photograph and article was published in the April 22, 1972 edition of the Pacific Stars
& Stripes. The caption reads:
MIGs Can't Sink Navy Courage
DA NANG, Vietnam (AP) - "MIG coming, MIG coming!" yelled the lookout and seconds later the after deck of the destroyer Higbee was aflame.
The North Vietnamese jet dropped a 250-pound bomb onto the deck of the destroyer, wounding four seamen and destroying a gun mount that housed two 5-inch guns.
The U.S. Command said at least three enemy jets attacked an American task force in the Tonkin Gulf off the coast of North Vietnam late Wednesday afternoon. The command said one of the planes was shot down, two enemy torpedo boats were believed sunk and shrapnel from shore battery fire caused minor damage on the cruiser Oklahoma City, the flagship of the 7th fleet.
Capt. Ronald Zuilkoski, skipper of the Higbee , said the MIG attacked his ship at least twice before the bomb hit the deck.
"In the first two passes, bombs fell left and right of the ship," he said. "but on the third try one hit the deck and exploded under the mount. She flew so low over the deck that you could see everything."
Luckily the gun mount was empty, the 12-man gun crew having been ordered out while a round stuck in one of the barrels was hosed down to keep it from exploding. Gut three men in the ammunition storage compartment under the mount were wounded. Other men pulled them out as the ammunition began to explode.
The exploding ammunition ripped open a large section int he Higbee's left side. Flames and clouds of black smoke from leaking oil engulfed the deck as the crew fought the fire.
Another warning sounded: "Missile! Missile homing in!" "We heard the missile warning, but we had to stay with the fire or we would have lost the ship," said HT2 John J. O'Brien, 40 of Camden N.J.
"It was fantastic-everyone worked together. They did what they were trained to do even though too much happened at one time - flames were everywhere. John T. Allardyce, 26, another HT2 from Allentown, PA, was up forward. "I felt the bomb hit," he said. "It shook the boat forward and then I heard the call for help from O'Brien's section in the rear."
Allardyce said the bomb explosion damaged the water system, "but we managed somehow to get the thing under control."
"The guys really worked together," said Allardyce. "You'd call for one man to come an help and two would show up."
The Higbee entered Da Nang harbor early today. Its after deck looked like a junkyard floating in a pool of dirty oil.
It tied up alongside the repair ship Hector and near the destroyer Buchanan which the U.S. Command said was damaged by shore fire Monday.