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.

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