Monday, February 28, 2011

Diary Entry 34: Saigon, Saturday Night, 24 July 1965


                                                                                                   Saturday Night, 24 July 1965

This has been the nicest Saturday that I’ve known since arriving in Vietnam!  I finished up all my work by 6 p.m., had something to eat at the Hong Kong BOQ mess, and am now at my BOQ.  We didn’t have a single flap today and it was just plain pleasant at the office for a change.  Sure hope it stays that way. 

Things are going so good that I am planning to take the day off tomorrow and do some shopping.  Major [Raymond] Kostner, the chief of my Sealift Coordination Center, has offered to take me around to the places where he has bought some things for his family before.  Am looking forward to this, as this is the first time I’ve had someone who has been around for several months to show me the way.  The other little shopping I did was when I first got here and just went with another newcomer.  Didn’t know where or what to look for then. 

Got a letter from Lieutenant Colonel Chuck Olson of Leavenworth who asked me to buy him about $20 worth of cigars, but he didn’t send any money.  Will write him a note tonight and tell him that I’ll be glad to if he will send a money order.

Sunday night General Crowley is having cocktails and dinner for selected guests at the Moulin Rouge (that’s the fancy restaurant and night club Grady took me to when he was checking security).  I’ve been invited and will attend, but won’t stay long.  Although it’s a real nice place, I don’t feel comfortable there as it is probably a good place to get zapped because of the large number of high-ranking US who frequent it.  According to Grady it is a prime target. 

General Crowley is leaving Monday to go back to Honolulu for conferences and to see his family. When they evacuated dependents early this year, Gen. C sent his wife to Honolulu.  It was a good idea because he has frequent business back there and gets to see his wife from time to time.  They do not have any children.

[Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd L.] "Scooter" Burke was wounded today. [Burke was wounded on 22 July.] He’s a Medal of Honor winner from Korea, in 1951.  I’ve known him for a long time, and he’s just crazy enough to get himself killed.  It’s a real good thing he got wounded and is being evacuated, because he takes such needless risks that sooner or later he would have been killed.  He had no business being where he was and doing what he was doing when he got wounded.  That’s lieutenant’s work. 

Am a little worried about old Harry the Horse [Brockman].  Haven’t seen him in over a month.  I tried to call him over the phone today, but couldn’t get through.  Will try again Monday.  Saw [Major] Tom Parsons this afternoon and he’s anxious to get on home in August.  Haven’t seen any other old friends lately. Reckon I’ve been too busy.

Major Tom Parsons, U.S. Army.  (Photo courtesy U.S. Army)

This is all the news for now.  I think I’ll go up on the roof patio and watch the flares go off in the distance.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Diary Entry 33: Saigon, Friday Night, 23 July 1965

                                                                                                       Friday Night, 23 July 1965

This has been a busy but very productive day.  Feel like I accomplished a good bit.  Did my part in the paperwork and ceremony battle!

 Regarding the landings of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division:  Was at Vung Tau where the main force arrived.  We put them ashore by LSTs and then flew them to Bien Hoa Air Base, north of Saigon.  This was an expensive way to do it, but it was the safest way.  I feel pretty good about planning this move and not getting a single person hurt during my part.  In fact, I feel real puffed up about a lot of other moves which have been executed without loss---Marines into Qui Nhon, large scale operations at An Khe last week, and others. So far have been able to outguess or out-think the VC, but don’t know how long that good luck will hold.  Long time, I hope. 

I saw in Stars and Stripes that all tours in US were cut to 24 months so people could be sent back over here and that those coming from Germany would get only 9 months in the States before getting on the way.  With regard to extension of tours over here, I am inclined to doubt it.  During the Korean War, they managed to keep tours to 12-13 months so they probably can do it here.  Extensions are possible, but not probable at this time.

 Seems like I see 20-30 a day of people I’ve seen before as all of them process at MACV II headquarters near my office.  Have a hard time remembering all of them.  Saw a Lieutenant Colonel Murray who was a Captain Murray in Alaska last time I saw him.  Believe I moved into his quarters at Ladd [AFB]. Lee Surut’s picture was in the Saigon paper with Mr. McNamara last week.  Lieutenant Colonel [Tom] Raney of Leavenworth is here in J-3.  Chaplain Jones of Leavenworth came in last week.

Spent the first 2 hours of today working on papers in the office and writing things until I got tired of it.  Then just decided to go out for a while and forget the papers.  Went down to Saigon port and walked around and looked over operations and raised a little hell with everybody just to let them know I’m still around.  Then went up the street a ways to the Vietnamese Navy Headquarters to see the Korean Navy Commander about how soon his ships would be ready to go to work for us.  The Koreans haven’t changed too much since I last saw them [during the Korean War in 1950-1951].  Got lots of excuses and promises but no action.  They like to fight just about as much as the Vietnamese do.  Most of the time they are heading for the PX.  Since the visit to the port and the navy headquarters was not too pleasant, decided to go out to Tan Son Nhut airfield where I’ve got a strictly US operation going and felt much better.  Collected up all my officers at noon and we all had lunch together for the first time.  Think we’ll do that every Friday at noon, as I enjoyed it and will get to know them better.  After lunch went over to the Vietnamese High Command to attend an award ceremony.  One of my officers who is leaving Sunday [Captain Jones, Transportation Corps, U.S. Army] was decorated by the Vietnamese government.  Visited with Major General Nhon, Vietnamese Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, and renewed acquaintances with Colonel Tho, J-4 of the Vietnamese High Command, who was one of my students at Leavenworth last year.  Back to the office by 3 p.m. to meet with J-4 (Gen. Crowley) on airfield planning and then went to the Vietnamese government Ministry of Economics with US Operations Mission men to talk about how we can help supply civilian refugees with food.  They have been forced out of their homes by the VC and if we don’t deliver food, may starve.  We’ll do something, but don’t know what or how as yet.  

Just about forgot the accomplishment that I’m proudest of today!  At noon got a call from the Marine chaplain at Da Nang that a little 5-year old girl was about to die as result of polio and requested we send plane to get her to hospital in Saigon.  Not only sent plane, but also got Colonel Rumer (MACV Surgeon) to send up portable iron lung, doctor, and flight nurse to take care of her on way down.  Plane was there in less than 3 hours, and girl was in Saigon hospital [3rd Field Hospital] in 6 hours after we got the call.  Called hospital a few minutes ago and found out she’s going to be all right.  Maybe I’m wrong, but believe something like this is a lot more important than other things.  That little girl will probably always think the Americans are good people.

Think my luck with roommates is just the bad kind of luck.  This new one is a real weird-o.  He still leaves the door unlocked, still gets up sometimes at 2 o’clock in the morning, and frequently is gone all night. None of my business, but I have a hunch he is “living on the economy.”  Tonight he left about 9 o’clock saying he was going to go out to eat.  Almost 12 and he’s not back yet and there is a curfew at 11 p.m. so he has to be holed up somewhere; otherwise the Vietnamese cops would pick him up.  We don’t have too much to say to each other.  Feel sorry for his wife as he says he was married only a few months ago.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Photo: Clark and Brigadier General John D. Crowley, MACV J-4, at MACV I Headquarters, 22 July 1965

"I had just said:  'Now that I've got promoted [to lieutenant colonel], I'll now give you all the bad news about how bad off we really are.  .  .then you can court-martial me!'  Then General Crowley said:  'Bad news is all I ever get around here!'  And we were all laughing,"  Clark, right, wrote on the back of this photograph of himself and Brigadier General John D. Crowley, the MACV Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics (J-4), left, at MACV I Headquarters, 22 July 1965.  (Photo courtesy U.S. Army)

Diary Entry 32: Saigon, Thursday Night, 22 July 1965

                                                                     Thursday Night, 22 July 1965

Did not write last night as we had a conference with a JCS study team here from Washington until 10:30 p.m. By the time I got back to the BOQ about 11, I was pooped out and went right to bed.  Today has been a long one, too, but not quite as bad as yesterday.  Got home at 8 p.m. and am going to fix some supper just as soon as I finish this. 

The way things are happening so fast around here, it is hard to keep important events sorted out in my mind.  I made one personnel change and have received one new officer in.  I moved Lieutenant Commander Schaefer from the Sealift Center and put him to work in the main office.  He has shown outstanding performance. Major [Orvil C. “Bud”] Metheny came in to work on Monday, and expect him to be a welcome addition to my main office.  

Lieutenant Commander Al Schaefer, U.S. Navy, left, Major Orvil "Bud" Metheny, U.S. Army Transportation Corps, middle, and Major Beaver, U.S. Air Force, right, outside Movements Branch office, 1965.  (Photo courtesy Richard P. Clark, Jr. collection)

Am sending him up to Da Nang tomorrow and Saturday to observe activities there. Lieutenant Commander [Dick] O’Neil is due in tomorrow, and expect to assign him also to main office to help take some burdens off me.  A Major [Bob] Edwards came in this week but he was assigned to some other place, so I did not get him.

Must say that with one exception I have outstanding officers and NCOs.  May have to can one officer if he does not behave better, but I am giving him a chance to come up to standard before lowering the boom. [The officer is probably Captain Dillon, U.S. Army, who served in the Sealift Coordination Center.  See Clark's handwritten organizational chart below.  Note that Clark listed his personnel, officer and enlisted, by rank.  The only exception is Dillon, who Clark rated below Yeoman 1st Class Drake and Staff Sergeant Graves, U.S. Army.]

Am going to withdraw from the Rex BOQ food plan 1st of next month.  I eat only 50% of my meals there (breakfast every day, lunch sometimes, supper never) that it is not worth the $45.00 [per] month.  Will probably save $20 by doing this as the food not eaten must be paid for anyhow.  Can’t see giving money for food not eaten.

We have a big problem with ammo unloading at Nha Be, about six miles southeast of Saigon. Could end up like Bien Hoa did several months ago.

Perhaps it would be interesting if I drew an organization chart to show how I fit in the picture over here:

Clark's hand-written organizational chart from his diary entry, 22 July 1965.  Note that for security reasons, he did not list the number of aircraft or seacraft in the Movements Branch inventory.  (Document courtesy Richard P. Clark, Jr. collection)

The efficiency expert over here from Washington has turned out to be a nice guy.  He wants to do exactly what I want to do---get me and my people OUT of operations and he will so recommend.  First time I’ve ever reorganized myself out of a job!  In 3-6 months my office will (I hope) be replaced by a movement control group headed up by a full colonel, 65 officers, and 260 EM. [This is the genesis of the U.S. Army 507th Movement Control Group, also known as the Traffic Management Agency (TMA).]  That’s what it will take to do the job effectively.  Frankly, we are doing well just to hold things together before they collapse around my ears.  The efficiency expert turns out to be a Colonel Arthur Hurow, TC, who is a good friend of the Reichels’. [Brigadier General Mike J. Reichel was the Director of Transportation, U.S. Army, in 1965.  Reichel commanded the 48th Transportation Group in 1960-1961 when Clark commanded the 63d Transportation Company, a subordinate unit of the 48th Group.]  Did not have too hard a job selling ideas.  Just hope General Crowley agrees.

Colonel Arthur Hurow, U.S. Army Transportation Corps [pictured here as a brigadier general in 1967].  (Photo courtesy U.S. Army) 

Friday, February 25, 2011

From The Editor: Movements Branch and the Reopening of Route 19, 18 July 1965

In the summer of 1965, South Vietnam seemed to crumble in the clutches of Viet Cong guerrillas.  As Clark noted in his diary, Viet Cong agents continued to spread terror with remarkable ease in Saigon.  Outside the city, the VC tightened their stranglehold on South Vietnam's land lines of communication with equal ease. 

Since the Viet Cong blew out three bridges on Route 19 in June 1965, the central highlands' vital western tier of towns---Kontum, Pleiku, and Ban Me Thuot---was accessible only by air.  Despite an airlift that brought hundreds of tons a week into Pleiku, supplies grew critically short in July and MACV decided that Route 19 had to be reopened at any price.

Map of Major South Vietnamese Highways.  Route 19 highlighted in red box.  (Image from 1965 MACV Command History, p. 304.)

MACV deployed more than 7,000 South Vietnamese troops on 18 July 1965 to protect civilian and military truck convoys bearing supplies from Qui Nhon to Pleiku, and Movements Branch organized airlift to support the convoy and security troops that tied up virtually every transport aircraft in South Vietnam for days.  Although the effort succeeded and daily truck convoys rolled from Qui Nhon to Pleiku, the magnitude of the effort underscored how thoroughly the Viet Cong cut South Vietnam's land lines of communication into isolated shards.  Only a fraction of the nation's 4,000 paved miles were freely passable in the summer of 1965; of more than 600 miles of railroad trackage, only 100 miles remained usable.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Diary Entry 31: Saigon, Tuesday, 20 July 1965

                                                                                              Tuesday, 20 July 1965

Today is the Vietnamese Independence Day and all US forces have been restricted to work areas or BOQs.  The South Vietnamese had a big rally this morning against the Communists and there was a possibility that the rally could have turned into a riot.  Tonight they expect some counter-action from the VC in the form of incidents against Americans, so we are all buttoned up.  Don’t think you could find an American out on the street tonight if you tried.

Had an unusual experience today.  This morning I sat at a desk which had the nameplate of General Earle G. Wheeler, Chairman of the JCS, on it and wrote some memoranda for him to take back to Washington.  First time a general ever surrendered his desk to me.  Also met briefly with Mr. McNamara to discuss problems in transportation.  Pleasant experience.

General Earle G. Wheeler, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff,  center, holding cigarette, and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, right, in shirtsleeves, confer.  (Photo courtesy Richard P. Clark, Jr. collection)

My new roommate is a real weird one.  He goes out to eat supper at 7:30-8:00 p.m. and returns just before curfew at 11.  Then he tries to skip out at 2 a.m. when curfew is over, but any movement in the room wakes me up so I start to see what is going on.  He departs at 2 a.m. but comes back before 6 a.m. and goes back to sleep.  I don’t care about his going out at night, but I sure wish he would not leave the door unlocked or the windows open.  Scares me half to death when I wake up the next day.  If he doesn’t quit the open-door policy, either he or I am going to move, and I’ve been here the longest!

Talked to Colonel Rumer, the MACV surgeon, the other day and developed some interesting information about medicine in Vietnam. [Clark probably spoke with Colonel Spurgeon Neel, the chief MACV surgeon in July 1965.] There are 900 doctors in Vietnam for 14,000,000 people. . .400 are engaged in politics, 200 are engaged in business, leaving 300 to practice. No wonder there is a social problem here!  Colonel Rumer tells me that pharmacists and midwives do most of the medical practice in the country.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Diary Entry 30: Saigon, Monday Night, 19 July 1965

                                                                                                 Monday Night, 19 July 1965

Today I feel kinda blown up and want to brag.  This afternoon briefed one of Mr. McNamara’s “whiz kids”---one of the assistant secretaries of Defense---and came out a
winner.  [Clark probably briefed Paul R. Ignatius, who served as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Installations and Logistics in July 1965.]  He had given all previous briefers a hard time because they did not have answers but I didn’t miss a one.  Later in the day, he came down to our office and said to me, “Well, I see that transportation at least is in good hands.”  I felt real good.  It was like teaching a class at Leavenworth where you had all the questions pegged beforehand and all the answers on tap.  As I recall, there was one Assistant Secretary of Defense, one deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, 2 major generals, 3 brigadiers, and a bunch of colonels present.  I tried to give a real polished and professional performance. 

Paul R. Ignatius, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Installations and Logistics, 1965-1967.

My last trip was to An Khe, Pleiku, and Qui Nhon.  The purpose of the trip was to set up a giant airlift to supply a force to open the road between Pleiku and Qui Nhon.  The road has been closed by the VC for a long time.  We were successful in getting stuff in and the road was opened today without bloodshed. 

About time I started thinking about my next assignment and get a letter off to Washington. Am planning to request places close to Montgomery as there will be NO opportunity to get TC command next year.  But have been advised that some plush assignments can be had by inter-theater transfer---such as:  Honolulu, Hawaii; Japan; Germany; Bermuda; and South America.  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

From The Editor: Colonel James E. Williams and the Deployment of the 2d Brigade, 1st Infantry Division to Vietnam, 1965

One of the frequently mentioned characters in Clark’s diary is Colonel James E. Williams, the commander of the 2d Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.  Clark knew Williams from Leavenworth, where he served as the Director of Large Unit Operations at CGSC from 1962-1965.  The Army gave Williams command of the 2d Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, in the spring of 1965 just as the unit prepared to deploy to South Vietnam.   On 20 June 1965, Simmons and an advance party of brigade staff officers and battalion commanders flew to Vietnam and made arrangements for the brigade's arrival.

Colonel James E. Williams, U.S. Army.  (Photo courtesy U.S. Army)

In 1965, the 2d Brigade was composed of the 2d Battalion, 16th Infantry; the 1st and 2d Battalions, 18th Infantry; the 1st Battalion, 7th Artillery; Battery C, 8th Battalion, 6th Artillery; and various support units, including engineer, maintenance, medical, police, military intelligence, and signal intercept companies.  During the first half of June the brigade loaded its equipment on railroad cars for shipment to California.  The first train left Fort Riley, Kansas, on 14 June.  Between 21 June and 24 June, the rest of the unit traveled by rail and air to the Oakland, California Army Terminal. On 25 June, the brigade embarked on the U.S.Navy transport General W.H. Gordon, while three other ships moved the brigade's equipment. Once the ship was under way, Simmons officially informed the troops what they had already suspected: They were en route to Vietnam. [1]

Simmons and his brigade experienced many difficulties throughout the summer of 1965.  Westmoreland and DePuy changed the 2d Brigade's destination and mission a week before its arrival in Vietnam.  Originally, the brigade was tasked with establishing and maintaining defenses for port and supply facilities at Qui Nhon; instead, MACV divided the brigade and sent two of the unit's infantry battalions, the 2d Battalion, 16th Infantry, and the 2d Battalion, 18th Infantry, to Bien Hoa to assist the 173d Airborne Brigade with securing the air base.  MACV ordered the third battalion, the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry, and an artillery battery to Cam Ranh Bay, 200 kilometers south of Qui Nhon, to provide security for the port.

The 2d Brigade, 1st Infantry Division arrives at Vung Tau, 14 July 1965.  (Photo courtesy U.S. Army)

Movements Branch's role in the deployment began when the Gordon reached Cam Ranh Bay on 12 July, where the troop ship docked to allow the infantry and artillery to disembark. Clark arranged for LSTs and LCUs to move the troops from the Gordon to Cam Ranh.  The ship continued south and arrived at Vung Tau on 14 July. Over the next two days Movements Branch arranged for the troops to move by LST and LCU to Vung Tau port; from there, the troops made their way to the Vung Tau airfield, where Movements Branch arranged for their airlift to Bien Hoa Air Base. Upon arrival, Movements Branch arranged the brigade to be moved by truck to their prospective base camp, about three kilometers southeast of the airfield, a site chosen because it lay astride a line of approach into the air base. For its first few days in Vietnam, Simmons' force was under the command of MACV; on 19 July, the 173d Airborne Brigade assumed operational control of the 2d Brigade.  This arrangement continued until the 1st Infantry Division headquarters deployed to Vietnam in October 1965.  This command arrangement also significantly affected Colonel Simmons, as Clark related in the diary in September 1965. [2]

Westmoreland and DePuy's decision to change the 2d Brigade's station from Qui Nhon to Bien Hoa created supply problems for Simmons and for Movements Branch.  Clark and his branch had arranged the movement and preposition of food stores and ammunition for the brigade at Qui Nhon.  Now that supply was unavailable and difficult for Movements Branch to transport to Bien Hoa while tactical operations and the imminent arrival of additional combat units were ongoing.  The existing Army and Navy warehouses scattered around Saigon had difficulty supporting the troop buildup and could afford the brigade only minimal help.  Throughout the summer, Simmons' brigade existed on a thin logistical shoestring and only the U.S. Navy HSAS commissary at Cholon kept the troops of the brigade from subsisting on field rations for months at a time.  Ominously, the brigade's ammunition supply became so depleted during combat operations that Simmons had to borrow artillery rounds from South Vietnamese units.  As Clark will explain in future diary entries, Simmons asked Movements Branch to help airlift supplies to his unit. [3]

[1] [Unit History, 1965], 2d Bde, 1st Inf Div, pp. [2-3].
[2] Quarterly Cmd Rpt, 1 Jul-30 Sep 65, 2d Bde, 1st Inf Div, 16 Oct 65, pp. 2-3.
[3] Quarterly Cmd Rpt, 1 Jul-30 Sep 65, 2d Bde, 1st Inf Div, p. 9.            

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Diary Entry 29: Saigon, Saturday Night, 17 July 1965

                                                                                              Saturday Night, 17 July 1965

The Big Red One (1st Infantry Division, 2nd Brigade) has landed.  That was the purpose of part of my trip last month to Vung Tau, Cam Ranh Bay, Qui Nhon, and elsewhere.  We had to figure out where best to stage them through which ports and airfields.  Finally settled on Cam Ranh Bay for 1/3, stage the balance off ships to shore at Vung Tau then by air to Bien Hoa air base.  Moved 3,500 or so without so much as a small injury to any.  Came off well. When the actual move came off, I went to Vung Tau to watch it go thru and sent one of my officers to Cam Ranh.  It’s a good feeling to make out a plan and then go watch it be executed in good fashion.  Makes you feel like you’re doing something productive.

I doubt that there is a conference table in sight for a long time.  The stakes just went up.

The title “colonel” still seems funny to me.  I keep answering the telephone as “Major Clark, speaking, sir---“  People in the office kid me about it.

Today I didn’t do much, but I stayed busy.  Went to Tan Son Nhut to attend a planning conference with 1st Logistical Command.  When I came back, everybody was in a flap because McNamara’s here and he has a lot of questions he wants answered---all in the next 5 minutes.  It’s like trying to write a history of the Civil War in 2 hours. . .can’t be done.  The higher-ups don’t seem to realize it, but if they want a report badly, they get it bad.  

Now it is getting toward the midnight hour and I have stacks of papers to go through tomorrow as well as to prepare a briefing for one of McNamara’s assistants on transportation problems and solutions in Vietnam on Monday.  Sure hope my crystal ball holds out!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Diary Entry 28: Saigon, Friday Night, 16 July 1965

                                                                                   Friday Night, 16 July 1965

Considering everything, this has been a rather pleasant day.  While I didn’t do much productive work, did not worry about what didn’t get done for a change.  At 7:30 p.m., just locked everything up and came home.

Earlier today, I thought it would be nice to go to the Rex or to a fancy restaurant and have a big supper as I felt hungry.  Later, though, was reminded that Mr. [Robert] McNamara (Secretary of Defense) arrived today for talks so this is a good night for US personnel NOT to be out.  So am going to have a peanut butter and a cheese sandwich here.  That may not be the most appetizing menu, but is a pretty safe one!

Went to the commissary and PX today and replenished my supplies.  Got 3 kinds of cheese, peanut butter, crackers, jelly, potted meat, pork and beans, Vienna sausage, fruit juice (orange and tomato), peanuts, potato chips, deviled ham, bread, and mayonnaise.  At the PX, bought some washing powder, starch, cigarettes, a drinking glass, can opener, knife, and water jug.  Since Grady moved out, the household items have been gone too, so it was necessary to start to get some of my own.  Eventually, I want to get a coffee pot and a hot plate.  Noticed that the PX has a much better line of stock now that the Army has taken over than they did previously under the Navy.

Well, let’s see what my day looked like on a schedule:

  1. Woke up at 5:30.
  2. Bathed, shaved, and dressed by 6:30.
  3. Had breakfast at the Rex 6:30-7:00.
  4. Arrived work at 7:15.
  5. Attended staff conference 7:30-8:05.
  6. Read messages from Washington and Honolulu 8:05-10:00.
  7. Prepared staff messages back 10:00-11:00.
  8. Attended planning conference with BG DePuy at 11:30-1:00 p.m.
  9. Lunch at PX snack bar 1:30-2:30 p.m.
  10. Conference with US Operations Mission man on how we are going to feed the civilian population by airlift for the rest of the year, 2:30-4:30.
  11. Prepared staff papers for Gen. Crowley, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
  12. Arranged accommodations for C-130 aircraft and crews at Vung Tau, 6:30-6:45 p.m.
  13. Prepared papers for tomorrow’s meetings, 6:45-7:30 p.m.
  14. Quit and came to BOQ 7:30 p.m.

Didn’t get much real work done, but did not worry about it, either.

See so many people I’ve known before, it’s hard to remember who I haven’t seen!  Saw Lieutenant Colonel Tom Raney, who taught at Leavenworth in Department of Division Operations, yesterday and today.  He is in charge of the Emergency Actions Center and we deal closely on the airlift.  Seems like I see hundreds of my Leavenworth students go by.  Yesterday saw Chaplain Jones from Leavenworth and a Captain Graves who was in Allied Personnel 2 years ago.  Expect to see many more of my friends and acquaintances in the future.

Monday  I must brief an Assistant Secretary of Defense, so there goes Saturday and Sunday. Sure wish I could get a day off to take pictures.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Diary Entry 27: Saigon, Thursday Night, 15 July 1965

                                                                                 Thursday Night, 15 July 1965

    Went to Vung Tau Monday to watch landings by the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, at that station.  Can say what unit it is now that they have come ashore.  They could not get ashore from the boats due to high seas so we let them stay on board over night.  There wasn’t that much business that day and came back to Saigon.  At any rate, went back the next day---now remember it was Tuesday and we had another bad day.   Finally got them in on Wednesday (9:00 a.m. at least) and began an aircraft shuttle operation that day. Today, the shuttle from Vung Tau to Bien Hoa was completed, 1,400 troops without incident. The unit is commanded by Colonel Jim Simmons who was at Leavenworth with me.  The unit came from Ft. Riley, Kansas.
This is a particularly tough period.  We are just being overcome by events and circumstances.  The other night I was talking to General DePuy, the J-3, and meant it when I said if things don’t work out, it won’t be because my people didn’t try every trick in the book. We are in an honest-to-God race with time and if anyone sloughs off we’ve had it.
Haven’t seen Grady since he moved, but that isn’t unusual.  In his job he can’t go out of Saigon; while in mine, seems like I’ve got to go all the time.  Our paths don’t cross too often.
My new roommate is an Australian major, a lawyer assigned to the RAAF in Vietnam.  Like all lawyers, he does not understand this kind of war and I’m following behind him to lock the doors, close the windows, etc.  His name is Nick Carter and he’s married to a Canadian girl whom he met in Ellis Falls (pop. 4,500) in Interior Australia and who now lives in Canada.  Nick is a very fine person, but he’s careless about the locks.  In December, he expects to be transferred to Singapore, at which time his wife will join him from Canada.  Australia does not permit dependents here.
From the looks of different nationalities here, it reminds me of UN forces in Korea.  We have Filipinos, Koreans, Thais, Australians, Chinese, and US units.

We have one of those efficiency experts from Washington here now hanging around the office.  The SOB has a lot of suggestions but I notice he isn’t volunteering to go out on trips or to stay over here.  My main job is to convince him that MACV Movements has NO business in operating an airline or steamship company.  The sooner I get out of operations, the better off everything will be.  Operations are for people who are down on the ground, not back in some high headquarters.  Spend about half my time traveling so I know what is on the ground in order to be able to make fairly sound decisions.  I urgently want to turn the airline over to the USAF and the steamship company over to the Navy.  Then maybe I can put my feet up on the desk and think.  Maybe if I can convince the efficiency expert toward this rationale, I’ll be better off and so will the troops.  Hard as hell to make operational decisions from this distance.  Most of the time I just work as hard as I can and hope that I decided right.