USS William H. Standley DLG/CG-32 Association

WHS RESCUES THE RESCUERS 6 APRIL 1971

PART I - Documented Facts

Date: 6 April 1971

Participants: WHS and 2 SAR helos from HC7 Det 104 and 110 from RANGER.

I quote nearly verbatim from UNCLASS MSG:

"On completion of the event involving 2 SAR HELOS, visibility dropped to less than 50 yards and, with fuel low in both helos, landing them under normally unacceptable conditions became critical. Using a combination of both fire control and search radar and exceptional air control and pilot expertise each helo was landed under complete radar controlled approach conditions with final visual sighting at under twenty-five yards. In each case when final touchdown occurred, fuel state was under thirty minutes. The calm voice of STANDLEY'S air controller under the most urgent of conditions was matched only by the professional cool of the pilots of HC7, Det 104 and 110. This incident reflects credit upon the readiness, alertness and competence of all involved."

s/Capt. Alva L. Blanks, USN(RET), (CO), 8 August 1998

PART II - AS I REMEMBER IT

The USS William H. Standley (DLG-32) was on station in North SAR, GOT on an overcast day, when a fog bank moving in from the Northeast closed in, reducing visibility to about 25 yards. One of HC-7 Det 110's helicopters was airborne, and did not have enough fuel to make it back to the Carrier. They were vectored in by the AIC, but could not locate the ship in the fog. I was proceeding to the bridge for the 16-20 JOOD watch, when the ships XO stopped me on the Port wing of the bridge, and explained the situation to me. Following the discussion, it was decided to man the MK 68 GFCS and lock on to the helo, and let the AIC 'talk' the craft into visual contact so they could land on the ships helo flight deck. It should be noted that range and bearing information from the MK 68 GFCS fed directly into the DRT in CIC (this mode used primarily for shore bombardment). The MK 68 crew tracked the helo right down into the radars Main Bang (a range of about 15-20 yards) as the AIC talked the pilot into a landing approach. Just as the radar lost the blip in the main bang, the pilot made visual contact with the ship and LSO. The helo landed without further incident.

After the incident, I talked with the pilot and co-pilot in the wardroom over coffee. Needless to say, they were extremely thankful for Standley's resourcefulness. The pilot (a LT) related that in the pea soup fog he had 'gone vertigo', and had relenquished control to the co-pilot (a LTjg).

s/CW3 Charles F. Mitchell, US Army(RET), 8 August 1998

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----a memorable situation which I doubt I will forget. One addition I might make is that there where two helicopters recovered during the evolution. The airsearch radar picked them up first, then the Fire Control radar brought them in the rest of the way as Gunner states. The fog was so thick that the pilot(s) could not see the ship even after they were closer than the 68's minimum range. We could hear the plane and actually saw the plane's lights for what seemed like minutes before the pilot saw us. If I recall correctly, he never did see us at that time. We told him where he was relative to us----the "us" here is the ship and the whole team (AIC, bridge personnel, and radar folks)----which enabled him to drop aft a bit, drop down and visually sight the ship's wake. Gutsy. He then made the landing.

Dan Cooksey, who was the Navigator, was on the bridge during the evolution.

... it will be fun to go over some helicopter stories ... Air Certification or whatever it was called and the time the H-46 landed and left us with some Marine or Army raiders come to mind as good sea stories.

s/Capt. John N. Ryan, USN(RET), (XO), 8 August 1998

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I was in Combat when this happened. One of the Second Class Radarman (I'll have to look at the Book from the cruise for his name) is who talked them in. He used surface radar for bearing and distance "calls" from firecontrol. The DRT was used but I don't think it was very useful.

s/Dave Laney, LTjg, USNR, (Intelligence Officer), 10 August 1998

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I found a newspaper clipping that was put in the book that was presented to me by the ship when I was relieved that reported the low visibility helo landings we discussed previously. In quotes is some material you may want to use:

"Lt Joe W. Behunin, Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 7 piloted his aircraft and made his first pass landing with less than 10 minutes flying time remaining. Lt Behunin's co-pilot and crew were Lt(jg) Harry J. Zinser, AT2 D.W.Post and ADR S.R.McGraw.

It took Lt Bud H. Barnes three passes to find the fog shrouded ship even though each was within one hundred yards approach of the waiting helo crew. On the third pass visual sighting was made with aircraft about 25 yards from...."

The article was continued on another page I don't have. As I recall no one had been able to identify the pilots before.

s/Capt. Al L. Blanks, USN(Ret), (Commanding Officer), 2 September 1998