“Battle Patrol” off Viet Nam

By Bill Mulcahy Torpedoman 2nd


I was a crewman, Torpedoman 2nd, during 1961-1962. In February of 1962 Whitehurst was underway for WestPac along with Escort Division 71. For about 60 days we operated officially in the South China Sea and the Gulf of Siam. In reality we were on "junk" patrol along the coast of Vietnam and were conducting training of Vietnamese naval officers. To my knowledge, few people understood the extent of "advisory" assistance we were giving to Vietnam at this early date. We actually were anchored off of Danang (a bustling military and logistics port even then) for a brief time before stationing ourselves on patrol duty. To the best of my recollection, during that time we operated independently of any other sister ships. And we had at least one intercept with a "junk" which ended without incident. I know because I had the duty that night and was assigned to "cover" the junk with an automatic rifle as the OOD investigated the situation.

This somewhat veiled stint in 1962 (it wasn't even acknowledged in our cruise book) was, I believe, the beginning of any subsequent service which any US Naval "ships of the line" would see in Vietnam. If we were not the first, we were certainly among the first few ships to serve on "battle patrol" in the Vietnam Theatre. I believe the crew earned a campaign ribbon
* for our involvement yet it was not widely discussed and I have never seen mine. Perhaps the episode was erased from the records. 

As a final thought, the majority of the crew also had the experience of "landing" on Viet Namese soil, for "R/R" purposes and I suspect to validate our presence in Vietnam. It was in a remote, southerly location, which I cannot identify. I do remember it as a beautiful spot with a fabulous beach. We set up a rifle team as "picket" between a small village and the beach to protect the crew picnic. Everything went smoothly except for the swimming. The water was filled with jellyfish and they inflicted some heavy "battle stings" on about half the crew. No one was nominated for a Purple Heart.

Cmdr. Don MacLane was the commanding officer at the time. USS Whitehurst on

By Bill Mulcahy Torpedoman 2nd
* It was for the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. Click
Patches and scroll to the bottom to see the write up and a picture of the medal.  mc

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