USS Theodore E. Chandler (DD-717) - Vietnam War

Vietnam War

Her next deployment coincided with the beginning of America's extensive buildup in Vietnam. On 19 June, she departed the west coast with ASW Group 1 bound for what appeared to be a normal peacetime deployment to the western Pacific. However, on 2 August, North Vietnamese torpedo boats allegedly made a torpedo attack upon Maddox (DD-622) while she cruised international waters in the Gulf of Tonkin. Theodore E. Chandler received orders to join the ASW screen of carriers dispatched to deliver air strikes on North Vietnamese torpedo boat bases. After the strikes, the warship resumed her normal duties with ASW Group 1 and the 7th Fleet.

Theodore E. Chandler returned to Long Beach on 6 January 1965 for an overhaul at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard. After 10 weeks of refresher training and ASW exercises, she began preparations early in August for another deployment to the western Pacific. She departed Long Beach on 20 August and, following a nonstop voyage in company with DesDiv 92 and oilers Kennebec (AO-36) and Navasota (AO-106), arrived in Yokosuka on 4 September. Four days later, the warship put to sea again bound for the Philippines. Upon her arrival at Subic Bay, she received orders to the Taiwan Strait, and she patrolled those vital waters from 16 September to 20 September. When she returned to the Philippines, Theodore E. Chandler began shore bombardment training at the Tabones range.

That duty, however, was interrupted on 30 September by a special assignment off the coast of Indonesia. In response to local political turbulence, Theodore E. Chandler rendezvoused with the 7th Fleet Amphibious Ready Group, and prepared to evacuate United States citizens should the need arise. Fortunately, that eventuality never came to pass. Consequently, the special task organization was dissolved, and Theodore E. Chandler departed the area in company with Hollister (DD-788).

During the second portion of the deployment, the warship began regular tours of duty with the naval forces operating off the Vietnamese coastline. On 9 October, she and Hollister joined Bon Homme Richard to form Task Group (TG) 77.4 which operated on "Dixie Station"—off the central coast of South Vietnam —until the 18th. The next day, she steamed north with the task group to "Yankee Station" whence Bon Homme Richard planes struck targets in North Vietnam. After 10 days of air operations, Theodore E. Chandler departed the area with the rest of the task group for five days of rest and relaxation at Hong Kong.

The warships left Hong Kong on 11 November to take up station off the coast of North Vietnam again. On the 18th, the destroyer received orders detaching her from the Bon Homme Richard group for duty as an antiaircraft warfare (AAW) picket ship. After serving 22 days as an AAW picket, she rejoined the carrier group again on 10 December. The carrier launched air strikes during the following eight days; and then, on the 18th, the entire group shaped a course for Subic Bay and thence proceeded to Hong Kong for another five-day port call.

While in Hong Kong, Theodore E. Chandler was detached from TG 77.4 and ordered back to Subic Bay for shore bombardment training. In January 1966, she returned to the coast of South Vietnam and rendered naval gunfire support for the troops operating ashore. On one occasion, the destroyer brought her 5-inch guns to bear on Viet Cong forces staging a major attack on Allied troops and received credit for thwarting the guerrillas. In mid-January, she completed her assignment in the Far East and headed back to the United States.

Following four months of duty in and out of Long Beach, Theodore E. Chandler departed that port in June for an extended deployment to the western Pacific. Records of her activities during the 1966 portion of the two years she spent in the Far East are incomplete.

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