By Kim West
The state Legislature earlier this year honored the surviving members of the USS Maddox Association with a resolution recognizing U.S. Navy crews that saw action in three wars.
Among the Maddox veterans is Rogersville resident Dan Holland, a 1960 West Limestone High School graduate who served as an electrician’s mate 3rd class on the DD-731.
State representatives Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, and Greg Burdine, D-Florence, sponsored a resolution passed by the House of Representatives in May. The crew of the DD-731 held its 24th reunion on Sept. 12-15.
Holland, 71, who joined the Navy the same year he graduated from high school, said about 35 members of his shipmates attended this year’s reunion in Mobile.
“Next year will be our 25th year to have reunions,” said Holland, who grew up in the Pleasant Grove community. “We’ll be meeting in 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where we held our first reunion.”
The naval destroyer, commissioned in 1944 and de-commissioned in 1972, was named after Capt. William Alfred Maddox. It has sliced through the open seas as the DW-168, DD-622 and the DD-731 during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Maddox crews earned four battle stars in World War II and six battle stars during the Korean War. Holland’s DD-731 crew earned the Unit Commendation Ribbon from the Navy and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal during its Vietnam service, which included skirmishes in the Gulf of Tonkin.
“In August of 1964, only non-combat advisors were in Vietnam. On Aug. 2, the Maddox DD-731 was attacked by PT-type boats of North Vietnam,” Holland said. “On. Aug. 4, after being joined by the USS Turner Joy, the ships were again under attack. This attack has always been a controversial issue, but with the captain announcing numerous times that torpedoes were in the water headed toward our ship and the 5-inch guns blazing, the incident was very real to the sailors aboard.”
Holland, who serves as president of the USS Maddox Association, said the DD-622 sank off the coast of Sicily, Italy, during World War II in “90 seconds and with only 70 sailors surviving.” He said the association has crew from both the DD-622 and 731.