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History of sailors in Vietnam: It is what it is

March 20, 2014 · 3:58 PM
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It is a sad thing that in this day of political correctness, and in the narrow minds of certain people, a bit of history can be misconstrued as inappropriate or offensive.

Onboard the USS Turner Joy, there was a display of a liberty port in Subic Bay, Philippines; it is called Olongapo. On this display, there is/was a picture of some young sailors sitting in a bar with some bar girls. Yes, they were working girls and, yes, they were skimpily clad but not naked and there was also beer at the table.

This picture depicted how it was for some of us back then — I say “back then” because it was back in the 1960s and ’70s. It is a part of history, it is on a Vietnam War-era U.S. Navy ship/museum of history and, as such, should be viewed in that frame of mind. Also, the display has been there for 10 years with no problem till now.

I am a Vietnam vet and served on a ship very similar to the Turner Joy; I also volunteer on her to try to keep her in shape so the public can come aboard and see what it was like for us back then — the good, the bad and the ugly.

The folks that come aboard have to remember that, yes, it is 2014 up until they cross the brow and step on board this ship, then they are stepping back in time to 1959 to 1982, no thought of political correctness or whether it is inappropriate or offensive should cross their minds — it is what it was like. If that is what their mind set is, then maybe they should not come on board.

The reason for this letter is because the president and vice president of the executive board of the Turner Joy have taken it on themselves to order this piece of history removed after only one complaint. It has been on display for 10 years with no problem till these two men stepped in. As a Vietnam vet, this really offends and saddens me. It is just another slap in the face as when we came home.

Matt Hawkes
Poulsbo

 


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