Washington Times Herald
WASHINGTON — It had been 42 years since Jim Dant, Washington, had been in contact with his Navy buddy Glen Bernard.
“We parted ways in 1972 and who ever would have thought I’d say see ya again in 42 years,” said Bernard, who currently lives in Oregon.
Bernard and Dant along with a third shipmate, Verne Brown of San Antonio, all served on the Navy ship the USS Truxtun during the Vietnam War.
“Verne had commented on some of the pictures I had posted from when we were out on the ship and he asked me if I’d like to get in touch with Jim,” said Bernard.
“I called him and when I heard that voice, I knew it was him who¹d answered even though all that time had passed.”
After the phone call, plans were made for Bernard to visit Dant while on a cross-country vacation.
Bernard had purchased a Nikon Nikromat 35mm camera at the Navy Exchange in Yokosuka, Japan, for $139 and has posted many of the photographs from his tour on a website.
“The Truxtun had left Long Beach in February of 1971 for duty primarily along the Gulf of Tonkin. During the seven month cruise, we went to Pearl Harbor, Subic Bay, Yokosuka, Bangkok, Perth and the American Samoa,” said Bernard. “Verne must have been looking for photos of the ship when he found mine and I¹m glad that he sent that message so I could get in contact with Jim.”
The two men reminisced about the events that happened while in the Gulf.
“In the South China Sea, we ran into a typhoon,” said Dant. “You know it’s rough when the guy who is sitting next to you at the table, now has his tray of food in front of you and the guy on the end now has his dinner on the floor,” said Bernard with a chuckle.
Over the years, Dant and Brown had stayed in contact. “Verne and I call and talk every once in a while,” said Dant.
“We all three did visual communications on top of the ship. We were always on the lookout. We had these big binoculars and everyone always wanted to look through them.”
All three men ended their tours between June and August of 1972. Bernard took a job with the state police in Oregon while Jim moved back to his hometown and started working at Crane.
“I’m going to stay in touch with Glen,” said Dant. “I’ve even put a trip out to Oregon to see him on my bucket list.”
The USS Truxtun was on the cutting edge of technology when Dant and Bernard were at sea. Christened in December of 1961, the ship was propelled by two D2G General Electric nuclear reactors and made history in 1971 by becoming the first nuclear powered surface ship to visit Yokosuka. The Truxtun also conducted 1,000 accident-free helicopter landings the same year. The ship was decommissioned on September 11, 1995.