44 Years Later…

My beautiful picture

…STILL, IT’S LIKE YESTERDAY

Recently, while attempting to secure a hunting license at Turners Outdoorsman in Temecula, I bumped headlong into  California’s computerized license format. Since I have not purchased a hunting license in the past four years, my previous status as a licensee was not “in the system.” As a result, I was required to dig into  my ancient personal archives, in order to find an old copy of my license.

Needless to say, I was annoyed by the inconvenience and eloquently expressed myself regarding our state government’s intractable new system.

As I left the store, there was a man of my  vintage, sitting in his parked vehicle, who addressed me as I walked by. Apparently, having seen the “Vietnam Veteran” cap that I usually wear, he inquired as to  the year of my service in Vietnam, as well as my locale. As it turned out, this Vietnam veteran “brother” served  at the same time and in the same locale,  separated by the narrow road between the U.S. Navy Marble Mountain Hospital and Marine Air Group 16 (“MAG 16”).

After discussing  mutual experiences, generally involving explosive devices,  we parted company as newfound friends and have since shared e-mails and photographs of those memorable experiences.

In particular,  I began to recall the night (not surprising since “The night belongs to Charlie”) of February 27, 1969, when we all heard a very large explosion that put everyone on alert status.

Apparently, an  enemy rocket struck the nearby “Bridge Ramp,”  where large amounts of ammunition were being loaded onto YFU 78, an 85 ton shallow-draft utility vessel, and a smaller vessel, LCU1500, which were both headed for a resupply mission of Marines engaged with the enemy near the Demilitarized Zone  (“DMZ”).

In the aftermath of the incident, we learned that 22  of our Navy shipmates had perished in the attack.

Please click on the following link  for additional, historical information :

http://www.wardogs.com/br108.html

The photograph attached to the top of this memory was taken by me the next morning while headed to the Danang airbase for duty.

Like many of those of our generation, we can all recall  where we were at the exact moment that we heard the news of the  assassination of  President Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

Far fewer of us can recall hearing the exact moment of death for 22 valiant, young sailors on the night of February 27, 1969.

Still, For me, it’s like yesterday.

By the way,September 8 marks the anniversary of my arriving in Vietnam in 1968 and leaving exactly one year later in 1969,  as a much different person. (Most folks would probably like the Pre-1968 Gil Rasmussen better than the  Post-1969 Gil Rasmussen, but  the earlier version no longer exists).

 Welcome home, Brother Rick. Thanks for stopping me to chat.

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