The "American, the
Fall of Saigon and a Guitar"
by Bill Shipley, HM1, USN
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One of our evacuees, who was in Vietnam when this all came down, was brought aboard with nothing except what he was wearing, and nothing else! He was on his way home when the rockets started coming in and one hit his home directly and in an instant his wife, children and earthly belongings were all gone!
Someone came up to me and told me that I needed to check this guy out. He was sitting in a chair, by himself, not saying a word and in shock. He was a young American civilian. He was really out of it. He had what we combat vets call the "One thousand mile stare", and for what he had gone through, that was easily understood.
Some how I was able to find out that he loved to play the guitar. Well, the hunt was on for a guitar. I went looking all over the ship and I found one and bought it. You should of seen his face when I walked up to him with that guitar!! I tell you, it was absolutely Priceless! I will never forget it for as long as I live!
Word got around about this guy and people started giving him clothes and toilet items! Hancock was taking care of this guy. Everyone that I contacted about this guy gave; from toothpaste to socks.
I wished I had written down his name, but due to the chaos that was going on, I don't remember what his name was. I sure hope everything worked out for him. He left the ship when we got to P.I. (Subic Bay, Philippines).
I think about this fellow often, don't know his name, but I still remember him sitting in that chair with just the clothes on his back, in tee shirt and blue jeans and I wonder.
I will tell you one thing, the Crew of the Hancock came through! This guy wasn't alone anymore. He had a whole lot of family and that family was the Crew of the USS Hancock!
Sure would be neat to meet him after all these years.
Hey Jake, this Website and you sure got me going again on memory lane. I May not be too great at putting things into words, but I try.
Bill Shipley, HN1, USN, 1975
Former Marine and Vietnam Veteran
Medical Department Patch was provided by
Shipmate Robert J. "Bob" Chalfant, HM3, USN (Ret)
Note: If you were this man who suffered such a terrible loss in Vietnam during those final days, or know who he is, please sound off.
Bill continues to help the Vets in his chosen field working in a VA Medical Center in Tennessee, and what a legacy he has woven for himself!
Read Bill's exciting 'Emergency Breakaway' Story in our Oral Histories
Bill's Marine Corps Story
Click here for some Off-Site info on Emergency Breakaways
How I inadvertently saved a Sailor's Life: Being Led by the Spirit - Bill wasl always on Station like the Hancock, and he listened to his 'Inner Voice' and it paid off in great dividends here!