Sunday, January 16, 2011

Diary Entry 5: Saigon: Thursday, 10 June 1965

                                                                                                          Thursday, 10 June 1965

            I am now in Saigon, Vietnam.  The flight from Clark AFB in Manila, P.I. was fairly quick---only 2 hours.  It is only too sudden to leave a safe place and suddenly wind up here.
           We arrived here at local time which is yesterday in Montgomery.  [Major] Grady Cole met me at the airport, but he couldn’t stay long as I had to attend a briefing which lasted an hour and a half at the airport and he had to go back to work.
           From the air Saigon is an ugly-looking place.  You are in cloudy and turbulent weather all the way from Clark AFB and when you break out of the clouds over Saigon, the first thing you see is the Saigon River which is an ugly red scar winding like a snake through the flat lands.  The river actually looks the color of blood, I guess because of the clay texture of the soil.

Aerial view of Saigon, South Vietnam, 1965.  (Photo courtesy Richard P.  Clark, Jr.  Collection)

            As the plane let down over Tan Son Nhut airport on its final approach, we were joined by armed helicopters for escort.  I reckon the VC even shoot at commercial planes on occasion.
            After deplaning, we received a briefing at the airport on security measures, laws and customs, regulations, etc.  Then we picked up our baggage in the airport terminal, boarded a Navy bus driven by a Vietnamese, and came to our temporary quarters at the Majestic Hotel.
            It may be titled Majestic Hotel, and it may really have been majestic 90 years ago when the French built it.  But today, it looks to me equivalent to a second-class boarding house in the States.  Believe it or not, chameleons are running across the walls and ceiling and there is a bat flying around in the hallway outside.

Hotel Majestic, 1 Tu Do Street, Saigon, South Vietnam, 1965.  (Photo courtesy Richard P. Clark, Jr. Collection)

           This afternoon I’m going out to MACV headquarters and meet my boss and find out what I’m going to do here for the next year.  Met 4 other TC [Army Transportation Corps] officers on the flight over.  One major, 3 captains.  However, I didn’t know them before.  They have just graduated from T-School.

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