During his Navy service, Oliver Williams, 72, of Davenport, experienced not only operations off Vietnam, but also two typhoons.
When he went from Maysville to boot camp at the Great Lakes, he never had endured a tornado, much less anything like a typhoon.
Exams he underwent when he first enlisted showed he was a good candidate for sonar or radio. “It was one of the cleaner ratings, not like working on a gun mount,” he said.
“I was transferred to sonar school in Key West, Florida,” he said. “From there I went to San Diego, then Long Beach, and transferred to another ship and went over to Yokosuka, Japan, for operations off Vietnam.”
He served aboard two destroyers. First, he served aboard the USS Parsons (DD-949), then that ship went into a modernization program. He then transferred to the USS De Haven (DD-727.)
“We were stationed out of Yokosuka, Japan. We’d go from there to different operations in the South China Sea," he said. Williams served during Operation Market Time and Operation Sea Dragon, and was involved in Naval gunfire support off Vietnam.
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He experienced one typhoon in Yokosuka in port. “They tied the ship down,” he said. “I remember the sky looked green.”
“The other typhoon was out at sea. I think it was the South China Sea," Williams said.
“You could sit on the torpedo deck and look at the waves that were up above the ship. I don’t know the height — probably 45 or 50 feet. They were very high waves.”
The ship would bounce around, he said. “On the mess decks, we used to take a piece of white bread and wet it and stick our food tray on it so it wouldn’t slide off the table.”
Williams is a member of the USS DeHaven Sailors Association and follows the group on the internet.
(Full disclosure: Oliver Williams is married to the reporter who interviewed him)