Into Haiphong Harbor
(Operation Lion's Den)
One of our missions
was to enter the mouth of Haiphong Harbor in the middle of the night and
hit several strategic targets. This was truly my first experience
with war. In my young twenty years of life, I had only imagined what war was like. All of the preparation, from basic training to the at-sea exercises, cannot completely prepare you for war. But in the early hours of that day, the meaning of war took on a real
meaning. War became a personal experience for me.
about midnight, a task force made up of the Newport News, a light cruiser
and two destroyers entered the mouth of the harbor. And under the
cover of darkness, both cruisers hit their assigned targets. The idea
was to then pull back and away from the area promptly and safely.
But something you learn in war is, the enemy always wants to settle
As the cruisers maneuvered to pull back and
away, three enemy torpedo boats quickly got under way in fast pursuit.
Much faster than our heavier ships, these boats could have easily overtaken
us, had it not been for the careful planning of "Operation
As our ships engaged the NVN torpedo boats,
I sat at my general quarters station, attentive to the incoming reports
over the 1MC (PA system), and it was then that I realized that this was what war is all about.
A book by Ray Kopp