In 1966 The Fred T. Berry DD-858 and a sister ship received orders to get as close as possible to the coast of Viet Nam and provide gunfire support for a group of soldiers located inland at just about the limit of our 5” 38 guns range. 1100 rounds later the Berry was forced to stop firing due to swelling of the barrels on two of the guns and damage to a third. We only had one gun left and the skipper decided he didn’t want to risk losing the last one leaving us without a main gun for defense. I believe the USS Massey DD-778 was the other ship in that successful operation. I’m sure ‘ol Fred was proud of his namesake that night.

Here’s the rest of the story: As you tin can sailors already know, 2-3 days was a the average time spent in a foreign port. Spend like a sailor and back out to sea. Just like clockwork. Well, 5” 38 gun barrels were located in San Diego. We spent nearly a month in Olongapo waiting for barrels. Mostly broke, hot, and bored.

Pinochle anyone?

James Helton, RD2

USS Fred T. Berry




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