. BUCHANAN WILL BE REPAIRED AND BACK WITH US AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. BUT WE ALL MOURN THE LOSS OF A COMRADE IN ARMS AND WILL MISS THE SERVICES OF THIS GALLANT SHIP. ALTHOUGH HIT, BUCHANAN STILL HAS
MORE TO SAY TO THE ENEMY. UNQUOTE.
2. WE ALL JOIN BUCHANAN MEN IN MORNING THE LOSS OF YOUR SHIPMATE.
3. THE AGGRESSIVENESS AND DETERMINATION YOU HAVE CONTINUALLY DEMONSTRATED HAVE BEEN AN INSPIRATION TO OTHERS. YOU HAVE TRULY LED THE WAY IN PRESSING
THE ATTACK. OFTEN GOING IN HARM'S WAY, YOU HAVE DEMONSTRATED THE COURAGE AND SKILL THAT FIGHTING MEN OF THE RESPECT SO WELL. MY CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE IN COMBAT ACTION. REPAIR AND RETURN TO US SOON.

A Shipmate Killed In Action

Seaman Leonard Davis was killed in action on 17 April 1972 while conductiong a strike mission as a unit of freedom train off the coast of North Vietnam


USS BUCHANAN DDG 14 WESTPAC 72

SAYONARA, BATTLE HARDENED BUCHANAN SAILS FOR SAN DIEGO AFTER COMPLETING A LONG AND BRILLIANT DEPLOYMENT WITH SEVENTH FLEET. THE MAGNIFICENT COMBAT RECORD WHICH YOU LOGGED IN SUPPORT OF THE EFFORT IN VIETNAM ADMIRABLY REFLECTS THE
SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE AND SPIRIT OF BUCHANAN MEN AND IS A TREMENDOUS SOURCE OF INSPIRATION TO ALL OF US. TO A SUPERB FIGHTING SHIP AND HER OUTSTANDING CREW SEVENTH FLEET SAYS WELL DONE.


VADM J.L.HOLLOWAY III, USN

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