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The Cambodia operation behind her, KIRK sailed south with USS COOK (DE-1083) and USS MIDWAY (CV-43) and steamed into Singapore on 16 April for a welcomed visit to that exotic port.
USS KIRK – with her small, but open flight deck – was one of those small ships that watched in awe and frustration as the heavily loaded UH-1s flew overhead, out to sea to an uncertain fate.
Cambodia fell before Vietnam, and KIRK played her part in “Operation Eagle Pull”, the early-April evacuation of Phnom Penh.
It proved to be a quick, orderly extraction of fewer than 300 Americans – hardly a preview of the controlled chaos that awaited her later off the coast of Vietnam 2.
The VNAF Hueys frequently disrupted the orderly landing patterns of the waiting aircraft carriers and amphibious ships, as they alighted by the dozens – uninvited – on crowded flight decks.
Some, with empty fuel tanks, were forced to ditch in the sea alongside the American ships, with the tragic loss of an unknown number of Vietnamese men, women, and children 5.