Welcome to the home of the U.S.S. Clarion River! I discovered the ship was not on the internet, while other LSMRs were, so I developed this website in 2001 and have hosted it ever since. My thanks to so many who have contributed stories and photos, this site would not be what it is today if it were not for all of you.
I have recently had to move to a new web address, which you have reached. I am proud of my site and welcome your story or picture contributions. It makes my heart warm to know that this site has brought so many former crew members together, which eventually began a series of reunions. Happy sailing mates! Fred Pfeiffer RM3
LSMR’s in action from an old newsreel.
From Treasure Island, San Francisco, I was flown to Clark Air Force Base in PI and assigned to the USS Clarion River LSMR-409. We departed Subic Bay in December and headed for the area of II Corps Vietnam, where we relieved the USS White River LSMR-536 as Naval Gunfire Ship on Station.
While in this area we supported allied troops in combined operations with the Vietnamese regular forces by firing many direct fire support missions as well as harassment and interdiction (H&I) almost every night.
Heavy seas were encountered in January of 1968 during the monsoon season. I found quickly what rough seas can do to a flat-bottomed ship! We were able to tie up at Cam Rahn Bay and Qui Nhon where we took on rockets, fuel and water to continue the operation.
During this particular trip the Clarion River had two events that helped make January of 1968 a special month in the ships history. The Clarion River fired her 50,000th rocket in support of the war for peace in Vietnam since being assigned to the area in 1965. Second, the Secretary of the Navy issued a commendation for Inshore Fire Support Division Ninety-Three consisting of the USS Clarion River LSMR-409, USS Saint Francis River LSMR-525, USS White River LSMR-536 and USS Carronade IFS-1.
Dubbed the “Rocket Rainmakers” by Rear Admiral F.J. Blouin, the ships that made up the IFS 93 were called …“pound for pound the finest fighting ships the Navy has produced in the Vietnam conflict. Your impressive record in Gunfire Support Operations is unparalleled, and dispute problems of age, lack of speed and a tight operating schedule, the little rocket ships have done a giant-sized job” the Rear Admiral said.
On the 16th of January we were relieved of our duties and departed Vietnam for Subic for a short upkeep period. Arriving on the 20th, crews began painting, making necessary repairs and getting ready for another return to the Gun Line. During the stay in Subic Bay many of us had a chance to visit Grade Island in the bay and relax.
About 20 of us departed the Clarion River for duty elsewhere while another 20 were welcomed aboard, including GMG2 John B. Santopietro, Jr. who I have to thank for much of the information about my tour. Also you will find several photo’s he took while on tour after the ship departed for Vietnam January 30th, 1968. Thanks John for all your help in keeping the memory of the USS Clarion River alive! You will find some photographs elsewhere on this site that he has submitted.
John tells me the ship was decommissioned May 8, 1970 after the Vietnam conflict in 1970 at Yokosuka, Japan. He was the leading Gunners Mate GMG2 at the time. The ship was sold for scrap that November to the Nissho-Iwai American Corporation in Sasebo, Japan.
John later retired from the Navy as a Senior Chief and is currently a Program Manager for the Navy in Mechanicsburg, PA and resides in St. Thomas, PA. You can read more about his story on the Vietnam section.
Updated: January 24, 2017 Webmaster: Fred Pfeiffer RM3