The diary of Lieutenant Colonel Richard Paris Clark, Jr., U.S. Army Transportation Corps, who served as Chief, Movements Branch, Transportation Division, J-4, MACV, from June 1965 to December 1965, and Special Assistant to the J-4 for Coastal Shipping from December 1965 to June 1966. Edited by John R. Clark.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Diary Entry 12: Saigon, Monday Night, 21 June 1965
Monday Night, 21 June 1965
Been down at the port all day looking over the water aspect of our operations.Have several vessels in Saigon port discharging vehicles and several ships upstream discharging ammunition.Wanted to see first hand what it was like to see if there was anything I could do in the way of hiring more stevedores or truck drivers to clear this port of congestion.Have a lot of vehicle backlog for movement to other places, but help is on the way and I should have the port cleared out by the 25th or 26th of June so as to give us breathing room for a spell.
Clark at Saigon Port, 21 June 1965. (Photo courtesy Richard P. Clark, Jr. collection)
Late this afternoon went down to Nha Be which is the ammo discharge point about 15 miles southeast of Saigon.This was a very interesting trip for 2 reasons:1) the countryside and people outside of Saigon is much different from the city; 2)watching the Vietnamese discharge ammo is a interesting experience if your heart holds up.The Vietnamese have no conception whatever of explosives and they won’t pay any attention to safety regulations.
Tomorrow am going out to inspect air and sea terminal operations at Vung Tau, Cam Ranh Bay, and Nha Trang.Wednesday will inspect my air and sea terminals at Pleiku, Kontum (in the highlands), Qui Nhon (on the coast), and Da Nang (on the northern coast).Have already been to Pleiku, Kontum, Qui Nhon, and Danang but must go again to make some special arrangements for the future.Have never been to Vung Tau, Nha Trang, or Cam Ranh Bay so these should be interesting.Will take camera and try to get some good pix.
Haven’t seen [Lieutenant Colonel] Lee Surut and he hasn’t seen me because he’s at Bien Hoa (about 20 miles north of here) and I’m at Saigon and the road in between is cut by the VC.Would like to see him but not enough so’s I’d ride up that road.The VC like to ambush or kidnap people on the Saigon-Bien Hoa road and I’m just too high-priced for that kind of work.Talked with Lee’s brother-in-law who is here in Saigon today and understand that Lee took 2 days of leave beginning yesterday to go back to Okinawa to help Trudy get settled in her new house.
Wherever I go in Saigon, except inside American buildings and compounds, a Vietnamese secret policeman is never more than a few yards away.Whenever I go outside of Saigon, I myself am heavily armed with a submachine gun and a pistol.On the road I’m always preceded and followed by an armed escort of 4 to 8 Vietnamese soldiers and I never get on the road unless I have another armed American with me.Just want to emphasize that I take all precautions and as few chances as possible.It is necessary to get about once in a while, because you can’t run an operation from a chair and telephone in Saigon.Am the most experienced man the Army has in guerrilla warfare.I spent 10 months in Korea chasing some of the best guerrillas they had. I even invented some of the tricks the bad guys try to pull over here!!!