Showing the flag  - Spring, 1965


It was the spring of the year, that time when the sea can be flat as a mirror, with the sky and clouds reflecting in the water pure enough to make you forget that it was wartime. We were returning from refueling and a few daysí R&R in Olongapo.  This was on the morning watch and we were south of Hainan about 40 miles, just outside the international boundary, and east of Hon Me about 60 miles.  Headed west as the sun was coming up, we could see all the way to the horizon.  As Officer of the Deck, I had the con, and with no exercises or rendezvous coming up, I was on the starboard wing of the bridge, just enjoying the beginning of the day before waking the captain.  Ahead about 7 or 8 miles, I could see a small fishing sampan.


We had been aware that some of the sampans were shuttling weapons from North Vietnam down to the south, but this one was closer to Hainan (Chinese) than to Vietnam .  As I got closer, I could see that we were going to pass him down our starboard side, close aboard.  He was flying the North Vietnamese flag when I first spotted him, and he must have been asleep.  When we got to within about a mile, I could see activity on the deck of the boat, and suddenly he became a South Vietnamese fisherman, very innocent and very industrious.  His flag was now showing the South Vietnamese flag, the quick switch having been accomplished by reversing the pole and rotating it, unfurling one flag and furling the other.  As we passed him close aboard, he smiled big and waved as if we were great friends.   We decided to let him continue being our friend and proceeded on our way to station.


USS Reeves, DLG-24

South China Sea

SAR and Tom Cat Operations.