Into the Lion’s Den Exhibit: USS Robison (DDG 12)

USS Robison Insignia PatchWe are drawing closer to completion of the new “Into the Lion’s Den” exhibit in the Cold War Gallery, and we’d like to take the  opportunity to remember the fourth U.S. Navy surface warship involved in the 1972 night battle in Haiphong Harbor. We previously shared stories about USS Providence and USS Rowan, as well as a detailed description of the exhibit, which features a recreation of the armored bridge of the cruiser USS Newport News. The fourth ship involved in the battle was the guided missile destroyer USS Robison (DDG 12).

USS Robison, a Charles F. Adams class guided missile destroyer (see our story earlier this week about ex-USS Charles F. Adams) was commissioned in 1961. She served with distinction on the gunline off the coast of Vietnam, earning seven battle stars during the war. One of the components of the new exhibit under construction is a wall panel describing Operation Sea Dragon. During that operation Robison was awarded a Meritorious Unit Commendation, and was credited with destroying 78 enemy logistics craft. And of course, on the dark evening of 27 August 1972 that is being recreated in the new museum exhibit, Robison steamed into Haiphong Harbor and shelled enemy targets ashore. The destroyer continued to serve for another two decades, and was decommissioned in 1991.

We hope that Robison veterans will take pride that their ship will be represented in the newest exhibit in the Cold War Gallery. We’ll be cutting the ribbon on the new exhibit during the Naval Historical Foundation Annual Meeting, to be held 23 June at the Cold War Gallery, at the Washington Navy Yard. If you are interested in attending, you can RSVP online.

Robison NH 106735

USS ROBISON (DDG 12) Underway off Point Loma, California on 10 June 1967. NHHC photo NH 106735

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    • Tom Lewis


      I was topside above the Bridge during this event and was aboard the Robi from 71 until the end of 74. Watched our coming and going that night. It was a wild and crazy event for sure. We were shooting, and Vietnam was shooting at us, but we never once took a hit. I also remember the Robi sitting off Quang Tri watching the B-52s dump their load which set of waves that made the Robi rock and roll. We would now and then lob a few five inch rounds towards the smaller boats that offloaded some of the Chinese Freighters.

      Also I remember the time we took and gave fight to a Vietnam peninsula one early morning when counter battery was shooting over our heads, and somehow we or the group of destroyers that was with us hit an ammo dump which looked like this new MOAB going off. I also remember our Yard time spent in Sasebo, Japan where I really got to like the Japanese people, and we would laugh at the morning exercises of the Japanese yard workers every morning. I was in the FT and GM group bunking aft and my bunk was right under the Tartar Missile launcher, and when it went off, I would almost knock myself out if and when I was sleeping.

      • David Berry


        I was in fireroom #2 on that night, and that morning when we went to Han Mai I believe was the name. Each and every shell that hit the water sounded like there was someone on the outside with a large hammer hitting the hull. You saw it I only herd it.

  1. "B. G." Miller


    I was in the magazine of gun mount 51 on the early morning raid of Haiphong Harbor. 18 yrs. old, slamming 80 lb. projectiles as fast as we could, wow. To this day, March 19, 2015 I remember the sight and actions going on in the magazine and the sounds of shrapnel from enemy gun fire pounding The U.S.S. Robison.

    A shout out to all my Brothers that were there on one of many.

    • Alan Harnack


      I was there with ya …Alan Harnack From AS division we berthed right behind you guys and I’ll always remember old 51 going off 24/7 And each time the dust would shake out of the overhead. Remember 8 on and 8 off and running back and forth between magazines as the gun would cool down.. I can still remember the barrels glowing red in the night. And don’t forget the Un-reps I stationed my self on the ladder going down from 1st Division to the magazine …. great fun in ’72

      Regarding that night, I’ll always remember the power and the terror when the ship heeled over going full tilt boogie at 30 plus knots as “Willie Peter” Lage hauled our ass in and out of Haiphong Harbor as the Newport News stayed safe and happy over the horizon and fired her missiles into the counter battery sites.

      • C.M. Stephens


        I was in the forward magazine. I don’t see any mention of the USS Warrington. We towed her half way back to subic

        • Bruce Shores FTG3


          Hi, l was in gun plot on theg spp link between us, combat and mts 51 and 52.

    • M Mathews


      hI – Jay My brother was also on the DDG12 – in the engine room during 1968 to 1971. Did your father ever suffer from terrible scally painful rashes – like Agent Orange exposure would cause? Tim Mathews is my brother and currently, we are trying to get help with his chemical exposure problems. Sure would like to know your dad remembered if the Robinson DDG12 ever went inland close to the shores near the DMZ.
      Thanks for your time. Mary Mathews is my name

      My bro’s nickname was FAT MAT. Also, I think he was named “Oil King”.
      His phone number is 903 513 8607– if you or your dad want to talk.

      • Reply

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  2. Steve Swartz


    I was on the Roby in 1976 and 1977. When I left her in ’77 she had holes big enough to drive a semi through in the main deck and hull. Undergoing major overhaul in the Long Beach Naval Shipyard. The last Westpac in ’76 was difficult as she kept blowing boiler tubes. Spent 30 days in Guam trying to keep the boilers going. Finally took on a dozen or so yard workers at Pearl Harbor late in 1976 for a Full Steam cruise back to San Diego. She unfortunately could not handle the stress. Sat in San Diego for 2-3 months before being towed to Long Beach for the overhaul. That was the last time I saw her. Sometime around January 1977.

  3. David Doc Harris


    I remember that night at Haiphong, one of the jets flying cover stated that it looked like a, “John Wayne movie”.

  4. Bobby J Emerine RM3


    I was in the Radio Shack, on the Robison, during that raid. It was quit a night/morning.

      • Harold L Cacak


        Hey Griffiths…
        This is Lee Cacak.. remember when I shot you in the ass with our fire extinguisher?? Chuck Nelson, Burnes, Bobby, Cordova, Belobradic, Garn, McCarter, we all made it thru that morning…

    • Harold L Cacak


      Hey Bobby.. dat U?? Still living in Colorado?? This is Lee, living in Orange County Ca now..
      Take care Bro…

  5. David Odom


    I was on the Robison as Junior Corpsman years 81-83. I pretty much grew up on the Robison.

  6. Michael J Boyle


    I was LPO of Fox Div. on that “fun” night. Spent the evening in CIC and got to see the whole thing. Amazing how people’s memories increase the action over time. Still it was very exciting and I’m glad we made it out in fine shape!

  7. tom seablom


    I remember it well, we were given the day off, briefed about the raid ,and told to write letters home that would go out that day! the mood was kind of intense all day in first division!

  8. Earl Knipe


    I was on board 69-73,three and a half busy years. Three Westpac cruises in quick succession.

    • M Mathews


      hI – Jay My brother was also on the DDG12 – in the engine room during 1968 to 1971. Did your father ever suffer from terrible scally painful rashes – like Agent Orange exposure would cause? Tim Mathews is my brother and currently, we are trying to get help with his chemical exposure problems.

      Sure would like to know your dad remembered if the Robinson DDG12 ever went inland close to the shores near the DMZ.
      Thanks for your time. Mary Mathews is my name

      My bro’s nickname was FAT MAT. Also, I think he was named “Oil King”.
      His phone number is 903 513 8607– if you or your dad want to talk.

  9. M Mathews


    Earl Knipe– Hello. Were you on the Robinson DDG12 from 68 to 72? Looking for someone that remembers FAT MAT, or OIL KING, Tim Mathews. Would that be you? If it is– then I ask this for my brother. Do you remember if you guys ever stepped foot
    on the ground near the DMZ or TWIN SISTERS or were you guys in or near the shoreline near the DMZ? Tim has had a very bad skin condition ever since he got back from Vietnam. Now that he’s almost 70 it is very concerning and debilitating. How can I get Tim in touch with any of the crew members of the DDG12? Thanks for your time and thanks for serving in Vietnam. Mary Mathews

  10. Dane Christopher QM 3


    I was in the pilot house on that night and also during that morning raid. Watched the forward gun mount get covered with spray. The EXO raised an eyebrow and said “whoo”

  11. Craig LeaTrea


    EM2 Craig LeaTrea
    On board 71-74, I spent that night in forward emergency diesel with Steve Cochran. We just attended a reunion in Reno this fall.

  12. Joshua Streitmatter


    My dad served on the robison. He passed away Oct of 2015 at 70 years old. His name was Milo Streitmatter Jr. He always told stories of the robison and you could tell he loved his time on the ship. Years after he served he was over seas working for caterpillar and meet some Navy guys in a bar. He started a conversation with them and found out that they had both served on the robison same as dad. They where serving on the robison right before it was decomissioned. God bless.

  13. Steve Bradfute


    To M.Mathews- my name is Steve Bradfute and I knew your brother Tim. I took over as oil king when Matt left in 71.My email is sabradfute free to contact me if you want.

  14. Reply

    I was on the Mess decks , which was my battle station when the Haiphong harbor raid took place. About 10 minutes in, I began hearing steady booming outside. I wanted to take a look outside but didn’t. After a time, we secured.I was down below at my locker removing my boondockers when GQ was sounded again! My first thought was that this could get real terminal! I guess we were under attack from two torpedo boats. Two /of our planes finished them off and the raid was over.

  15. Peter Bomm MM3


    I was in the repair party above the after engine room the night we entered Haiphong harbor. It was nerve wracking hearing all the gun fire and hearing shrapnel hitting the superstructure.

  16. Doug Brown ETN2


    I was in Radio Central during the raid. I remember hearing shrapnel hit the outside bulkhead in the crypto room, which was right next to Radio Central. We looked in the room and the aluminum bulkhead had some dimples in it. None of us remembered them being there before. Later some of us snuck out on the ASROC deck and picked up some shrapnel. I still have a piece I picked up, around here somewhere.
    To M. Mathews, they recently changed the Agent Orange exposure list to include blue water navy operations, the Robi crew probably qualifies. I was exposed a couple of years before the raid. Spent time with the brown water navy (ACDIV 11, and later ACU-1) up just below the DMZ before going to ET school. God Bless you and your brother, hope that information helps.
    I mustered out when the Robison was in the shipyard in Long Beach, reading these accounts has really brought back a lot of good memories.

  17. Larry Small, LT, USN, Ret


    Was on the Robison from 1970-1974 GMM3 & 2. Yes we did go up a river to shell caves near and in Cambodia, did this several times as did other Adams class destroyers. Check your cruise book from 1970. The Navy and the VA have failed to acknowledge this with regards to agent orange. It was in the ship’s sea chests, evaps, your showers and your food. Remember the salt water showers we had to take? Yep, in those too.
    We did not enter Haiphong Harbor but were just outside of it. Our job was counterbattery suppression and a few other targets as well as AAW coverage with missiles. We took several air and surface bursts close with one damaging the port yardarm. I have a piece of shrapnel i dug out of the launcher safety observers booth that hit about two feet from my head.
    We also conducted ops at Hon Me island, Tiger Island, and wblc’s up north. Over 17 thousand rounds fired. I was mount captain in 52 with Cliff Rodgers as gun captain during blue and gold NGFS.
    Best wishes to you all, fun to remember sometimes.

  18. Reply

    I was on the U.S.S. Robison in 1972, I am a U.S. Marine I know LOL. I/We were RedEye gunners we lived under and around the rear 5” 54 mag. I/we are looking for signal men and I am looking for a CHIEF . The best way to describe the chief he acted like the Robison was his. He was in the stairwell with me the night before the U.S.S. Warrington. {2001 SPACE ODYSSEY } Thats if they are still alive ? My email is RE1972SKI@YAHOO.COM. my. Facebook is. RedEye Platoon. Stay healthy ski

  19. Jessica Seibenick


    Looking for anyone who knew my Great Uncle and has anything to share about him. He died just 3 days after the battle at Haiphong Harbor.
    Charles Herman Piper Jr
    From Cass County, North Dakota
    Born November 21, 1937
    Death August 30, 1972
    Rank Master Chief Petty Officer
    Specialty Master Chief Boilerman
    Group USS Robison (DDG-12), 7th Fleet
    Location Offshore, South Vietnam

    My email is
    Any stories about him would be so appreciated.



    I was on the U.S.S. Robison in 1972 as an MM-3 and was aboard for the raid into Haiphong Harbor. My battle station was After Steering, could not see anything but could hear a lot. Could hear loud bangs followed by a sound like gravel being thrown on the aft deck which was the roof for aft steering. I have been attending the reunions every year since the first one in Branson MO. and if you haven’t been to one you should try and get to the next one tentatively planed for Sept. 2022 (if the pandemic allows) they are fun and bring back a lot of memories of good times on “ROBI”.

  21. Tom Shimek


    I was in MAIN CONTROL Lower level watch during general quarters.I remember hearing some of the gunfire and having to brace when we were zigzagging to avoid counter battery shells.

  22. Steve Chorzelewski RM3


    Have great memories of the Robi. I was there in ‘71 and got out in January’72. Still keep in touch with my radioman buddies. Missed out on the Haiphong action.

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