Tran Hung Dao Trip Wreaths
"Thunder" USS Newport News CA-148 off North Vietnam October 1967 / image adapted from photo by John Glass  
 
Wreaths in the Gulf of Tonkin
 
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USS Newport News CA-148 off North Vietnam
( image from photo by John Glass October 1967 )

Subject: Wreath Laid in Gulf of Tonkin
From: "Carl W. Cole"
Date: Wed, 04 Feb 2004 14:32:39 -0500
To: douglastcook@bigpond.com

G'day, Doug

Attached are docs of the wreath laid in the Gulf of Tonkin on January 25th.  Please pass them on to any of your Aussie mates that would appreciate them.

The poem was written in Hue the evening before and is about remembering the loss of both our USS Newport News and HMAS Hobart shipmates.  I have no illusions of it being good poetry per se and certainly not as eloquent at "the Ode" but, whatever it lacks in craft, it has exactly right the ideas that I carried up to the surf that day.

A note about the wreath design.  With language and culture differences at work, we showed up at the florist in Hue expecting to specify what I wanted for wreaths and found them already made in a classic Vietnamese design.  I decided on the spot to just go ahead and take delivery.  For our Aussie mates, green and yellow (plus some red roses) wasn't too far from what I had in mind.  It wasn't so close to what I envisioned for the NN wreath but, hey, they were wreaths.

I mailed from Vinh postal commemorative envelopes that I'd prepared before leaving home.  (Might take a couple of weeks for  you to get them.)  We were at the right place on the coast a day sooner than I'd expected, so the envelopes have the wrong day printed on them.  I figured I was at the right place, I had a wreath (of sorts), and there were no local authorities to interfere, so I wasn't about to wait a day just to get the envelopes right!  

In talking to our Vietnamese guide after the fact, it turned out that she had been even more worried about local authorities than I had.  I suspect that we just got lucky, being there on a rainy day so close to Tet serving to keep local authorities at home that day.

These are low resolution photos.  I have high resolution versions of photos and the other documents that I'd be glad to send to  anybody that would like them.

Doug, I know the Hobart incident is difficult for you and I deeply appreciate your help in preparation.  We don't ever get many opportunities to do something that feels as right as that wreath did and I owe you for that opportunity.

Lest we forget, mate.

Carl


P.S. Patti went to the Post Office this morning to pick up the two giant bins that had accumulated while we were gone.  The star content was the copy of "Up Top" from you.  Thanks, mate.  The only problem is that I'm supposed to be catching up on bills and other chores today and every time I walk by the book, I end up sitting down and reading again.  I may need to ask Patti to hide it for the day, at least.  :-)

--

If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.

~ Chinese Proverb





Carl W. Cole
James Island SC
(The Center of the Universe)
Copyright 2004 - 2006 Carl W. Cole