Dear Friends of WEISS
Although it seems that our departure from San Diego was only yesterday, the calendar shows that the "Best of the Gators" has been deployed for over a month and a half. This type of letter is known in the Navy as a "familygram", and its purpose is to try to bring those who have a personal interest in WEISS up to date on what we have done since leaving San Diego, and to give you some idea of what the future holds for WEISS.
As most of you have already heard, WEISS steamed to Pearl Harbor in company with four other ships of our Squadron. The San Diego to Pearl voyage was highlighted with convoy maneuvers, that is the five ships played merchant ships and utilized their war time procedures. To say that a few of their procedures are different was clearly evident the first day, when upon execution of about the third signal, the formation dispersed due to a few of us turning in the wrong direction. However, eight days later, we transited the Hawaiian Island passages and rounded Diamond Head in pitch darkness maneuvering like twenty year veterans. After the two day stay in Pearl Harbor for logistics and briefings for the coming operations, we departed westward with the big chief (USS SEMINOLE) and the Rambling Rose (USS MONTROSE). About 1100 miles southeast of Japan we departed the group and proceeded independently to Yokosuka, Japan for a five day inport period. Yokosuka is a city of many things, and for those of the crew who had never been to the Orient before, it was quite an experience. The men of the WEISS, I am proud to say, conducted themselves as goodwill ambassadors during our entire stay, and left behind many good friends who we hope to see again when we return to Yokosuka in February.
Our departure from Yokosuka was highlighted with our encounter with Tropical Storm Trix for the first two days. I can truly say that after this period there were no land-lubbers aboard. We had a brief stop in Okinawa for fuel and water and then transited to Subic Bay, Republic of Philippines via the Bashi Channel. We spent six days in Subic for minor storm repairs and to embark the Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) Detachment.
We departed Subic on 9 September and spent two days conducting drills to polish up our procedures for the coming operations. To date, WEISS has anchored at Da Nang, Nha Trang and Phan Thiet harbors in South Vietnam and numerous other unnamed coves and bays while conducting our assigned survey operations. We have enjoyed a couple of bright spots during this assignment, they being a "Swim Call" at Phan Thiet and a "Cook Out barbecue on the fantail yesterday, Sunday, afternoon. Our fine cooks and stewards presided over a feast of charcoal broiled steaks, hamburgers and hot dogs that found everyone coming back for more.
This brings everyone up to date and I will now try to give you my best guess as to what WEISS will be doing between now and the time we return to San Diego. October will find us again back on the line for the majority of the month with a shopping visit to Kaoshiung, Formosa. November should find us doing our Christmas Shopping in Hong Kong for about six days. Santa will probably locate us in Subic Bay during his rounds and January is being set aside for the initiation of all the WEISS pollywogs into into King Neptune's esteemed society of shellbacks [crossing the equator]. This latter is still in the planning stages, however our chances for a stop in Singapore followed by dipping across the equator appears excellent. February should find the USS COOK relieving us in Yokosuka and our transit east with our arrival back at our favorite port - SAN DIEGO - being 15 March. I can see nothing at the present time that will change this all important date.
During a cruise, a crew experiences periods of high excitement, extensive boredom, heat, rain, fatigue and many other emotions, but I think the one feeling that myself and every member of the crew experiences most often is the feeling of satisfaction in the knowledge that we are helping to make history, a history that hopefully will be written indicating how it was in Vietnam that the tide of Communism was turned, and the whole world made a better place to live because of our efforts in Southeast Asia. I am particularly proud of the way the men of WEISS are performing in this far off, and sometimes forgotten area. I know that you are as proud of them as I am.
I hope this letter has been informative, and has conveyed to you what an outstanding job your men, the men of WEISS, are doing. It is my intention to continue sending "familygrams" during our deployment as I feel that each of you have a very vital interest in the ship in which your husbands, sons and other loved ones serve.
WILLIAM J. DONLAN
USS WEISS (APD-135)
Last modified on: Sat, Mar 14, 1998.