Preserving The Oral HistorIES of Combat Veterans

COMBAT STORIES FROM Vietnam

Al Stiles | USS Manley (DD-940) - Navy

9:26   |   The destroyer had been off the coast of Vietnam for about a month when tragedy hit. One of the five inch gun mounts exploded in a freak accident. Al Stiles describes the chaotic aftermath as the sailors rushed to contain the fire and prevent further explosions.

More From Al Stiles

Keywords   :     Philip Al Stiles    Vietnam    Henry Scoop Jackson    Warren Curry Graham    5 inch gun    gun mount    USS Manley (DD-940)    Don West    Jimmy Holmes    Carl Tiny Menear    Agent Orange    Subic Bay

Videos ( 16 )
Vietnam
  • Al Stiles  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Ships  |  5:14

    Al Stiles was from a Navy family and was set on being a Navy man himself. After boot camp and service on two ships, he re-enlisted and went to fire control school. He headed for his first deployment in Vietnam, stopping in Pearl Harbor, where he was taken aback by something he saw at the Memorial.

  • Al Stiles  |  Vietnam  |  USS Manley (DD-940)  |  4:58

    As the ship approached Da Nang, the crew was baited by the Viet Cong, trying to get them to open fire. Al Stiles was in fire control on the USS Manley, a destroyer which prowled the coast and offered supporting fire to troops inland.

  • Al Stiles  |  Vietnam  |  USS Manley (DD-940)  |  3:15

    After a terrible accident aboard the destroyer USS Manley, the crew gathered for a Christmas celebration and Al Stiles remembers it as a very special occasion.

  • Al Stiles  |  Vietnam  |  USS Manley (DD-940)  |  5:53

    With one five inch gun mount out of commission, the USS Manley returned to duty off the coast of Vietnam. Al Stiles recalls the tragic death of a crewman from a sudden heart attack and, as the crew was getting over that, another bizarre accident caused the explosion of a second gun mount. Lightning had struck twice.

  • Al Stiles  |  Vietnam  |  USS Manley (DD-940)  |  3:17

    When a ship pulled into Hong Kong for liberty, a call went out to a lady named Mary Sue, who had a big operation painting the sides of warships. The USS Manley had a lot of port visits there and elsewhere for repairs and refitting after she lost two gun mounts.

  • Al Stiles  |  Vietnam  |  USS Manley (DD-940)  |  7:07

    The USS Manley was heading to Singapore for repairs when the route was adjusted slightly to make sure the ceremonies associated with crossing the equator could take place. Al Stiles provides a colorful description of the initiation of the Polliwogs.

  • Al Stiles  |  Vietnam  |  USS Manley (DD-940)  |  6:45

    While transiting the Mediterranean, the USS Manley stopped in Crete, where the crew got some liberty and a taste of the local beverage, ouzo. Al Stiles recalls the potentially embarrassing departure from the port which became an apparently graceful bit of ship handling.

  • Al Stiles  |  Vietnam  |  USS Manley (DD-940)  |  2:59

    Al Stiles remembers that it seemed to take forever steaming into home port at Charleston. The USS Manley had returned from Vietnam and he was anxious to see his wife. He adapted his letters home to her, along with deck logs and other materials into a book.

  • Al Stiles  |  Vietnam  |  USS Manley (DD-940)  |  4:08

    During the second deployment of the USS Manley to Vietnam, the destroyer was called on to use its guns to breach the wall in the old city of Hue without harming the palace within. Two other ships had failed, but Al Stiles directed the fire that accomplished the mission. The Manley was getting a reputation as the go-to destroyer for precise fire.

  • Al Stiles  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Ships and Stations  |  6:50

    Asked what changes over his thirty year career were most beneficial to the Navy, Al Stiles is sure of his answer. All of them were detrimental. He also has some pointed observations on the Vietnam War.

Cold War
  • Al Stiles  |  Cold War  |  USS Talbot (FFG-4)  |  4:35

    Following his two deployments to Vietnam, Al Stiles first had shore duty in Philadelphia, which didn't go so well, and then duty aboard the USS Talbot, a guided missile frigate, which was a good command.

  • Al Stiles  |  Cold War  |  Multiple Ships  |  6:43

    While in the Mediterranean aboard the USS Talbot, Petty Officer Al Stiles flippantly suggested to the captain that he should be able to learn to drive the ship and stand that watch. To his surprise, the captain did just that and the captain of his next ship agreed to continue. This led to an interesting exchange between the captain and Admiral Stansfield Turner.

  • Al Stiles  |  Cold War  |  USS Talbot (FFG-4)  |  2:46

    Al Stiles was temporarily based in Argentina and his wife was with him there. As he was aboard ship going around Cape Horn, she was hospitalized and he was allowed to leave the ship and go take care of her. They had been told they would not be able to have children because of other issues, but a miracle occurred after they returned to the States.

  • Al Stiles  |  Cold War  |  Multiple Ships and Stations  |  9:24

    He'd been at sea for a while, so Al Stiles had some shore duty, first in Virginia and then Japan. After overseeing some major ship overhauls, he returned to sea on the USS Midway, his first time on a carrier. Meanwhile, at home, his wife found out some disturbing news about her health.

  • Al Stiles  |  Cold War  |  Dam Neck Fleet Training Center  |  3:19

    While an instructor in gunnery at the Dam Neck Fleet Training Center, Al Stiles put all his combat experience from Vietnam to use. He helped teach a new philosophy of fire control in which all of the ship's sensors are aligned to the same point.

  • Al Stiles  |  Cold War  |  Multiple Ships and Stations  |  4:17

    Al Stiles didn't think he was qualified for a job as weapons officer on a guided missile frigate, but he was wrong. He was even offered his choice of ships. This was to be his last sea tour and, after one more assignment as an instructor, his long Navy career was at an end.

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