This is from a home town newspaper, the Journal Inquirer in Connecticut.
My parents saved this for me. We were in the Philippines when Jimmy Carter announced this. We were called back to the ship for a quick squadron formation, when the Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Bland ordered us to makes sure our wills were in order, to write our last letter home, we are moving out! We know the world political situation, so be prepared!! The next day it was all over the newspapers: Marine ssent to Persian Gulf area to deter Soviet Agression! Wait a Minute! We wanted to go to Iran, not Fight the Russians!!
We weren’t afraid of Iran, in fact, we knew we would take them in a heartbeat,but to fight the Russians meant WWIII.
This is the USS Gridley.
This is another shot of the Gridley.
Here is a scanned copy of a New York Times article, announcing the Presiden’t sending of troops into the Persian Gulf area. I was one of those troops. This photo is reduced to keep the page size small. Click on the photo to enlarge.
Now, we get to the good guys. Because we were not with the
Nimitz directly, we were with a smaller flotilla, and had our own protection, US Naval ships like the Barbey. This was one of our own anti-submarine types, and it carried all the things necessary to protect us. It had a flight deck on it’s rear, but I don’t think I ever saw any helicopter taking off from it.
Here is the San Bernadino, an LST type. Those arms sticking out in front have cables in them, and they use those arms to extend out in front of the ship a ramp-like structure, so that jeeps,trucks, and tanks can drive out of the ship without needing to offload onto a landing craft. In order to do this, the ship had to beach itself, though, and that meant that all those Sailors on board that ship, instantly became Marines whether they liked it or not!
Everybody has to eat, and all ships need fuel, and that includes helicopters. This is the USS Mobile, our supply ship for the cruise. We saw oilers, too, this one had almost everything on it I guess, I just wish we had fresh milk!
This ship is called the ‘Alamo’. it is an LPD type ship. It carried tanks, trucks and troops, just like the LST’s, only this ship has it’s own unique way of getting troops off; the back of the ship lowered itself into the water, and the back of the ship was a gate. The gate lowered, water came into the inside of the ship, and landing craft entered and exited directly into the inside of the ship. From the outside and inside of the ship, it appears that the ship is sinking from the stern.
Even the Air Force was represented at sea, with this B-52 bomber stationed somewhere in the Indian Ocean or Pacific. I believe it was probably stationed in Diego Garcia. We welcomed this sight, it is nice to know that you have friends in a hostile area.
Here was one attempt by the USS Okinawa to grab some attention that all the big carriers were getting: The 2000 Man Run! We had everyone who was not on duty up on the flight deck jogging, posing for the photographers. I grabbed my camera and ran a little and took what shots I could. Unfortunately, my camera was failing, and this shot came out blurry.
What makes matters worse, is that the camera that had the film in it that the ship was going to give to the media was stolen! This may be one of the only shots of that 2000 man run!
Here is a shot from the bow of the ship. (That’s the front for those of you not familiar with Marine Terms.) I was with HMM-165, and we had 4 CH-53’s, 10 CH-46’s, 2 UH-1 Hueys, and 2 AH-1 Cobras. We also had a re-inforced Marine Battalion in our flotilla. We had a Navy surgical squadron get flown out of Subic Bay to join us, and from what I heard, they had 2 days notice to pack and move out! Here in this photo, you can see aircraft stowed with the helicopter blades folded back to provide room on the flight deck, along with some aircraft towing vehicles on the deck. Click on the photo to enlarge.
Here is a shot from the catwalk on the port side. We had a Harrier Squadron from Cherry point depart with us from Pearl Harbor, but they got off in the Phillipines for a deployment to the island of Okinawa. It would have been re-assuring to have them with us in the Arabian Sea for combat air support. I posted this photo to show the apparent size of the helicopter, the CH-53. The rescue aircraft were RH-53’s, which are quite similar in appearance. They have the basic airframe, but they are equipped for longer ranged flight, but to the casual observer, this is what they looked like, and this is how big they are. If you look at the end of the blade sticking down, you will see a guy who has his head hanging down, and looking at the camera. That is Bob King, a Boot Camp buddy from Plt. 2213 at Parris Island with me! Semper Fi, Bob! Click on the photo to enlarge.
Here is the USS Okinawa, the ship I was deployed on. It is an LPH class ship, LPH-3. The flight deck is about 580 feet long. We carried with us: 4 CH-53, 2 Hueys, 2 Cobras, and 10 CH-46’s on this float.