Wreaths in the Gulf of Tonkin
Attached are docs of the wreath laid in the Gulf of Tonkin on January 25th.
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 but, whatever it lacks in craft, it has exactly right the ideas that I carried up to the surf that day.
Our Aussie mates always quote at remembrances what they call "The Ode", a much more eloquent adaptation from a poem by Laurence Binyon.
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, it's a wreath.
For those of you that I had a mailing address for, I mailed from Vinh postal commemorative envelopes that I'd prepared before leaving home. (It'll 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 to hold down volume on the mail mailing list. I have high resolution versions of photos and the other documents that I'd be glad to send to webmasters or anybody else that would like them.
In deference to keeping the main list both brief and precisely on topic, I have some other docs that that I'll leave off the main list and send only to those who ask. One is similar docs for the HMAS Hobart wreath that I laid at Cape Lay a little farther up the coast. If any of you don't already know the story of the Hobart sailors being killed by friendly fire from a USAF jet, I'll be glad to tell you. It's a sad story that we should all know and remember.
For those who've expressed an interest in the fate of the POWs we took on the 67-68 deployment, I'll also write up some current status of efforts to identify them. In short, it turns out that my guide has family in that area and they're engaged in investigating for us.
Fair winds and following seas.
If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.
~ Chinese Proverb
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A few days ago, I was able to lay a wreath in the Gulf of Tonkin at the Cua Viet river mouth and to read the names of our lost shipmates. When I'm home and have better Internet access, I'll have photos, etc. to send.
Fair winds and following seas.
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Carl W. Cole
James Island SC
(The Center of the Universe)
Copyright 2004 - 2006 Carl W. Cole