ATLANTA VOICES: MEMORIES OF VIETNAM
John Laughter's Vietnam War Photos
HIS VIETNAM WAR STORY
Lieutenant, U.S. Navy
John Laughter grew up in a military family.
My dad was a paratrooper in World War II and his brothers served in the Navy, and so it kind of fell to me to do the same thing.
He served two tours in Vietnam, in 1967 and 1969. When they arrived in July 1967 they were based on the USS Oriskany, part of Task Force 77, which was made up of three Aircraft Carriers. He recalls that their missions were usually incredibly well defended targets in Hanoi and Haiphong.
Anti-aircraft guns of all sizes - and then there’s 37mm and 57mm and 85mm – and then the SAMs (Surface to Air Missiles) that were basically designed to shoot down high altitude planes.
All their missions were dangerous.
Anytime you were going to Hanoi you would be sitting in a room with 30 to 35 pilots and you knew that one of them is probably not going to come back because we’re going to get 25 missiles shot at us, all the flak ….and somebody’s going to get hit one way or another. That first cruise in '67 was the absolute worst that the Navy had over there for losses. We lost over 50 percent of our aircraft and 20 percent of our pilots.
So we took the losses…..but we never backed off.