Navy Seaman Home from Vietnam - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/13/04 - Tyler

Navy Seaman Home from Vietnam

"Honoring the first U.S. ship visit since the Vietnam War on November 19, 2003..."

Edward House read words on a certificate he received. Thirty years after the war ended on November 19, 1973, the USS Vandegrift was the first ship to return to Vietnam, this time on a 4-day diplomatic mission.

"It was a good-will port visit to Vietnam to strengthen our relations between both countries' defense systems," House said.

And this time Tyler native House was on board.

"We went to an orphanage, spent some time with the kids there," House said. "We did a community relations project, where we basically brought toys over there to them, different toys, American toys nobody's ever seen in Vietnam, like a frisbee."

The 21-year-old Navy Signalman was mainly responsible for communicating to other Navy men with hand signals.

So, why was the USS Vandegrift chosen? House says, because of its outstanding performance and for practical reasons.

"We could easily sail through the slim canals through the route that they wanted us to take to get into the city, of Ho Chi Minh city," House said.

House was away from home for more than a year, stationed in Yokosuka, Japan. He soon got homesick.

"You miss birthdays, deaths in the family, illnesses," House said. "But then again, you have people on the ship for support."

House made friends from all over the globe, but he says living with a ship full of men can be tough.

"Everybody's tired of seeing each other," House said. "People actually get mad at each other. You know, you see the same faces everyday. We've been pretty much all around the world. So it feels real good to actually come back home."

A trip home that will last less than a month. When House retruns to the USS Vandegrift, he'll assume new duties as Master at Arms, Canine Unit, which is military language for "police." House will stay on the ship for three more years.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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