Flak Jacket

During the WesPac of 1972-73, my battle station was in the 02 level Missile Radar Rm, along with several other FTMs.  "Elmo" Vaughn manned Missile Radar console #2, I was on #3.  We had endured numerous nights of Operation Linebacker (after 25 occassions we stopped counting), where we (along with at least 2 other destroyers), at night, darkened ship, would attack targets in North Vietnam.  It was not uncommon to exchange fire with the VC shore batteries, which were 175mm having a range of 15 miles.  Needless to say, surrounded as we were by only aluminum bulkheads up on the 02 level, the sound of 175mm incoming was not very welcome.  Elmo and I would have a contest to see how much of our bodies we could get either under our steel helmets our inside our flak-jackets, and at the same time be able to man our consoles.

One day we got on board a new FTM1 (I can't recall his name).  A few days later we headed back up north for yet another tour of Operation Linebacker.  As we started in for a 'run' at about 0200 one morning, Elmo and I went through our standard routine of stuffing ourselves under what little protection out helmets and flak-jackets offered.  Well, the new 1st Class (had never taken hostile fire before) thought we were being silly, so he sat down between our console seats, sitting on his flak-jacket.  A couple of minutes later a 175mm round exploded over the ship (remember we're on the 02 level), and I have never, ever, seen anyone get a flak-jacket on as fast at that 1st Class!  Welcome to Operation Linebacker!!


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