Veteran and Vietnamese officer reunite after 50 years apart

A half century after the Vietnam War, two officers reunited and they didn't have to travel far.

SHORELINE, Wash. – As far as old war stories go, this was one for the history books. 

In 1966, Steve Ulmer was the commanding officer of the U.S.C.G. patrol boat Point League. Tung Tran served on board as the liaison officer for the Vietnamese navy.

"I have some pictures of him, from 50 years ago," said Ulmer. "We looked a little different then."

During Operation Market Time, their 13 member crew fought a historic gun battle in the waters southeast of Vietnam. They captured a Viet Cong freighter with 100 tons of arms on board. 

"So you see, it's a very very victory for the Coast Guard," said Tran proudly. "I was fortunate to be part of this one."

The two officers went their separate ways. Ulmer left the Coast Guard to pursue a calling to the ministry. Tran escaped Viet Nam in the fall of Saigon. He eventually settled in Washington state through a refugee program under then Governor Dan Evans.

Through the U.S. Coast Guard, Tran finally tracked down his old commanding officer from Point League a half century later.

Neither could believe how close their paths were when they crossed again. They reunited for the first time this May.

"How he live close to me in Shoreline, in Seattle, I keep looking for years," said Tran.

Two officers from two different countries half a world away learned they now live just minutes part.

"Here he is 30 minutes away. It's like you wake up from a dream," said Ulmer. "I can't believe he's still alive and he's here and he's very close."

"We are happy," said Tran. "We have a good friend. A very good friend right how."

Copyright 2016 KING


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