usa-clear.gif (10636 bytes)J. Ed Snyder Jr.usa-clear.gif (10636 bytes)

"Charter member of  America's Greatest Generation"

Captain of the USS New Jersey 1968-1969

Communications Officer USS Pennsylvania 1944

When I posted the following on the War History page: 

(From the War History page)

This is a story that floated among the Tin Can Navy at the end of the Vietnam War:

The USS Turner Joy, a destroyer with three 5"-38's spotted a target off the coast of North Vietnam.
Assuming it friendly, a radio call was put out:
"This is the USS Turner Joy, Please identify yourself."
No response.
Signal lights were used:
"This is the USS Turner Joy, identify yourself, friend or foe."
No response.
Signal lights again:
"This is the USS Turner Joy, identify yourself or we will commence firing"


"This is the Battleship USS New Jersey, You may fire when ready!"

I received an email from the commander of the New Jersey during this period, who was also the CR division officer on the Pennsy, his story is a little different than what is written above. 


I had no idea what really happen, thanks Ed.......



Thanks for the dope on your web site. My address is correct. Was the junior Ensign on board the Pennsy summer 1944 and was Signal Officer. Later had the fortune of commanding the New Jersey during her tour in Vietnam.

Your web site has a small error. It was not the Turner Joy but a small naval ship commanded by a Lieutenant who sent a flashing signal (not a radio message) the "Unknown vessel identify yourself"  My orders were no message went out without my personal approval so after a final message was sent "unknown vessel - identify yourself or we will open fire", the skipper was called and I sent out the following message, ordering the use of the 24 inch searchlight, "OPEN FIRE WHEN READY - FEAR GOD - DREADNOUGHT" The only way he could tell who sent the signal was the heading"AA - NEW JERSEY BB62" (AA standing for 'unknown vessel'}.

Thanks again for the dope - great work 




Think it is still a great story. I do not remember the name of the ship but do remember the skipper was a LT. 

My policy was not to release messages without my personal O.K. My OOD ignored the first two messages from the small naval vessel since they had her on radar and the visual call sign identified the sending ship but when the flashing light message saying "unknown vessel identify yourself or we will open fire" my OOD called me right away. The reason I had our signalmen use the 24 inch searchlight is that I was slightly ticked that the other naval vessel (the sending ship) should have been able to tell the difference between a Battleship on radar and a north Vietnam gun runner or fishing boat.

I was in the habit of not signing messages with our name since the message always had a heading telling who sent it and to whom it was addressed. I admit my reply was rather tense and not in the best naval tradition but we on the New Jersey felt nothing could hurt us and the crew enjoyed my reply which was (as I said in the previous message) "OPEN FIRE WHEN READY. FEAR GOD. DREADNOUGHT." (DREADNOUGHT HAVING A DOUBLE MEANING, i.e., fear not and the name the British gave to the first large battleships.)

I do not think your quote that far off and is the first time I have seen it in print.

Keep up the good work. ED



Forgot to answer your question. Was skipper 1968 thru 1969 late summer. Was relieved by Capt Penniston who had the sad duty of sailing from Long Beach to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard where he oversaw her de-commissioning. I put her in commission in the Philly Yard then sailed to Viet Nam via Norfolk (to load ammo) then through the Panama Canal to Long Beach then San Diego for training then Nam via Pearl Harbor. Stayed off shore for six months bombarding around the clock for as much as 62 days at a time. 

When returning less than a day out of Long Beach we were turned around to head for North Korea on a Top Secret assignment by order of the President should we be required to retaliate for the Koreans shooting down a navy EC121 aircraft. It was so classified that the families and friends stood on the Long Beach dock waiting for our return and the were told a day or so later that we had been delayed but not the real reason. The biggest morale boost for our shipmates was that we made it to the rendezvous spot before the carriers arrived and one of the wire services reported "Battleship New Jersey leads armada of carriers heading for North Korea etc."