Submitted By: Mike Austin – 02/15/07
Okay, now that I have this figured out, I wanted to share the news that we have been very fortunate in locating the “last round” that TJ fired to conclude the Vietnam War. Thanks to information shared via the 21MC in which I followed up on several initiatives that some of us had volunteered to undertake at the October reunion, several shipmates fed me critical information.
Jim Chester reported that in a recent visit with Mrs. Judy Hill (widow of Captain Bill Hill who was our XO during the final days of the war) told him the missing last round was in fact stored in her garage. I immediately wrote to her and asked if she would consider donating it to the ship, both as a memorial to her husband and to return the last round to where many of us thought it properly belonged.
As soon as she received my letter she called and said that she would be honored to donate the shell and was confident that Bill Hill would certainly be happy with that outcome. I followed up with funds and instructions on where to ship the last round. She quickly shipped the shell, which was still safely stored in a power can.
Last night I received word from the President of the Bremerton Historic Ships Association that he had received the last round and it was in excellent shape. So — MISSION ACCOMPLISHED –thanks to the gracious response of Mrs. Hill and the effectiveness the “21MC”that helps to tie us all together. I will provide a more detailed input for the 21 MC but wanted to quickly share this good news.
The story of last round is particularly relevant now as we struggle with efforts to extract ourselves from the war in Iraq. In our case, after long and frustrating negotiations, and years of sacrifice — including on the part of the Vietnamese — we were able to bring the conflict to a definitive end. While our Vietnam legacy will forever remain very controversial, there is no question about the significant role that USS TURNER JOY played in events leading up to major U.S. involvement and conclusion of our active commitment.
I understand that there are plans to convert one of the staterooms in officer’s country into a small museum in which to house the last round and other memorabilia related to the final months of the conflict. While many have shared their memories and insights about these events, other crewmembers may have important comments to make. It will be helpful to have everyone’s input as we make efforts to properly present the last round to TJ visitors and document its history for future generations.