USS ENDICOTT DMS35

Russell D. Stephens

KOREA 1950-1952


 

I, Russell D. Stephens, RM3, came aboard the Endicott on 5 May 1949,   the morning after she came back from Tsingtao, China.  There were four radioman strikers who reported aboard at the same time.  We had all finished radio school about the same time and had been assigned to destroyers.  I was assigned to the USS Dennis J. Buckley, DDR808, who had just come back from the Western Pacific Fleet.  I only stayed on her for about a month, when she received orders to the east coast.  She was to go to the yards for overhaul, and then to escort the USS Constellation, a hospital ship, on a two year goodwill tour of Europe.  I was transferred to the USS Piedmont AD17 there in San Diego to await further transfer to the Endicott when she returned to the USA.  I started in the radio shack on the Endicott, but after a couple of months I transferred to the bridge, to become a signalman/quartermaster striker.  I stayed on the bridge for about a year and then returned to the radio shack because I couldn't change my rate to quartermaster.  We had been operating in and out of San Diego and Monterrey, California, and gone to the yards in Vallejo, Mare Island Navy Shipyard.

All of the talk at that time was about French-Indo China.  Life magazine had run articles about the troubles there, and the story about "Earth-Quake McGoon", I believe that was what he was nicknamed.  Then during the last week of June 1950, we got orders to the Western Pacific Fleet, and of course the orders were sealed.  The Endicott and USS Doyle DMS34, both from the same squadron, were ordered out together.  We were the first two ships from the west coast to leave on this mission.  We sailed on 30 June 1950 for Pearl Harbor, where we stayed for several days, and the Endicott alone was ordered on to WestPac.  The Doyle had developed mechanical problems and could not continue.  We took an oil king and water king to Midway Island, and they opened up a refueling station there.  For the most part the island was deserted with only a squad of U.S. Marines stationed there.  After we got through refueling and taking on fresh water, we got underway, heading for Japan.  When we crossed the International dateline west of Midway, the captain, Commander John C. Jolly announced that we were going to Korea.

I have always been fascinated by maps, and I had never hear of this place, so I went Up to bridge and got the quartermaster to show me on the carts where it was located.  I was shocked because I had always heard of that place being called the Chosen Peninsula, taken from China by the Japanese at the same time they took Manchuria. Also at the time that we crossed the International Dateline, we went to war time procedures, manning a ready mount and darkened ship.  For a young man not quite 21, and having been raised in a small town west of San Antonio, Texas, it was really scary, with lots of rumors going around the ship.  Being a radioman, had some moments where we were in on the latest events, and sometimes wished we didn't learn them so quick.

It took us about 12 or 13 days to go from Midway Island to Yokosuka Fleet Activities Base, Japan.  We stayed in Yokosuka for about a week, and then got orders to proceed to Wakkanai, Hokkaido, Japan, the northern most city in Japan.  We got as far north as the Tsugaru Straits, between Honshu Island and Hokkaido Island.  We were ordered back south to the port of Kobe, Japan to pick up a couple of CVE or jeep carriers.  We went with them to the Tsushima Straits between Kyushu Island Japan and Korea.  We were assigned as plane crash detail and anti-submarine duty with them.  They had, for the most part  Marine fighter wings flying the old gull-winged Corsair.

We stayed with the carriers for about a month, and then went to the Masan-ChinhaeArea, about 30 miles to the west of Pusan.  At that time the North Koreans had pushed everything down to about a 30 mile perimeter around Pusan.  We became gunfire support for the Army 25th Division.  It was hot and with no fans to speak of, and staying in a ready mode, we were told one night that no one could sleep below decks.  In the radio shack we were standing 4 hours on and 4 hours off.  During this time the North Koreans started to set up a gun emplacement about 3 or 4 miles away on top of one of the mountains.  Our Executive Officer, Lt. C. E. Briggs watched this operation for several days, and one day I took the message board up to have him sign for a message, and he showed me what they were doing.  He waited until they were just about ready to start firing from that position, and then he changed the ready mount and ordered them to start firing.  It didn't take many rounds from that single 5" 38 caliber mount to blow the gun away, along with some of the soldiers.  This was done three different times before they decided to stop.  While we were in Chinhae Bay, we were swinging at anchor, so we could have been an easy target.

Our first encounter with mines, our primary duty was mine warfare, was getting called up to Pohang, Korea about 65 to 75 miles north of Pusan on the east coast of Korea,to look for survivors from the USS Ptarmigan, an AMS, who had been sunk by a mine.  All that we could find was some debris floating in the general area.  The Ptarmigan was a wooden hulled tuna boat from the San Diego Tuna Fleet before WWII, so there wasn't much chance for survivors.  After finding nothing more than debris, we returned to Chinhae Man, to continue interdiction and harassing fire both day and night. The ground troops that we were supporting sometimes called in fire on certain coordinates.  We had a spotter plane up one evening, and he was calling for some really weird coordinates, changing them rapidly, so the captain got on the radio and asked the spotter what we were shooting at, and the pilot said it was a man and an oxcart.  He said we have hit the ox and cart, and with two more rounds we will have the man.  We only got underway to replenish food supplies and ammunition, which we did in Sasebo, and then it was right back to our firing mission.

On 15 September 1950, the Endicott escorted a ROK LST to the Chang Sa Dong area, sometimes referred to as Yong Dok.  The LST didn't hit the beach the way she was designed, but hit a sand bar, and broached, turned sideways to the beach. She was helpless, as she couldn't move, and was soon taken underfire from guns on the shore.   The Endicott's fire control battery, and lookouts couldn't locate the guns,so the Endicott's captain called for an air strike.  The ROK marines on the LST began to jump into the water with full field packs, guns, and ammunition.  The Valley Forge CV45 sent two AD Sky Raiders, single engine propeller aircraft in to support us and try to locate where the enemy fire was coming from.  They located it right away.  It was coming from two tanks about halfway up the side of a mountain, on a road that was hidden to us by trees, plus it was above our level.  The strike aircraft soon dispatched, or rather knocked out the tanks with bombs.  This landing was a diversionary landing on the east coast of Korea, while at the same time troops weremaking the landing at Inchon and Seoul.

Our next mission was to follow the ROK Third Division up the east coast, starting at about Pohang.  We provided gunfire support when called to fire on specific targets, and also harassing and interdiction firing at night.

On the morning of 12 October 1950, the ROK Third Division hit the airport  south of Wonsan, North Korea.  This put us north of the 38th parallel, which was the dividing line between North and South Korea after WWII.  Wonsan was just a little north of the 39th parallel.  The Endicott and another destroyer, and the name doesn't come to me right now, were supposed to be the gunfire support for a group of smaller sweepers.   About five or six Japanese sailors of fortune in small wooden sweepers were to lead the group followed by several AMS's, from US Navy, and then the USS Pirate and USS Pledge, both 185 AM class mine sweepers.  Then after the Pirate and Pledge came the Endicott and the other destroyer.  Someone got their wires crossed, and the Japanese sailors of fortune and the AMS's finally arrived on the scene. In the mean time, the Pirate and the Pledge were leading the pack, with the Endicott behind them.  When the Pirate and the Pledge passed between Ko To Island on the south of the channel, and Rei To on the north of the channel, 14 horned or contact mines popped to the surface, like soneone had released them all at once.  I was standing on the 01 deck of the  Endicott on the port side aft of the mast and superstructure, with a clear view.  Just as the two minesweepers cut the14 mines, the Pirate shuddered, a puff of black smoke came from her starboard side and I could hear a muffled explosion, and she began settling by the stern.  The Pledge was slightly astern of the Pirate at this time, and the shore batteries from the inner harbor began firing at the Pirate¸ and crew began to abandon ship.  The Pledge pulled around the starboard side of the Pirate and began firing what guns she had.  The Endicott fired all that she was capable of with only three single gun 5" 38 caliber mounts. The  shore batteries were silenced, and both the Pirate and Pledge were on the bottom in a very short time.  The combined crews of the two sunken ships totaled about 130 officers and men.  The Endicott picked up as many of the survivors as was possible with their whale boats, and the rest were picked up by some of the smaller sweepers, and brought to the Endicott.  There were quite a few broken arms, legs, and cut throats.  The throat injuries came because 7 th Fleet had just put out an order for all hands to be on deck except those absolutely necessary for the operation of the shipHowever, they did not give any instructions how the helmets were to be worn, and with the chin strap loosely fastened, the concussion blew the helmets up and cut the wearers throat.  The survivors were supposed to be transferred to a cruiser, but the weather began to turn sour, so the Endicott ended up taking the survivors to Pusan to the hospital ship Constellation I believe.

The Endicott returned to Wonsan, and sweeping continued.  United Nations ships weresoon unloading troops and supplies there on regular schedules.  The war moved north. Operations required a Hungnam channel, so the Endicoctt commenced sweeping there during the first week of December.  The harbor and facilities were ready when Chinese Communists began pouring over the border of Manchuria and into North Korea.  The Hungnam channels were expanded.  The Endicott had one sweeping job between Wonsan and Hungnam  and that was to sweep a 10 mile stretch north of Hungnam from the 100 fathom curve in to the 50 fathom curve.  I was called to the bridge to man the captains battle circuit, on the sound powered phones.  I was standing in back of the lee helm position against the bulkhead that separated the pilot house from the sonar room.  The sound of the pings from the sonar gear were loud and very clear in my position.  When they began to pick up echoes, the pings changed to ping-wop as we got a good return from the under water targets.  We had no way of knowing if the targets were mines, under water structures, whales, or possibly submarines.  Even though we were in swept water after the first pass, it was a very nerve wracking time until we finished the operation.

The Endicott was back in Wonsan harbor over Thanksgiving, and the hills to the west and north of the city were ablaze with fires set by guerilla forces in the area.  I heard one report that there were estimated to be somewhere close to 10,000 guerillas in that area alone.  I do know that when we were following the South Korean ROK Third Division up the east coast from about Pohang to Wonsan, they moved quite rapidly, and didn't appear to have time to go to the west side of the mountains.

On 13 December 1950, Lt. Cmdr. L. W. Barnard USN, relieved Cmdr. John C. Jolly USN, as commanding officer of the Endicott.  The next time the Endicott was underway for a base to the south.  She completed this operation in two days, made two trips to Japan, then returned to Hungnam, where she worked until the evacuation.

On Christmas day 1950, the transports departed enmasse from Hungnam, carrying 60,000 troops out of the jaws of the enemy's trap.  They stood out through mine free waters which had been swept by the Endicott.  Fire Support ships remained to pound the advancing enemy.  Then, they too departed.  An interesting side light to the actual evacuation at Hungnam, was that we could see the Red Chinese walking along the top of the ridge to the west and north of Hungnam.  They didn't appear to be trying to shoot, but just walking a guard post.  As the last of the departing fleet were leaving the area, Underwater Demolition Teams 1 and 3, now called the Seals, had set charges along the water front.  When they set off the charges, the whole dock area seemed to lift up in the air about 10 to 12 feet, and then just disintegrated into a cloud of dust.

In heavy seas and blinding snows of January 1951, the Siamese frigate Prosae went aground on an enemy held beach.  The Endicott arrived first on the scene and maneuvered through churning combers up to the breakers off the coast.  The Endicott lowered a whale boat.  It proceeded to the scene and rescued the men from the water and towed the pulling boat back to her mother ship.  The Endicott  guns stood ready for enemy attack.The Endicott sent a cable over to the Prosae in a desperate attempt to pull her off the bottom, but try as we might, we just couldn't move her.  A helicopter was sent over from a cruiser who lay of shore, and picked up the Mine Squadron Commander and took him over  to the  Prosae.  As the helicopter was hovering over the flying bridge, I saw Commodore Gallagher stepping out of the choper, and almost at the same time, the chopper crashed into the flying bridge.  The 20 MM ammunition ready boxes that were up there began to explode and crewmen started to jump over the side into the frigid waters.  We sent our whale boat back out with the squadron doctor and our Chief Hospital Corpsman and they picked up as many as they could out of the water and deposited them on the beach, where the medics took care of them as best as they could.  The snow on the beach was about 8 feet deep, and the enemy had trenches dug out so they could move around in and we couldn't see them.  Seas finally broached the Prosae, and she started to break apart.  The crew was evacuated and she was destroyed.

Mid-February 1951, found the Endicott back in Wonsan harbor, to be support for some very small and shallow draft boats that were equipped to be sweepers for the shallow waters of the outer bay at Wonsan.  Three of us from the Endicott were ordered to be part of the crew for a rescue boat for these sweeping operations.  Our commanding officer was Lt. S.C. Myers, MD.  We were to use a 40 foot motor launch under the command of W.R. Siddall, Boatswain Mate 1st class.  Medical officer was D. Mahone, HN., and myself, Russell D. Stephens, RMSN, radioman.  Plus there were 5 seaman crew members from the USS Comstock LSD19, for a total of eight men in the 40 foot motor launch.  The first day we tried to go out, a very thick fog had moved in and we got lost just as soon as we left sight of the ship.  I don't think we were more than a couple of hundred yards, and we couldn't see anything.  I called the ship on the radio, and told them what the situation was, and they gave us a heading to start out and when they saw something on radar, had us turn for identification.  The suggested heading got us back to the ship, so we stayed aboard for the rest of that day. 

The next time we went out only a day or so later, it was bitterly cold, around –20 degrees, and a north wind of about 15 to 25 knots.  An open 40 foot motorlaunch does not give you much protection from the elements.  The beach was covered under several  feet of snow, and the only heat we had was the exhaust stack from the grey marine diesel engine.  We, all 8 of us in the rescue boat had on long johns, sweaters, foul weather overalls, and jackets, three buckle arctic boots over shoes, and wool socks.  We also had caps with ear flaps, wool gloves with leather mittens, and still within 30 to 45 minutes, we were losing feeling in our hands and feet.  Luckily all eight of us came out of the three day ordeal without losing any parts to frost bite.  Shortly after this, we got orders to return to the states and went home with great joy.  My 3 year enlistment was supposed to be over the last of June 1951, but President Truman gave all of us a 1 year extension on our enlistments.

While in the states in 1951, we went into the yards at Terminal Island Navy Yard for overhaul, and then shakedown, and underway training.  7 October 1951 saw us underway again for the Far East.  7 November we were off the east coast of Korea again, near the village of Songjin, and were firing at targets.  We destroyed five  villages where enemy supplies were stored.  We were the direct support to a Naval intelligence island just north of Songjin, called Yang-do.  The people there were fishermen, but were sympathetic with the south.  There were ROK marines and one U.S. Marine lieutenant intelligence officer.  We supplied them with fresh water and supplies.  Christmas day 1951, we had a party for 35 children and 10 adults from Yang-do.  Ships crew acted as big brothers, and when that sailor had to go on watch another would take his place.  Turkey was a new dish, and rice was not on the official menu, but it was served.

Endicott destroyed 14 mines while furnishing gunfire support for a minesweeper in Songjin inner harbor on 4 February 1952.  The Endicott was taken under fire from shore batteries, and she had to maneuver violently.  She went to battle stations and was hit by a 37 mm round.  It hit the bottom of an engine room vent, and just missed two men standing in the hatch of the electricians shop.  The Endicott took 20 straddling rounds, but luckily none of them did any damage to either the ship or any of the crew.

On 9 February 1952, during one of our nightly runs up the east coast to Chongjin, at 41 degrees 50 minutes north latitude, the farthest point north that they would let us go, which put us only about 80 miles south of Vladivostok, Russia, the captain wanted to match what a British Frigate had done sometime before.  The coastline up at Chongjin was shaped somewhat like a stretched C, and on the south end, a river emptied into the sea, so we backed down in the channel of the river, and waited for the train that we called the "Pusan Limited" came through.  This train seemed to run every night, so we waited for a while until we could tell it was coming, and it was during dark of the moon.  When it got into our range, almost point blank, we opened fire with our 3 single 5" 38 caliber mounts and proceeded to blow up the train.  It appeared to have been carrying  ammo and/or explosives.  Quite a fireworks display.

On 19 February 1952, the communists served notice that they didn't appreciatethe fact that United Nations were holding Yang-do Island just a few miles north of Songjin, and they held an amphibious landing party of about 200 assault troops. I had just completed the 2000 to 2400 watch in the radio shack and was smoking my last cigarette before going aft to the living compartment, when the sounded  "General Quarters", and we stayed at "GQ" until about 1030 or 1100 the next morning.  The raiding party came over to the island in a varied group of boats, and since the mainland was only about 2 ½ miles island, it seemed like an easy raid to them.  The North Korean Major who led the raiding party had been raised on the island, so he was familiar with everything.  They killed a couple of teenage boys who were manning one of the telephone outposts before they could alert the ROK marines, and the U.S. Marine Officer, Lt. Joe Bartos.  He led the attack on the raiding party along with the ROK marines, and gave a very good accounting of themselves.  The Endicott along with the British Frigate HMS Taupo furnished gunfire support.  The Taupo went into the channel between the island and the mainland, and destroyed several boats of various sizes filled with some of the raiders.  The ROK marines on the island pinned down a group of about 100 of the raiders, and when it got daylight, they counted about 90 of the raiders dead.  When the raiding party tried to return to the mainland, Endicott and Taupo finished mopping up on the returning raiders.  The raiding party lost at least 100 men on the island, and about 100 more in the channel, while the ROK marines lost only 7 men.  The communists never again tried to attack the island.  The Endicott received a scroll of appreciation from Vice Admiral Suag, the Korean Chief of  Naval Operations.

In March 1952, the Endicott had to do a minesweeping operation up at Chongjin, would prove to be very hazardous. We had been making the run from Songjin up to Chongjin at night, and after nearly running over 5 or 6 mines that were floating free, The captain persuaded the 7th Fleet Admiral that we could do the same job in the daylight hours, and not have to worry about possibly losing the ship to a mine.  We were to sweep in very close to the shore line.  When we got up to Chongjin, we could see 3 of the very large glass fishing floats, about 3 feet in diameter.  The captain pulled up and sent the 40 mm guncrew to their stations with orders to blow the floats out of the water.  Just about the time that the 40 mm fired the first round, the floats appeared to be spaced out in a straight line from the shore.  The shore batteries opened up and hit the first buoy closest to the shore, the second hit the middle buoy, and the third round hit the last buoy, and while this was taking place, Captain Barnard was screaming for flank speed and started a zig-zag run out to the open sea.  By the time we got out to about 10,000 to 12,000 yards. we had been straddled by about 25 more rounds.  We then turned and started a firing run straight toward the beach, zig-zagging as we went in, and didn't get hit by any of their rounds until we turned and started out to the open sea.  Then we took a hit in the after peak tank on the starboard corner of the stern.  From the size of the hole, it had to be from at least a 120mm gun, and they said that Korea was just a police action.  I sure would have liked to see the size of the pistol that fired some of those rounds, as well as the policeman who could hold that pistol.  Our luck still held, and no person was injured.  The phone talker on the fantail was almost right over where the shell hit, and it split the waterline.  The hole was about 2 feet wide by 3 feet long.  When we got hit, the USS Chandler DD717 came in to foul the enemy range, and from the seaward side, it looked like the beach side of the Chandler was nothing but guns and all firing at the same time.  We couldn't see the beach through all the smoke and fire.We retired out to sea to lick our wounds and assess and patch up the damage.  They shifted all the liquid ballast to the port bow as much as they could.  Then they took a deck plate out of the engine room, put a stage over the side and BM3 Ullman and a Damage controlman went on to the stage to weld the plate over the hole.  The seas were beginning to roll the ship up and down, and they would be in water up to their knees one minute, and then the water would be up to their armpits.  The man welding would weld little bit, and then he would stick his elbow out toward the ship, and a spark would jump to the ship.  Captain Barnard received the Bronze Star, and I believe that the Bosun and damage controlman also received the Bronze Star for their part in this operation. Endicott returned to Sasebo for repairs, and went into drydock for about a week. I was scheduled to be discharged on 28 June 1952, and that would give me 3 years on my regular enlistment, and an additional year from the presidential extension.  I left the Endicott on 24 May 1952, up on the line off Songjin, aboard the USS Katmai, an ammunition ship bound for Sasebo.  There were about three pullman cars full of  people returning to the states for discharge.  I had been on the Endicott for 3 years and 19 days.  I ended up getting discharged exactly 4 years from the time that I had enlisted. One of the greatest moments of my life was in 1992.  40 years after I had left the Endicott, I attended the first reunion that I knew about.  I did not believe that I would know anyone there, but after I had been there for only about 5 minutes, someone behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said "I believe that I know you," and I didn't even have to turn around to know who that person was.  What a great feeling!

I hope that you can make some sense out of this, and that I haven't rambled too much.

Most of this is from memory only.

 

I, Russell D. Stephens, RM3, came aboard the Endicott on 5 May 1949,   the morning after she came back from Tsingtao, China.  There were four radioman strikers who reported aboard at the same time.  We had all finished radio school about the same time and had been assigned to destroyers.  I was assigned to the USS Dennis J. Buckley, DDR808, who had just come back from the Western Pacific Fleet.  I only stayed on her for about a month, when she received orders to the east coast.  She was to go to the yards for overhaul, and then to escort the USS Constellation, a hospital ship, on a two year goodwill tour of Europe.  I was transferred to the USS Piedmont AD17 there in San Diego to await further transfer to the Endicott when she returned to the USA.  I started in the radio shack on the Endicott, but after a couple of months I transferred to the bridge, to become a signalman/quartermaster striker.  I stayed on the bridge for about a year and then returned to the radio shack because I couldn't change my rate to quartermaster.  We had been operating in and out of San Diego and Monterrey, California, and gone to the yards in Vallejo, Mare Island Navy Shipyard.

All of the talk at that time was about French-Indo China.  Life magazine had run articles about the troubles there, and the story about "Earth-Quake McGoon", I believe that was what he was nicknamed.  Then during the last week of June 1950, we got orders to the Western Pacific Fleet, and of course the orders were sealed.  The Endicott and USS Doyle DMS34, both from the same squadron, were ordered out together.  We were the first two ships from the west coast to leave on this mission.  We sailed on 30 June 1950 for Pearl Harbor, where we stayed for several days, and the Endicott alone was ordered on to WestPac.  The Doyle had developed mechanical problems and could not continue.  We took an oil king and water king to Midway Island, and they opened up a refueling station there.  For the most part the island was deserted with only a squad of U.S. Marines stationed there.  After we got through refueling and taking on fresh water, we got underway, heading for Japan.  When we crossed the International dateline west of Midway, the captain, Commander John C. Jolly announced that we were going to Korea.

I have always been fascinated by maps, and I had never hear of this place, so I went Up to bridge and got the quartermaster to show me on the carts where it was located.  I was shocked because I had always heard of that place being called the Chosen Peninsula, taken from China by the Japanese at the same time they took Manchuria. Also at the time that we crossed the International Dateline, we went to war time procedures, manning a ready mount and darkened ship.  For a young man not quite 21, and having been raised in a small town west of San Antonio, Texas, it was really scary, with lots of rumors going around the ship.  Being a radioman, had some moments where we were in on the latest events, and sometimes wished we didn't learn them so quick.

It took us about 12 or 13 days to go from Midway Island to Yokosuka Fleet Activities Base, Japan.  We stayed in Yokosuka for about a week, and then got orders to proceed to Wakkanai, Hokkaido, Japan, the northern most city in Japan.  We got as far north as the Tsugaru Straits, between Honshu Island and Hokkaido Island.  We were ordered back south to the port of Kobe, Japan to pick up a couple of CVE or jeep carriers.  We went with them to the Tsushima Straits between Kyushu Island Japan and Korea.  We were assigned as plane crash detail and anti-submarine duty with them.  They had, for the most part  Marine fighter wings flying the old gull-winged Corsair.

We stayed with the carriers for about a month, and then went to the Masan-ChinhaeArea, about 30 miles to the west of Pusan.  At that time the North Koreans had pushed everything down to about a 30 mile perimeter around Pusan.  We became gunfire support for the Army 25th Division.  It was hot and with no fans to speak of, and staying in a ready mode, we were told one night that no one could sleep below decks.  In the radio shack we were standing 4 hours on and 4 hours off.  During this time the North Koreans started to set up a gun emplacement about 3 or 4 miles away on top of one of the mountains.  Our Executive Officer, Lt. C. E. Briggs watched this operation for several days, and one day I took the message board up to have him sign for a message, and he showed me what they were doing.  He waited until they were just about ready to start firing from that position, and then he changed the ready mount and ordered them to start firing.  It didn't take many rounds from that single 5" 38 caliber mount to blow the gun away, along with some of the soldiers.  This was done three different times before they decided to stop.  While we were in Chinhae Bay, we were swinging at anchor, so we could have been an easy target.

Our first encounter with mines, our primary duty was mine warfare, was getting called up to Pohang, Korea about 65 to 75 miles north of Pusan on the east coast of Korea,to look for survivors from the USS Ptarmigan, an AMS, who had been sunk by a mine.  All that we could find was some debris floating in the general area.  The Ptarmigan was a wooden hulled tuna boat from the San Diego Tuna Fleet before WWII, so there wasn't much chance for survivors.  After finding nothing more than debris, we returned to Chinhae Man, to continue interdiction and harassing fire both day and night. The ground troops that we were supporting sometimes called in fire on certain coordinates.  We had a spotter plane up one evening, and he was calling for some really weird coordinates, changing them rapidly, so the captain got on the radio and asked the spotter what we were shooting at, and the pilot said it was a man and an oxcart.  He said we have hit the ox and cart, and with two more rounds we will have the man.  We only got underway to replenish food supplies and ammunition, which we did in Sasebo, and then it was right back to our firing mission.

On 15 September 1950, the Endicott escorted a ROK LST to the Chang Sa Dong area, sometimes referred to as Yong Dok.  The LST didn't hit the beach the way she was designed, but hit a sand bar, and broached, turned sideways to the beach. She was helpless, as she couldn't move, and was soon taken underfire from guns on the shore.   The Endicott's fire control battery, and lookouts couldn't locate the guns,so the Endicott's captain called for an air strike.  The ROK marines on the LST began to jump into the water with full field packs, guns, and ammunition.  The Valley Forge CV45 sent two AD Sky Raiders, single engine propeller aircraft in to support us and try to locate where the enemy fire was coming from.  They located it right away.  It was coming from two tanks about halfway up the side of a mountain, on a road that was hidden to us by trees, plus it was above our level.  The strike aircraft soon dispatched, or rather knocked out the tanks with bombs.  This landing was a diversionary landing on the east coast of Korea, while at the same time troops weremaking the landing at Inchon and Seoul.

Our next mission was to follow the ROK Third Division up the east coast, starting at about Pohang.  We provided gunfire support when called to fire on specific targets, and also harassing and interdiction firing at night.

On the morning of 12 October 1950, the ROK Third Division hit the airport  south of Wonsan, North Korea.  This put us north of the 38th parallel, which was the dividing line between North and South Korea after WWII.  Wonsan was just a little north of the 39th parallel.  The Endicott and another destroyer, and the name doesn't come to me right now, were supposed to be the gunfire support for a group of smaller sweepers.   About five or six Japanese sailors of fortune in small wooden sweepers were to lead the group followed by several AMS's, from US Navy, and then the USS Pirate and USS Pledge, both 185 AM class mine sweepers.  Then after the Pirate and Pledge came the Endicott and the other destroyer.  Someone got their wires crossed, and the Japanese sailors of fortune and the AMS's finally arrived on the scene. In the mean time, the Pirate and the Pledge were leading the pack, with the Endicott behind them.  When the Pirate and the Pledge passed between Ko To Island on the south of the channel, and Rei To on the north of the channel, 14 horned or contact mines popped to the surface, like soneone had released them all at once.  I was standing on the 01 deck of the  Endicott on the port side aft of the mast and superstructure, with a clear view.  Just as the two minesweepers cut the14 mines, the Pirate shuddered, a puff of black smoke came from her starboard side and I could hear a muffled explosion, and she began settling by the stern.  The Pledge was slightly astern of the Pirate at this time, and the shore batteries from the inner harbor began firing at the Pirate¸ and crew began to abandon ship.  The Pledge pulled around the starboard side of the Pirate and began firing what guns she had.  The Endicott fired all that she was capable of with only three single gun 5" 38 caliber mounts. The  shore batteries were silenced, and both the Pirate and Pledge were on the bottom in a very short time.  The combined crews of the two sunken ships totaled about 130 officers and men.  The Endicott picked up as many of the survivors as was possible with their whale boats, and the rest were picked up by some of the smaller sweepers, and brought to the Endicott.  There were quite a few broken arms, legs, and cut throats.  The throat injuries came because 7 th Fleet had just put out an order for all hands to be on deck except those absolutely necessary for the operation of the shipHowever, they did not give any instructions how the helmets were to be worn, and with the chin strap loosely fastened, the concussion blew the helmets up and cut the wearers throat.  The survivors were supposed to be transferred to a cruiser, but the weather began to turn sour, so the Endicott ended up taking the survivors to Pusan to the hospital ship Constellation I believe.

The Endicott returned to Wonsan, and sweeping continued.  United Nations ships weresoon unloading troops and supplies there on regular schedules.  The war moved north. Operations required a Hungnam channel, so the Endicoctt commenced sweeping there during the first week of December.  The harbor and facilities were ready when Chinese Communists began pouring over the border of Manchuria and into North Korea.  The Hungnam channels were expanded.  The Endicott had one sweeping job between Wonsan and Hungnam  and that was to sweep a 10 mile stretch north of Hungnam from the 100 fathom curve in to the 50 fathom curve.  I was called to the bridge to man the captains battle circuit, on the sound powered phones.  I was standing in back of the lee helm position against the bulkhead that separated the pilot house from the sonar room.  The sound of the pings from the sonar gear were loud and very clear in my position.  When they began to pick up echoes, the pings changed to ping-wop as we got a good return from the under water targets.  We had no way of knowing if the targets were mines, under water structures, whales, or possibly submarines.  Even though we were in swept water after the first pass, it was a very nerve wracking time until we finished the operation.

The Endicott was back in Wonsan harbor over Thanksgiving, and the hills to the west and north of the city were ablaze with fires set by guerilla forces in the area.  I heard one report that there were estimated to be somewhere close to 10,000 guerillas in that area alone.  I do know that when we were following the South Korean ROK Third Division up the east coast from about Pohang to Wonsan, they moved quite rapidly, and didn't appear to have time to go to the west side of the mountains.

On 13 December 1950, Lt. Cmdr. L. W. Barnard USN, relieved Cmdr. John C. Jolly USN, as commanding officer of the Endicott.  The next time the Endicott was underway for a base to the south.  She completed this operation in two days, made two trips to Japan, then returned to Hungnam, where she worked until the evacuation.

On Christmas day 1950, the transports departed enmasse from Hungnam, carrying 60,000 troops out of the jaws of the enemy's trap.  They stood out through mine free waters which had been swept by the Endicott.  Fire Support ships remained to pound the advancing enemy.  Then, they too departed.  An interesting side light to the actual evacuation at Hungnam, was that we could see the Red Chinese walking along the top of the ridge to the west and north of Hungnam.  They didn't appear to be trying to shoot, but just walking a guard post.  As the last of the departing fleet were leaving the area, Underwater Demolition Teams 1 and 3, now called the Seals, had set charges along the water front.  When they set off the charges, the whole dock area seemed to lift up in the air about 10 to 12 feet, and then just disintegrated into a cloud of dust.

In heavy seas and blinding snows of January 1951, the Siamese frigate Prosae went aground on an enemy held beach.  The Endicott arrived first on the scene and maneuvered through churning combers up to the breakers off the coast.  The Endicott lowered a whale boat.  It proceeded to the scene and rescued the men from the water and towed the pulling boat back to her mother ship.  The Endicott  guns stood ready for enemy attack.The Endicott sent a cable over to the Prosae in a desperate attempt to pull her off the bottom, but try as we might, we just couldn't move her.  A helicopter was sent over from a cruiser who lay of shore, and picked up the Mine Squadron Commander and took him over  to the  Prosae.  As the helicopter was hovering over the flying bridge, I saw Commodore Gallagher stepping out of the choper, and almost at the same time, the chopper crashed into the flying bridge.  The 20 MM ammunition ready boxes that were up there began to explode and crewmen started to jump over the side into the frigid waters.  We sent our whale boat back out with the squadron doctor and our Chief Hospital Corpsman and they picked up as many as they could out of the water and deposited them on the beach, where the medics took care of them as best as they could.  The snow on the beach was about 8 feet deep, and the enemy had trenches dug out so they could move around in and we couldn't see them.  Seas finally broached the Prosae, and she started to break apart.  The crew was evacuated and she was destroyed.

Mid-February 1951, found the Endicott back in Wonsan harbor, to be support for some very small and shallow draft boats that were equipped to be sweepers for the shallow waters of the outer bay at Wonsan.  Three of us from the Endicott were ordered to be part of the crew for a rescue boat for these sweeping operations.  Our commanding officer was Lt. S.C. Myers, MD.  We were to use a 40 foot motor launch under the command of W.R. Siddall, Boatswain Mate 1st class.  Medical officer was D. Mahone, HN., and myself, Russell D. Stephens, RMSN, radioman.  Plus there were 5 seaman crew members from the USS Comstock LSD19, for a total of eight men in the 40 foot motor launch.  The first day we tried to go out, a very thick fog had moved in and we got lost just as soon as we left sight of the ship.  I don't think we were more than a couple of hundred yards, and we couldn't see anything.  I called the ship on the radio, and told them what the situation was, and they gave us a heading to start out and when they saw something on radar, had us turn for identification.  The suggested heading got us back to the ship, so we stayed aboard for the rest of that day. 

The next time we went out only a day or so later, it was bitterly cold, around –20 degrees, and a north wind of about 15 to 25 knots.  An open 40 foot motorlaunch does not give you much protection from the elements.  The beach was covered under several  feet of snow, and the only heat we had was the exhaust stack from the grey marine diesel engine.  We, all 8 of us in the rescue boat had on long johns, sweaters, foul weather overalls, and jackets, three buckle arctic boots over shoes, and wool socks.  We also had caps with ear flaps, wool gloves with leather mittens, and still within 30 to 45 minutes, we were losing feeling in our hands and feet.  Luckily all eight of us came out of the three day ordeal without losing any parts to frost bite.  Shortly after this, we got orders to return to the states and went home with great joy.  My 3 year enlistment was supposed to be over the last of June 1951, but President Truman gave all of us a 1 year extension on our enlistments.

While in the states in 1951, we went into the yards at Terminal Island Navy Yard for overhaul, and then shakedown, and underway training.  7 October 1951 saw us underway again for the Far East.  7 November we were off the east coast of Korea again, near the village of Songjin, and were firing at targets.  We destroyed five  villages where enemy supplies were stored.  We were the direct support to a Naval intelligence island just north of Songjin, called Yang-do.  The people there were fishermen, but were sympathetic with the south.  There were ROK marines and one U.S. Marine lieutenant intelligence officer.  We supplied them with fresh water and supplies.  Christmas day 1951, we had a party for 35 children and 10 adults from Yang-do.  Ships crew acted as big brothers, and when that sailor had to go on watch another would take his place.  Turkey was a new dish, and rice was not on the official menu, but it was served.

Endicott destroyed 14 mines while furnishing gunfire support for a minesweeper in Songjin inner harbor on 4 February 1952.  The Endicott was taken under fire from shore batteries, and she had to maneuver violently.  She went to battle stations and was hit by a 37 mm round.  It hit the bottom of an engine room vent, and just missed two men standing in the hatch of the electricians shop.  The Endicott took 20 straddling rounds, but luckily none of them did any damage to either the ship or any of the crew.

On 9 February 1952, during one of our nightly runs up the east coast to Chongjin, at 41 degrees 50 minutes north latitude, the farthest point north that they would let us go, which put us only about 80 miles south of Vladivostok, Russia, the captain wanted to match what a British Frigate had done sometime before.  The coastline up at Chongjin was shaped somewhat like a stretched C, and on the south end, a river emptied into the sea, so we backed down in the channel of the river, and waited for the train that we called the "Pusan Limited" came through.  This train seemed to run every night, so we waited for a while until we could tell it was coming, and it was during dark of the moon.  When it got into our range, almost point blank, we opened fire with our 3 single 5" 38 caliber mounts and proceeded to blow up the train.  It appeared to have been carrying  ammo and/or explosives.  Quite a fireworks display.

On 19 February 1952, the communists served notice that they didn't appreciatethe fact that United Nations were holding Yang-do Island just a few miles north of Songjin, and they held an amphibious landing party of about 200 assault troops. I had just completed the 2000 to 2400 watch in the radio shack and was smoking my last cigarette before going aft to the living compartment, when the sounded  "General Quarters", and we stayed at "GQ" until about 1030 or 1100 the next morning.  The raiding party came over to the island in a varied group of boats, and since the mainland was only about 2 ½ miles island, it seemed like an easy raid to them.  The North Korean Major who led the raiding party had been raised on the island, so he was familiar with everything.  They killed a couple of teenage boys who were manning one of the telephone outposts before they could alert the ROK marines, and the U.S. Marine Officer, Lt. Joe Bartos.  He led the attack on the raiding party along with the ROK marines, and gave a very good accounting of themselves.  The Endicott along with the British Frigate HMS Taupo furnished gunfire support.  The Taupo went into the channel between the island and the mainland, and destroyed several boats of various sizes filled with some of the raiders.  The ROK marines on the island pinned down a group of about 100 of the raiders, and when it got daylight, they counted about 90 of the raiders dead.  When the raiding party tried to return to the mainland, Endicott and Taupo finished mopping up on the returning raiders.  The raiding party lost at least 100 men on the island, and about 100 more in the channel, while the ROK marines lost only 7 men.  The communists never again tried to attack the island.  The Endicott received a scroll of appreciation from Vice Admiral Suag, the Korean Chief of  Naval Operations.

In March 1952, the Endicott had to do a minesweeping operation up at Chongjin, would prove to be very hazardous. We had been making the run from Songjin up to Chongjin at night, and after nearly running over 5 or 6 mines that were floating free, The captain persuaded the 7th Fleet Admiral that we could do the same job in the daylight hours, and not have to worry about possibly losing the ship to a mine.  We were to sweep in very close to the shore line.  When we got up to Chongjin, we could see 3 of the very large glass fishing floats, about 3 feet in diameter.  The captain pulled up and sent the 40 mm guncrew to their stations with orders to blow the floats out of the water.  Just about the time that the 40 mm fired the first round, the floats appeared to be spaced out in a straight line from the shore.  The shore batteries opened up and hit the first buoy closest to the shore, the second hit the middle buoy, and the third round hit the last buoy, and while this was taking place, Captain Barnard was screaming for flank speed and started a zig-zag run out to the open sea.  By the time we got out to about 10,000 to 12,000 yards. we had been straddled by about 25 more rounds.  We then turned and started a firing run straight toward the beach, zig-zagging as we went in, and didn't get hit by any of their rounds until we turned and started out to the open sea.  Then we took a hit in the after peak tank on the starboard corner of the stern.  From the size of the hole, it had to be from at least a 120mm gun, and they said that Korea was just a police action.  I sure would have liked to see the size of the pistol that fired some of those rounds, as well as the policeman who could hold that pistol.  Our luck still held, and no person was injured.  The phone talker on the fantail was almost right over where the shell hit, and it split the waterline.  The hole was about 2 feet wide by 3 feet long.  When we got hit, the USS Chandler DD717 came in to foul the enemy range, and from the seaward side, it looked like the beach side of the Chandler was nothing but guns and all firing at the same time.  We couldn't see the beach through all the smoke and fire.We retired out to sea to lick our wounds and assess and patch up the damage.  They shifted all the liquid ballast to the port bow as much as they could.  Then they took a deck plate out of the engine room, put a stage over the side and BM3 Ullman and a Damage controlman went on to the stage to weld the plate over the hole.  The seas were beginning to roll the ship up and down, and they would be in water up to their knees one minute, and then the water would be up to their armpits.  The man welding would weld little bit, and then he would stick his elbow out toward the ship, and a spark would jump to the ship.  Captain Barnard received the Bronze Star, and I believe that the Bosun and damage controlman also received the Bronze Star for their part in this operation. Endicott returned to Sasebo for repairs, and went into drydock for about a week. I was scheduled to be discharged on 28 June 1952, and that would give me 3 years on my regular enlistment, and an additional year from the presidential extension.  I left the Endicott on 24 May 1952, up on the line off Songjin, aboard the USS Katmai, an ammunition ship bound for Sasebo.  There were about three pullman cars full of  people returning to the states for discharge.  I had been on the Endicott for 3 years and 19 days.  I ended up getting discharged exactly 4 years from the time that I had enlisted. One of the greatest moments of my life was in 1992.  40 years after I had left the Endicott, I attended the first reunion that I knew about.  I did not believe that I would know anyone there, but after I had been there for only about 5 minutes, someone behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said "I believe that I know you," and I didn't even have to turn around to know who that person was.  What a great feeling!

I hope that you can make some sense out of this, and that I haven't rambled too much. Most of this is from memory only.

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