Korean War Oral History
William "Bill" Seid
Interior Communication Electrician, Petty Officer 1st Class,
WY National Guard, U.S. Navy, Korea War, Vietnam, Cold War
Bill Seid was born August 7, 1931 in Sheridan, WY. He first served in the WY National Guard in Sheridan and Worland as part of the 300th Armored Field Artillery. He enlisted into the Navy on June 9, 1950. Just a couple weeks into boot camp in San Diego, CA the Korean War started. Bill finished his training at the Interior Communications Electrician School and was quickly aboard his first ship, the USS Brown (DD 546) destroyer. Around 90% of the crew were reserves, most WWII veterans recalled for the Korean War. The USS Brown served with Task Force 77 off Korea escorting Battleships on special missions. There was independent bombardment in Wonsan Harbor and on one trip into Wonsan the Brown’s anchor got stuck on the bottom of the harbor. The enemy took this opportunity to shoot at the vulnerable destroyer because the crew was not allowed to dump the anchor. The USS Helena (CA75) was sent in to help get them out.
Bill once spent 60 days at sea aboard the Brown. That trip started on the East Coast of Korea then met up with UN ships on the West Coast. They next went to Formosa to run patrol in the Formosa Strait. The Brown ended up making three trips to the Western-Pacific (West-Pac). After Korea Bill left the Navy for a year. He returned to Worland, WY, got married and had a child.
He re-enlisted and joined the crew of the USS Fortify (MSO 446), a wooden minesweeper. Bill recalled that although this ship was the smallest and the slowest he’d ever been on, it had the best living conditions. He made one West-Pac trip onboard the Fortify from Long Beach, CA to Yokuska, Japan; this trip took 30 steaming days. They carried fifty 55-gallon drums of fuel oil and twenty 55-gallon drums of lube oil to make it from Pearl Harbor to Japan. He later had shore duty at the Naval Air Station in Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor, Washington.
The third ship Bill Seid was on was the USS Caiman (SS 323) where he qualified for submarines on Nov. 16, 1960. He then went to Naval Nuclear Power School for a year of intense study. After school he boarded his favorite ship, the USS Seadragon (SSN 584), a Skate class submarine as well as the sixth nuclear sub ever build. During his time on the Seadragon the Vietnam War broke out. The war did not change their operations very much. However, the only time the crew was able to write home was during an operation in the Tonkin Gulf with a task force. During this time all of the Seadragon’s mission were secret. The Seadragon was the first nuclear powered ship to go into Hong Kong and Japan and it was during this period that Bill learned that his ship was now under the control of the State Department. 65-day patrols were normal and during one 135-day period they were submerged for 130 days with only one break in Okinawa. The longest he was ever submerged for one time was 82 days. Bill described his time under water as a “young man’s world.”
As an E6 rank, Bill Seid surprisingly qualified for and stood watch as Chief of the Watch and Diving Officer, Diving Officer at battle stations, Duty Chief and Engineering Petty Officer of the Watch. He was onboard the USS Seadragon for almost six years. After the Seadragon Bill Seid had shore duty at the Naval Submarine School in Groton, Conn. Where he instructed courses on Atmosphere Analyzers. He retired from the Navy on June 15, 1971. After the Navy he worked for Pacific Power at the Dave Johnston Power Plant in Glenrock, WY and retired as a Control Room Operator after 21 years.
Bill Seid in Japan