Thursday, February 17, 2011

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

                                                                                 Saigon
                                                                                 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.

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