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USS WIDGEON MSC 208

History

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Photos

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COMMANDING OFFICERS

LT Bruce G.Stone
1955-1957
LT Carl Thor Hanson
1957-1959
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LT Dalrymple
1966-1968
LT Julian E.Minard
1968-1970
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Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals (4) , Navy Meritorious Unit Citation (1) , Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citations (5) and Vietnam Service Medals (9).

The second Widgeon (AMS-208) was laid down on 3 May 1954 at Bellingham, Wash., by the Bellingham Shipyards, Inc., launched on 15 October 1954; sponsored by Mrs. John F. Cushing, the wife of the treasurer of the Bellingham Shipyards; reclassified MSC-208 on 7 February 1955; and commissioned at the naval station at Tacoma, Wash., on 16 November 1955, Lt. Bruce G. Stone in command.
Ready for sea on 15 December 1955, Widgeon a unit of the Pacific Fleet Mine Force sailed on 3 January 1956 for visits to San Francisco and Long Beach, Calif. The new minesweeper operated out of the latter port until 29 January at which time she shifted to San Diego to undergo shakedown training. Upon completion of shakedown, the ship underwent a four-week availability at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard.
The ship underwent further trials and alterations before she sailed to the Western Pacific (WestPac) on 1 October 1956. Proceeding in company with Mine Division (MinDiv) 95, Widgeon reported to Commander Naval Forces, Far East (ComNavFE) for duty and was assigned to MinDiv 32, Mine Squadron 3, Mine Flotilla 1.
Homeported at Sasebo, Japan, Widgeon operated in the Far East for the next 13 years. During that time, she participated in local operations in Japanese waters, as well as voyages to Korea and Okinawa for exercises. She conducted joint minesweeping operations and exercises with units of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces, the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy, Chinese Nationalist Navy, and visited ports such as Kobe, Yokosuka, Nagasaki, Kagoshima, Aburatsu, Beppu, Kochi, Tsushima, Japan; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Maisuru, Japan; Hong Kong; Buckner Bay; Subic Bay, Philippines, and Pohang and Koje Do, Korea. Interspersed with her active training evolutions, the minesweeper underwent routine periods of upkeep and alterations and repairs at her home port of Sasebo.
Participation in the increasing American involvement in the war in Vietnam, however, highlighted the minesweeper's lengthy WestPac deployment. From the mid-1960's, the ship commenced a regular schedule of deployments on "Market Time" patrol stations in the coastal waters off South Vietnam, on patrol and interdiction to cut off the seaborne flow of supplies to the communist Viet Cong forces inside South Vietnam. During one such cruise in January 1967 while being diverted from a "Market Time" patrol to conduct classified operations in the Gulf of Tonkin the ship made the national news when she was rammed by a swordfish. Later during that same cruise' while the ship was crossing the South China Sea, she sighted a McDonnell F4-C Phantom crash into the sea. Widgeon altered course in time to rescue one man of the two-man crew. The other flier, the pilot, died in the crash. Commander, Naval Forces, Philippines, later cited Widgeon for her outstanding performance of duty during the rescue.
Widgeon returned to Sasebo on 17 February 1967, worn and beaten from heavy seas, and was under repairs during March and April. On 1 May, a Navy P-3 Orion patrol plane, with a crew of 12 men on board, crashed in the Tsushima Strait off the southern coast of Korea Widgeon headed for the scene of the crash transiting the hazardous Hirado Strait for search and rescue (SAR) operations. She searched for two days and recovered numerous bits of debris but was unable to locate any survivors or the fuselage of the plane. The minesweeper ultimately returned to Sasebo on 5 May to commence refresher training.
Widgeon spent the months of July through September on her sixth "Market Time" patrol and a cruise in the South China Sea. Departing Sasebo on 3 July, the minesweeper arrived at Bangkok, Thailand, on the 15th. She later operated with mine countermeasures units of the Royal Thai Navy in the Gulf of Thailand in a SEATO exercise, "Sea Dog", before she operated on "Market Time" stations from 27 July to 12 September. When she arrived at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, on 16 September, the ship's crew had not touched land in 60 days. Widgeon subsequently spent the rest of the year engaged in local operations out of Sasebo and Buckner Bay, Okinawa, and made a visit to Hong Kong for rest and recreation.
Over the next two years, Widgeon continued her operations in the Far East and Southeast Asian waters. During that time, she conducted two "Market Time" patrols for which she later received the Meritorious Unit Commendation. The award, given the ship on 16 August 1970 was for the period from 1 June 1968 to 13 September 1969. During that time, Widgeon served with the Mine Countermeasures Ready Group and Coastal Surveillance Forces in combat operations off the coast of South Vietnam. She maintained a consistently high standard of readiness that enabled her to assume assigned duties early or on very short notice, and she completed three stints on "Market Time" patrol stations. She not only inspected or boarded over 1,100 vessels but, on occasion, returned "hostile", fire from shore and conducted underwater searches. Throughout the repeated patrol extensions, "the continually outstanding performance, high state of morale, preparedness, and ingenuity of the officers and men of Widgeon attested to their exceptional team spirit and professionalism. By their exemplary courage and dedication, they contributed significantly to the success of anti-infiltration efforts in the Republic of Vietnam and enhanced the reputation of the Mine Countermeasures Ready Group, thereby reflecting credit upon themselves and the United States Naval Service".
Ultimately, after 13 years of continuous service in WestPac operating areas, Widgeon sailed for the United States on 17 August 1969, in company with Catskill (MCS-1), Vireo (MSC-205), and Warbler (MSC-206). Proceeding via Pearl Harbor, she arrived at Long Beach exactly one month later. Later that autumn, on 1 October 1969, Widgeon was decommissioned and placed in reserve; she got underway the next day for her new home port, San Diego.
For the next three years Widgeon operated as a Group II Naval Reserve training (NET) ship. She operated primarily in the San Diego area but twice visited Ensenada, Mexico, once in 1972 and once in 1973. Struck from the Navy list on 2 July 1973, Widgeon was sold in January 1974.
Widgeon (MSC-208) earned six engagement stars for her Vietnam service and a Meritorious Unit Commendation.Did she recieve the Combat Action Ribbon???
 

Members of the minesweeping community; The Lucid MSO-458 Foundation was formed by a group of minesweeper crewmen who served aboard US Navy MSO's. MSO's are a class of wooden hull oceangoing minesweepers that are now decommissioned and fading from public memory. The group has obtained the USS Lucid MSO-458 and has her docked at Bradford Island, California. Work has begun! The organization is restoring her and a public museum is established. The MSO is a little known and poorly documented, extremely interesting facet of Naval history. The USS Lucid Museum is dedicated to telling the story of the minesweeping men and their wooden ships, the last all wooden US Naval ships, to navigate the oceans. We will be telling the stories of Mine Recovery and UDT teams, Floating Pigs, Hammer Boxes, Magtails, Aluminum Engines and Towed Sonar. The little known stories of Contact, Magnetic and Acoustic minesweeping as well as the mystery of Magnetic Countermeasures will be told through the displays, narratives and museum media. Typhoons, tiny ships and ice-clad superstructures are only a small part of the "Wooden Ships and Iron Men" story. From sweeping the Mekong Delta in Viet Nam, observing the final Nuclear blasts on Johnston Island to sweeping the Persian Gulf, "Where the Fleet Goes, We've Been" will be clearly illustrated. Since there is no other Naval Museum that even attempts to tell the story of the MSO the USS Lucid is an important and living detail of US Naval History. First, Lucid must undergo a restoration. Previous civilian owners for commercial use have modified her. She needs hull repairs and painting and re-outfitting to be brought back to her former Naval dignity and glory. The Lucid MSO-458 Foundation has a workforce of planners, engineers and volunteer manpower who are vested and committed to this grand and worthy project. Bringing her to life is a large financial undertaking. We’re looking for tax-exempt gifts from the Military Industrial sector and individuals to help with this extremely valuable endeavor. Of course, all donors will be properly and prominently acknowledged aboard the vessel. Your donation will help preserve this vital part of Naval History. Please join us in telling the MSO story by sending a tax-exempt gift to Lucid MSO-458 Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit foundation through our website. http://www.usslucid.org
W.W."Mike"Warren EN2

LINKS

CREW ROSTER

Widgeon Unit Page