Into the Lion’s Den Exhibit: USS Rowan (DD 782)

We’re moving along rapidly with planning for the new Cold War Gallery exhibit, “Into the Lion’s Den.” The exhibit tells the story of the 1972 raid into Haiphong Harbor by four U.S. Navy warships to shell enemy shore positions. We’ve just received detailed engineering drawings for the exhibit, which have been submitted to Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) for review. We’re also really pleased with the design of the four colorful wall panels that will explain the story of this battle to museum visitors. We hope to share some of these graphics with you in the next week or two. We anticipate construction of the exhibit to be complete by the end of May, with a formal ribbon cutting ceremony at the Naval Historical Foundation Annual Meeting in June.

Today, we want to recognize one of the participants in the raid: destroyer USS Rowan (DD 782). Rowan was commissioned in the final year of World War II, and went on to serve in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Last night we heard from a sailor who was on board Rowan during that dramatic 1972 night battle in Haiphong Harbor, and he pointed out an excellent write-up by another veteran of the battle, Chuck Packer, called “A Dicey Night Up North.” We hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we did.

To learn more about this upcoming “Into the Lion’s Den” exhibit, or to make a donation to support construction, please visit our Fundly page.

NH 103508 USS Rowan

USS ROWAN (DD-782) underway in the western Pacific, circa early 1965. USS CORAL SEA (CVA-43) is in the right distance. NHHC Photo NH 103508-KN, taken by Photographer's Mate First Class Fleeson.

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11 Responses to Into the Lion’s Den Exhibit: USS Rowan (DD 782)

  1. Frank Magazo says:

    In regards to Chuck Packer’s story, “A Dicey Night Up North”. I am honored to have served on the Rowan during the Haiphong raid. He describes every moment of what sailors experience during the heat of battle. Our crew was truly a band of brothers and Capt. Comer had all of our trust in getting us through that hair raising night.

  2. admin says:

    Thanks for your comment Frank. You’ll be happy to hear that the Lion’s Den exhibit construction here at the Navy Yard began this week, we’ll have more on that soon.

  3. Pingback: Into the Lion's Den Exhibit: USS Robison (DDG 12) | Naval Historical Foundation

  4. Russ Rzeszutko says:

    I still remember that night very well. I was in the after mount powder room when the order came to “hold on to something” and we started to zig and zag like crazy, they had soviet torpedo’s that homed in on the sound of the screws and I was in the powder room right above those suckers. I swear I can still hear that high pitched whining coming off that bulkhead, quite a relief when started fading.

  5. mark mesel says:

    I was on the Rowan DD782 in 1973.

  6. mark mesel says:

    I was on the Rowan DD782 from 1973 to 1975.

  7. Dana Perkins says:

    I was aboard the USS Rowan DD-782 at the time of the Haiphong harbor raid. I was on the signal bridge manning a shoulder fired red eye missle in case we had inbound bogeys. A night to remember!!!

  8. Carl Berry STSC (SS) says:

    I was aboard Rowan during the Haiphong raid. My battle station was in sonar on the MK 114 attack director being used to fire the shrike missiles. What a rush when the captain gave us a green board and we fired them off. As I remember we took out two North Vietnam shore battery sites that night. With the torpedo boats and Migs after us it was quite a night.

  9. Michael Clark says:

    I was a GMTSN onboard Rowan that night and in the Asroc Control Station with GMT1 Ernie Lyons, GMT2 Rich Haviland & GMT3 SIDENSTRICKER…We fired 2 Shrike Missles..Rich Haviland Fired the first one and I got to fire the second…I remember everything being fine until the I believe STG1 Kneisler (sp?) relayed to Ernie that there were incoming high speed surface targets heading our way, then a few minutes later he came back and said “incoming bogeys!” it was then I noticed everyone getting a little concerned..Interesting night for sure. I was just a young guy 20 years old…Ended up staying in the Navy and retired as a Warrant Gunner. All the best to Rowan Shipmates 1971-1974

  10. Rodney (Jeff) Cantwell says:

    I served on the Rowan from June 1971 until December 1972 as Radarman 3d and was on the trip to Haiphong harbor. I was on duty in CIC the day before the raid was executed when early in the afternoon we got a message from the Newport News that gave us the official coordinate points that we would approach our targets. The XO handed me the sheet paper with the coordinate info and asked me to decipher it with the wheel coder and then trace them on his chart for checking. I did so in a few minutes I had it decoded and traced on the chart. After all was finished, I ran the codes again to data was correct and was ready for XO. I was about to send the chart to the bridge where he was when I happened to see dashed line running parallel with our course took a northern turn for about 2 miles and then crossed back parallel. This didn’t look right, so I checked the coding again and still got the same thing. I took a better look at the chart and finally realized the line we were paralleling was 1500 yards in the boundary of the mine field set earlier. I showed Chief Lambert what I had discovered and to the bridge the Chief went. Next the Captain, XO, and the Chief came into CIC and got on the network and talked several minutes. Finally, they broke the huddle and they came out of the ECM room and came over and thanked me for catching the error and to run the coder again and I did and that time it remained a parallel line! For the guys that have give their memories, I’ll tell them they didn’t see the most wearisome thing that I saw. Soon after we fired Shrikes the counterbattery really kicked in and on the highest point, the close-in radar repeater (my station) instead having a normal minimum distance of 300-400 yards before you couldn’t see a contact, it then it was 800-1000 yards where you couldn’t see anything because of all the water pillars caused by our friends on the beach. It was something to remember.

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