Vietnam Veteran Oral History: John Uhrin

An oral history segment produced by the Hampton Roads Naval Museum with US Navy Vietnam Veteran, John Uhrin (US Navy Video by Don Darcy/Released).

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Especially in today’s environment, where sleep deprivation has caused major catastrophic accidents at sea. Because we were port and starboard and firing all the time over there, on my first ship, on Cone, we were in that condition. We were very, very tired. And there was one incidence, we were down in, had gone out of I Core down to 2 Core. And we had a Korean air spotter. And he was giving us a target in the air. And because we were so tired, what happens in gunfire support, CIC plots it, sends it out to the bridge, and that navigation team also plots the target to make do the checks on it. The bridge and CIC both missed that this was a defiladed target. Now a defiladed target is a target that’s on the other side of a mountain. So to fire that target, you usually have to do a reduced round. Reduced charge in the powder and very high elevation to get to the other side. We all missed that and fired full charge directly at the target. Big mistake. Could’ve caused a lot of casualties if we had our troops in the way. However… We ended up doing something as the air spotter went absolutely crazy. “You shoot wrong target, but don’t stop firing. Fire for effect.” We’re going, “What’s going on?” And then the bridge tells us, “We just blew the top of the mountain off.” We hit an unknown VC ammo dump and just took the top of the mountain off by mistake. So you know, yeah, people get tired, people make mistakes. Sometimes they come out well, and sometimes they don’t.

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