The Ship and Her History, Part I
The following has been contributed
by John B. Connolly, President
of the USS BUCK (DD-761) ASSOCIATION.
The second destroyer bearing the Buck name, a SUMNER class destroyer, was launched 11 March 1945, by the Bethlehem Steel Co., San Francisco California; sponsored by Miss Mary Nimitz, daughter of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz; and commissioned 28 June 1946, with Commander H.H.Nielsen in command.
Following completion of her shakedown cruise in September of 1946, Commander F.M.Christiansen, USN, relieved Commander Nielsen as Commanding Officer. The turn of the new year found the BUCK operating along the west coast from Acapulco, Mexico to Ketchikan, Alaska. During April the BUCK carried reserve midshipmen on a training cruise. Again a change of command took place in February 1947 with Commander R.J.Ovrom, USN, relieving Commander Christiansen. It may be noted that from the time of her launching until January of 1947, the BUCK had insufficient crew and served in a reduced status. When she finally got to sea it served as a training ship for varied west coast Naval organizations including the General Line School at Monterey.
On 19 March 1948, Commander Enrique Haskins, USN, relieved Commander Ovrom.
In December 1948, the BUCK in company with the JOHN W. THOMASON (DD-760) operated in the Orient visiting Pearl Harbor, Midway, Yokosuka, Tsingtao, Shanghai, Amoy, and Hong Kong.
While on this tour of duty, Admiral E.E.Herrman, USN, Commander TF 71, declared the BUCK the "Smartest Destroyer" in TF 71. In the middle of 1949 the BUCK returned to San Diego as part of DesDiv 71 and again engaged in reserve cruises. She also took part in "Operation Miki" in the Hawaiian Island area. During the latter part of 1949 the ship was selected to star in the motion picture "The Skipper Surprised His Wife."
On 16 July 1949, Commander Ellsworth N. Smith, USN, relieved Commander Haskins as Commanding Officer of the BUCK. In January of 1950, the BUCK along with the JOHN W. THOMASON and the carrier USS BOXER, toured the Far East for the second time. In late April of 1950, the ship returned to the United States and entered the San Francisco Navy Yard for an overhaul period. Shortly after getting out of dry dock, the BUCK assisted in a night time search for survivors of a collision of a hospital ship near San Francisco.
In September of 1950 the Chinese Communists invaded South Korea initiating the Korean Conflict which lasted until 1953. As part of Destroyer Division 71, the BUCK left the United States for duty with the United Nations forces in Korea. With Task Force 77 in Korea the ship participated in screening, plane guard, air sea rescue, bombardment, and countless other duties of destroyers.
During this action the BUCK and JOHN W THOMASON suffered considerable damage in a collision involving the two ships. The BUCK was ordered back to the west coast for repairs after a temporary bow was installed in Sasebo, Japan. Clint Joyce, a Storekeeper aboard at the time, relates the following account of the collision:
" I was in the supply office the night of 11 November 1950, when the ship collided doing about 22 knots. My first thought was that Andy Anderlik SKI was going to be pretty angry as his coffee cup sailed through the air and smashed to pieces on the deck. There were three impacts as the ships rolled. The first pinned some Chiefs at their table in the Chief's quarters, the second threw them clear and the third tore a gaping hole in the bulkhead where they had been sitting. Earlier in the day we had taken on mail and supplies and brought a new Chief aboard. He was the most seriously injured with a broken leg. There would have been many more injuries but the forward crew compartments were deserted because those not on watch were in the mess hall watching a movie. It was a strange feeling manning the 20 MM during general quarters following the collision and wondering if the ship would sink. The BUCK sailed into Wonsan the next morning and tied up next to the KERMIT ROOSEVELT, a repair ship. A typhoon was expected between there and Japan and it was felt that the BUCK was not sea worthy enough to make it back to Japan until temporary repairs were made. My recollection was that we arrived in Wonsan on 12 November and departed 9 December and the port was taken by Communist forces on 10 December. The BUCK sailed from there to Sasebo, Japan where she was placed in a very large drydock which was large enough to accommodate a battleship. There were poles all around the ship to the edge of the drydock which some adventurous sailors used to gain unauthorized liberty during the nighttime hours. The BUCK was fitted with a temporary bow, which was more like an LST bow, and plowed through the water rather than knifing through like a destroyer should. About three days out of Bremerton I recall the ship going through a violent storm producing severe rolls, at least one of which registered 52 degrees. I was too frightened to go below decks and sat up in the supply office all night typing W-2 forms."
Between January and March of 1951, the BUCK underwent repairs at Bremerton, Washington, and then returned to Korean waters arriving 30 April, 195 1. Upon rejoining TF-77 off the coast of Korea, the BUCK spent 47 consecutive days at sea in operation with the U.N.Forces. During the latter part of May the ship was assigned to shore bombardment and with the JOHN W. THOMASON provided a screen for the battleship NEW JERSEY. In July the BUCK returned to San Diego where she underwent a repair period before commencing "underway training exercises".
In January 1952, under the command of Commander Robert E.Odening, USN, the BUCK, along with the three other destroyers of DesDiv 71 set out for the third tour of duty in the Western Pacific. The transit across the Pacific began in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, then to Midway Island for a fuel stop, and on to Yokosuka, Japan arriving on January 19. The record places the BUCK with the Task Force off Korea on the fifth of February where the ship operated until early March when the BUCK returned to Yokosuka. The ship engaged in ASW exercises between Okinawa and Japan for a few weeks and returned to Yokosuka. The following months of April and May were spent with the Task Force, Japan, and again to Okinawa for additional ASW work.
The following three weeks from May 28 to June 19 the BUCK was with Task Force 95 engaged in continuous shore bombardment of the Korean east coast. By late June the ship was again headed back to the United States with the usual stops at Midway and Pearl Harbor.
On 11 July, 1952, the BUCK entered San Diego Harbor completing another tour of duty in WestPac. In late July the ship proceeded to Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California for a three month overhaul period. In early November the ship returned to her home port of San Diego.
The following Mare Island newspaper article further described life aboard the Buck during this era.
LIFE ABOARD DESTROYER IS NOT BORING - BY Milton
Take it from men who should know, life aboard a Navy destroyer operating in Korean waters is seldom if ever dull. If the crusty little "cans" aren't engaged in knocking out shore batteries or other targets of opportunity, they are doing a bit of rescue work or sometimes just giving a family-loaded Korean sampan a tow to safer waters. And although Uncle Sam's Navy isn't getting any naval opposition off either Korean coat, and little aerial opposition, nonetheless every ship in the area, especially the destroyers which come pretty close into shore faces the constant threat of mines and shore batteries. Four destroyers which arrived for overhaul a few days ago at Mare Island Shipyard after a six month tour of duty in the war zones, came through unscathed but they had their share of troubles and a slight amount of fun, it was disclosed yesterday by their skippers and crew.
THE 'CANS' are the USS Lofberg, the John W. Thomason, the Buck and the John A. Bole, making up Destroyer Squadron 7, Division 71, which operated with Task Force 77. Although they were fired upon more than once during their work in the battle areas, none suffered a hit and they sailed back to home waters with a "no damage record". But the damage they inflicted upon enemy installations was plenty, although their skippers could not give specific figures for security reasons. Several thousand pounds of ammunition were fired. However, they'll have you know that whenever it was necessary to keep a North Korean railroad immobilized, for instance, the destroyers carried out their commission in ship-shape manner. That's the object of the destroyers work, anyway--to keep knocking out such targets as transport facilities along the coasts in a methodical sort of way. And when something unusual comes up in the line of duty, you can get it out of the ship's skipper by a little questioning and yet not spill any official secrets.
TAKE FOR instance the time the Bole was operating off the West coast of Korea with Allied ships and British planes. A British plane was nicked by enemy fire and ditched into the sea. The Bole according to Cmdr. H. G. Leahy saw to it a helicopter rescued the Briton and took him aboard. " His wingman was still up" Cmdr Leahy said and spotted the shore battery that knocked his pal down. We asked him if he would like us to get the gun that did the dirty work and he said he would be most pleased. "Although he was still in great pain from burns and injuries, we rigged the radio so that he could listen in while his wingman gave us the pitch on the shore battery and we knocked it out. He told us it was great sport."
LEAHY SAID that on the West Coast American, British, Dutch and Australian warships are all working together in keeping targets of opportunity knocked out. Lt. Comdr. John Krenz, Executive officer of the Buck, revealed that American destroyers often play good samaritans to South Korean families who can't resist going north in their sampans to see their relatives, or North Korean refugees who start out for the south to get something to eat. "We call the sampans wiggle-sticks," said Krenz because they propel them by sort of wiggling a long oar. I remember the Buck picking up one which had a man, his wife, a young boy and four little kids on it. We took them aboard and fed them a good meal and then towed them into South Korean waters. They told us the North Koreans are about starved out. I wouldn't know about that, but these people certainly ate as they they were starved.
"The whole job of the destroyers," said Comdr. E.W. Dobie, skipper of the Lofberg," is pretty methodical a program, interdiction fire and knocking out all targets of opportunity."
DOBIE ADDED that the destroyers, along with other fighting craft, give considerable support to ground troops in what they call the" bomb line H areas. The "bomb line" they explained is when the actual ground front line gets close enough to the coast so that naval vessels can aid troops on land by bombarding. Dobie, Capt Richard E. Myers squadron commander, Leahy, Comdr W.K. Ratliff, skipper of the Thomason and Krenz all agreed on one thing --that helicopters are now playing a most vital role in air-sea rescue work. "They are improving every day, " said Capt Myers, whose home is in Walnut Creek, and I think the day is not too far off when they will be just about the best method there is for rescuing downed fliers.
Capt Myers branched off from the subject of helicopters for a moment to discuss the 1200 men of the squadron. He called them "bluejackets". "The bluejacket of today is about the finest there is ", he said. "We had a fairly large number of new men aboard our four ships and they came through all the bombardments in fine style. They're excellent boys and we are pretty proud of them."
IN ADDITION to duty off the Korean coasts, the destroyers also spent a few weeks training with submarines and another six weeks in the Formosa patrol, the allied naval line established to prevent any attempted Formosa invasion by Chinese communists. About the only breather the ships had was a few days shore leave in Hong Kong and in Sasebo, Japan. The four destroyers left San Diego Jan. 4 and got back there July 11. They steamed some 60,000 miles on this tour, and operated the entire six months "with out losing a day, according to Capt. Meyers. "It was a routine job but he tour was a good one," he added. "All our ships were shot at, by none got hit."
Comdr. Dobie lives in Piedmont, Ratliff in Okemah, Okla, Krenz in Arcadia and Leahy in Washington, D.C. They and their men are enjoying well earned rest and leaves while the ships are being overhauled.
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On 21 February 1953, the BUCK departed San Diego commencing another tour of duty in WestPac where she followed a familiar pattern of operations steaming as a member of Task Forces 72, 77, 95 and 96.7. While with TF 95, the BUCK was credited with silencing several enemy guns on the west coast of Korea and gave active support to friendly islands north of the front lines.
During this tour the ship visited ports in Formosa (Taiwan), Hong Kong, Okinawa, Yokosuka and Sasebo in Japan, in addition to her operating time off the east and the west coast of Korea.
Three days prior to the signing of the cease fire armistice, Destroyer Division 71 proceeded to Yokosuka, Japan, for upkeep and logistics. The truce in Korea was signed on 27 July 1953, but the routine with Task Force 77 continued unabated. On 8 August 1953, the Division rejoined TF 77 for a three week period but was soon detached and ordered to proceed to the United States as escort for the carrier USS PRINCETON. Docking at San Diego on 22 September 1953, the BUCK concluded a seven month absence from the United States.
In October, Commander Gerald W.Rahill relieved Commander Odening as Commanding Officer of the BUCK.
The ship left San Diego for WestPac on 20 April 1954, embarking for the first time since the Korean truce. After the routine stops in Pearl Harbor, Midway, and Yokosuka, the ship proceeded to Formosa stopping in Koahsiung to refuel prior to commencing the Formosa Patrol. Later ports of call included Manila, Hong Kong, and Sasebo, Japan. The 1954 tour of duty was summed up by Commander Rahill in the following message found in the 1954 Buck Cruise Book:
"Our 1954 tour of duty in WestPac has been a memorable one. We have done a real job for Uncle Sam, both as fighting men standing guard in a strategic area on the perimeter of the Free World's defenses, and as 'Ambassadors of Good Will'. Along with some rough times, hard work, and rugged living conditions, we've had a lot of fun too. We have gained knowledge and understanding of our fellow men...not only those in the Far East, but also our own shipmates...as the result of this cruise. These experiences will continue to meaningful to us for years to come.
May this book, now and in the future years when you dust if off and start thumbing through it, bring pleasant memories...Hawaii, Japan, Formosa, Hong Kong, the Philippines...and a sense of pride in the role you played in the Cold War...where we saw some shooting, and stood ready to defend our American principles of Democratic Freedom, and the Faith of our Fathers.
Your pride is justified: you have made a splendid record, and have been fine shipmates in a clean, taut, happy ship. I'm proud to have served with you. Good luck and smooth sailing."
Excerpt From 1954 Cruise Book:
The BUCK'S journey of 1954 to the ever reaching expanse of the sometimes Pacific Ocean has come to (in sailor's nomenclature) a screeching halt. We have traveled hither and yon; made scores of startling discoveries; purchased numerous presents for our loved ones at home; spent many days swimming and sun bathing in the exalted and glorious tropical waters; and have, in various other ways, contributed to the United Nations effort of keeping peace in the troubled areas.
Sitting aloft the Radar antenna, watching the world spin past (the ET's finally have the thing working), reminds us of several incidents that have made our trip noteworthy?if not spectacular. Our Navy way of living is governed generally by the laws and by-laws of the popular best seller, "UCMJ." Generally, our real existence has been framed from the humorous, incidental episodes that happen daily; in port or underway?such as our first stop on the way to Babysan country in the land of "Aloha," commonly referred to by civilians as Hawaii. Honolulu, as will be recalled, has its famous street like San Francisco's Market and New York's Broadway. This wide avenue of tourists' delight, filled with fresh fruit juice stands and other establishments beckoning to the sailors, is called Hotel Street.
Several athletic events took place in Hawaii. Among those that drew the greatest attention was the softball massacre between Operations and Supply. Needless to say, Operations, behind the flawless and fearless, though weaving, bare foot running displayed by John B. (All present and accounted for, Sir) Connolly, thoroughly trounced Shanley's slaphappy pot and pan boys. Refreshments were available?which probably had a great deal to do with the track meet that followed the football game that followed the softball contest. (Operations won these also. ) On this same day at another field, it was rumored that the Gunnery and Engineering Departments were indulging . . . in a softball game. Whether this game was played and the nature of the outcome has never been determined due to the state of amnesia prevailing over the players from both departments?probably caused by the sun.
A few miles away lies the famous Waikiki Beach, where the midsummers' night breeze coupled with the romantic splendor of the rippling surfsides brings out the thoughts in men that have been running through our fair opposites' minds all year. "I sure could go for a glass of beer."
It is not too vivid an incident, but one that we more than likely all remember. It happened at Midway, where, because of the hugeness of the Island and the dangerous forests and jungles, our mail was somewhat delayed due to "Speedy" Mendez being attacked by ferocious Goony Birds?not only causing him to lose his compass?but also forcing him to blaze through a trail heretofore unconquered. (That also includes the Lewis and Clark expedition.)
After leaving Midway, we realized the preliminaries were over. We were on our way to the forward area. Six months of grueling training in the States had been completed. We were past the halfway point. The tension was mounting. Men had that determined look in their eyes. THIS WAS IT!!! Six more months of training in WestPac before returning to the States.
We arrived in Yokosuka and everyone was ready to "hit the beach" for a little rest and relaxation! This city is a very interesting port in which to pull liberty because of the many and varied things to do. To name a few: Hiking, athletic endeavors (for the hearty), tours of the town (among the more picturesque places in Yokosuka for camera fans are two wax museums Jimmysan's and Grand Shima), and last but not least, a stop in at one of the few taverns on the way back to the ship for a tall, cool Hot Saki.
Armed Forces Day found us in Tokyo walking up or down Ginza Cho. While we were there, we had the pleasure of being host to a very fine group of Japanese children, who expressed their gratitude by saying "May God keep you safe and enable you to do good work."
Upon leaving Yokosuka, the Chief Buckaneer took us to Formosa, where the climate is comparable to South Africa except more-so. It was in this port that Rivers and Riefer?staunch in body and spirits, daily, volunteered for Shore Patrol duty. They have since been recommended for the Taiwan Liberation Citation. Another little incident occurred while Hunter and Paradis were attempting to return to the ship from liberty one night. They were evidently trying to better Vassar's one mile rowing record; however, they made one variation to the Intercollegiate rules and did their mile in circles.
While operating off Korea, a history making event occurred. A submarine suddenly came alongside and offered us three buckets of sand. The skipper of the fish turned out to be none other than our First Lieutenant, Sandman Gibbs, and his Six Shoveling Saki Sippers. ("Somebody shoved us from aft and we broached.")
Our next stop, Hong Kong, consisted of an immense populace packed into a small area containing hundreds of different dialects and thousands of tailors, (Chiang, you made the pants too long!) In this port, we bought enough clothes and presents to last ten years.
We steamed east and north from Hong Kong along the China coast and entered the port of Sasebo, Japan. Sasebo is comprised of Matsu Lodge and Club Senorita. Musters were held daily at these establishments?there were never any absentees We all noted the mystery of the small taxi cabs there. They were always large enough going into town, but trying to get in them on the way back was practically impossible?the way they kept moving.
Of the two ports we hit in the Philippines, Manila was by far the bestus with the mostus. Wonderful tours of the city, a close and thorough inspection of the San Miguel Brewery (this command furnished several official testers for the merchandise), and orchestras and singers typical of stateside quality, were just a few of the entertainments available. It was here that a famous slogan came into being?"Where were you between 2300, 28 August 1954, and 0200, 29 August 1954?"
We now hit the part of the cruise that we had all been eagerly anticipating; Okinawa and ten days of ASW exercises. Fun for all hands!! The capital of Okinawa is the NCO Club, located at Rycom. It has been said that Greenamyer, who has made four trips to this particular port, can't ever remember seeing the sun go down. Bad eyes??
The best part of our entire cruise came after the ASW excursion?going back to Yokosuka for hiking, tours, and a bang-up Ship's Party that was enjoyed by all. Leaving Japan terminated one cruise. Heading for the ol' USA commenced another one; the one we had been waiting for!!
The yearbook also described the duties of the various divisions as follow:
FIRST DIVISION - is primarily responsible for the cleanliness, preservation and water tight integrity of almost all of the outside surfaces of the ship forward of frame 116. In addition it maintains the Captain's gig and numerous inside and below deck spaces, including the deck hand's Heaven --THE BOATSWAINS LOCKER.
In seamanship exercises, such as fueling at sea, high line transfer, mooring or anchoring, the First Division mans the forward stations. Needless to say, line are always handled smartly and seamanship exercises completed expeditiously.
With stalwart men, high morale, and the scourge of the Seven Seas (Captain Kidd Hoyal), the First Division is, according to Bobcat Hamill, "real cool".
SECOND DIVISION turns to constantly to insure that the main deck, Ol deck and inside spaces aft of frame 116 look taut. The "Dauntless Deuces" actually enjoy working because of " Happy Hour" which is held daily in the "Second Division Gear Locker.
During Special Sea Detail, these men are responsible for raising and lowering the boat, rigging the brow, and handling fenders amidships. For fueling at sea, they man the after fueling station. Under the capable leadership of Jack "got a chaw" Hayhurst, the men of the Second are noted for getting things done. This is especially true when the "Tigers" are supervising the rugged BANDY BOYS.
"G" DIVISION Is home for the Torpedo men, Gunners Mates and Fire Control men. They not only maintained the ordinance equipment, but had it ready for operation at a moments notice. In gunnery exercises and in overall performance, they excelled. Not only do they have outstanding men in the Division, but also the notorious "Texas Terror, Shayne Bradley:"
"R" DIVISION These men could all be called "Johnny-on-the-Spot". When a piece of gear was 180 degrees out of phase, or a leak developed in a pipe --in fact, if any emergency occurred -- the men of "R" Division were there. With a gleam in their eyes, a determined look on their faces, and their tools in hand, they'd TURN TO. Their motto: "If we can't fix it, it hasn't been invented".
"E" DIVISION These are the men who took the ship out of San Diego, the men who haven't heard that something can't be done. Through fair weather and foul, with normal boiler operation or engineering casualty, they have always managed to see that the BUCK was "on station and ready". Whether operations consisted of station keeping, or fast carrier task group maneuvers, these men answered ALL BELLS. To the "Snipes", who took the U.S.S. BUCK from the States, and saw to it that she returned with "all boilers boiling", there is but one thing to say --WELL DONE!
"C" DIVISION The Communications Division is comprised of all personnel related with external communications. The division contains the rates of Radioman, Teleman, and Quartermaster. The Radioman controls all radio, CW circuits and routes all messages sent to and originating from the ship. The Quartermaster is responsible for all visual signaling and maintenance of the signal bridge, pilot house and open bridge. The Teleman controls all teletype communications and is responsible for the ship's post office.
These men of "C" Division are commonly referred to as the"eyes and ears of the ship." Nothing in the way of communications, be it urgent or routine, leaves or comes into the ship without someone in "C" Division seeing it or hearing it. It is these men who are responsible for the fasted media on the U.S.S. BUCK, something faster than even a Saber Jet --News travelling from the bridge to the crew's mess hall!
"O" DIVISION The Electronics Technicians, Radarmen, and Yeomen, with their tube testers, maneuvering boards, and typewriters, comprise the"O. Division. After day is done, the repairs, maneuvers and filing completed, these men hasten to a compartment that is HOME to them. There, a kind word and a coup of Java always awaits their arrival. This haven is called CIC, to the uniformed, "Combat Information Center", but more realistically, "Cripes, I'm Confused"!
"S"DIVISION All the while on this WestPac cruise, the men of Supply fed the Buckaneers, paid them, kept them stocked with necessities and luxuries, and even saw to it that they were supplied with "Cokes". For their many services and the extra time that they gave so willingly, one can only say, very humbly, "Thanks fellas"!
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A report by Commander Rahill to the Director of Naval History dated 26 October 1955, provided the following information:
"Taking part in PAC-TRAEX and type training, she remained in U.S. waters until 20 April 1954. Then with her usual "on station and ready", she left with Des Div 71 for her fifth WestPac cruise which ended on 17 October 1954 at San Diego. The BUCK spent three months in overhaul at Mare Island Naval Shipyard and returned to San Diego in February 1955. She continued with training exercises until deploying with Destroyer Squadron 7 and the USS HORNET (CVA-12), for her sixth WestPac tour. The BUCK arrived in WestPac on 13 June 1955, where she operated with Task Forces 70, 72, and 77 and participated in two SAR missions. She is currently preparing for homeward voyage with Destroyer Squadron Seven. The present Commanding Officer, Commander G.W.Rahill is scheduled to be relieved by Commander C.N.G.Hendrix, USN, upon arrival of the BUCK in San Diego,14 November 1955."
Since the Korean War the BUCK has made five more trips to the Orient. During the tour in 1956 she rushed to the aid of the Norwegian freighter ALA, which was on fire. Due to the fine team work of the BUCK and the other ships of Des Div 71, the ALA was saved and towed back into Hong Kong.
The following is a news report concerning an explosion aboard the BUCK during a WestPac tour in 1956:
"On the morning of 27 September 1956, during a controlled gunnery exercise, the BUCK suffered a tragic mishap when the left barrel of Mount 51 prematurely exploded due to a faulty projectile. Eight men in the mount and in the handling room below suffered shrapnel wounds and second and third degree burns. Allen D. Howard, SN, powderman, was fatally wounded. The crew acted courageously without regard to personal danger by fighting and extinguishing fires and jettisoning remaining live ammunition to prevent further serious damage. The quick and thorough action of the repair parties in putting out electrical fires, repairing ruptured piping, and patching holes in the hull made it possible for the BUCK to make it safely back to port. With emergency tender assistance and the ?Can Do? Spirit of the entire ship's company the BUCK was able to report Ready for Sea within three days."
The BUCK arrived back in San Diego on 24 February 1957 concluding the WestPac tour. The ship, while part of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, patrolled the Formosan Straits and operated as a unit of a fast carrier task force. On three occasions she aided in search and rescue missions, one time saving 13 ship wrecked Chinese Nationalist fishermen. While with the fleet, the BUCK visited Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, and Guam.
In 1957, THE BUCK visited such ports as Pearl Harbor, Pago Pago, Auckland, New Zealand, Subic Bay, Philippines, Yokosuka, Sasebo, and Fukuoka, Japan. While guarding the carrier USS BON HOMME RICHARD, during that tour, the BUCK rescued a downed pilot from 10 foot waves.
The remainder of the ship s history is largely dependent on historical information provided by the Commanding Officer of the BUCK to the Chief of Naval Operations. There are lapses in the time sequences resulting in broken timeline continuity.
From: E Muhlenfeld, Commanding Officer, USS BUCK (DD-761)
1 January 1958 found the USS BUCK (DD-761) approaching Pearl Harbor from the west enroute to San Diego, California, to complete her WestPac tour. 10 January she tied up in her home port, San Diego, and commenced several weeks of recuperation, rest, and repair.
February, March, and April saw the BUCK undergoing type training, operating as ASW school ship, and taking several weeks of plane guard duty.
A mishap early in May led to a lengthy diagnosis and repair which kept the BUCK almost landlocked until August, when she successfully completed sea trials in preparation for a pending WestPac tour.
10 September saw the BUCK depart for WestPac as part of DesDiv 71. She arrived in Yokosuka, Japan, by way of Pearl Harbor and Midway to spend the last few months of 1958 plane guarding, patrolling the Formosan Straits, and managed to visit Hong Kong, Manila, Kaoshiung, and Japan in this busy period for short spells of repair and recreation."
Commander E.Muhlenfeld relieved Commander Hendrix on 9 September and served as Captain until 6 March 1959.
1959 found the BUCK, fresh from a well deserved yard overhaul and a concentrated period of training, ready to return to WestPac. In November 1959 the BUCK was once again operating in the Western Pacific visiting such ports as Hong Kong, Beppu and Yokosuka, Japan, and Kaoshiung, Taiwan before returning to San Diego on 13 May 1960.
The beginning of 1961 found the BUCK once more on her way to WestPac where her initial stop was Yokosuka, Japan. Her tender period at Yokosuka was cut short however by the "Laotian Crisis". On departing Yokosuka, the BUCK escorted Amphibs to Subic Bay, P.I. From the ship's initial arrival at Subic Bay until late in the cruise, she stayed in the South China Sea. For a time during Operation "Pony Express" she was known as HMAS BUCK since she was the only U.S. ship operating with RN and Australian Forces. Subsequently she did return to the Seventh Fleet to meet all of her commitments. Hong Kong, B.C.C.; Olongapo, P.I.; and Kaoshiung, Taiwan were the ports of call and the carrier BON HOMME RICHARD was the BUCK?s constant companion.
On 14 September 1961, the BUCK returned to Conus for a short period of local operations prior to entering the Long Beach Shipyard for a FRAM II conversion. On December 15 she entered the shipyard for her six month overhaul and modernization.
From: Commanding Officer, USS BUCK (DD-761)
In January 1963, the BUCK became the first destroyer in the fleet to qualify operationally in the DASH (Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter) program. The DASH weapons system, consisting of two drone helicopters and associated weapons, being launched, controlled, weapons fired, and landed on board the ship by remote control.
February through April was spent participating in local operations in the Southern California area prior to deployment to WestPac. From May to December the ship was deployed in WestPac with CRUDESFLOT SEVEN. During this deployment, the BUCK participated in ASW and AAW Exercises and was assigned to the Taiwan Patrol Force. During the deployment, the ship visited Hawaii, Japan, Okinawa, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. The remainder of the year was spent in leave and upkeep status prior to completion of her WestPac deployment.
January of 1964 found the BUCK engaged in shore bombardment services for the training of U.S.Marine Corps Shore Fire Control parties at Pyramid Cove, San Clemente Island. During March the ship requalified in the DASH Program following six weeks of intensive training during which time two QH-50C drones were brought aboard. The requalification was accomplished by scoring a direct hit on the target submarine, and several equally impressive successes.
On 11 July 1964, Commander H.L.Carpenter relieved Commander H.F.Wiley as Commanding Officer of the BUCK in ceremonies at Broadway Pier in San Diego.
During August, the BUCK operated with the USS HANCOCK (CVA-19) and other destroyers, providing plane guard services and participating in other exercises. During part of this operation, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Morse was embarked on the HANCOCK as a guest of COMCARDIV SEVEN. On 5 August, the BUCK conducted a DASH demonstration for Mr.Morse, landing and recovering DASH and flying the drone past the carrier at close ranges. A "Well Done" was received from COMCARDIV SEVEN for a "Very Impressive Demonstration."
September and October was spent in Anti-Air and AntiSubmarine exercises along the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and Southern California. During November, the ship was assigned an RAV at Long Beach Naval Shipyard and entered drydock for underwater hull and sonar maintenance. The final month of the year was spent in preparations required for deployment to WestPac.
Note: Historical records for the years 1965, 1966, and 1967 were not provided by the Naval Historical Center. Clint Joyce recalled taking his wife and two children aboard the Buck in San Francisco on Navy Day in 1966 or 67. He showed various crew members pictures taken after the Buck-Thomason collision and the family was invited to the Officers Ward Room where the children enjoyed a coke while their Dad told interested parties all about the collision.
Gamble McCarthy provided the following information on 1966 cruise.
About the middle of June we left San Diego, Ca. & returned home December 1966 from a west pac. cruise. While on this cruise The Buck made stops at the Hawaiian Island, Midway, Guam, Subic Bay (many times) Hong Kong, Zamboanga, PI., Yokohama, Japan. While on this cruise most of the time was used as plane guard for carriers, other time we were on the gun line for gunfire support. The operation I remember was call MARKETIME.
Commanding Officer was CDR. Emil Steiger Roth. While on this cruise we were visited by Arthur Godfrey. Cruise Statistics:
From: Commanding Officer, USS BUCK, Paul J. Mode
New Year's day of 1968 found the BUCK at Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin actively engaged in her thirteenth deployment to the Western Pacific. Having had three wartime cruises during the Korean Conflict and six to the waters of Vietnam (since 1961), duty in combat was not a new experience for this ship.
This cruise was highlighted by a change of command in the port of Sasebo, Japan where LCDR Paul J Mode, USN, relieved Commander Emil S.Roth as Commanding Officer. The change of command was conducted on 27 January, 1968.
The ship s mission was routinely altered enroute to her home port of San Diego in March, when at the direction of CINPACFLT she was shifted from the Seventh Fleet to the First Fleet. During her deployment to the Western Pacific, the BUCK operated actively with the U.S.Forces inside and outside the combat zone. Once back in the First Fleet, her mission was aligned with maintaining a high degree of readiness while training her crew and improving material conditions.
Upon completion of her deployment, the BUCK arrived in San Diego on 23 March and commenced an inport post deployment leave period followed by ISE starting 14 May. Following training periods the BUCK entered the San Francisco Navy Yard for a period of 11 July to 17 October, during which time a $950,000.00 overhaul was effected resulting in new equipment and improvements. Following a training period concluded on 20 December, the ship spent the remainder of 1968 inport for the holidays.
1 Jan. Underway in WestPac at Yankee Station, Gulf of Tonkin.
The narrative covering 1969 is barely legible so the extraction will be missing certain detail.
The first three months of 1969 were spent, for the most part, in local Southern California operating areas and in the BUCK's home port of San Diego with the Seventh Fleet. After the strain and tension of a typical WestPac cruise, the two months spent at the end of the year for leave and upkeep were much appreciated by the officers and men of the BUCK.
The first at-sea period was from 13-16 January in which she steamed independently in Southern California waters. Later the BUCK took an active part in First Fleet training by acting as ASW school ship giving future ASW officers some practical experience of their classroom theories. The ship then took part in COMPTVEX9-69 OPERATION GOLD ONE and OPERATION BELL JANGLE in the waters around San Diego.
On 16 April the BUCK was underway with the ORISKANY and other destroyers for Pearl Harbor and thence to the waters off Vietnam. This was the ship s fourteenth deployment to the Western Pacific in her long and action filled history. Commander Paul Mode was in command and the crew was honed to a razor?s edge. On 29 April the ship has bound for Yokosuka when, one day prior to entering port, the BUCK was informed by the Secretary of the Navy that she had been nominated as one of the three finalists for the 1969 Edward F.Key Memorial Award. The nomination was regarded as an outstanding achievement considering the great number of vessels eligible for the award.
Following Yokosuka, again at sea, the BUCK detected an unidentified submarine and commenced tracking. For several days the ship coordinated the prosecution of the contact using aircraft and surface craft alike. After a stop in Kaohsiung, Taiwan for refueling the BUCK proceeded to Yankee Station in the Tonkin Gulf where she assisted in escorting the USS KING (DDG-10) a victim of an engineering casualty, to Subic Bay. The ship then returned to Yankee Station for duties as rescue and plane guard destroyer.
On 2 July, the BUCK was informed that she was first runnerup for the Key Award, an award heartily deserved. During the following month, the ship visited Bangkok, Thailand, Subic Bay, Hong Kong, and experienced further duty in the Gulf. Following Hong Kong the ship spent 34 days at sea in Yankee Station and on the gunline providing Naval gunfire support. In the fifteen days on the gunline, the BUCK alone accounted for thirty-one bunkers destroyed, thirty damaged, Six structures destroyed in addition to firing numerous unobserved missions into known enemy base areas.
Following visits to Sasebo and Buckner Bay, Okinawa, the ship headed for San Diego on 19 October 1969.
On 10 November Commander Dale W.Duncan, USN, relieved Commander Paul J.Mode and Commanding Officer.
From: Commanding Officer, USS BUCK (DD-761), J.E.Blasko, by direction.
The USS BUCK DD-761, christened over 25 years ago, proved again this year that she is a valuable asset to the defense posture of the United States. Performing admirably during the first half of 1970, constantly practicing her techniques and having her talents home in the Southern California operating areas, she was to show her true mettle during the last half of the year in Western Pacific waters. 1970 proved to be nothing more than one more year in a 25 year old tradition of excellence.
The first of the year found the BUCK completing a well deserved holiday leave period on San Diego. It was during this leave period that word came in for the ship to undergo a one month yard period at Long Beach Naval Shipyard for the purpose of replacing the sonar dome. By January, all work had been completed and the BUCK was once again underway; this time the destination was Wilson Cove, San Clemente Island, for FORACS calibration.
During February the BUCK commenced the formal triennial INSURV Inspection; an inspection designed to determine the suitability of the ship for future active service. When the results were in, it was determined that the ship was in remarkably good condition and most certainly fit for at least one more year of service. March through July found the ship in shore bombardment, ASW, COMCRUDESPAC PMS Inspection and an inspection by Captain Guy M.Neely, COMDESDIV 72, which was to determine the administrative, material, and personnel readiness of the BUCK. The ship scored a grade of 94.9. a tenth of a point from a grade of "Outstanding."
On 27 July the ship was underway for WestPac. The ship's chronology reveals the following;
1 Aug. MRD Pearl Harbor
On 4 November, the BUCK proceeded out once again; this time to spend a two week period in the 2nd and 3rd Military Regions off the coast of Vietnam supporting operations of the 1st Air Cavalry Division and the First Australian Task Force. As the result of an outstanding job at gunfire support, the BUCK was nicknamed the "fastest gun in WestPac" for the second straight year. Following inport periods in Subic Bay and in Yokosuka, Japan, the BUCK set out on 26 December escorting the USS HANCOCK to Yankee Station. Upon leaving the Hancock, the BUCK fueled in Kaohsiung and proceeded to Hong Kong arriving the last day of 1970.
The fifteenth and final Western Pacific deployment for the USS BUCK was one of her finest. Highlighting the cruise were the three Naval gunfire support missions during which the ship fired
over 5000 rounds of 5"/38 caliber projectiles. She distinguished herself by accounting for forty-one bunkers destroyed and twenty eight damaged, twenty-six secondary explosions, seven structures destroyed and eight damaged, ten fighting holes destroyed and five damaged,600 meters of trenches interdicted with 185 meters of trench destroyed, as well as four known KIAs. She also fired many unobserved missions where gun damage could not be determined. So the record stands, the BUCK, commanded by Commander Dale W.Duncan, has met the challenges of 1970. Her last cruise, it may justifiably be said that the USS BUCK is now a proud tradition in the hearts and minds of all destroyermen.
Probably the two most important items realized from the past year by the members of the USS BUCK were the vitally important use of the destroyers in today s Navy, and second, the utter necessity of training at all levels. Without destroyers, the carriers could not operate as they do now and naval gunfire support would, for the most part be non-existent. On the other hand, without the training that the BUCK went through day after day, these final ends could never have resulted. Quick and proper response became BUCK?s bywords through the continued training of all hands.
From: Commanding Officer, USS BUCK DD-761, R.L.Miller, by direction.
1971 saw the BUCK again demonstrate the versatility so common to destroyers in the U.S.Pacific Fleet. During the first half of the year (1971),the ship completed her last, and perhaps finest, WestPac cruise and maintained her combat readiness in local operations in Southern California operating areas. During the second six months of the year, the ship undertook the new and unfamiliar role of a Naval Reserve Training ship. Although confronted by new problems, the ingenuity of the BUCK?s officers and crew precluded unnecessary confusion and enabled the ship to serve the Navy s reservists in her typical outstanding fashion.
January 1971, found the BUCK visiting Hong Kong, one of the Orient?s most beautiful cities. The ship departed on 6 January for North SAR station in the Gulf of Tonkin. The presence of North Vietnam and Communist China on three sides of the Gulf resulted in all hands being constantly on the alert. On 15 January, the BUCK departed Gulf of Tonkin for the last time and headed for the ASW Op Areas in the South China Sea where the BUCK got needed practice in submarine hunting techniques. Upon completion of ASW, the ship headed for Subic Bay arriving on 17 January.
On 24 January, the BUCK departed Subic Bay in company with the USS WILTSIE (DD-814) and the USS PERKINS (DD-877), and eagerly set an eastward course for the transit across the Pacific Ocean. After refueling stops in Guam and Midway, the BUCK entered Pearl Harbor on 4 February. The following day the ship left Pearl Harbor for the final leg to San Diego. After six and a half months away, the BUCK entered San Diego Harbor on 11 February.
The date slated for the BUCK to be turned over to the Reserve Fleet was 1 July 1971. By this date the crew had to be pared down from 270 men to the reserve allowance of 166. On 1 July, with little fanfare, THE BUCK left DESRON 7 and became a member of reserve squadron DESRON 27. The ship s mission would now be to assist in the maintenance of highly trained force of Naval Reservists who could supplement the regular fleet in any national emergency.
On 4 July, the BUCK was underway for Mazatlan, Mexico with reservists and the regular crew sharing the jobs involved in underway steaming.
On 27 July, Commander W.L.Stow relieved Commander Dale Duncan as Commanding Officer of the ship.
The ship had the good fortune to be assigned a Select Reserve Crew and would be able to visit San Francisco once each month to give these reservists the opportunity to train aboard the BUCK. October 15 was highlighted as San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto, proclaimed that day as USS BUCK/Naval Reserve Day in the Bay area. The ship ended the year in San Diego, alongside the tender USS DIXIE (AD-14).
From: Commanding Officer, USS BUCK (DD-761), R.L.Miller,by direction.
Following tender availability the ship resumed reserve training operating from Mazatlan, Mexico to San Francisco. The month of March concluded the ship s monthly trip to San Francisco. The ship had been assigned a Selected Reserve Crew in San Diego and would be expected to devote one weekend each month providing training to these reservists.
On 24 April, the BUCK departed on the year?s second two week training cruise. The original destination was Portland, Oregon, however, the ship learned that the residents of Newport, Oregon had requested a visit by a Navy destroyer during their annual Sea Fair and Loyalty Festival. The ship was met at the pier by the Mayor and other local dignitaries and the crew was pleased to learn that the town inhabitants would go all out to ensure that their visit was enjoyable. On 1 May, the ship, reluctantly, departed Newport for San Diego.
On 19 June, the BUCK along with the USS BAUER (DD-1025), the USS HOOPER (DE-1026)) and the USS MCKEAN (DD-784) headed for Pearl Harbor arriving on 25 June. Following operations in local areas around Pearl Harbor, the ship departed for San Diego arriving 23 July. The following week the ship was in transit to Seattle for the annual Sea Fair, arriving on 3 August.
Back in San Diego, on 15 August 1972, Commander Harold E.Burgess relieved Commander W.L.Stow as Commanding Officer.
Following yard work during September, the BUCK resumed training exercises mostly in and around the San Diego operating area. 1972 closed with the BUCK completing tender availability and looking forward to what may prove to be the last year of the ship s existence in the United States Navy. Due to an assortment of factors, including the age of the ship, budget limitations, and an impending cease fire in Vietnam, the ship was scheduled to be decommissioned in 1973. Although an exact schedule was not promulgated by the year?s end, it was generally recognized that time left aboard was limited.
THE DECOMMISSIONING OF THE USS BUCK (DD-761)
UNCLAS E F T O //N03120//
CNC FOR OP-62
1. EFFECTIVE 25 MAY 73 UNTIL DECOMISSIONING/TURNOVER TO BRAZIL (TENTATIVELY SKED 16 JUL 73), USS BUCK (DD-761) AND USS JAMES C. OWENS (DD-776) ASSIGNED TEMPORARY ADMIN AND OPERATIONAL CONTROL (ISIC TO COMCRUDESFLOT NINE.
**** U N C L A S E F T O ****
TO USS BUCK
INFO CNO WASH DC
UNCLAS E F T O //N04900//
DECOMMISSIONING OF USS BUCK (DD-761)
1. ON 16 JULY 73, DECOMMISSION USS BUCK (DD-761) AND TRANSFER TO GOVT OF BRAZIL PER REF A AND B. COMCRUDESPAC WILL ACT AS CNO REP FOR THE TRANSFER EVOLUTION. ENSURE COMPLIANCE WITH PARAS 3A (7), (B) AND 4A THRU J OF REF A.
**** U N C L A S E F T O ****
UNCLAS E F T O //N04900//N6
TRANSFER OF USS J.C. OWENS (DD 776) AND USS BUCK (DD 761) TO
1. REFERENCES A AND B, THE IMPLEMENTING DIRECTIVES FOR THE TRANSFER OF THE USS J.C. OWENS (DD 776) AND USS BUCK (DD 761) TO THE GOVERNMENT OF BRAZIL, DIRECTS THE COORDINATION OF ALL ACTIVITIES INCIDENT TO THE TRANSFERS. REFERENCE C PROVIDES BASIC POLICY GUIDANCE FOR SHIP TURNOVERS TO FOREIGN NAVIES.
2. REQUEST YOU TAKE SUB-PARAGRAPHS 3.A. (1) (2), (3), (6), (7),
(8), (9), AND (11) (A) AND (11) (B) OF REFERENCES A AND B FOR ACTION
AND EXECUTE OTHER TYUPE COMMANDER SHIP TRANSFER RESPONSIBILITIES
IN ACCORDANCE WITH REFERENCE C. YOU ARE HEREBY DESIGNATED AS THE
CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS REPRESENTATIVE FOR THIS TRANSFER EVOLUTION.
ACCORDINGLY, REQUEST MAKE THE SHIPS AVAILABLE AND EXECUTE THE TRANSFER
ON 16 JULY 1973. IN REGARD TO THE HOMEWARD ROUTING, REQUEST YOU
TAKE THE FOLLOWING ACTION INCIDENT TO THE HOMEWARD VOYAGE OF THE
EX-USS J. C. OWENS AND EX-USS BUCK.
B. PROVIDE AN UNCLASSIFIED BRIEFING TO THE BRAZILIAN NAVY PERSONNEL ON CHOP AND COMMUNICATIONS REQUIREMENTS FROM SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA TO BRAZIL. C. PROVIDE THE BRAZILIAN NAVY WITH MODIFIED REPORTING INSTRUCTIONS FOR TRANSIT TO INCLUDE MOVEMENT, SIGNIFICANT CASUALTY AND LOGISTICS REPORTING REQUIREMENTS. U.S. NAVY MOVREPT AND CASREPT SYSTEMS WILL NOT BE UTILIZED. HOWEVER, A STANDARD LOGISTICS REQUIREMENT (LEGREQ) FORMAT SHOULD BE PROVIDED.
3. FOR COMELEVEN. REQUEST YOU COORDINATE ALL PUBLIC AFFAIRS ACTIVITIES AND PUBLICITY ASSOCIATED WITH THESE TRANSFERS, AS SELL AS ALL MATTERS OF PROTOCOL INCIDENT TO THE PRESENCE OF FOREIGN DIGNITARIES IN YOUR AREA DURING THESE TRANSFERS.
4., FOR COMSERVPAC AND COMSERVLANT. REQUEST YOU COORDINATE AND PROVIDE LOGISTIC SUPPORT TO OWENS AND BUCK ON A REIMBURSABLE BASIS AFTER TRANSFER AND DURING THE PACFLT AND LANTFLT PORTIONS OF THE HOMEWARD VOYAGE AS APPROPRIATE. THE CONSERVLANT PORTION OF THIS REQUEST IS SUBJECT TO CINCLANTFLT CONCURRENCE.
5. FOR COMTRAPAC. REQUEST YOU ACCOMMODATE THE REQUIRED TRAINING SERVICES AS SEPARATELY DETERMINED BY COMCRUDESPAC, FLETRAGRU SAN DIEGO AND CUMUSMILGP BRAZIL.
6. FOR COUSMILGP BRAZIL. REQUEST THAT REQUIREMENTS INCIDENT TO THIS TRANSFER, NOT ALREADY COVERED BY REFERENCES A AND B AND OTHER CORRESPONDENCE, BE MADE KNOWN TO APPROPRIATE AGENCIES, INFORMATION TO CINDPACFLT, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
7. FOR ALL. THE PROVISIONS OF REFERENCE C, AND PARTICULARLY PARAGRAPHS
10 AND 11, APPLY TO ALL CONCERNED IN THIS EVOLUTION. CINCPACFLT
ACTION OFFICER AND POINT OF CONTACT FOR ALL RELATED MATTERS IS LIEUTENANT
COMMANDER J. E. ORLUCK, USN, (CODE 634), AUTOVON 421-7112 OR COMMERCIAL
435-4293 DURING WORKING HOURS AND 833-1728 AFTER WORKING HOURS.
A Special thanks goes out to Clint Joyce who sent me the text format of the above document thus saving me hours of work!
The Ship, Part I