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My name is Brad Matthews, I was on the Tripoli from August of 72 until August of 73, I was attached to S-7 as DP Tech, but also served as Mess Decks Master at Arms and later as a Master at Arms under the Chief Master at Arms ( a very large Hawiian Master Chief who's name I cannot remember).
Since our government was somewhat lax in keeping records, my records don't indicate that the Tripoli replaced the New Orleans as REAR ADM McCauly's Flag Ship in June of 73 and that the Tripoli was located in Hiaphong Harbor from June 11, 1973 until July 18, 1973 when Operation End was completed.
If any one can help me verify this information for the VA, please contact me:
73 Birch Tree Rd
Cell Phone 860-836-4310
I have a copy of "Operation End Sweep", written by Tensor Industries at the direction of the Mine Warfare Office of NavSeaSysCom. It deals almost exclusively with mine sweeping operations. Tripoli is mentioned twice, once when she took part in minesweeping exercises out of Subic during the "Subic Interlude"(April 24 to June 18), and once when the southern units of TF78 left the Gulf because of the Typhoon Anita. "Tripoli, however, remained at Vinh to allow the principle negotiators to meet …". According to my personal log, that was July 7 and 8 (1973).
I was with TF78 from the beginning, and I know we rotated LPD's in mid-April because I rode the Vancouver (LPD-2) out from Subic. We arrived on April 17. Admiral McCauly arrived on the Vancouver on the 18th because on the 18th we did an emergency sortie from Haiphong Harbor and my log includes Admiral McCauly asking me where the rest of his staff was. I was it.
I hope this is helpful. It would have been nice if Tensor Industries had made a better timeline of ship deployments and rotations.
Brad, I don't know if they would accept this information from Wikipedia, but here's a link to a history of the Tripoli which includes two full paragraphs discussing Tripoli and End Sweep: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Tripoli_%28LPH-10%29
I was the stenographer for the negotiations team and remember clearly flying from the Tripoli into the Vinh army base for negotiations and then a couple of weeks later the final negotiations sessions in Haiphong. We left the Tripoli on July 18 to fly into Haiphong for the last session. The moment we lifted off, Tripoli turned toward Subic Bay...and it was about a two hour flight to Tripoli after the negotiations.
Negotiations team members included Adm McCauley (CTF78); Commodore Felix Vecchione (CTF 78.1)(my boss); Lt. Jim McCoy (sweep logistics and planning) and another LT whose name I do not remember. Mr. Yeltsin, a foreign service officer from Saigon, was our interpreter (and later was appointed ambassador to some place like Brunei).
I have a picture of all of us at the negotiations table in a hut at the Vinh army base.
I'm sure none of this is of any real help to you, but I can attest to the fact that the Tripoli was our base of operations for the last of End Sweep.
I work at the VA Hospital in Asheville, NC. I'm not sure why the VA needs you to document this when there's a USS Tripoli website full of comments from people who were onboard during End Sweep and certainly there's documentation from CinCPACFLT. CinCLANTFLT should also have some documentation because we came from Charleston, SC and had to report to CinCLANT with negotiations and such.
I saw the other reply to your message from Mike Ayars. His information and documentation will be most helpful. If I remember correctly, Mike Ayars was an operations specialist who was instrumental in analyzing data and planning daily sweep operations, working closely with Lt. McCoy. The years run together these days and I may be remembering someone from GTMO (where I worked for Adm McCauley before he became CO, Mine Warfare Force, US Navy). But if I'm remembering correctly, you can take whatever Mike Ayars says to the bank. He was top notch. He probably doesn't remember my name, but I'll bet he remembers the old Mofo.
Ahh, the old Mofo indeed! Nice to hear from you. Since you signed my DD214, I see your name periodically.
You do, in fact, remember my role well, which also included replacing Combat Chris's Air Control lead. I'm in South Jersey. It would be interesting to see your picture from Vinh. since I was out in the operating forces (on the Vancouver by then) I was no longer in the loop on the negotiations.
Thanks to both of you, I believe this will help
My spouse served in HM -12 during Operation End Sweep Is there actual proof of Agent Orange Exposure during this operation?? He suffers from several things that are AO related, the latest being Parkinson"s Disease. Just starting to figure this mess out and looking for any and all info I can find.
Very few of us went ashore, and it was only in North Vietnam, and only on the coast, and only twice. I'm confident in saying there was no AO exposure to the End Sweep personnel. It would help to know where your spouse was during End Sweep (what ship/squadron).
Hi Mike, Glad you remembered the old Mofo. FYI - I'm in the middle of an Agent Orange claim and using that picture from Vinh as a basis for my claim. Hai Phong, Cam Pha and Hon Gai are all listed as AO areas...and the Tripoli is listed as having docked in places such as Da Nang from the 1960s through December, 1973. The AO exposure area now includes blue water sailors who were off-shore on docking in Vietnam. My claim hasn't been settled yet, but I'm working on it. I've had lung cancer and half of my left lung was cut out with the tumor about three years ago. Doing fine, for the most part, now. If anyone is interested, I can upload info from my claim that I researched. The fact is my personnel record was purged of any Vietnam information for some reason. Not unusual, as I understand it, but purged never the less. I'm going to try to upload that picture now. You will recognize Adm McCauley, Commodore Vecchione and Lt. McCoy at the far end of the table. That's our interpreter, Mr. Yellin out of Saigon, facing the camera. He finished his State Department career as Ambassador to Barundi. And that's me standing in the foreground. Tonkin Gulf is 200 yards out the far door.
Picture taken at Vinh Army Base inside hut where late End Sweep negotiations were held.
You will recognize Adm McCauley, Commodore Vecchione and Lt. McCoy at the far end of the table. That's our interpreter, Mr. Yellin out of Saigon, facing the camera. He finished his State Department career as Ambassador to Barundi. And that's me standing in the foreground. Tonkin Gulf is 200 yards out the far door.
On this particular day, Lt McCoy had some bananas at his end of the table and leaned back in his chair threatening to toss one behind everyone's backs. I kept trying to discourage it because, Mike, you know he would do it...and he did. A high arc banana toss during Mr. Yellin's translation which caused Col Thai and his interpreter to stare in disbelief. Mr. Yellin stopped his translation because of the look on their faces...the banana hit the ground I tried to act like I didn't know what was going on. Later, back on the Tripoli, Adm McCauley mentioned the incident to us in no uncertain terms. Bananas never flew again in North Vietnam to my knowledge.
Within the next three weeks, we were headed back to Olongapo City, where the girls are so pretty, and then home to Charleston.
That does sound like Lt McCoy. Great photo, and great story. Thanks, Mofo! McCoy was a great guy to work for/with. Have you ever written any memoirs of that experience? I had one published in Silent Defenders some years ago.
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