First Vietnam Tour
On 4 June 1965, Stoddard departed from San Diego to begin her annual tour of
duty in Asian waters; but this deployment was different. By mid-June, she was
operating along the coast of Vietnam, principally in the DaNang area, giving
gunfire support to American and South Vietnamese troops operating ashore against
the forces of the Viet Cong insurgents and their allies the North Vietnamese
After upkeep in Japan and a rest and relaxation period in Hong
Kong, the destroyer joined Independence (CVA-61) on Yankee Station to
serve as plane guard for the pilots flying missions inland and as
screening unit for the carrier herself.
By early November, she was back in Japan, preparing to return to
America. She departed Sasebo on the 5th and reached San Diego on the 24th.
Stoddard spent the next twelve months operating with the 1st Fleet in the waters
off the western coast of the United States. Her primary mission was to maintain
operational readiness through training, which ran the gamut from antisubmarine
warfare exercises to bombardment drills.
Second Vietnam Tour
On 5 November 1966, the destroyer stood out ofan Diego for Pearl
Harbor and the western Pacific. She spent two days, 10 and 11 November, in port
at Pearl Harbor before continuing on to Japan. She reached Yokosuka on 20
November and remained there until the 26th, when she got underway for Subic Bay
in the Philippines. Like the previous one, this deployment was given over
entirely to naval support for the American and South Vietnamese forces
struggling against Viet Cong and North Vietnamese communists.
The Stoddard did three tours of duty off Vietnam during this deployment. The
first lasted from 2 December 1966 to 4 January 1967 and consisted entirely of
plane guard duty with Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) in the Gulf of Tonkin. After repairs
and upkeep at Subic Bay, Stoddard returned to Yankee Station on 17 January. For
almost a month, she cruised on Tet Holiday patrol and participated in Operation
"Sea Dragon," the interdiction of enemy waterborne and coastal
logistics operations. During that month, she sank 26 small waterborne logistics
craft and dueled with shore batteries a number of times. On 16 February, she
returned to Subic Bay for upkeep and, after four days, got underway for a rest
and relaxation period at Hong Kong.
The destroyer returned to Yankee Station on 3 March for her third and final
line period of this deployment. Following five days of plane-guard duty for
Kitty Hawk, Stoddard resumed "Sea Dragon" operations. This line period
brought about a change in the focus of Operation "Sea Dragon." Not
only did it become more important to the war effort, but also a subtle shift in
target emphasis required an ever-increasing amount of shore bombardment and
counter-battery fire. Stoddard destroyed radar installations and ammunition
dumps, pounded staging areas, and silenced shore batteries. The latter however,
scored some minor success on 17 March, when Stoddard assisted in the rescue of a
downed American near the mouth of the Song Giap River. She came under intense
fire from a battery ashore and sustained one direct hit. She spent the last five
days of this line period plane-guarding for Hancock (CVA-19).
Overhaul - 1967
After stopping at Sasebo and Yokosuka, Stoddard got underway on 20 April to
return to the United States. Heading via Midway Island and Pearl Harbor she
arrived at San Diego on 5 May. She spent the remainder of May and the month of
June training Naval Academy midshipmen, then resumed local operations until 22
September, when she entered Long Beach Naval Shipyard for overhaul.
She completed overhaul on 19 December and returned to local operations out of
San Diego on the following day. On 10 June 1968 Stoddard joined USS Richmond K.
Turner (DLG 20) and USS Ingersoll (DD-652) for her last Westpac Cruise. She
arrived at Hawaii on 16 June. After fuel stops at Midway and Guam Islands she
arrived at Subic Bay in the Philippines on 3 July. Stoddard plane guarded for
the carrier USS America (CVA66) in the Gulf of Tonkin and provided gunfire
support for troops ashore in the vicinity of Hue, RVN. After stops in Kaosiung,
Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Sasebo, Japan, Stoddard returned home on 7 December 1968.
Stoddard served the Navy actively until September 1969. She operated with the
1st Fleet along the West Coast until this time.
In September 1969, she was decommissioned and placed in the Pacific Reserve
Fleet at Mare Island, California.
Stoddard was struck from the Navel Vessel Registry on 1 June 1975. She was
the last Fletcher class destroyer to be struck from the Navel Vessel
Stoddard earned three battle stars for World War II and three battle stars
for the Vietnam War.