USS Lassen (DDG-82) is an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer in the United States Navy. She is named for Medal of Honor recipient Commander Clyde Everett Lassen. This ship is the 32nd destroyer of her class. Lassen was the 14th ship of this class to be built by Ingalls Shipbuilding at Pascagoula, Mississippi, and construction began on 24 August 1998. She was launched and christened on 16 October 1999. On 21 April 2001, she was commissioned at the Florida Aquarium Pier in Tampa, Florida.
USS Lassen (DDG-82) underway in the rough seas of the East China Sea, in 2003.
|Namesake:||Clyde Everett Lassen|
|Ordered:||6 January 1995|
|Builder:||Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi|
|Laid down:||24 August 1998|
|Launched:||16 October 1999|
|Commissioned:||21 April 2001|
|Homeport:||Naval Station Mayport, Mayport, Florida|
|Motto:||From Courage, Life|
|Status:||in active service|
|Class and type:||Arleigh Burke-class destroyer|
|Length:||509 ft 6 in (155.30 m)|
|Beam:||66 ft (20 m)|
|Draft:||31 ft (9.4 m)|
|Propulsion:||4 × General Electric LM2500-30 gas turbines, 2 shafts, 100,000 shp (75 MW)|
|Speed:||exceeds 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)|
|Complement:||320 officers and enlisted|
|Aircraft carried:||2 × MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters|
On 15 February 2009 at 12:25 pm, Lassen collided with a Japanese 14-ton pleasure boat in Yokosuka harbor. On 23 March 2009 the Japan Coast Guard filed a case against both the destroyer's and the fishing boat's captains with local prosecutors for professional negligence that endangered traffic.
On 27 October 2015 Lassen navigated within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef, one of seven artificial islands built up by China in the Spratly Islands (commonly called the "Great Wall of Sand") in the past year, the first in a planned series of Freedom of navigation operations (also referred to as FONOPs). This is the first time since 2012 that the US has directly challenged China's claims of the island's territorial limit.
In January 2016, she moved to Naval Station Mayport in Mayport, Florida. According to the Standard Navy Distribution List, March 2016, at that time she was assigned to the new Naval Surface Squadron 14.
The shield has background of blue with a medium blue chevron in the middle. Above the chevron is a sea lion, below is a compass rose.
The traditional Navy colors were chosen for the shield because dark blue and gold represents the sea and excellence respectively. The AEGIS shield displays the ships modern warfare systems. The blue chevron is a symbol of the ships coastal service in the Vietnam War as well as the prow of the ship due to its mission as an ammunition ship. The chevron is also designed like the ribbon of the Medal of Honor awarded to Lieutenant Lassen for his heroism in his rescue of two aviators. The sea lion represents strength and courage which Lieutenant Lassen continuously displayed. The compass rose symbolizes the landing lights of the helicopter which he used to rescue the aviators.
The crest consists of a gold trident surrounded by red lightning bolts over palm fronds.
The trident symbolizes sea prowess while the three tines represent the battle stars earned during World War II in the Pacific while denoting the multi-threat warfare systems of the USS Lassen. The red lightning bolts refer to the strike capability and mission as an ammunition ship, rearming many fleets during war.
The motto is written on a scroll of blue that has a gold reverse side.
The ships motto is "From Courage Life". The motto is a reference to both the honorable feats of Lieutenant Lassen and the Medal of Honor he received.
The coat of arms in full color as in the blazon, upon a white background enclosed within a dark blue oval border edged on the outside with a gold rope and bearing the inscription "USS Lassen" at the top and "DDG 82" in the base all gold.
A destroyer squadron is a naval squadron or flotilla usually consisting of destroyers rather than other types of vessel. In some navies other vessels, such as frigates, may be included. In English the word "squadron" tends to be used for larger and "flotilla" for smaller vessels; both may be used for destroyer units. Similar formations are used in non-English-speaking countries, e.g., the "escadrille"—which would translate directly as "squadron"—in France.Eastport, Maine
Eastport is a small city (consisting entirely of islands) in Washington County, Maine, United States. The population was 1,331 at the 2010 census, making Eastport the least-populous city in Maine. The principal island is Moose Island, which is connected to the mainland by causeway. Eastport is the easternmost city in the United States (although the nearby town of Lubec is the easternmost municipality).Exercise Valiant Shield
Exercise Valiant Shield is one of the largest United States military war games held in the Pacific Ocean. Until 2018, there have been seven Valiant Shield exercises since 2006. According to the Navy, Valiant Shield focuses on cooperation between military branches and on the detection, tracking, and engagement of units at sea, in the air, and on land in response to a wide range of missions.The first exercise in 2006 involved 22,000 personnel, 280 aircraft, and 30 ships, including the supercarriers USS Kitty Hawk, USS Abraham Lincoln, and USS Ronald Reagan. It was the largest military exercise to be conducted by the United States in Pacific waters since the Vietnam War, and it was also the first time observers from the People's Republic of China were allowed to view U.S. wargames. The exercise marked the first of what will become biennial exercises involving different branches of the U.S. military.
Valiant Shield 2006 included Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard units. Air operations included thousands of sorties as well as in-air refuelings and parachute deployments. Aircraft from Valiant Shield deployed on missions ranging across the Pacific all the way to Alaska. Ships simulated anti-submarine warfare. Valiant Shield 2006 was the first time that three carrier strike groups had operated together in the Pacific in over ten years. Forces exercised a wide range of skills, including maritime interdiction; defense counter-air; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and command and control.FONOPs during the Obama Administration
During the Administration of President Barack Obama, there were six instances of the United States Navy performing a Freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the South China Sea (SCS). During the same period the USN also performed multiple other FONOPs in other parts of the world. The SCS operations involved Arleigh-Burke Class Guided Missile Destroyers assigned to United States Seventh Fleet. The U.S. FONOP program began in 1979 and the Department of Defense (DoD) keeps public records of FONOPs since 1991 on its website. The Department of State (DoS) provided guidance to the DoD on conducting FONOPs, with a particular focus on the South China Sea and East China Sea, while pushing back on the People's Republic of China and their "excessive territorial claims", specifically with the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, and Senkaku Islands.Fleet Week
Fleet Week is a United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, and United States Coast Guard tradition in which active military ships recently deployed in overseas operations dock in a variety of major cities for one week. Once the ships dock, the crews can enter the city and visit its tourist attractions. At certain hours, the public can take a guided tour of the ships. Often, Fleet Week is accompanied by military demonstrations and air shows such as those provided by the Blue Angels.Guided missile destroyer
A guided-missile destroyer is a destroyer designed to launch guided missiles. Many are also equipped to carry out anti-submarine, anti-air, and anti-surface operations. The NATO standard designation for these vessels is DDG. Nations vary in their use of destroyer D designation in their hull pennant numbering, either prefixing or dropping it altogether. The U.S. Navy has adopted the classification DDG in the American hull classification system.
In addition to the guns, a guided-missile destroyer is usually equipped with two large missile magazines, usually in vertical-launch cells. Some guided-missile destroyers contain powerful radar systems, such as the United States’ Aegis Combat System, and may be adopted for use in an anti-missile or ballistic-missile defense role. This is especially true of navies that no longer operate cruisers, so other vessels must be adopted to fill in the gap.Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Seven
Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Seven (HC-7) was a helicopter squadron of the United States Navy.The squadron was nicknamed the SEADEVILS, established September 1, 1967, N.A.S. Atsugi, Japan. At this time the ONLY dedicated Navy Combat Search and Rescue squadron. Cerberus, the mythical three headed dog who protected the Gates of Hades (the Gates of Hell), became the symbol for this over tasked helicopter squadron, representing the original missions; Combat Search and Rescue, Vertical Replenishment, Seventh Fleet VIP. These tasks expanded to include Aerial Mine Countermeasure, Oceanographic support, Incident response (Korea-1968 & 1969) and Heavy repair center. March 1971, the home base relocated to N.A.S. Imperial Beach, CA. while decreased detachments, the Combat Search and Rescue commitments increased.
While the North Vietnam conflict intensified the squadron deployed 16 separate detachments, constantly on the move, branded with the nickname “The Orphans of the Seventh Fleet”. Their temporary homes changed positions, (ships leaving the war zone) the Seadevils cross-decked to a new ship on an average of 14 days. Move all the crew, tools, parts, helos to another temporary home.
HC-7, one of the most highly and most decorated naval aviation squadrons for their heroic actions. 150 persons were rescued, some from deep within North Vietnam, many along the coast of hostile territory, men over board and local persons. Several attempted rescues were conducted along with countless medical evacuations.
1974, HC-7 continued to provide worldwide combat search and rescue capabilities and the development of rescue techniques, also HC-7 Det Cubi (Heavy repair center) closed. HC-7 disestablished June 30, 1975. The legacy lives on. ( hc7seadevils.org )
During the Vietnam War a combat support squadron of the United States Navy established Sept. 1, 1967 and disestablished June 30, 1975. One of its members, Lt.(J.G.) Clyde Everett Lassen received the Medal of Honor
Providing continuous Combat Search and Rescue along the coast and inland of North Vietnam for six and one half year, nicknamed "The Orphans of the Seventh Fleet" Cross-Decking on average every 15 days to a new home as the host ships departed the Tonkin Gulf. Cross-decking, in this sense, is the practice of sharing or relocating assets between ships while underway rather than while in port.
Also; Seventh Fleet Flag Helicopter, Vertical Replenishment, Mine Countermeasures and Helicopter Support for North Korean incidents .
Compiled / written by:
Ronald D. Milam “Lil Ron” : HC-7 Historian – 2013 Mark Starr Awardee
Robert E. McGowan: HC-7 Web Master.
Documentation from HC-7 historical collection obtained from the SeaDevil brotherhood and many government sources - known facts.
Introduction; A tribute and remembrance for the HC and HS helicopter squadron members who shared their experiences and losses during the establishment of HC-7. BLESS YOU and THANK YOU.
U.S. Navy Helicopter Combat Support Squadron SEVEN (HC-7) the “SeaDevils”
"Combat SAR Prevents POWs"
Vocal Call Sign = AAAUUURRRHHHAAA !
Web site = hc7seadevils.org
Several PRC radios are screaming; Phue Phue Phue Phue!! “May Day, May Day, May Day. This is WAR PAINT 304. We have four air crewmen in the water. Approx. 5 miles north and 2 miles west of Point 2, 4, Point 2. 4”. Command Information Center (CIC) aboard USS Halsey (DLG-23), sounds the CSAR alarm. The Big Mother 72’s crew scrambles to the Sikorsky H-3 helo on deck, launches. The Clementine crew, readies to push the Kaman H-2 from the hangar as BM-72 lifts off. Six minutes have passed, the two CSAR helos are en-route to the downed pilots. BM-72 enters an inland river, taking fire when a new vector is given, turn 180 degrees, to locate pilots 1,000 yards off shore, under artillery fire. Big Mother and Clem pause to deploy their rescue swimmers, depart the area to drop diversionary smoke. Artillery is close- concussions in water, RESCAP works on the gun emplacements. All six (downed crew and rescue swimmers) picked up and depart for the safety of the ship. These actions are a condensed version of the lifesaving efforts conducted to save military personnel from the GATES of HADES (North Vietnam).
September 1st, 1967, marked the beginning of one of the most storied periods in US Naval Aviation History with the establishment of UNIQUE - Helicopter Combat Support Squadron SEVEN (HC-7), the "SEADEVILS". The next 7 years and 9 months were filled with no finer examples of dedication, professionalism and heroic acts (continuously stationed in the GULF of TONKIN – Sept 1, 1967 to Sept. 24, 1973) (Squadron, 2216 days – Det 110, 2046 days). HC-7 SeaDevil(s) received the highest decoration (Medal of Honor), and being one of the Most Highly Decorated Naval Squadrons in Vietnam. July, 1971 – HC-7 was awarded “Presidential Unit Citation” (PUC) dated Sept 1, 1967 to Apr 30, 1969. For Extraordinary Heroism. Ceremony held at HC-7 Imperial Beach.
The following information is about the personnel (1700 +), machines and missions of the squadron in supporting the war to preserve the independence of the Republic of South Vietnam and support the operations of the U.S. Seventh Fleet.
Helicopter Combat Support Squadron ONE, (HC-1) was reorganized to create several additional helicopter squadrons. The existing HC-1 Detachment Atsugi based at NAS Atsugi, Japan (21 miles SW of Tokyo) was redesignated Helicopter Combat Support Squadron SEVEN (HC-7). Established with sixteen Officers and seventy-five Enlisted plank owners.
Upon establishment, HC-7 was tasked with multiple missions including Logistics, Vertical Replenishment, Seventh Fleet Flagship, Aerial Mine Countermeasure, Oceanographic, home station SAR and Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR). It didn't take long before the Navy realized that the CSAR mission deserved the complete attention of the unit and all other missions were tasked to other squadrons (mid-1971). This left HC-7 as the Navy's “ONLY” active duty squadron dedicated to CSAR to ever exist. The CSAR mission was not new; it was being accomplished by HC and HS squadrons as an additional duty. HC-7 however turned the lessons learned by the other units into a functional CSAR doctrine that would be its sole focus.
Volunteer crewmen attended “Combat Aircrewman Rescue School”; “JEST”, “SERE”, combat swim school, aerial gunnery / weapons, medical, hand-to-hand combat, 10’-10 mph helo rescue swimmer deployment. HC-7 owed its success to the establishment of the training instructors of “Paramedic Rescue Team ONE”, Cubi Point, PI.
Many personnel who had trained together at technical schools and other helicopter squadrons before orders to HC-7, were often deployed on different detachments and schedules may not see each other again during their entire tour with HC-7. Years, yes years apart.
This historical information is also dedicated to the families of the men who served so proudly in HC-7. These wives and families were in the unique position of often "standing alone" while their husbands and fathers rotated individually in and out of Detachments 101 - 116, Yankee Station and various small boys of the Seventh Fleet. These women did what had to be done, set the standard for the CAN-DO model and managed to smile through their tears as they waited at home.
Five quotes that will assist in forming an accurate perception of HC-7;
• "It is easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission" - Rear Admiral Grace Hopper. • "McHale's Navy with Helicopters" - Unknown • The "Orphans of the Seventh Fleet" - Flag Officer • "Heroes are not born nor made, they are victims of circumstance wherein they perform beyond any calling." - L. Parthemer • "Helicopters can’t fly, they just beat the air into submission" - Robert "Todd" (Combat) Conlin
A special dedication for four SeaDevils, ( RIP Brothers );
MAY 14, 1968
LT. Terry Lee Smith, AE1 Robert Harold Dabel and AO3 Carl Delbert Martin: flight crew, perished when their UH-2A helicopter crashed at HC-7 Det Cubi - NAS Cubi Point, RP
FEBRUARY 20, 1970
AZ3 Scott Ferris Moore Jr: passenger, perished when an SH-3A helicopter crashed near USS Constellation (CVA-43), Tonkin Gulf, MIA, BNF (AZ3 Moore was the only SeaDevil lost in the Vietnam War)
• CDR Lloyd L. Parthemer - 9-1-1967 to 9-24-1968
• CDR Ronald N. Hipp - 9-24-1968 to 9-16-1969
• CDR Donald G. Gregory- 9-16-1969 to 9-11-1970
• CDR Gerald L. Glade - 9-11-1970 to 8-4-1971
• CDR John E. Woolam - 8-4-1971 to 7-6-1972
• CDR David J. McCracken - 7-6-1972 to 7-27-1973
• CDR Billy C. Lamberth - 7-27-1973 to 7-26-1974
• CDR Walter B. Lester - 7-26-1974 to 6-30-1975
HC-7’s insignia has a central focal point CERBERUS who acclaimed as one of the most feared creatures in Greek and Roman mythology. Like CERBERUS, HC-7 rescue helicopters are guardians of the Gates of Hades (North Vietnam or possible death at sea). The three heads attached to a single body aptly symbolize the three basic missions of the squadron, ie; rescue, vertical replenishment and utility. The gold circle surrounding the insignia represents a halo, hence the downed aviators reference to the rescue helicopter an “angel”. Approved August 1968.
HC-7 provided “on-call” 24 hour search and rescue, medevac, and VIP transportation at home bases – NAS Atsugi Japan (Sept 1967 to March 1971), NAS Imperial Beach, CA (March 1971 to June 1975), and Cubi Point, Republic of Philippines (Sept 1967 to Aug 1974).
Beginning with two detachments, increasing to high of sixteen during 1969 then in 1971 as the requirements changed HC-7 condensed to one detachment (110). HC-7 crews rescued 150 persons, 130 of which were within the Vietnam Combat zone being potential POWs. Two pilots were rescue twice. In brief, five successful rescues took place deep within North Vietnam (feet dry), many rescues occurred along the coast (feet wet) within range of heavy enemy artillery. Many attempted rescues took place during the war, the Viet-Cong were efficient in capture and decoy. Quick identification, location and pick-up were to be the success of POW prevention. The crews received small arms fire, artillery shelling, and missile launches. Below are brief descriptions, of a select few of the heroic missions. For in-depth information visit the HC-7 web site.
HC-7 helicopter armament included; P-38 pistol, M-16 rifles, M-79 grenade launcher, M-60 machine guns. 1970 Big Mothers H-3s were modified installing a mini gun (GAU-2B/A) upon armor plated mount in right rear aft cargo door. The HH-2Cs arrived having a chin mounted mini-gun turret system, no guns were ever received. With essential CSAR equipment installed, to remain below the 12,500-pound max., the turret system was removed. Fuel and CSAR equipment had priority over the mini-gun. M-60 machine guns were mounted in the cargo doors. One detachment installed six broom handles in the mini-gun turret. It increased moral and gave the helo a more menacing look. It fooled ship’s company and even other squadron personnel. The H-3s were tested with mini gun pods mounded exterior aft, which proved to be too heavy for the existing climate of the war zone. So, NO forward-looking guns, just turn sideways and shot. Larger target, yes - for the enemy. The primary mission was COMBAT RESCUE, not a fire fight.
Listed are rescue problems encountered; wrong vectors, too many persons on communication channels, too short of rescue cable, too slow of hoist speed, no forward firing weapons, jammed guns, loss of ICC, too many strobe lights, missiles fired, no forest penetrator aboard – use sling with tie down chain, broken hoist cable, farmers - enemy trap, lost rescue swimmer, hoist stopped below helo, lack of night flares, close artillery fire - swimmer receive concussion, co-pilot empty fired brass hitting pilot in face and burning, parachute of downed pilot caught in wind, chute drags pilot below surface, red beacon light – soup can blocked view from below, rescuee dawning the horse collar backwards.
January 1969 HC-7 developed, “CSAR Operations and Procedures”; check list, team effort, prepared for unexpected – should not be committed into hostile environment until survivor is located, identified and information, RESCAP available throughout the entire mission. Fly no lower than the highest column that may result from exploding enemy ordnance. “Swimmer in the water” technique (10’ altitude / 10 knots). Deploy smoke canister as a diversion for artillery shelling, Jinxing will reduce the possibility of battle damage. Today, this documentation is supplementing CSAR training within Navy helicopter squadrons. October 1974, HC-7’s experiences were compiled within a manual “Combat Search and Rescue Tactics”.
The Vietnam War was coined as the helicopter war, reports state that approximately 11,000 helicopters operated with over 5,000 destroyed. Within the war zone HC-7 lost six helicopters, Three UH-2A/Bs (1-combat shot down, 1-self shot down, 1-fuel starvation) Two H-46s (each having engine failure) and one SH-3A (tail system failure).
An adage “A helo has 50,000 moving parts and it is the responsibility of the maintenance personnel to keep them in order.” A synopsis; • H-2 during rescue demo – lost power crashed in Subic Bay, •H-46 Lost engine crashed in Tonkin Gulf, •H-2 (self) shot down due to faulty M-60 (Golden BB),• H-2 lost directional control – crash,• H-2 loss of ground cushion -crash, •H-2 loss power gear up landing,• H-3 loss of landing gear, land on jack stand, •H-2 fuel starvation – wrong vector – ditched,• H-46 night vert rep - loss engine, ditched, •H-3 quick turn, tail rotor hit building, •H-3 hit trees – crippled to DaNang, •H-3 chased by big gun – broke tranny – Flying crane to DaNang, •H-3 rotor blades hit gun turret, change all tips,• H-3 lost tail rotor, crashed – sunk,• H-46 backing hit Marine H-46 – cut in half, •H-3 engine failure, land tail wheel off deck, •H-3 engine fail – crash on Golf Course, •H-3 on approach - wind shift 180° - crash, •KA3 from VAQ-130 landed too far to the right - destroyed three Big Mothers. •The screaming and expletives have been removed.
Transportation of the SeaDevils was completed by any means possible. Most detachments traveled in small groups 10-30 persons, excepting Det 110 personnel who traveled mostly as individuals. At Atsugi, detachments deployed aboard respective ships from harbors as; Sasebo, Yokosuka, and Yokohama. From Det Cubi to catch the host carrier, several rode oilers, ammo, and cargo ships then to HIGH LINE to duty station. Infrequently the Clem crews cross decked, on one occasion the crew placed aboard a whale boat, when the DLGs left the area to pursue a MIG – would they be found later or POW? Example; depart Det Cubi on a C-130, arrive in DaNang Vietnam, catch a COD to a carrier – tail hook, next day Big Mother provides flight to DLG off North Vietnam coast, cross-deck with helo, as prior crew rotates to Det Cubi. Only five locations in two days. SeaDevils’ mail became a valuable commodity when it finally caught up to the crew – where are they?
Rest and Relaxation (R&R): The SeaDevils pushed R&R to the limits; having their own helo bar at the Rufadora (one of 500+ bars) - Olongapo, PI, a Bonka Boat (MP-69) and an exclusive squadron private party location at Paradise Beach. Creating a few foggy memories from the consumption of MOJO and San Miguel (Japan – Akadoma wine). What happened in the “O” stayed in the “O”. Several detachments handed off their helo to a rotation crew to ride their ship to other exotic ports of call. At the three main bases, competitive SeaDevils took championships in several intermural sports.
Aircraft; • 19 – Kaman UH-2A/B (Sea Sprite) • 33 – Sikorsky SH-3A-G (Sea King) • 12- Sikorsky HH-3A (Sea King) • 3- Sikorsky RH-3A (Sea King) • 12- Boeing UH-46A-D (Sea Knight) • 1- Sikorsky UH-34 (Sea Horse) • 5-Kaman UH-2C (Sea Sprite) • 7-Kaman HH-2C-D (Sea Sprite), 92 total.
Detachment 101 – UH-2A/B – (1970 UH-2C) SeaSprite – “Blackbeard One” – aboard flag ships USS Providence (CLG-6) and USS Oklahoma City (CLG-5) primary flights for Commander of Seventh Fleet. (VIP, non-VIP, mail transfer flights) 10 SeaDevils, rotation of 30-60 days. (9-1-1967 to 1971)
Detachment 102 – H-46 – SeaKnight – Vertical Replenishment – aboard USS MARS (AFS-1), two H-46s, 22-24 SeaDevils, rotation of 30-60 days. Continued operations 1-Sep-1967, departed 27-April-1970 to HC-3. Recorded operations of a 1968 cruise, 79 ships supplied with 943 tons of stores. Also, transporting supplies to inland bases located at Vung Tau, South Vietnam.
Detachment 103 – Oct. 1, 1967, HC-7 assumed duties from HC-1 Det Cubi, Jan 1, 1968- Det 103 Cubi assumed station SAR for NAS Cubi Point, PI. 1-Sept-1968 Redesignated “HC-7 Det Cubi” (configuration / repair / training center, Staging area for CSAR detachments) – Republic of Philippines. A previous sea-plane base, located 300 yards southeast of the northeast end of Cubi Point air field. The only permanent detachment. Beginning with 2 officers & 25 enlisted. Last muster entry 8-Aug-1974.
Detachments 104, 105, 106, 107, 108 & 109 – UH-2A later HH-2C –(SeaSprite) “Clementine” – Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR). (9-1-1967 to 1971) Stationed aboard small boys (DLGs & DDs) – North and South CSAR stations off the coast of North Vietnam. 8-10 Seadevils, 30-60 day rotation. Cross-decking on a minimal time frame. Also, deployed during the North Korea incident – EC-121 shoot down (April 15, 1969).
FACTS: Det 110 and 111 stationed aboard the Yankee Station host carrier. From 18-Feb-1968 to 24-Sept-1973, these detachments were continuously (2045 days) stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin. Formed from HS-6’s six helicopters aboard USS Kearsarge. They, “Cross-Decked” – the operation to re-locate the Big Mother crew from the departing host carrier to the arriving host carrier. Normally 5-6 helicopters and 35-55 men, with all repair equipment, tools, gear, taking four to five flights each. Det 110/111 completed 142 cross decks. Big Mothers pre-positioned prior to air strikes and co-existed with the Clementine helo crews aboard North and South SAR. Nick-named “Orphans of the Seventh Fleet” a new home, (some pleasant, some not) on average every 14 days. Home for as short as 2 days with a maximum of 42 days. Sleeping in locations as; condemned compartments, brig, VD ward, chain locker, sick bay, torpedo room, spud locker, fo’c’sle, hot racking. No lockers, living out of parachute bags.
Detachment 110 – HH-3A SeaKing – “Big Mothers” – Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), approximately 35-55 SeaDevils, and 5 helos, (3 CSAR and 2 Logistic) From 18-Feb-1968 to 25-Sept-1973.
Detachment 111 – SH-3A SeaKing – “Protector” – logistics flights aboard host carriers (with Big Mothers), also deployed (23-Jan-1968 to 4-MAR-1968) as a separate crew in response to the 23-Jan-1968 capture of USS Pueblo (AGER-2) by North Korea. Helos were tropical equipped, crews had to improvise for the winter conditions.
Detachment 112 – H-46 -SeaKnight– Vertical Replenishment – aboard USS NIAGARA FALLS (AFS-3) two H-46s, 22-24 SeaDevils, rotation of 40-60 days. Commenced operations 1-Jan-1969, departed 6-Sept-1970 to HC-3.
Detachment 113 -RH-3A – SeaKing – Aerial Mine Counter Measures – aboard USS Catskill (MCS-1), two helos, 32-36 SeaDevils, rotation of 30-60 days. “Mine Manglers” Arrived 19-FEB-1969, departed for HC-5 12-August-1970. Providing aerial mine sweep operation throughout SE Asia, and SEATO exercises. Being the only helicopter mine countermeasure operation in WESTPAC.
Detachment 114 – No record data.
Detachment 115 – H-34 – SeaHorse - logistic support aboard oceanographic ship, USS Maury (AGS-16)– South Korea, three deployments during the Spring and Summer of 1969.
Detachment 116 – SH-3A – SeaKing - North Korea incident – VQ-1 EC-121 shoot down (April 15, 1969)
1967 (14 rescues [3 combat, 11 others] - 7 helos (1220 flight hours)
Oct-4 Combat Day - Diverted from an inland attempt, – Clementine crew rescues a pilot amongst the cargo ships within Haiphong harbor. The next day, Oct 5 - three attempts to grab inland pilot, code word “LAMB”, pilot captured, crew shot down – helo ditched - crew rescued.
Oct-14 Combat Day - Just off of the coast helo crew beats out many sampans, pick-up one like text book, second still in raft, helo pilot uses rotor wash to trap raft, crewman drops horse-collar in his lap.
Dec-16 Day Rescue – 12 miles off shore – LCDR Hernandez (first time), Clem launches – 15 minutes to recovery, HS-6 H-3 showered with flak.
1968 ( 42 rescues [ 17 combat – 25 others] Staffing – (July) 66 Officers – 399 Enlisted – 12 helos (6950 flight hours)
April 15 – Combat Day – heavy artillery, four crewman rescued, swimmers use D ring, hoist pilot and self with one lift. ON the RUN. BUG-OUT.
April 28 – Combat Night Rescue – 4 miles off shore – LCDR Hernandez (second time), Clem observes day smoke, both pilots in rafts, pick-up, use M-60 to sink rafts.
May 8 – Inland Day Combat Rescue -18 miles inland- 45 minutes feet dry, over dense jungle, pilot could hear helo, all hell broke loose, suppressive fire, no forest penetrator, several tries with horse collar, added tight-down chain, Young crewmen - “10 feet tall and Bullet Proof”.
Jun 19 – Inland Night Combat Rescue – 7 miles inland – 58 minutes feet dry, dense jungle, mountain side, continuous enemy fire, two low hovers in rice paddy, one attempt in tree tops, hit tree, flares cease, again to rice paddy, lights on, success – missile launch, aboard ship, 5 minutes of fuel remaining.
Aug 30 – Inland Day Combat Rescue – 120 mile round trip (7 miles from Laos) 30 miles inland -(straight) 70 minutes feet dry – LCDR Eikel (first time), flight along ridge tops, avoid SAM sites, heavy AAA fire entire flight, heavy jungle, crewman held M-16 on hoist cable, WHO was coming up? – RECAP indispensable. M-60s jam several times. Co-pilot M-16s expended rounds hit pilot in face. A-4s suppress flak. “They saved our skins”
Sept 6 – Inland Night Combat Rescue – 3.5 miles inland – 20 minutes feet dry, power descent, find strobe, first pilot in river off island, area well lighted by nearby military base, green tracers everywhere – got him, second pilot upon island, helo turns on light, enemy has him, two more attempts, heavy automatic fire, intensifies, A TRAP. Head feet wet, POW
Nov 1 – Bombing halt over North Vietnam – Peace is in the works.
1969 (NO command report available) (13 rescues [ 0 combat – 13 others]
Staffing – (July) 105 Officers – 562 Enlisted – 24 helos
Jan 16 – LT Clyde E. LASSEN, (June 19, 1968, Combat Night rescue) presented Congressional Medal of Honor by: president L.B. Johnson, Note: USS LASSEN (DDG-82) guided missile destroyer - Commissioned – Apr. 21, 2001. Motto: “From Courage Life”
1970 (19 rescues [ 13 combat (classified) – 6 others]
Staffing – (July) 80 Officers – 492 Enlisted – 35 helos (2660 flight hours)(1017 VIPS)
Aug 12 - First (and only) rescue by HC-7 HH-2C – routine day – helo airborne before pilot hit the water, a routine pick-up using NATOPS procedure. Just like we had trained to do repeatedly (Over and over again and again.)
Naval helicopter squadrons utilize maintenance facilities at HC-7 Det Cubi. HH-3A helos arrive at Det Cubi, having design problems, were not operational by years’ end.
Date unknown – Inland (classified) rescue/recovery of nine South Vietnamese nasty boat crewmen – sunk boat. Three wounded, three dead, three scared to death of helo. Landed on carrier while ship celebrated its birthday. “It almost seemed like it couldn’t be real, but a look at our passengers and our two boyish gunners quickly brought me back to reality.” “ portion of Ken Kirkpatrick’s autobiography”
1971 ( 1 rescue [ 1 combat – 0 other] Staffing – (July) 54 Officers – 306 Enlisted – 47 helos
Dec 30 – Combat Day Rescue – heavy shelling – badly injured pilot “Your Beautiful People” just off enemy island, deploy swimmer, assist pilot, North Vietnamese boats, RESCAP strafed, exploding artillery, large track gun appears from cave on island, rescue hoist cable BROKE, was debris field, helo lands in water – recover swimmer, pull him in, vertical lift, dodging explosions. Search for second pilot unsuccessful, many boats, forced to exit.
1972 (58 rescues [ 45 combat – 13 others]
Staffing – (July) 49 Officers – 277 Enlisted – 25 helos (4951 flight hours)
April 9 – CSAR flights doubled – 2-4 helos launched to preposition locations for each air strike
April 12 – mini detachment sent from USA to Tonkin Gulf aboard USS Kitty Hawk
May 9 – Operation Line-backer I began, bombing of North Vietnam. Within 10 days – four helos and 138 personnel deployed to WestPac. ALL Navy HH-3As transferred to HC-7. To expedite an Air Force C5-A air-lifts two helos to Det Cubi.
May-10 – Water Combat Day Rescue – ACEs Cunningham & Driscoll, three Big Mothers launch from USS Okinawa, bad vectors, RESCAP good vectors, visual two smokes, fin broke-no fins, swimmer away, cut survivor loose of raft, hook hard to open, 8-10 SAMs fired at RESCAP, second pilot hooked up wrong, hoist manual over-ride only.
May 24 - Water Combat Day Rescue - LCDR Eikel (second time), found wreckage, RESCAP gave vector 50/1, continued, day smoke, swimmer dropped, drop coiled cable, “D” rings attached, pick-up, frayed cable seriously injured crewman’s hand, directed to nearest ship for medical attention.
May-June - Operation Thunderhead – potential POW recovery (Top Secret), flight path along North Vietnam coast line, within estuaries, searching for AGENTS, two weeks, lost SEAL teams from USS GRAYBACK found and rescued, NO POWs. Canceled.
Aug 7 – Inland Combat Night Rescue – LT Lloyd - 9 miles inland- 45 minutes feet dry, five hours evading the enemy, “rescue / death or capture”, give us a strobe, first strobe THERE, intense barrage of ground fire, enemy fires pencil flares, helo lands, crewmen fire on advancing troops, 50 feet distant, Lloyd puts on horse collar, then runs to helo, crewman yank him in, FULL power vertical lift off, 21 miles to feet wet, 2 missiles streak by. Jim Lloyd – 2006, “HC-7 guys – Thanks for your heroic efforts throughout the war. There are a lot of us who are alive because you were all willing to risk it all for us.”
HC-7 maintained 2 helos for worldwide CSAR to be dispatched on a 48-hour notice
Continued development of rescue technics (Special Projects): chaff and flare dispensing systems, N2 Laser/Dye Marker search system, Emergency Low Visibility Approach System, new snap link and rescue swimmer check list, mini gun syllabus, anti-aircraft fire control warning, voice encryption, electronic location finder.
1973 (2 rescues [ 0 combat – 2 other] Staffing – (July) 56 Officers – 242 Enlisted – 25 helos
Jan 14 – Last CSAR mission.
Jan 28, CEASE FIRE.
February-March Det 110 provided SAR backup for the Haiphong harbor mine clearing operations and plane guard flights for host carrier.
The “LAST” CROSS-DECK - Sept 24, USS Coral Sea, departs the war zone, steaming east to Subic Bay. Sept 25, Det 110’s two helos launch, to join two helos from Det Cubi. The helos flying in formation, the crewmen pop a day smoke and say farewell. Det Cubi has started a bodacious blow-out party – SeaDevil style! Helos land and all crewmen join. Det Cubi – continues Combat Search and Rescue contingency readiness – training.
1974 (0 rescues [ 0 combat – 0 others] Staffing – (Jan) 53 Officers – 262 Enlisted – 23 helos
May 21, Det Cubi sends aircraft and personnel to NALF Imperial Beach – closing HC-7’s part in the Vietnam War. HC-7 I.B. continues mission readiness and training.
1975 (1 rescue [ 0 combat – 1 other] Staffing – (Jan) 31 Officers – 167 Enlisted – 8 helos
Apr 8 – Last rescue – NAS Fallon, NV., While conducting SAR training an F8 pilot had ejected. The Big Mother crew, a joint squadron team, HC-7, HC-1 and HC-2. A fitting end to HC-7, by those who were to inherit the CSAR mission.
May – Message 0616262 – HC-7 to be disestablished.
June – transfers of men and equipment completed.
“The most turbulently colorful, unique and intensely proud unit in the history of Naval Aviation locked the doors and terminated service” Disestablishment June 30, 1975
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