Saturday, February 12, 2011

Diary Entry 23: Saigon, Friday Night, 9 July 1965

                                                                                                     Friday Night, 9 July 1965

    Home late again as usual and dining tonight on cheese and crackers.  Decided it would be a pleasant change from peanut butter.

Started to write an entry last Wednesday night from an office out at Tan Son Nhut while I was waiting for a conference to start.  After the first page was written, the
conference got started and I haven’t stopped until now.  After the conference on Wednesday night, we were up until early Thursday morning threshing out the plans.  In the p.m. flew down to Vung Tau on business and got back here late that night.  Today I’ve been busy trying to catch up on all the paperwork that didn’t get done on Thursday.   Man!  There’s more paper here than in the Pentagon.  I don’t count the sheets of paper anymore, I just weigh them by the pound.  We do so much writing during the day that I can hardly hold a pen at night.

Tomorrow and Sunday I hope to get fully caught up on paperwork so I can get back to doing something worthwhile on Monday.  But like as not a flap of some unimportant nature will come up, like the one generated late today by the enclosed copy of a letter.  I’ve been in and out of more generals’ offices today explaining why the Sgt. (and a lot of others) is not going to get beer by air delivery any time soon.  With all the problems I’ve got, moving beer is the least of my worries!  Anyway, I have been browbeat all over the place today about beer by air but am kinda proud that I stuck by my position.  The beer will go if any general officer in this command will sign in writing that it is more important than bullets.  Then I’ll order bullets off the planes and we’ll fly beer.  But you know what?  No general over here will sign such a piece of paper.  Wish they’d get so mad they would fire me and send me home!
Just took a break of 5 minutes and went up on the roof patio to look over the city.  I could see all over Saigon:  bright and pretty neon lights and could look all the way to
Nha Be and watch the artillery firing at the VC.  Never went to a war like this before. 
When I came in tonight Grady informed me that he is moving a few doors down the street to the Vinh Loi BOQ.  It may be better than this one, but I don’t know whether
I will move or not later.  There are advantages to certain places that have dining rooms in them, but these are generally the big targets.  The place I stay now houses only about 30 officers, mostly captains and majors, so it isn’t like the Rex which has 300 colonels and lieutenant colonels.
Monday am going back to Vung Tau for most of the day to look around.  

[Transcript of previous page]
                    2 July 1965

Major General W. B. Rosson
Chief of Staff
Saigon, Vietnam

Dear General Rosson:

    I am writing to you, first to welcome you to Vietnam, and secondly to request your assistance in possibly settling a problem.

    I am presently a member of Detachment B-22, stationed at An Khe.  Due to our location, and the situation: [sic]  we are supplied mainly by air.  This is our problem.

    Our detachment orders its Commissary and PX items from Saigon.  After the processing, loading on palettes [sic] and hauling, and requesting aircraft,  the supplies are flown to An Khe.  We order our supplies periodically, and as such, in some large quantities.

    We presently have four hundred cases of beer sitting in Saigon.  This beer has been in Saigon, waiting to be shipped for over a month, and as yet, no action has been forthcoming to move it to our camp.  It is realized that this is a large quantity of beer.  I have been told by the people at TOC in Saigon, that the request through channels resulted in a negative reply.

    This is a morale problem.  We are forced to buy Vietnamese beer at the local price which runs high due to transportation and handling costs to bring this beer from Saigon.  The supply is limited in addition.

    My question to you sir, is whether anything can be done to correct this situation.  We have little entertainment here.  We seldom receive any movies and our location precludes any other type activity.

    As we are an operational detachment, we have our share of convoys, patrols, and operations in this area.  I realize this problem is rather insignificant in view of the major problems of this war.  And as a soldier, you take things as they come and do your best regardless.  However, I feel something might be done to overcome this problem.

    I hope my letter does not antagonize you, nor you mind my having written you concerning this little problem.

    I thank you for your indulgence and wish you a good tour in Vietnam.

                Best regards,
                Richard E. Bourne
                Sgt  RA 12591898
                Det B-22, 5th SFC
                APO 96295

[Clark’s handwritten comments at the bottom of the page:]  

I am up to my you-know-what in emergency lift of beans and bullets, and this guy wants beer.  I’d a whole lot rather answer this Sgt a great big NO! than I would some mother whose son died because he didn’t have ammo to shoot.  Besides, Special Forces, to whom this Sgt is assigned, has more airplanes than I do.  Looks like they could get the beer to him if they wanted to.

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