|Since this is my last article for Rapidfire, naturally it is written with
a great deal of nostalgia. Our PAO department has been trying for sometime to get me
to write a farewell article,but I have been putting it off for as long as I could.
However, since I must be leaving this wonderful ship in a little over a month, it is about
time to face up to it.
I think it is fitting here to reminisce a bit about my "View
for the bridge" over the past 18 months. You know the things I have seen daily
from the bridge have become so indelibly inscribed, that they will be carried forth with
me throught the years as wonderful, wonderful memories. Memories of our magnificent
gungs, shooting hours on end into the enemy postitions around the DMZ, the Cua Viet,
Danang, and up and down the Coast of Viet-Nam. The deep throated boom of our 8-inch
turrets adn the sharp bark of our 5-inchers will certainly be with me forever. And
I'm not forgetting the 3-inch firing that we have done so effectively on occasion.
One can't reminisce about the shooting, of course, without thinking of our people in FT
and the plotting rooms, talking to the spotters, and expertly coaxing our guns on to their
important targets. Then I see the countless rearmings and replenishments -- rushing
out to the AE or AO, with all hands busily preparing to take on the much needed
ammunitions or fuel I see you all, true professionals, taking on the dangerous task of
replenishment in all sorts of weather and under all sorts of conditions, cheerfully and
expertly, handling lines and hoses, and striking-down thousands upon thousands of
projectiles and powders. I'll never think of these evolutions without remembering
our fine band, many times standing in rain and wind playing the stirring music that was so
much appreciated by ships alongside, to say nothing of the enjoyment we all got from
listening to them. When I compare their performance now, with the way they sounded
when we left Norfolk, I can't help but marvel at the fantastic improvement. The
greatest moments of all came when we pulled away at 25 knots with the band playing
"Anchors Aweigh" and you all standing proudly at attention.
I shall never forget the foreboding cliffs of Cape Lay, with their hidden shore
batteries, nor the flat sandy land around the Cua Viet with its constant turmoil of
exploding Willie Peter rounds, smoke, helicopters, LST's and all the activity of war that
was so apparent over there. Nor will I forget the days and nights we twisted and
turned in the harbor of Danang, shooting up Elephant Valley, again with its foreboding
mountains full of Viet Cong. And who can forget our majestic long bow, cutting
through the water as we entered the many varied ports of the Western Pacific; into the
sunny warmth of Subic Bay, through the mist and fog into Hong Konh Harbor, the flashing
brightness of Pearl Harbor and Panama, the narrow entrance into Kaohsiung, and we mustn't
forget the entrance along the skyline of New York City, to say nothing of San Juan,
Yokosuka and San Francisco. Of course, the greatest of all port calls have been our
wonderful homecomings into our friendly homeport of Norfolk. All these will go down
as stirring memories for us all.
Above all these thoughts of places, and pervading all memories is the vision of you
men, cheerfully performing your duties with such dedication and excellence. As I
have said to you many times before, the spirit of this crew is beyond compare. I
attribute this to the fine attitudes that you have developed and passed on to all
newcomers to THUNDER. Attitudes that recognize the importance of the job to be
done--and the attitude that anything worth doing is worth doing to the best of our
ability. It is this proud attitude that has kept old THUNDER on the top of the
heap--the best of the best! And, it is this attitude that is going to keep her there
for the foreseeable future.
I haven't said a word about our achievements over this past deployment, because these
will be covered in another article later on in this Rapidfire. However, I will say
that our achievements have been considerable. NEWPORT NEWS has once again done
herself proud in action against the enemy. Every last one of us can share in the
pride of accomplishment of THUNDER. Her record has been an ALL HANDS effort and I
can say proudly that we have been a mangificent team! As I bring my last "View
from the bridge" to a close, all I can say to all you fine shipmates is "men of
THUNDER, I salute you." You also are the "best of the best."
May our paths cross again sometime in the future.