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Battleship New Jersey

In Chapter 2 of Against All Enemies, Dick Clarke writes about the battleship New Jersey firing “shells as big as Volkswagens” from off the coast of Lebanon to protect the American Embassy in Beirut. I remember shooting with the New Jersey in Vietnam. My heavy artillery battery was stationed with the 101st Airborne at LZ Sally near the coast, south of Quang Tri. The 101st got into a big firefight not far to the north, and since the New Jersey was in the area, someone invited them to join us in shelling the North Vietnamese in this firefight. When we would talk on our little radios to the infantry in the field or to our artillery battalion headquarters, the signal would be weak and full of static. When we talked to the New Jersey, it was like listening to a powerful, clear FM station back in the States. We could see the firefight clearly; the sky to the north was full of tracers. However, after we fired our guns, we all ran out to see the New Jersey’s shells land. When you fire near friendly troops, you always give “Splash” over the radio about 5 seconds before the shells land, so that our troops know to duck. The New Jersey gave “Splash,” but we never saw or heard any shells land a few seconds afterwards. I’ve always wondered where those shells went.

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