USS Mount McKinley was originally called Cyclone and built by the North Carolina Shipbuilding, Company, Wilmington, North Carolina. The ship was launched on September 27, 1943. The ship was renamed Mount McKinley on December 27, 1943. She was named for the highest mountain in North America and was the lead ship of the Mount McKinley class of amphibious force command ships. Mount McKinley participated in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The ship had three deployments to Vietnam. During the last deployment, the ship sailed on 1 July, arriving Da Nang on July 28, 1967. Once more, it was the flagship of Commander 7th Fleet Amphibious Force. The ship was responsible for providing communications support for search and destroy operations against the Vietcong and People’s Army of Vietnam forces. Mount McKinley was decommissioned on March 26, 1970. The ship received four battle stars for World War II service, eight stars for Korean service and a Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation.
This week we salute Bernard “Butch” Hein. Butch served two years in the U.S. Navy from 1966 to 1968. He was stationed on the USS Mount McKinley. His military occupational specialty was as a postal clerk. He was deployed to Vietnam from 1967 to 1968. He was responsible for getting the mail from the Da Nang Post Office to the Navy vessel. . He was a rancher in Rosebud county. His son is Scott Hein, District 2 county commissioner for Rosebud County. He also has 3 grandchildren. I interviewed Butch back in August and submitted the original article before his passing. We were saddened to hear about the tragic accident that claimed his life. R.I.P. in peace warrior. ‘Til Valhalla.
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Dr. Irene Dickerson has a doctorate in Business Administration and is a retired Army Colonel living her best life in Big Sky Country.