VINH, Vietnam (July 23, 2012) - A Vietnam War veteran revisited Vietnam for the first time -- with his daughter -- while working together on a very different kind of mission, Pacific Partnership 2012. (PP12).
Retired Army Capt. John Zywicke served as the executive officer of the Medical Clearing Company with 82nd Air Borne in Phu Loi, Vietnam and now volunteers his time in the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) pharmacy under his daughter, Lt. Cmdr. Emily Zywicke.
"It turns out that our pharmacy paths crossed by fact that Emily is the pharmacy department head on board the USNS Mercy, and I was the pharmacy officer for the Medical Command while stationed in Long Binh, Vietnam," said John. "After 44 years in the pharmacy profession and my two years in the U.S. Army, it is very humbling to work with my daughter and give back to people less fortunate than ourselves."
Emily said it is interesting to do many of the same duties her father performed 43 years ago.
"His duties included inventory management, performing clinic pharmaceutical inspections within Vietnam, pharmaceutical, medical and surgical equipment procurement and reviewing medication requests from Australian, Thailand, and Korean medical forces," she said. "Forty-three years later, I am performing the same duties under a different platform, but in the same country."
John and Emily have shared a number of firsts while on this deployment, including being the first father-daughter team on the mission.
"This is the first time we have practiced our profession together," Emily said. "As a pharmacy intern, I occasionally trained under my dad and gained an appreciation for the profession and art of pharmacy, as well as how to be a leader. Most notably, the roles have been reversed on this voyage, as my dad is now working under my direction."
Emily feels fortunate to be able to share such a unique experience with her father.
"My dad has always been my voice of reason, my motivator and my biggest cheerleader from afar, but is now 'present and accounted for' in my department, encouraging me on to be the best Naval Officer I can be," said Emily.
John said he is grateful for being invited on PP12, not only to revisit Vietnam, but to share his knowledge and experience as a pharmacist with his daughter, first hand.
"In summary, our degrees are 37 years apart, but we are one in family and in mission," he said. "We have been able to problem solve, and build the USNS Mercy Pharmacy team together. I am happy and grateful for the chance UCSD gave me to participate in the MEDCAP missions, the chance to work with host nation pharmacy staff and along-side participating nations, which led to a successful mission here."
Now in its seventh year, Pacific Partnership is an annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance mission U.S. military, host and partner nations, non-governmental organizations and international organizations designed to build stronger relationships and disaster response capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.
For more information about the PP12 mission, please visit the Pacific Partnership Blog or engage with Pacific Partnership on Facebook and Twitter.