I was walking downtown yesterday when I ran into a gaggle of young American sailors on shore leave. It turns about that there there are two American ships with about 150 sailors paying a courtesy call to Saigon this week. One is the USS Salvor, a ship that specializes in salvage and diving operations. The other is the USS Patriot, a mine countermeasures ship.
I talked to them for a few minutes and gave them directions to an ATM. "Check out your account balance in Vietnamese dong -- you're all millionaires!" (Always a good gag for newcomers.)
I had a few errands to run so I couldn't stay long. But seeing American sailors walking around downtown Saigon was a sight that stirred my patriot heart, especially given that this is July 4 weekend. So I resolved to go out last night, find some sailors, and buy them a drink.
I caught up with Dive Master Mike, Raul, Liaison Bob, Dave from Massachussets and Bosun Mark at Saigon Saigon. They were decked out in dress whites and looking every bit as dapper as Richard Gere in "An Officer and a Gentleman." Pictured at right are Bosun Mark and me in my camo civvies. These are the guys that recently confirmed the final resting place of the USS Largarto, a US submarine that went missing in the closing months of WWII. You can read the story and see the pictures here. There's a picture of Mike Moser, the Dive Master on the USS Salvor who visited the wreck. For a while Dive Master Mike reminded me of someone but I just couldnt put my finger on. Then it occured to me -- Vin Diesel! Raul was making paper roses from napkins and using them to break the ice with cute girls. He taught me too -- it was surprisingly easy, um I mean hard.
Anyway, it was an honor and a lot of fun to buy the men of the USS Salvor a round and hang out with America's finest.