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  Active Duty 1973-2003                                                                                                                                      contact: lrhargis@hotmail.com 

 

After some leave in Iowa, I fly out of Travis Air Force Base California to report onboard the USS MIDWAY (CVA-41) at Yokosuka, Japan on 31 Oct 1973. When I got to Yokosuka and walked down to the pier, there it was. I have never seen anything that big in my life! This was what the recruiting posters and John Wayne was talking about! Go new and exciting places, meet exotic and different cultures and take your rack along. It doesn’t get any better than this "It’s not a job, it’s an adventure". To a Iowa farmboy, truer words were never spoken.

 

 

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The Adventure  
USS MIDWAY
USS B.STODDERT
NAS Barbers Point
USS TAURUS
USS MT. BAKER
USS J. MADISION
USS J.K. POLK
F&MWTC Charleston
USS W. WILSON
NSY Portsmouth
USS GEORGIA
NAS Whidbey Island
NSB New London

 

On 5 October 1973, Midway, with CVW 5, put into Yokosuka, Japan, marking the first forward-deployment of a complete carrier task group in a Japanese port as the result of an accord arrived at on 31 August 1972 between the U.S. and Japan. In addition to the morale factor of dependents housed along with the crew in a foreign port, the move had strategic significance because it facilitated continuous positioning of three carriers in the Far East at a time when the economic situation demanded the reduction of carriers in the fleet.

The Midway bounced around the Western Pacific, Vietnam (off Yankee Station & South Vietnam), Philippines with a occasional foray to Hong Kong and Pusan, Korea (we were the first Carrier to go to Korea since the early 60s). On one of our many trips to Philippines I meet the future Mrs. Editha Hargis, She is originally from Ormoc City, Leyte, Philippines. We were married on 24 January 1975, and my life has never been the happier, with many more years to come.

From 1973 to 1975 the MIDWAY’s operations was pretty much go to Yankee Station, renew our membership in the Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club and do independent ops and hit a couple of ports, then back to Japan. In April 1975, America’s involvement in Vietnam was coming to an end. The fall of Saigon was only a matter of time, so we and several other ships, USS Blue Ridge, USS Coral Sea (CVA 43), USS Hancock (CVA 19), USS Enterprise (CVAN 65) and USS Okinawa (LPH 3) responded 19 April 1975 to the waters off South Vietnam when North Vietnam overran two-thirds of South Vietnam. The warships mounted the evacuation of American citizens and  others from Saigon. Operation Frequent Wind started 20 April and concluded on 11 May 1975 with the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese. The actual evacuation took place on 29-30 April 1975, on the way over we off loaded most of our fighters and took on Air Force CH-53 gunships. During this time, under very demanding conditions and frequent around the clock operations, MIDWAY processed and feed over 7000 evacuees, including Embassy personnel and Vice-President Thu of South Vietnam. He came on board with is entourage and  several large case reported to contain a very large amount of American money (thank you very much, Uncle Sam).  MIDWAY also Salvaged 45 UH-1 Hueys and Cobras (of these 2 were AIR AMERICA aircraft, complete with bullet holes), 3 CH-47s and one fixed wing Cessna 01.  I haven’t seen the 01 Birddog since then, but it's on display at the NAS Pensacola Air Museum.