U.S.S. Leonard F. Mason (DD-852)
U.S.S. Leonard F. Mason (DD-852), deployed for the Western Pacific on the 24th of October, 1972 in company with the U.S.S. Orleck (DD-886). The two ships stopped briefly at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, then sailed for American Samoa. The ships departed Pago Pago, American Samoa, on November 7, 1972 and journeyed to Auckland, New Zealand. The Mason and Orleck left Auckland on November 14 for the first portion of the LONGEX 72 Exercise (a joint operation with New Zealand, Australian, and Canadian Naval units). The fleet participating in the exercise arrived at Wellington, New Zealand, on November 19. The second part of the exercise followed the Wellington visit, then Mason returned to Auckland for another visit and left Auckland on November 28 bound for Tauranga, New Zealand. The Mason and Orleck were the first U.S. Navy ships to visit Tauranga for many years.
Mason departed Tauranga on December 1 and headed northwest to Subic Bay and the Gulf of Tonkin, via Brisbane, Australia and Manus Island. On arrival in the Gulf of Tonkin, the ship relieved the U.S.S. Shelton (DD-790), performing search and rescue missions during U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy night air raids on missile positions in the vicinity of Haiphong and Hanoi; the ship's crew watching the nightly 'fireworks' show.
Mason participated in various activities concerning the Vietnam War, including gunfire support, plane guard, and search and rescue missions. In December 1972, Mason joined one of the Naval Surface Action Groups operating off the coast of North Vietnam, relieving the U.S.S. Bordelon (DD-881). These Surface Action Groups fired more than 110,000 rounds at enemy locations along the North Vietnamese coast. The Mason operated in company with the U.S.S. Cone (DD-866) and the U.S.S. Lawrence (DDG-4). Occasionally, during these missions, Mason came under intense enemy fire. Fortunately, the ship received only minor damage, with minor injuries to some crew members. (All told, during the extent of the Vietnam War, the coastal batteries actually hit 19 USN ships, killed 6 sailors and wounded at least 30 others, but did not sink any of those ships.)