Vietnam War


The Vietnam War Years
Summary Page

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 regulars.

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.

Second Decommissioning

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 Register. 

Stoddard earned three battle stars for World War II and three battle stars for the Vietnam War.

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