On Monday, Nov. 11, the Longboat Island Chapel held a tribute in honor of the men and women who served and the countless sacrifices they made to protect their country.
Guests gathered to hear the Rev. Vincent Carroll, a retired Navy chaplain, speak of his experiences while serving in Vietnam, Panama and Bosnia. From the day he met his wife, Molly, to the first time he saw a soldier die by his side, Carroll recounted stories covering a broad spectrum of emotions and difficulties.
“It’s one thing to help other dying people,” said Carroll, “but a young death, while no more hurtful, is a different experience.”
Thirty-five years after serving, Carroll wrote a collection of poems, “Poems from Da Nang,” which told of the horrors and realities of war. His memories became heartfelt and raw poems, telling in stark honesty the experiences of a soldier. To accompany the text, he added personal photographs he took while in Vietnam.
Young men in uniform juxtaposed by small orphaned children were among the more than 400 pictures he captured. One poem told of a hospital run by compassionate volunteers who gave care and shelter to many children affected by the war. Another piece spoke of Agent Orange, a defoliant used in Vietnam as part of an herbicidal warfare program and the consequences of exposure to such a strong chemical.
After the tribute, guests were invited into the recently renovated chapel gardens for refreshments before lunch was served. Veterans of conflicts ranging from World War II to Vietnam came together in the sunshine and greenery to share stories and memories from a time they will never forget.