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Formerly Classified Documents Subsequent to 4 August 1964

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USS Turner Joy "Statements, Chronology of action & summary..."dated 7 Aug.:

UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT

MEMORANDUM

DATE: 7 August 1964
TO: CTF 77
FROM: Commanding Officer, USS Turner Joy (DD-951)
SUBJ: Statements, Chronology of action and summary DRT

1. I have enclosed subject documents to assist in verifying action on the night of 4 August. My own brief comments regarding what I saw are included.

2. I apologize for necessarily brief number and nature of statements which has been dictated by time and circumstances.

3. I can, if you desire, obtain many, many more statements especially regarding machine gun fire but they are so varied as to be confusing rather than helpful.

4. I have not had any of the statements classified as I do not know what use they might be put.

/signed/ROBERT C. BARNHART, Jr.

ROBERT C. BARNHART, Jr.

Copy to:

CTG 72.1 (less DRT and action chronology)

USS Turner Joy (DD-951)
FLEET POST OFFICE
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA


7 August 1964

STATEMENT OF TAYLOR, JERRY D., 593 23 71, FTG3, USN

I was operator on main battery radar during PT boat attack on August 4th. During attack I temporarily locked onto contact which was in my mind a very definite craft travelling at speeds in excess of 20 knots. Due to system needing parts (feedhorn damaged) I was unable to hold lock on. I was at this time locked on same contact as secondary battery. I saw projectiles hit target and the contact was no longer-visible on scope. Size of targets were of normal contact size for this system.

/signed/JERRY D. TAYLOR FTG3

JERRY D. TAYLOR

USS Turner Joy (DD-951)
FLEET POST OFFICE
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA


7 August 1964

STATEMENT OF JOHNSON, ROBERT R., 954 04 22 RDC-Pl, USN.

While at General Quarters in the CIC on board the USS Turner Joy (DD-951) on the night of 4 August 1964 I observed on the radar scope of my AN/SPASA what appeared to be a very good radar contact to the East, range about six thousand yards. At the same time fire control plot reported locked on a contact in the same place. Scope was in DRA - Off Center position and contact appeared to be closing on a collision course (i.e.) steady bearing, decreasing range. This contact was soon taken under fire. Later on what appeared to be another good contact was fired upon to the northwest. Contact was saturated by shell fire on the scope. Firing ceased, the contact remained for three or four more sweeps, approx fifteen seconds, then disappeared. I evaluated that the contact had sunk. While maneuvering at very high speed I observed what could have been several contacts astern at various times. These contacts were at the approx. range and bearing as reported by fire control. About this time I became very busy with watching aircraft and the USS Maddox (DD 731) to be sure aircraft did not take us under fire.

/signed/Robert E. Johnson

Robert E. Johnson

U.S.S. Turner Joy (DD-951)
FLEET POST OFFICE
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA


7 August 1964

STATEMENT OF PLZAK, DENNIS P., 584 75 27, SN, USNR.

I am a radarman seaman and was manning the surface search radar on the night of August 4, 1964. I picked up several small contacts (three to five) on my scope approximately twelve miles away and tracked them into short range. I wasn't sure of them being genuine contacts until they were in short range. I have spent many hours on the surface search and I evaluate them as definite contacts. It appeared to me that there was a definite plan used by the craft. At one time I held clearly three contacts, one directly astern of us and two moving in and out. Could not tell size of contacts due to short range scale. I saw one contact being hit by burst from our mounts approximately four times and then completely disappear from the scope. I definitely evaluate I held three contacts on my scope.

/signed/ DENNIS P. PLZAK

DENNIS P. PLZAK

U.S.S. Turner Joy (DD-951)
FLEET POST OFFICE
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA


7 August 1964

STATEMENT OF JONES, DELNER (n), 549 96 24, GMGSN, USN.

I saw what appeared to be a PT Boat on 4 August 1964. We had just begun to make a right turn when a flare was dropped. With the help of this I was able to make it out. My battle station is first loader at Mount 32.

/signed/ Delner Jones

Delner Jones

U.S.S. Turner Joy (DD-951)
FLEET POST OFFICE
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA


7 August 1964

STATEMENT OF SHARKEY, DONALD V., 518 48 93, BM3, USN.

I saw on 4 August 1964 at about 2300, a PT Boat while engaged in a night gunnery engagement against surface contacts. My station is Mount 32 as 3"/50 second loader. I saw flare off starboard side of ship so was watching same looking for contact. At this time a PT boat came between the ship and the flare bearing about one hundred degrees relative. The outline of this contact was clearly seen by me and was definitely a PT boat.

/signed/ DONALD V. SHARKEY

DONALD V. SHARKEY

U.S.S. Turner Joy (DD-951)
FLEET POST OFFICE
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA


7 August 1964

STATEMENT OF ANDERSON, ARTHUR B., 693 19 57, FTGSA, USN

My battle station is Director Operator at Director 31 at the Gun Control on the USS Turner Joy (DD-951). On the night that we were attacked I saw what appeared to be a mast with small cross piece in the light of one of our exploding shells. It was a bearing of about two hundred degrees relative to our ship. I estimate the time to be 2230 just as one of our aircraft began strafing the contact.

/signed/ Arthur B. Anderson

Arthur B. Anderson

U.S.S. Turner Joy (DD-951)
FLEET POST OFFICE
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA


7 August 1964

STATEMENT OF GARRISON, KENNETH E., 687 19 88, SN, USN.

I am a second loader at Mount 32, a 3"/50 gun. I saw on 4 August 1964 what appeared to be one PT boat blow up off our starboard side. A few minutes later a flare went off on our port side. I saw a PT boat for about two minutes. I saw it long enough to make sure what it was.

/signed/ KENNETH E. GARRISON

KENNETH E. GARRISON

U.S.S. Turner Joy (DD-951)
FLEET POST OFFICE
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA


7 August 1964

STATEMENT OF CARROLL, GARY D., 588 12 66, SM3, USN.

On August 4, 1964 approximately 2200-2300 while under attack from North Vietnamese PT boats I noticed a bright light from my station as a signalman on the signal bridge. The light was off our starboard bow five to seven thousand yards out. When I first noticed the light I believed it to be star shell or flare fired from friendly ship or aircraft. After closer inspection of the light with the ship's large binoculars I evaluated the light to be a searchlight. We signalman asked for a bearing of the Maddox. She was dead ahead. CIC at that time held a positive contact in the same area as the light. The light was moving around and at times skyward. It made a couple of sweeps at us before going out. It looked to be a larger light than the standard 12 inch used by the Navy. Then again it may have been a high intensity light.

/signed/ GARY D. CARROLL

GARY D. CARROLL

U.S.S. Turner Joy (DD-951)
FLEET POST OFFICE
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA


7 August 1964

STATEMENT OF BACINO, RICHARD M., 517 88 97, SM2, USN.

During the night of 4 August 1964 I was on the signal bridge of the USS Turner Joy (DD-951). I saw a searchlight two to five thousand yards off the starboard bow. I was using binoculars and asking for reports from CIC. The Maddox was dead ahead and CIC held a contact in the direction I was looking. The light seemed to be searching and was turned off after a period of about one to two minutes. As a Signalman, I feel I can tell a searchlight from any other light that could possible be mistaken for such.

/signed/ RICHARD M. BACINO

RICHARD M. BACINO

U.S.S. Turner Joy (DD-951)
FLEET POST OFFICE
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA


7 August 1964

STATEMENT OF SENTEL, EDWIN R., 544 02 60, SN, USN.

On the night of August 4, 1964 I was General Quarters Port Lookout when we were attacked by PT boats in the Tonkin Gulf. I was informed by CIC to be on an alert for torpedoes in the water. I looked over the port side and saw a torpedo wake approximately 110 feet out from the ship. I give the report to the bridge. "Right full rudder" was heard over the phones after the bridge acknowledged the fact.

/signed/ EDWIN R. SENTEL

EDWIN R. SENTEL

U.S.S. Turner Joy (DD-951)
FLEET POST OFFICE
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA


7 August 1964

STATEMENT OF LITTON, LARY 0., 597 66 01, SN, USN.

My battle station is in director 51 as rangefinder operator. We were alerted of a torpedo attack on the ship. As we were warned I came up out of the hatch to observe anything I might be able to see. Upon being where I could see, the director officer at this time yelled to me of a torpedo off our port side. I then caught sight of a wake in the water that was definitely that of a torpedo. It traveled from aft to forward and I would say about four hundred to five hundred feet off our port side. I watched the wake disappear off our port side. At this time the ship made a hard turn to starboard. During our attack we fired upon what we believe were torpedo boats. During one attack in which we were firing I observed a direct hit on one of our targets but I could not make out what we had hit.

/signed/ LARY 0. LITTON

LARY 0. LITTON

U.S.S. Turner Joy (DD-951)
FLEET POST OFFICE
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA


7 August 1964

STATEMENT OF LTJG JOHN J. BARRY, USNR, 664348/1105

My station is Director Officer, Director 51. On the night of 4 August 1964 I held no contacts at time when bridge reported torpedo in the water port side. Director 51 was at that time trained about five degrees off of the port bow. I immediately started looking for torpedo wake so as to pass possible helpful information to the bridge. Visibility was very poor and the night extremely black. A distinct wake was spotted on the port side about five hundred feet from the ship. It was moving from aft forward on a parallel course to this ship. The wake itself appeared light in color and more just below the surface than anything cutting the water on the surface. The wake formed a definite vee in the water.

/signed/ JOHN J. BARRY

JOHN J. BARRY

U.S.S. Turner Joy (DD-951)
FLEET POST OFFICE
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA


7 August 1964

STATEMENT OF HAKALA, MARSHALL L., 586 33 84, FTG3, USN.

I am the radar operator for the MK 56 GFCS at Plot 2. Plot 2 was designated contacts at twenty seven thousand yards. Contacts were off port quarter at initial lock-on. Contacts were small surface contacts, comparable in size to an LCM by video return. Contacts had a very slight left bearing drift and speed about thirty-one knots (ship's speed). Held initial contacts to split at twenty thousand yards and lost contact at that time. Designated a contact at eight thousand yards off starboard quarter and held three direct hits by radar. Held one other direct hit on another contact and various close shots on other contacts. Held first contact to appear to be breaking up after three hits. I evaluate these contacts as definite surface contacts.

/signed/ MARSHALL L. HAKALA

MARSHALL L. HAKALA

U.S.S. Turner Joy (DD-951)
FLEET POST OFFICE
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA


7 AUGUST 1964

STATEMENT OF COMMANDING OFFICER, CDR. ROBERT C. BARNHART, Jr., USN 389340/1100

During the alleged action with the torpedo boats on the night of 4 August 1964 in the Gulf of Tonkin, I was conning the ship. Until I can find a suitable period of time to reflect on the overall engagement, the only evidence I actually saw that would indicate "something" was being hit with our 5"/54 gunfire was a column of black smoke rising from the surface of the water. When I attempted to come around to close the smoke, another surface contact was reported to be closing the Turner Joy from astern. This target was taken under fire also but nothing visually was sighted by me to indicate it was hit. By the time I was able to maneuver the ship around to investigate the column of black smoke previously sighted, it had disappeared from my view.

As a general statement, I believe we were attacked by an unknown number of torpedo boats for reasons as set forth in previous messages.

/signed/ ROBERT C. BARNHART, Jr.

ROBERT C. BARNHART, Jr.


Source: Tonkin Gulf Collection, 1962-1984 [1964 and 1968], Series I: Misc. Subject Files, 1964, Box 1 of 12, Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center, Washington, DC.

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"Personal Statements of 4 August Action,"dated 7 Aug.:

COMMANDER DESTROYER DIVISION ONE-NINETY-TWO
c/o FLEET POST OFFICE
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

7 August 1964

MEMORANDUM

From: Commander Task Group 72.1
To: Commander Task Force 77
Subj: Personal Statements of 4 August Action

Ref: (a) CINCPACFLT MSG 061837Z AUG 64
       (b) CTF 77 MSG 070104Z AUG 64

Encl: (1) Photographic Summary (less ELINT and RADAR SCOPE) 2 AUG 64 [not attached]
(2) Statements of ALLAIRE, Matthew B., 1605210, SGT, USMC and PROUTY, David A., 1999505, LCPL, USMC
(3) Statement of LTJG Keith J. BANE, 660364/1105, USNR
(4) Statement of ENS Richard B. CORSETTE, 667558/1100, USN
(5) Statement of SAN AGUSTIN, Jose R., 465 01 16, GMG2, USN
(6) Statement of CDR H. L. OGIER, 389880/1100, USN
(7) Statement of CAPT John J. HERRICK, 283042/1100, USN
(8) Statement of LTJG Frederick M. FRICK, 651359/1100

1. The enclosed statements are hereby forwarded in accordance with reference (b).

2. USS Turner Joy (DD-951) statements were submitted separately by Commanding Officer, USS Turner Joy (DD-951).

/signed/ J. J. HERRICK

J. J. HERRICK


7 August 1964

STATEMENT of ALLAIRE, Matthew B., 1605210, SGT, USMC and PROUTY, David A., 1999505, LCPL, USMC

"On the night of August 4, during the engagement I was manning a thirty calibre machine gun during the action. I saw a light pass up the port side of the ship go out ahead and pass down the starboard side. I believed this was to be one or more small boats going at high speed."

/signed/ MATTHEW B. ALLAIRE

MATTHEW B. ALLAIRE

/signed/ DAVID A. PROUTY

DAVID A. PROUTY


7 August 1964

STATEMENT OF LTJG KEITH J. BANE, 660364/1105, USNR

"These are the facts as to the best of my knowledge concerning the torpedo boat attack on Tuesday night, 4 August 1964. The Mark 56 director was designated a target at 090 24,000 yards. The director turned to that bearing and locked on to a target at 091 24,300 yards. There were two targets at this range and bearing and one more target about 2000 yards further out. The director tracked the target on a steady bearing with a slight decrease in range, indicating approximately a parallel course and speed. After tracking these targets for several minutes, the director was ordered to shift to a target at 091 9000 yards. The director locked on and the target had a fast closing range. Commence fire was given to the gun mounts, but the radar lost target before the mounts opened fire. Check fire was then given. After tracking these two targets, several others were designated during the following hours; however, the director was unable to successfully track them. At no time did I visually sight any torpedo boats".

/signed/ KEITH J. BANE

KEITH J. BANE


7 AUGUST 1964

STATEMENT OF ENS RICHARD B. CORSETTE, 667558/1100, USN

"The following is a list of the facts to the best of my knowledge and belief concerning the night engagement of August 4. I am unable to state times of sequence of events. Word received to check bearing 084 degrees true about 10 miles. Turner Joy had reported a contact in that area. Upon checking that bearing director 51 locked on a contact at 087 degrees true 23,400 yards. Plot reported solution of target course 200 speed 40 knots. After tracking to about 20,000 yards director 51 lost target. Director 51 picked up a contact at 093 degrees true 9,800 closing. Plot reported solution and bridge gave word batteries released. Before I could commence fire director 51 lost target and the ship began maneuvering erraticly to evade torpedoes. During the ensuing time of the battle many contacts were gained but was unable to lock on with director 51. I might add, that the mark 25 radar was off the line for a period of 20 to 30 minutes during the battle due to a casualty."

/signed/ RICHARD B. CORSETTE

RICHARD B. CORSETTE


7 August 1964

STATEMENT OF SAN AGUSTIN, Jose R., 465 01 16, GMG2, USN

"On the night of 4 August during the engagement, I was stationed on the thirty calibre aft of the Signal Bridge. I saw the outline of a boat which was silhouetted by the three inch projectile bursts when we were firing at it."

/signed/ JOSE R. SAN AGUSTIN

JOSE R. SAN AGUSTIN


7 August 1964

STATEMENT OF CDR H. L. OGIER, 389880/1100, USN

"When retiring for night steaming the ship detected four surface radar contacts to the east. A fifth contact was evaluated as weather. One of the four contacts appeared on the radar to be composed of three small contacts, making a total of six vessels. Because contacts were tracking at speeds above 20 knots they were evaluated as either PGM or PT boats. At 1958 set General Quarters at 2002 formation course was 140 degrees true speed 30 knots. 2020 change course to 160 degrees true. Contacts appeared to be trying to overtake us but three dropped behind and faded from the scope. 2059 contact bearing 093 degrees true 29 miles, speed 30 knots was tracked by radar. 2155 contact bearing 090 degrees true 14 miles. Aircraft investigated with negative results. 2121 contact course 155 degrees true, speed 40 knots. 2124 contact bearing 087 degrees true, 23,100 yards. Both fire control radars locked on. 2135 fire control directors ordered to shift to contact held by Turner Joy, bearing 084 degrees, 9800 yards. Both MK56 and MK25 radars acquired and then lost target before firing could commence. 2139 commenced firing starshells on true bearing furnished by Turner Joy. 2140 commenced firing three inch at best known location of target. 2144 sonar reported torpedo bearing 051 degrees. Ship changed course to the right to evade. From this time numerous torpedoes were reported from sonar and evasive action was taken. Analysis is that there were three PT boats widely spaced on a bearing of about 090 degrees true. These boats made successive attacks as they came within range. Some of the reported torpedo noises were probably from the boats themselves and some from the reflection of own ship's screw from the rudders. An evaluation of the tape recorder tape of the hydrophone effects may disclose proof of the presence of torpedoes. Tapes of the August 4th action are being forwarded with photos of the August 2 action to CTF 77. Maddox continued to maneuver to avoid reported torpedoes and fired at targets of opportunity. Starshell illumination was maintained as ordered by TG CDR. Maddox expended four depth charges to counter radar targets reported following the ship. Eyewitness reports indicate that PT boats were remaining close aboard the Maddox possibly to avoid detection and to attempt to slow her withdrawl. I believed at the time that the Maddox was under attack by PT boats. Later I doubted that so many torpedoes could have been fired and have missed. I am now convinced that the torpedo attacks did take place."

/signed/ H. L. OGIER

H. L. OGIER


7 August 1964

STATEMENT OF CAPT JOHN J. HERRICK, 283042, USN, CTG 72.1, COMDESDIV 192 RELATING TO THE SURFACE ACTION OF THE NIGHT OF 4 AUGUST 1964 IN TONKIN GULF.

"At 1945I from my station in the Combat Information Center of my flagship USS Maddox (DD 731), I observed the radar presentation on the surface search radar which disclosed in conjunction with other CIC tracking procedures that there were approximately five contacts lying in wait for TG 72.1 on its retirement to the eastward from patrol station off Hon Me Island. As this Task Group approached, increased speed to 30 knots and turned southeastward, approximately three of these contacts paralleled our course at approximately 28 knots. The others plotted moving to the northwest at approximately 25 knots. The high speed contacts were observed to open range. Upon reaching a range 42 miles, the contact was lost by both fire control and surface search radars. Another contact was gained at 2111 bearing 088, 13 miles (all of these contacts were concurred in by the CIC of USS Turner Joy who was on station one thousand yards astern of USS Maddox). When contact was gained by Maddox it was at a bearing of 088 range of 13 miles and paralleling our course and speed. This contact was lost at time 2133 and new contact gained at 2134, bearing 075, range 9000 yards closing rapidly. At 2137 at range 6200 yards it tracked as if turning away. At this time torpedo noises were picked up by the ship's sonar and the word passed to the bridge by an installed speaker system called 29MC. I heard this report and could also hear what sounded to me like torpedo noises (from the sonar stack), in the background. USS Maddox took action to avoid the torpedoes and proceeded on a weaving course. In the next two hours many radar targets were observed on the scope in and near the formation and several torpedo noises were heard on the sonar. USS Maddox has a tape recording of these. After the first target USS Maddox did not obtain good "lockons" on any targets but did fire at several suspected targets. I heard radio reports from USS Turner Joy stating that she had good "lockons" on at least two targets and that she had fired and was sure she had obtained hits on two targets. My sources of information were from radar scopes, radio circuits and displayed and evaluated information from the CIC of the USS Maddox. I had no opportunity to visually sight by unaided human eye any of the action. However, it is my opinion that certainly a PT boat action did take place. The number of boats involved and the number of torpedoes fired I cannot accurately determine."

/signed/ J. J. HERRICK

J. J. HERRICK


7 AUGUST 1964

STATEMENT OF LTJG FREDERICK M. FRICK, 651359/1100, USN

"My station was CIC during entire period. I did not personally see anything which would substantiate the validity of this action. However, being an evaluator in CIC, I was continually appraised of current situation by reports from control stations. My comments on this action are as follows: At time 1945I, three to five (unable to determine exact number at this range) were detected bearing 060 range 40 miles. These contacts were confirmed by Turner Joy on CI net. Since there were no contacts this area the night before suspicions arose: After our ships turned southeast to avoid one was tracked by Maddox on course 234, speed 28 knots. Approximately three minutes after our course change these contacts faded on the radar. At time 2111 a contact was detected by Turner Joy bearing 088 range 13 miles. Reports from Turner Joy and both Maddox systems were identical as to position, course and speed (130, 30 knots). Fire control evaluated these as three contacts in vee formation. Contacts seemed to split and were lost by Maddox systems at 2133. Another contact was gained by fire control at 2134 bearing 075 range 9000 yards closing quickly. Watching his track on DRT I noted a sudden outbound turn at range of 6200 yards. I evaluated this maneuver as torpedo launch and turn away. In one minute sonar reported torpedo in the water at a bearing close to that of suspected launch point. It must be noted that prior to this report sonar had made no reports on any unusual noises or detections. Maddox maneuvered to evade and surface contacts were lost. Subsequent to this time I had positive, correlated information. Both fire control and surface radar contacts were random and intermittent. CI net indicated that Turner Joy had "LOCKONS" on definite targets. Above statements are based on correlated and evaluated information in CIC. I firmly believe that torpedo attacks were conducted by high-speed.(40 + knot) craft on Maddox and Turner Joy vicinity 18 degrees 38 minutes North, 107 degrees 24 minutes East commencing at 2145I, 4 August 1964."

/signed/ FREDERICK M. FRICK

FREDERICK M. FRICK


Source: Tonkin Gulf Collection, 1962-1984 [1964 and 1968], Series I: Misc. Subject Files, 1964, Box 1 of 12, Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center, Washington, DC.

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CINCPACFLT message regarding "Proof of attack, 071101Z":

NAVAL MESSAGE
NAVAL DEPARTMENT
PRECEDENCE (ACTION): FLASH

(INFO): FLASH

Z071101Z
FM CINCPACFLT

TO RUHL HQ/CINCPAC

INFO RUEKDA/JCS
RUECW/CNO

PROOF OF ATTACK (U)
A. JCS 7770 DTG 061642Z NOTAL
B. CINCPAC 061840Z NOTAL
1. IAW REF B, FOLLOWING INFO IS SUBMITTED FOR RESPONSE TO REF A:
A. USS MADDOX (DD 731), WHILE ON PATROL IN THE GULF OF TONKIN, WAS ATTACKED AT 1508 GULF ON 2 AUGUST BY THREE NORTH VIETNAMESE MOTOR TORPEDO BOATS. MADDOX WAS, AT THE TIME OF ATTACK, APPROXIMATELY 30 MILES FROM THE NEAREST LAND. DURING THIS UNPROVOKED ATTACK, THREE TORPEDOES WERE FIRED AT MADDOX. ALTHOUGH NO TORPEDOES HIT MADDOX, ONE MACHINE GUN BULLET WAS OBSERVED HITTING THE SHIP. THIS BULLET WAS SUBSEQUENTLY REMOVED FROM THE AMMUNITION MAGAZINE IN WHICH IT HAD LODGED AND WILL BE RETURNED TO THE UNITED STATES AS EVIDENCE. MADDOX FIRED HER GUNS IN SELF DEFENSE AND WAS ABLE TO REPULSE THE ATTACKERS. MADDOX PROBABLY SANK ONE PT IN THIS ENGAGEMENT. THIS ATTACK HAS BEEN ACKNOWLEDGED BY THE NORTH VIETNAMESE.
B. AFTER THIS ATTACK, MADDOX REFUELED AND RETURNED TO THE PATROL IN THE GULF OF TONKIN IN COMPANY WITH USS TURNER JOY (DD 951). AT ABOUT 2108 GOLF ON 4 AUGUST, THEN MADDOX AND TURNER JOY WERE ON A SOUTHEASTERLY COURSE APPROXIMATELY 60 MILES FROM THE NORTH VIETNAMESE COAST, THREE HIGH SPEED RADAR CONTACTS WERE DETECTED ABOUT 14 MILES TO THE EASTWARD OF THE TWO SHIPS. AT 2119 GOLF THE CONTACTS, WHICH WERE DISPLAYED ON THE RADAR SCREENS OF BOTH SHIPS, INDICATED PROBABLE HOSTILE INTENT BY CHANGING COURSE AND SPEED TO CLOSE THE RANGE AND TAKE COURSE WHICH WOULD PERMIT LAUNCHING TORPEDOES. MADDOX AND TURNER JOY OPENED FIRE WHEN IT WAS EVIDENT FROM THE MANEUVERS OF THE APPROACHING CONTACTS THAT THEY WERE PRESSING IN FOR TORPEDO LAUNCHING POSITION. ABOUT ONE MINUTE LATER MADDOX, HAVING HEARD A TORPEDO RUNNING ON HER SONAR (HEARD BY CAPTAIN HERRICK, US NAVY, COMDESDIV 192, AND OTHERS IN THE CIC), INFORMED TURNER JOY THAT A TORPEDO HAD BEEN LAUNCHED AND WAS HEADED IN THE DIRECTION OF TURNER JOY. LIEUTENANT JUNIOR GRADE JOHN JEROME WARRY III, FILE NUMBER 664848, US NAVY, ATTACHED TO TURNER JOY AND SERVING AS THE FORWARD GUN DIRECTOR OFFICER, SIGHTED A TORPEDO COMING FROM THE DIRECTION OF THE RADAR CONTACTS WHICH HAD AMBUSHED THE U.S. SHIPS. TURNER JOY TURNED TO AVOID THE TORPEDO AND, LARRY O'LITTON, 5976601, SEAMAN, US NAVY, WHO WAS WITH LTJG WARRY IN THE GUN DIRECTOR, AND EDWIN R SENTETL, 3440026, SEAMAN APPRENTICE, US NAVY, WHO WAS SHIP'S LOOKOUT FOR THE PORT SIDE, SIGHTED THE TORPEDO PASSING PARALLEL TO TURNER JOY AT DISTANCE OF 300 FEET. THE TORPEDO PASSED ALONG TURNER JOY FROM AFT TO FORWARD ON THE BEARING FROM WHICH MADDOX HAD REPORTED THE TORPEDO WAS APPROACHING. DURING THE ATTACK A SEARCHLIGHT WAS OBSERVED BY ALL SIGNAL BRIDGE AND MANEUVERING BRIDGE PERSONNEL INCLUDING THE COMMANDING OFFICER OF TURNER JOY. THE BEAM OF THE SEARCHLIGHT DID NOT TOUCH THE SHIP, BUT WAS SEEN TO SWING IN AN ARC TOWARD TURNER JOY AND WAS IMMEDIATELY EXTINGUISHED WHEN AIRCRAFT FROM THE COMBAT AIR PATROL ORBITING ABOVE THE SHIPS APPROACHED. TURNER JOY PERSONNEL MAKING STATEMENTS REGARDING THE SEARCHLIGHT SIGHTING KARE RECHARD M. BACION, 5178897, SIGNALMAN SECOND CLASS, US NAVY; GARY D. CARROL, 5881266, SIGNALMAN THIRD CLASS, US NAVY. THE ATTACKING TORPEDO BOATS WERE ACTUALLY SEEN AND DESCRIBED BY THE FOLLOWING TURNER JOY PERSONNEL: DONALD V. SHARKEY, 5184893, BOATSWAINS MATE THIRD CLASS, US NAVY; KENNETH E. GARRISON, 6874988, SEAMAN, US NAVY; DELNER JONES, 5499624, SEAMAN APPRENTICE, US NAVY; AND ARTHUR B. ANDERSON, 6931937, FIRECONTROLMAN SEAMAN APPRENTICE, US NAVY. THESE PERSONNEL SIGHTED THE TORPEDO BOATS WHEN THE COMBAT AIR CONTROL AIRCRAFT OVERHEAD DROPPED FLARES. NONE OF THESE PERSONNEL HAD SEEN A MOTOR TORPEDO BOAT BEFORE (TURNER JOY NOT HAVING BEEN IN THE 2 AUGUST ACTION), BUT ON THE BASIS OF THEIR OBSERVATIONS EACH ON INDEPENDENTLY DREW AN ACCURATE SKETCH OF A MOTOR TORPEDO BOAT SIMILAR TO THOSE KNOWN TO BE OPERATIONAL IN THE NORTH VIETNAMESE NAVY. MOREOVER, THE SKETCHES WERE SIMILAR TO THE TORPEDO BOATS WHICH HAD ATTACKED THE MADDOX IN DAYLIGHT ON 2 AUGUST. COMMANDER G. H. EDMONDSON, US NAVY, COMMANDING OFFICER OF ATTACK SQUADRON 52, AND HIS WINGMAN WERE FLYING COMBAT AIR PATROL IN THE VICINITY OF THE MADDOX AND TURNER JOY AT THE TIME OF THE TORPEDO ATTACK. BOTH OFFICERS WERE FLYING AT ALTITUDES RANGING BETWEEN 700 AND 1500 FEET WHEN THEY SIGHTED GUN FLASHES ON THE SURFACE OF THE WATER AS WELL AS LIGHT ANTI-AIRCRAFT BURSTS AT THEIR APPROXIMATE ALTITUDE. ON ONE PASS OVER THE US DESTROYERS, BOTH PILOTS POSITIVELY SIGHTED A "SNAKEY" WAKE ONE AND ONE-HALF MILES AHEAD OF THE LEAD DESTROYER, USS MADDOX. THE WEATHER WAS OVERCAST WITH LIMITED VISIBILITY; HOWEVER, SURFACE VISIBILITY WAS SUFFICIENT FOR SERGEANT MATTHEW B. ALLASNE, 1605290, USMC, AND LANCE CORPORAL DAVID A. PROUTY, 19990505, USMC, WHO WERE MANNING MACHINE GUNS ON MADDOX, TO SIGHT LIGHTS PASS UP THE PORT SIDE OF THE SHIP, GO OUT AHEAD, AND THEN PASS DOWN THE STARBOARD SIDE. BOTH BELIEVED THE LIGHTS TO BE FROM ONE OR MORE SMALL BOATS GOING AT HIGH SPEED.

2. FOREGOING NARRATIVE DERIVED FROM OPERATIONAL SUMMARIES AND A SERIES OF STATEMENTS WHICH HAVE BEEN FORWARDED TO CINCPACFLT BY MESSAGE AND ARE BEING FORWARDED SEPARATELY TO CINCPAC AND JCS. POINTS INCLUDED IN THIS NARRATIVE ARE SUBSTANTIATED IN GREATER DETAIL IN THESE STATEMENTS.

3. APART FROM THE ONE INSTANCE OF MACHINE GUN BULLET STRIKING THE USS MADDOX DURING THE ACTION ON 2 AUGUST, THERE WAS NO DAMAGE INFLICTED ON ANY U.S. UNIT DURING EITHER ACTION.

4. PHOTOGRAPHY OBTAINED FROM ON BOARD USS MADDOX DURING THE 2 AUGUST ACTION WILL BE FORWARDED SEPARATELY BY MOST EXPEDITIOUS MEANS. SO FAR AS CAN BE DETERMINED, THERE WAS NO PHOTOGRAPHY OBTAINED DURING THE NIGHT ACTION ON 4 AUGUST.

GP-4

CONTROL NO. 195 14/FS/RT/3
CIRCUIT NO. N800
TIME OF RECEIPT 1304Z 7 AUG 64
DATE TIME GROUP 071101Z AUG 64


Source: Tonkin Gulf Collection, 1962-1984 [1964 and 1968], Series I: Misc. Subject Files, 1964, Box 1 of 12, Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center, Washington, DC.

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Letter from President Johnson to Chairman Khrushchev [of the USSR], dated 7 Aug.:

Washington, August 7, 1964.

Dear Mr. Chairman: I share the concern expressed in your message of August fifth concerning the incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin

I also fully share your view of the heavy responsibility which we both bear for keeping the peace and for preventing incidents anywhere in the world from starting a chain of dangerous and irreversible developments. It was for this reason that we took only the minimum defensive action in response to the first attack upon the American destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin. I think you can understand that the second deliberate attack--on which there is complete and incontrovertible evidence--could not be allowed to pass without reply. Our action was carefully measured to fit the circumstances, and we have no wish at all to see this matter to further. We have, of course, made appropriate deployments in the area as we are uncertain of the purpose of these flagrant attacks on our ships on the high seas. We do not know, for example, whether they were instigated by Peiping or made by the North Vietnamese in an effort to draw Peiping into the area. I have made it clear, publicly, that we ourselves do not wish an escalation of this situation.

Our position with respect to South Vietnam has been made clear on many occasions. I repeat that we seek no military base or special position in this area and that our sole purpose is to enable the nations there to maintain their independence without outside intervention. Our complete withdrawal from Laos following the agreement of 1962, about which I have already communicated with you, is convincing evidence of the sincerity of our purpose. Anything you can do to restrain either the North Vietnamese or Peiping from further reckless action in this area will be most helpful to peace. My country will always be prompt and firm in its positive reply to acts of aggression, and our power is equal to any such test. But the mission of that power is peace.

Sincerely,

[printed from an unsigned copy]


Source: Dept. of State. Vietnam 1964. vol.1 of Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968. (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1992): 648


12 August 2004