Showing the flag -
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
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
down to the south, but this one was closer to
(Chinese) than to
. 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.