USS Norris DD 859
Just one year ago at Christmas time, Norris was settled peacefully in her homeport of Newport, Rhode Island; her crew able to spend the holidays with family and friends. Today things are different. Norris is steaming off the coast of Vietnam. Her crew often eats on the run gunfire deafens their ears, the holidays are accompanied by a pitch and a yaw.
It's been a long road for Norris to this mission off Vietnam's long ragged coast. She was commissioned 21 years ago and named in honor of Major Benjamin White Norris, a Marine pilot who was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for heroism at the Battle of Midway.
Following her commissioning Norris joined the Pacific Fleet. Four years later, after a trip around the world and combat duty in Korea she found herself in Newport as a part of the Atlantic Fleet. A fleet in which she has remained ever since.
During the next 17 years Norris logged hundreds of thousands of miles. She traveled to the Mediterranean and joined the U S Sixth Fleet several times; just as frequently she cruised the Caribbean waters.
The years have wrought great changes in Norris. She has undergone the FRAM II conversion; carried new experimental torpedo equipment; and finally, was equipped with the new Drone AntiSubmarine Helicopter.
Efficiency is a well-known word aboard Norris. She began her second decade by winning the Battle Efficiency "E". She followed this up with two hashmarks under it. Nor has Norris rested on
her laurals. She has continued her winning ways, winning the Battle "E" in 1963 and again in '65. Norris has been busy leading up to her Pacific deployment. Last February found her once more in the Caribbean waters on operation Springboard. In April she was assigned to aid the Polaris project at Cape Kennedy as tracking ship. The spring schedule also included coordinated antisubmarine warfare exercises in the Atlantic with the carrier Wasp. The bi-annual Bermuda Yacht Race utilized 7\orris' talents as an escort vessel. Then came her final role before deployment as part of the Gemini recovery team.
Now Norris is in the waters off Vietnam.
She was recently enroute to her first gunfire support area assignment when she was called upon to provide immediate emergency gunfire support to rout Viet Cong troops who had overrun the town of Cho Phuoc Hai, 25 miles from her position near the Mekong Delta.
Norris responded to the call at high speed and was on station and firing her five-inch guns by 6:07 a.m. Working in coordination with Air Force jet aircraft and armed Army helicopters, she expended over 200 rounds of ammunition and became the first ship of Destroyer Squadron Twenty to engage the enemy. Norris herself came under fire from shore during her engagement.
This is the job Norris and America's many similar ships have been trained for. Her yearly round of repeated training and drills stand her in good use during this holiday season. She draws on these acquired skills daily in either coastal patrol, shore bombardment, pinpoint firing, or a covering barrage for landing troops.