HANCOCK then barreled at high speed from Pearl Harbor to the Western Pacific to join the growing evacuation group, receiving additional Marine helicopters along the way from USS MIDWAY (CV-43) in a late-night, high speed consolidation exercise in the San Bernardino Strait.
KIRK was HANCOCK’s sole escort during that dash to the west.
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Yet some of her finest hours were spent tending pregnant women, soothing terrified little children, and saving the lives of tens of thousands.
This is the incredible story of a brief episode in the early years of the long life of USS KIRK.
KIRK was eager to pull her weight in the Seventh Fleet, but what began as a “normal” deployment soon changed dramatically.
War was still raging in Vietnam, but it was no longer KIRK’s war, as American combat forces were long gone.
Eventually, more than fifty ships of the United States Navy, plus a large number of Military Sealift Command (MSC) and civilian contract vessels took part in the operations, along with aviation units of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force 1.
One facet of this intricate plan sent the venerable attack carrier USS HANCOCK (CV-19) to Hawaii to offload most of her air wing, trading in her Navy fighter and attack aircraft for Marine heavy lift troop carrying helicopters. As of: 09/16/2007 Copyright © 2007 USS KIRK (DE/FF-1087) Association Hunt. Two simple words that leave little to the imagination.In naval warfare they are the stark “bottom line” of antisubmarine warfare.It proved to be a quick, orderly extraction of fewer than 300 Americans – hardly a preview of the controlled chaos that awaited her later off the coast of Vietnam 2.The Cambodia operation behind her, KIRK sailed south with USS COOK (DE-1083) and USS MIDWAY (CV-43) and steamed into Singapore on 16 April for a welcomed visit to that exotic port.The unmistakable sound of American heavy helicopters thundering in from the sea and across the city signaled to those below that the evacuation was in full swing.