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.

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