Friday, January 21, 2011

Diary Entry 9: Saigon, Sunday, 14 June 1965

U.S. Air Force 8th Aerial Port, Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Saigon, South Vietnam, 1965. (Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force)
                                                                Monday Night, 14 June 1965

            Even though this has been a busy day and I feel pooped out tonight, I want to write while everything is fresh in my mind.  Otherwise, I’m apt to forget some details.
Late last night we successfully moved units of the 173rd Airborne Brigade to Dong Xoai (about 38 miles north of Saigon) to defend the airfield there.  The VC overran a district capital (equivalent to a county seat in the US) and there were a lot of Vietnamese killed on both sides.  Situation is still uncertain up there, but I think we are
holding okay.
I spent all morning out at Tan Son Nhut airbase looking over my airlift operation and trying to figure out ways of improving efficiency of operations.  Right now the C-130s (heavy lift aircraft) must be loaded at the north end of the airfield.  The C-123s (light lift aircraft) are at the south end of the airfield; while the cargo comes in at the center of the airfield.  Not too efficient for good planning or management.  I’m trying to get the situation corrected.  I spent a lot of time talking to the various Air Force commanders who fly the cargo and the port squadron which loads it out.  I made up my mind to do something to get this better arranged.

This afternoon I briefed General Crowley, the J-4, on the situation.  He accepted my ideas on relocating some activities at Tan Son Nhut airbase and tomorrow he and I will go talk to Brigadier General [William] DePuy (J-3), Major General [Richard] Stilwell (Chief of Staff, MACV), and General [William] Westmoreland (CG) about the changes we need.  Meeting the brass early in my career over here!  But something has got to be done as I am losing 300,000 pounds of cargo shipment each week due to inefficient location of units.

General William C. Westmoreland, left, MACV commander, confers with Major General William E. DePuy, right, 1966.  (Photo courtesy LIFE Magazine)

Still at the Majestic Hotel, but hope to move to a permanent BOQ (Majestic is just temporary quarters for people coming into the command) in a week.  I don’t like the place because there is no security---one slouchy Vietnamese policeman at the door.  VC could throw a bomb in the lobby anytime, or come right up to your room.  Permanent BOQs are sealed off with barricades for some distance, and there are US MPs with shotguns guarding the entrances.

Had supper with [Colonel] Lew Ashley tonight.  He hasn’t changed too much from the last time I saw him in 1957 in Washington.  But it was pleasant to talk to him again for a little while.  He is living at the Rex BOQ, which is the best-looking and appears to be fairly secure.  Sure would like to get a room there.

Colonel Lewis Ashley, U.S. Army.  Ashley was a branch chief in J-1 at MACV in 1965.  (Photo courtesy U.S. Army)

My roommates in the Majestic are another TC major and a Navy lieutenant commander.  The TC major is a colored officer, Major [Lloyd] Milburn who came in on the same flight with me from Travis AFB.  He is going to Danang in the north.  He’s kinda shook up about it as he spent most of the time on the flight over here telling me that he was going to be assigned as chief of movements.  As I have always said, it doesn’t pay to talk too much.

Major Lloyd Milburn, U.S. Army.  (Photo courtesy U.S. Army)


Three other TC officers came over with me on the flight, and all are going to the field.  Guess I’m just lucky to stay in the headquarters.  One was assigned to the railway security detachment and 2 are going out as district (county) logistics advisors.
The Saigon Post publishing company puts out a couple of English-language newspapers here, and I buy a copy every morning to see what is going on.  The English syntax and grammar is not always correct, but at least it is news. 
The office:

Brigadier General Crowley (TC) J-4
Colonel Smith (Inf) Deputy J-4
Colonel Plate (USAF) Trans Off

Major Clark (TC) Chief Movements Branch
Major Beaver (USAF) Air Force Movements Planner
Major Eckard (USAF) Air Force Movements Planner
Major Kostner (TC) Sealift Planner
Lieutenant Commander Schaefer (USN) Sealift Planner
Captain Jones (TC) Airlift Liaison
Lieutenant Riddle (USN) Sealift Liaison
Sergeant Houston (USAF) Statistician
Specialist 6 Yztonia (TC) Chief Clerk
Sergeant Gray (TC) Clerk
Sergeant Gaines (TC) Clerk

Major Cathrall (TC) Chief Advisory Branch
Major Lange (TC) Advisor
Major Williams (TC) Advisor
Captain Putthammer (TC) Advisor

Major Hanks (TC) Chief Transportation Staff Branch
Captain Heizman (TC) Transportation Staff Officer
Captain Slauer (TC) Transportation Staff Officer
Major Brobeck (TC) Transportation Staff Officer

            Guess who is coming back to Vietnam for a second tour as a volunteer after returning to the States in February?  Captain [Charles] Dughi from Fort Eustis!  Well, this kind of surprised me, so I asked some pretty blunt questions of Major Cathrall.  Dughi got himself all tied up with a Vietnamese and he and his wife have arranged for a divorce.  Will try to find out some more from Dughi after he gets here.
From the looks of my job I’ll have plenty of work to keep me busy, so perhaps my year will go fast over here.  The days sure have gone fast since I left the States.  Not a minute to spare.

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