Sunday, October 15, 2006

Discover Veterans

The Vietnam war ended as 2,594,000 personnel served inside the borders of South Vietnam. In all the years after my one year in Vietnam I never met another person who was there at the same time in the same places where I served in the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division. That was true until recently.

The LST (Tank Landing Ship) in the top and below pictures transported us from Phan Rang to Tuy Hoa. I estimate there were a thousand soldiers and much equipment on board as we sailed the coastline in the South China Sea. The sea waves were choppy so we spent three days and nights on this ship until the water calmed enough for the ship to beach for unloading.

Around 38 years after I took these pictures, I met a man who was on board that ship with me and spent a year in Vietnam with the same airborne unit in the same places as I did. I'll make a long story short by writing that I met him at his wedding when he married a friend and colleague of my wife. This was a second marriage for them.

As he and I confirmed our Vietnam history, I learned he was a West Point Military Academy graduate and company commander. He continued his military career and retired with the rank of Colonel. He and his new wife visited our home where we talked about people, places, events, missions and looked at old pictures together. We agreed that we probably were as close to each other as a hundred yards several times on the ground in Vietnam and never knew each other. We are friends today and see each other periodically throughout the year.

After I met the retired Colonel, I visited a friend in the hospital at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. While sitting in the waiting room, I saw a man there wearing a cap with the 101st insignia. After watching him and his family awhile, I approached him, introduced myself and asked about his cap. The conversation led to the discovery that he, too, was in Vietnam at the same time, in the same airborne unit and in the same places as I did. He made his career as a policeman in New York and retired to North Carolina.

The coast along Vietnam was beautiful as some parts were sandy beach as shown in the bottom picture while other parts were steep cliffs rising out of the waters edge.

Return here Tuesday, October 17 for the beginning of the end of writing about Vietnam.

Have a good day!



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