Saturday, May 16, 2009
Floating on the South China Sea.
The shore line of Nha Trang in South Viet-Nam had some of the most beautiful powdery white beaches that you’ve ever laid your eyes on. Ship builders came here to build crude junks and fishing boats which made it so unique and photogenic. Viet-Nam was so beautiful it was hard to believe that this war torn country could be so inviting and graceful.
The constant foamy waves of salt water rushed up the beach and covered my feet just as fast as the soft white sand slipped out from underneath them while I stood staring out across the vast blue South China Sea.
Soon Sgt. Gary Barron and I, grabbed our inner tubes and threw them in the water and shoved off for an adventure he was from my home state of Indiana. Together Gary and I had this brilliant idea to paddle out to the island which was known to be occupied by the North Vietnamese Communist Army.
It was during a cease fire truce which was established and agreed to by Henry Kissinger and all those who were involved in the war effort. Our thoughts were to get as close to the enemy on the island to see if it would provoke them to take action against us.
As we paddled on our truck tire inner tubes we kept our eyes focused on the Island which we found out later was 15 miles out to sea. It seemed like hours went by and the depth of the water was a meager 900 to 1000 feet below us. It didn’t seem to bother us because reality was not an issue to be concerned with. After all we didn’t think that danger applied to us. We keep our eyes on the island which seem to grow in width from about an inch when we started out to about 20 inches across as we got closer.
Then out of the clear blue sky a strong wind began to pick up and the sky blackened to the point where it was literally dark around us. The waves began to get choppy and the reflection of darkened sky caused the water to appear just as black. Soon an eerie feeling crept in and I called out to Gary that I thought It would be best to turn around and go back at which we both agreed (Neither one of us wanted to be “hit by lightning”). What we didn’t know was that thunder or lightning in the tropics was very rare.
Being from the mid-west we were familiar with lightning but we weren’t familiar with the dangers of the sea. After all, what did we know about the ocean? Everything seemed like it was ok to be doing what we were up to. With both arms thrashing in the water and our legs were kicking we headed back to the shore line which seemed to take for ever. When we finally arrived we collapsed on the beach only to be showered by a warm tropical storm that lasted about ten minutes. Then the sky cleared up to the same bright blue sunny day when we started out.
Our under arms and legs were literally chaffed raw from the constant rubbing contact of the rubber from the inner tubes. As we staggered back to the Consulate General we told some of the Americans which worked at the Consulate what we had been up to only to get ourselves chewed out for taking such a “stupid risk”.
We didn’t seem to care because it was our nature to see if we could stir up a fight. After all that’s what Marines were trained to do. And besides, a month before Gary and I drove a jeep into Viet Cong territory and were met by startled young kids from the Viet Cong camp. No one fired on us and we concluded that the truce must be holding (So young, so dumb and so naive we were). That incident was daring and all in fun and I had once again made a memory which I could perhaps pass on to my future grand kids someday.
Then it was finally time me to return to the good ole U.S.A., it wasn’t too long before I was invited to see the latest movie with my brother and his wife. The newly released movie so happened to be “JAWS” . I asked what it was about and they informed me that it was about a shark and I’d like it, so I went along to see what the hype was. Soon the screen became a reminder to me that the little innocent inner tube event could have turned into a tragic nightmare of horror as we had not a clue what lay under our inner tubes on that day which fortunately went without an incident.
As time went on just for grin’s I looked up sharks of the South China Sea on the internet, only to find that there are over 90 different species. Also electric eels, sea snakes and man of war jelly fish. A visible sunken Japanese battle ship with its mast still sticking out of the water to this very day and it was a hangout for the ferocious occupants of the underworld.
As I looked back on that day, my life could have been snuffed out with simple strike of an unexpected shark. After all every year people loose their lives to some unexpected curious and hungry shark. Yes it is true we had our eyes focused on the island but we never had a clue as to what lurked just below the surface of that vast body of water.
You may ask what’s the point of all this? Well it’s like this, as I look back and reflects on some of these real life stories, I am reminded how In the scripture Job talked about God was everywhere. Where Job went God was there. God constantly looks out for me even when I make dumb decisions (not that I deserve such love but He is there with me).
I believe that God has a plan and purpose for each one of us even though we are naïve, and perhaps ignorant of our circumstances. So I face each new day, realizing that even though I may not know what lurks around me, Gods hands are constantly protecting, even if it means that he brings up a dark storm to distort the waters around us only to use it to provide cover from the predators who if given a chance would devour us no matter how tough and exempt we think we are from danger. “Thank you God for your constant Love and mercy and grace all of which I don’t deserve”.