USS Preston
DD 795 (Fletcher class)

Courtesy of Jack Tarr
Courtesy of Jack Tarr

Builder:         Bethlehem Steel, S.P., CA.
Laid Down:  	 June 13, 1943
Launched:        December 12, 1943
Commissioned:  	 March 20, 1944
Decommissioned:  April 24, 1946
re-commissioned: January 26, 1951
Decommissioned:  November 15, 1969
Fate:            To Turkey 11/15/69; renamed Icel.
                 Stricken and broken up for scrap 1981

We are seeking information on the USS Preston and her crews. Files and photos may be E-mailed to us and we will incorporate them into these pages.


The E-mail:

12/22/05:

Mark,

Wanted you to know that I enjoy your website. You have done a fine job.

My father, Henry (Mick) Geldersma (deceased) was assigned to the Preston Jan. 1944 to Sept. 1945. He and several of his surviving shipmates went aboard after their previous ship( Uss McKean APD5 or DD50) was sunk in action near Bouganville Nov.17,1943. His duty station was gunner manning one of the 5" guns, I'm not sure but I believe it was the forward turrent. Being the Preston was fresh off the yards, he was among it's first crew. Unfortunately, he had been sent to a San Diego hospital for treatment of injuries sometime in Sept.and he missed steaming triumphantly into harbor with the rest of his shipmates. We have a letter where he said "but it looks like I'll be coming home soon and I can't be too sad about that." Anyone in my book who serves their country, during war or peace, deserves our gratitude.

Thanks again for making such a fine source of historical reference available to everyone.

Sincerely,

Gary Geldersma and family


12/01/05:

Hi,

I served on the USS Preston in 1967 as a Storekeeper 3rd class. We left on a 6-month deployment from Long Beach, California in January, 1967 and served off the waters of Vietnam. We plane-guarded for the USS Bon Homme Richard most of the time, but came to the aid of The Forestall, Intrepid and Constellation when those carriers caught on fire.

We spent most of our duty at the Mekong Delta and up north of the DMZ working with an Australian destroyer. I have several (100's) of the ship's activity during the war and while docked in Hong Kong. I'd like to share them with you, but not sure how to go about it. They are 3 x 4" prints. It has all kinds of war activity, docking and targets on our bombing runs.

Looking forward to sharing this with you.

Regards,

Ronald Yohn


Subject: Preston DD 795
Date: 5/6/05
From: Robert Antrobius

I served on the USS Preston DD795 sometime around 1966 or 1967. We left from Long Beach, CA and ended up serving off the coast of North Vietnam. Previously, I was on the USS Orleck DD886, which also served in South Vietnam.

Robert Antrobius


Subject: Preston DD 795
Date: Mon, 18 Oct 2004
From: Jay Sheppard

Dear Mark,

I served on the Preston for about 26 months in 1963-65. Who is maintaining the 'history' page posted on your site for this ship? It has a lot of info re WWII through the mid-50s, but is very light on the Vietnam era. Also, the armaments listed at the front end of the 'history' page are for WWII (& Korea?) and did not reflect the configuration when I was on board. I do not have the time right now...maybe in a year or two, to do some serious research down at the National Archives re what transpired after I departed in 1965. The ship's deck logs are stored in the Maryland suburbs of DC only about 20 minutes from my home.

The most interesting story I think while I was on board was that the Preston might have prevented us from getting so deeply involved in Vietnam in August 1964. We were in DESRON 19. The Squadron Commodore came over while we were in Subic Bay in mid-July 1964. He wanted us to get underway for a mission into the north end of the Tonkin Gulf to plane guard for our carrier pilots flying recon missions into Laos. These misions were supposedly classified at that time, although surely the N. Vietnamese were well aware of them! Unfortunately, the Preston's boiler tubes had just been taken apart for some major work, and we were not able to get underway for another week or two. The Commodore sent the Maddox DD731, our sister ship in the squadron. Later, the Turner Joy DD751 joined her in the 'second incident' with the PT boats in early August.

The Maddox's baffle(s) were supposedly not functioning properly, so that at flank speed and while zigzagging out of the upper Gulf she was hearing 'torpedoes' every few minutes passing down her side as she turned. The rudders (Maddox had 2?) vibrate in those high speed turns, for which the baffles are suposed to block that sound to the sonar. The Turner Joy never reported any. None were ever visually seen by either crew, which seems impossible in those tropical waters. A highspeed wake in such waters is visible at night for 5-10 minutes because of the phosphorescent animals life (anyone flushing a saltwater fixture at night in tropical waters knows what I am referring to).

At any rate, the Preston's baffles were functioning properly and no reports of torpedoes would have been made by our sonarmen. Who knows, maybe we (U.S.) would have still gotten involved a few months or years later??? Surely, there would not have been the retaliatory air strikes on NVN several days later (with the capture of a pilot). Our Task Force (75?) later received the Navy Unit Commendation for those first air strikes. I do wish to point out that this conclusion was not made until well after the Vietnam War was over for the US. I had no knowledge of the Maddox's baffle problems until later.

As a side note, the Preston had gotten back underway in late July and then joined a carrier group that almost immediately went into Hong Kong. (We were lucky!!) On the early afternoon of the first PT boat incident w/Maddox (Aug. 4?), a shipmate and I were getting our second fitting at a local tailor's. Instead of just one or two tailors quietly marking our new suits, we were confronted by 5-6 who all wanted to know when our ships were going to pull out of port??? We replied we assumed whenever we had originally been planned to depart, without giving a date/time. We later learned upon return to the ship that evening that the Maddox was attacked by the PT boats about 30-60 minutes prior to our visiting that tailor's shop. Clearly, these Hong Kong tailors knew about it! Preston departed with the carrier group on schedule a few days later. That first night out, as we sailed for Yankee Station with the carrier (???name escapes me--we worked with several that summer), the Maddox and Turner Joy had the 'second incident.' I can still remember calling the Preston's Capt. into CIC around midnight to listen to the frequent reports--in the clear--from the Maddox re the 'torpedoes.'

Sorry about the haze of my memory re dates and names of the ships in our TF, etc. Forty years places a lot of fog between the ears.

Jay Sheppard


Subject: USS Preston DD 795
Date: Fri, 9 Jul 2004
From: Bill Pritchett

Mark,

My name is Billy W. Pritchett, I served aboard the Preston from 10-59 to 7-62, as a radarman third class, I was better known as "Little Willie of the CIC Sandwich Shop." Many memories, especially of our mascot, SAM, our little black dog taking a crap on the main deck.

I have kept in contact with several shipmates and many are listed on the website of the USS Preston. Many thanks for your hard work. I'm retired law enforcement and spend a lot of time on the puter. Would enjoy hearing from any of my old shipmates.


Courtesy of Robert Ontiveros
Squadron logo on Preston's stack, 1959
Courtesy of: EM3 Robert Ontiveros

Courtesy of Jack Tarr
Courtesy of Jack Tarr


More Photo's

Photo 001 1954: Heavy Seas. Courtesy of Roger Anttila

Photo 004 Cuba, April 1954. Courtesy of Roger Anttila

Photo 006 In drydock for sonar dome repair in YoKosuska, Japan 1959. Were told we struck a whale. Courtesy of: EM3 Robert Ontiveros

Photo 007 USS PRESTON (DD 795) and USS PICKING (DD 685) at anchor in Hong Kong Bay 1959. Courtesy of: EM3 Robert Ontiveros

Photo 008 USS FECHTELER (DD 870), USS PICKING (DD 685) and USS PRESTON (DD 795) tied up at Midway Island 1959 Courtesy of: EM3 Robert Ontiveros

Photo 009 Picture of 2nd Division, 1967. Courtesy of: Mike Cook

Photo 010 A picture of USS PRESTON (DD-795) off the coast of Viet Nam sometime in 1967 (I believe). The picture was taken from the USS MANSFIELD (DD-728) by me with a 35mm camera. The slide is 40 years old and has lost some of its color and fidelity. Hope the PRESTON crew likes it. If anyone took pictures of the MANSFIELD during this evolution, I'd certainly like to see them.
Courtesy of: J. J. Marold ETC USN(RET)
SPAWAR Facility Yokosuka, Japan



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