Tuesday, March 29, 2005

U.S. Navy Warship Visits Vietnam

By MARGIE MASON, Associated Press Writer

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam - An American warship made a rare visit to Vietnam on Tuesday, a sign the two countries are looking to improve military ties 30 years after the Vietnam War. "

Sailors dressed in white lined the decks of the USS Gary as the frigate docked in Saigon Port, where it is to remain for five days. The warship was just the third Navy vessel to make a port call in the communist country since the war ended on April 30, 1975.

The Stars and Stripes flew alongside the Vietnamese flag as the ship eased up the muddy Saigon River. Many of the more than 200 sailors aboard snapped pictures or videotaped its arrival.

Most were too young to remember when Ho Chi Minh City was called Saigon, but U.S. Lt. Cmdr. Quoc Bao Tran remembers fleeing the country by boat when he was 7, just before South Vietnam fell to the communist North. This was his first trip back.

"I'm overwhelmed, overjoyed and of course excited," he said. "I'm looking forward to seeing the place where I was born."
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