USS Newport News CA-148

"Through The Years 1949-1975"

Letters Home

Below are excerpts from letters Mike Lanier HM3 sent home while in WESTPAC - They are offered here to add insight to the narrative of the history. - "I promise to not include any syrupy sh...t" 
To my parents & younger brother



24 SEP 67
Hawaii is truly a wonderland by day or night. The water, mountains, sky, and beaches all look right out of a picture! Three of us rented a car and drove to the other side of the island. The mountains drop straight to the ocean. There are some smaller islands just off shore and they are just beautiful.
I plan to see the Arizona today and I've taken nearly 30 pictures in color. I hope they turn out. Every one on the island seems to like it. Some of the men from the ship were unhappy but you all should save up and come out here. You'd love it.
I most likely won't be able to write you again until we get to Guam at the end of the week. So most likely (Ha! Ha! - I just caught myself using "most likely" in about 6 or 7 different sentences) you won't be able to get me any mail until Subic Bay, middle of the next week. After that we start shooting. We'll be out a good 30 - 40 days.
Must go,

13 OCT 67
From: Where the Action is - Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club

We've been on the line now since Sunday night. Today is our busiest day with 5 missions starting at 0300 and the last one is at 2245 tonight. The other night we shot up 200 rounds of 8" in 3 minutes. We have nine 8" guns and each can fire a round every 6 seconds. If we had to fight our other 3 cruisers in the Pacific we could shoot 27 rounds while all 3 of them could only get off 21 rounds together!
We're giving them hell out there right this minute. We're at GQ now on our second mission today. My job is in sickbay, itself, to help in the OR and Ward in case of a hit or other injury. We were fired on a couple times the other night but the closest missed by a 1000 yards at least. We generally, don't go in any closer that 15,000 yards and never any slower than 15 knots so you can see that they will have a hard time hitting us.
Please tell everyone "Hi" for me,

26 OCT 67

Hi there,
Doing any leaf raking lately? Or is that still to come?
That's one of the nice things about being out here is NO trees! A pretty poor place for a dog though, huh?
We're in sight of the DMZ that divides the two countries. We've been firing at least one of our guns 24 hours a day for the last two days now. They don't tell us too much about what's going on but it must be pretty big.
How are things around Galesburg? I hope you're having a pretty fall. There are so many things in life a person doesn't notice too often until these things are gone. The 4 seasons are truly on of the big things in life.
We haven't had too much excitement since Sunday when we had 7 or 8 NVN prisoners. 3 of them were wounded so we had to take care of them here on the ship. They were in a boat that was blown up by some aircraft. War is hell. We took them down to DaNang where we off loaded them and returned up North for more fire missions just before we came back down to the DMZ.
You'll never guess who walked up to the window here in the pharmacy - lab this morning. That's right - Buck Lanier from San Diego. He's a civilian newspaper reporter who just happened passed looking around and somehow he said his name and away we went. He seems to be good friend of the Admiral, here on the ship. We shot the breeze for well over an hour. (note: I never heard from this guy again!)
I'm enclosing the front page of the ship's paper from a few days ago. The paper comes out almost everyday. We have closed circuit TV movies, plus movies on the mess decks, and a radio station that plays pop music.
I am also learning a lot about anesthesia because in our two "Appy's" I was the "knocker outer".
Must close for now,

5 NOV 67

We're on our way back to the gun line for about 2 days, then we go to Japan for awhile. After that we stay our for around 35 days or so. At least until the 26th of Dec., at which time we go to Subic Bay again for two weeks. I really can't think of anything that I need for Christmas. We have a very good store here on the ship so I can buy most of my needs. Since I've been on on my diet, I don't eat a lot of food so cakes and candy are more or less out.
You might ask Peggy, if there is anything we need for our home, because now we can have the Navy move us. E-5 and above are moved free on orders from one duty station to another. I think they will move Peggy to Norfolk this time. I still have to check on that (well they didn't). We are having holiday "rooty tooty" here today which was a real surprise. I woke up at 10AM and thought that I would most likely be in trouble. But I wasn't...
We are in a storm right now and the ship is rolling quite a bit. I like the ship a lot but I miss being at home.

16 NOV 67

We're in Japan now. We got here Monday Nov. 13th. I went ashore yesterday and looked around. If you ever what knick-knacks, this is the PLACE. Some of it is junk but a lot seems pretty good. I still hope to go to Tokyo. I have a lot of news on a tape that isn't done yet and some pictures that I'll send out before we leave.

23 NOV 67

Well how was the "Bird"? I haven't had mine yet. But I saw the spread, the pilgrims couldn't have had it so good! The Biggest Turkey and Hams I've ever seen!
I had some Pumpkin pie though and it was "almost as good as (Mother's or Peg's) or (Peg's or Mother's) used to make" If I said Grandmother's used to make I guess, I don't have to worry about Top Billing. Ha! Ha!
Have a wonderful day,

25 NOV 67

Dear Dad, Mom and Tim,
I am listening to the music you all and Peggy sent to me. It sure is good. Thanks a MILLION at least. I got the money order today but haven't been able to cash it yet. I have no other money so you can see it came just in time.
The tape recorder is yours for Christmas but I must ask you to wait a few days until the one I'm buying here has a chance to get home. OK. I won't send it until just after Christmas...

19 DEC 67

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 'God Bless us one and all',
Sorry me no write'm. I have no excuse. We have had some very interesting days of late, however. About two hours ago off the DMZ we had 12 rounds splash all around us and last evening we had around 300 - 400 rounds ALL around us. I don't tell you these things to frighten anyone but I think you should know. Last night we really gave'm HELL! We fired over 1,000 rounds at them before we left. 278 rounds of 8" in 7 minutes. You should have heard it. Boom, Boom, Boom, .................... Boom!
I am sending you some pictures of the splashes around the "Can" that's with us. I got Peg's (my wonderful wife!) package today and had some more Christmas thanks for that "Jack" (money - Daniel's) by the way. I sure do miss that girl. I got a Care Package for Granma Nier the other day. There wasn't much left in two hours. She sure knows what's good! I have a lot of news but I'll tape it so as to get it all in and straight.
Have a wonderful Yule Tide.
Your son,

(Photos Below)

3 JAN 68

Happy New Year!
I did have a happy day after Christmas here in Japan. It Snowed!!
I went to Nagasaki, you would never know there had been an "A-Bomb". The train ride up there was the best. The country side is magnificent!!! No pictures could do it justice, but I took some. We're heading back to the line tomorrow so I'll start taping again then. I received the school paper and letter today 3JAN. Mail is still a little slow.
This chapter is all down hill now, 4 more months and I'll be home! K was glad to hear that you all are going to come out. I just know you will get a really big kick out of seeing the ship pull in. I know I will - Ha! Ha!
Must Run,

24 JAN 68

To Mom,
Hi There. A little late but I did remember. I just couldn't get yours and Jan's (my sister) in the mail. Happy Birthday MOM!
We're off the DMZ now for about 6 days. We've been up North until Monday, when the I Corps called for a little HELP!!! from the Grey Ghost from the East Coast. We fire at the enemy around the clock in order to slow them down. We head for 17 days in port at Subic Bay in 10 days or so. All that time on dry land I won't know what to do with myself.
Happy Birthday,
PS: I got that $5 from Dad - Thank you very much
(author's note: at $.25 each, 5 bucks would buy a lot of San Miguel beer straight from the freeze in Olongapo City!)

1 FEB 68

Hi there Lake Folks,
As you can see in the papers the war is really boiling over!! We were to be in port by the 4th but we've been so busy shooting that we had to re-arm in two days instead of three. We will have to go in soon however, to re-line the guns (8"). There is a sleeve that lines the inside of the barrel. The sleeve has grooves that make the projectiles spin as them fly through the air. This spinning gives the shell stability and accuracy.
I haven't taped for a long time but I just didn't feel up to it. I'm sorry! My mood is much improved and I'll tape a letter soon. I promise!
Well, my work load is a bit off now that we have the VD boys under control. Before penicillin and modern medicine VD sure must have wiped out some people...
Mail is going out so I must close,

6 FEB 68

(My 23rd birthday)

Hi there Parkside Hill people,
I have some spare time and so here I am. I received the $5.00 a while back and I can't remember if I thanked or not so THANKS. We're heading for port at long last. 34 days out now! We shot the hell out of them over on the beach. I don't know if we hit anything but we sure must have tore up some real estate. We have change of command tomorrow morning just before entering port. I think the new CO will be as good or better than the one we have now. At least we're not having a BIG DEAL out of all this, thank goodness.
This time out was pretty good as far as the seas rolling etc. The weather was cool and nice. Around 70 deg. most of the time. It was 85 deg. in Subic yesterday so I may try for a suntan (we have two weeks in port - maybe - North Korea, etc.) We'll be home (Norfolk) on the 30th of April as things stand now, but no one say for sure. I hope so though, being at sea is OK if it wasn't for so long.
I'll write more soon,

13 MAR 68

54 Days

Well, only 12 days left on the line and then "HOMEWARD BOUND".
We stop in Subic Bay for 3 days, Hong Kong for 5, Yokosuka for 6 and then straight home on the 6th of April (I think), but will be in Norfolk ON TIME!! - 30th of April.
Not much news. We're off the DMA shooting like MAD. We're taking on Ammo 3 out of 5 days when before it was 1 out of 3 days. We are really having a war over here now. I'm sure the news there at home is telling you about it but there's NO doubt.
Have a Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad!!
Will close for now, Much Love,

13 MAR 68 (AGAIN)

57 Days  

Well, it happened!!! We just received word that the BOSTON (our relief) will be 10 days late. This is not absolute but sill be late for sure... As things are now we're to go as far as Hong Kong as scheduled and then after Hong Kong come back to the line for 10 days. After that however, there has been no word as to where we'll be going... We may not come back because we're just about out of Ammo. We're the only one who shoots this kind and we've really been shooting like MAD,
Much Love,

Thank you Mike for sharing your thoughts with us and the rest of the world