By Lt.j.g. Colin Ryan
USS HuÃ© City
The United States Navy honors its military past by naming the Ticonderoga Class Cruisers after important battles from the annals of American history. Namesake worthy battles were chosen from every era of American military history starting with Bunker Hill, the seminal battle of the Revolutionary War. However, only the Golden Dragon crew of USS HuÃ© City has the honor of carrying the legacy of the Vietnam War. This unique situation has given the ship an opportunity to enjoy something that few other ships have the opportunity to do: enjoy a relationship with veterans who fought in the namesake battle.
USS HuÃ© City strengthened this relationship even further by holding its annual Battle of HuÃ© Memorial Ceremony at the NS Mayport Chapel on Feb. 2. Before approximately 150 Marines from Battle of HuÃ©, their families, and many Sailors of his own ship, Capt. Dan Uhls, HuÃ© City's commanding officer, paid homage to all those who have served our country, especially those who died at HuÃ©, during Tet in 1968.
"We have come here for a memorial, not a celebration," he stated, then added the values demonstrated the Marines at HuÃ© served as a model for his own Sailors needed during back-to-back deployments into the Arabian Gulf.
Following Capt. Uhls, Nicholas Warr, a prominent Vietnam War historian and a Junior Officer who fought at HuÃ©, addressed the audience.
In an emotional speech, he recognized several of his fellow Marines who showed exceptional courage during the battle; several of these individuals stood to be recognized, while others were not able to do so since they paid the ultimate sacrifice in Southeast Asia nearly a half-century ago.
Following the speeches, a HuÃ© veteran and HuÃ© City Sailor presented a wreath of flowers in memoriam of those who fought and died in the effort to bring freedom to Vietnam. Meanwhile, the hymn "Eternal Father" played in the background while five bell strikes and 'Taps" recognized those who have died while serving in the four branches of the United States Armed Forces and also in recognition of the allies that fought along side the veterans.
To further commemorate fallen comrades, veterans were invited to sign a placard with the names of those with whom they fought who did not survive the battle. The Battle of HuÃ© was an exceptionally bloody struggle, one in which, Capt. Uhls pointed out, 70 percent of all participating Marines earned a Purple Heart.
Before the ceremony, HuÃ© veterans had ample time to interact with the Sailors of the ship named after the battle in which they fought. On Friday night there was a meet-and-greet at Bogey's, and on Saturday many enjoyed a round of golf while others attended a picnic and had the opportunity to tour the ship.
The weekend also gave veterans an opportunity to reunite with each other. Lt.j.g. Devan Gurecki was the organizer of the events, herself the daughter of a Marine who fought at HuÃ©.
"My dad thought he wouldn't recognize many people there," she claimed, "but he was very surprised by the network of veterans that he knew and fought alongside decades ago!"
USS HuÃ© City and the veterans of the Battle of HuÃ© have nurtured a strong bond since the ship's commissioning. This bond has given service members past and present greater insight into why and how they sacrifice so much for greater ideals.
History has given USS HuÃ© City the chance to connect to those whose name she honors by holding a HuÃ© Memorial in every non-deployed year since 1992.
HuÃ© City pays tribute to the past, ensures security in the present, and promises freedom in the future.