Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Diary Entry 56: Saigon, Thursday Night, 9 September 1965

                                                                                                  Thursday Night, 9 September 1965

Yesterday Harry the Horse came by and had dinner with me at the Rex where we ran into Colonel Umpleby, the Chief Western Transportation Officer from CINCPAC.  He reiterated his offer of an assignment at Tachikawa [AFB, Japan] after this tour, so I just told him I wasn’t interested.  After dinner Harry and I sat out on the roof and listened to the band play and talked over old times.  Sure will miss him when he goes back.  Am going to take a run down the Saigon River tomorrow to look over some problem areas and invited Hoss to go along, but he says he has been up and down enough rivers to last for a while.  Am looking forward to getting out of the office for a while, myself.  Friday late will go back up-country [to Qui Nhon] to check on the last minute details for receiving our friends from Fort Benning [the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile)]. Back Saturday.

Clark on the Saigon River, 10 September 1965.  (Photo courtesy Richard P. Clark, Jr. collection)

Today was just another old work day on minor problems which tend to suffocate our day-to-day operations. We don’t seem to have enough time to do any intelligent planning.  However, expect the organizational structure to work itself out and solve these problems eventually. Sure will be glad when it happens.

Compared to some stations in Vietnam, Saigon is a nice place because you aren’t living in a foxhole.  But nice as it is, I’ll sure be glad when this tour is over.  Saigon may be the Paris of the Orient but sure isn’t Montgomery!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Diary Entry 55: Saigon, Sunday Night, 5 September 1965

                                                                                              Sunday Night, 5 September 1965

Am not in a very good mood tonight, so perhaps shouldn’t be writing tonight.  But since I’m going up-country tomorrow for a look at what is going on at a couple of places, thought I’d better write anyway.

The reason I’m mad is because of continuation of problems from yesterday.  I should not say so, but I really do not like my work as there are a lot of instances of namby-pamby, covering up of inefficiency, and service politics which I have to endure.  My boss is poorly qualified in transportation and through his and others’ ineptness, we are apt to put the US in a bad light here.  While we had a big conference here today to try to correct some things, they just get messed up worse.  So far, I’ve tried real hard to be a winner over here, but apparently I don’t understand that the Army must be protected at all costs on the grossest sort of errors. I really care about trying to win over here and if the Army goofs up, I’m pretty hard on them.  Seems like most others don’t care about much but avoiding responsibility and protecting the Army at all costs---a no-win attitude.

We had a big conference with General Crowley this morning, and everybody painted a real rosy picture except me.  And I was honest with him.  In spite of assurances things are not good, am going up to Qui Nhon personally to gather the true facts.  Can’t believe all the rosy things people are saying, as I have evidence to the contrary.

Maybe I’m wrong, but my idea of a good staff officer is that he gives an honest answer even though the news is bad.  Most commanders I’ve known didn’t mind bad news, but they hated to be surprised---and I’m afraid some people are about to be surprised and will not be able to do anything about it.  Think I’ll be so glad when I can retire and get away from all the petty things that I see.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Diary Entry 54: Saigon, Saturday Night, 4 September 1965

                                                                                                     Saturday Night, 4 September 1965

[Major] Harry the Hoss [Brockman] is packing up his things tonight so he’ll be ready to leave tomorrow to go up-country to Nhatrang.  He has to close up his business with Special Forces which has headquarters there and he’ll sign out and be back here next weekend and go home on Tuesday.  I sure envy him going home.  Harry went shopping today and I believe he spent all of his money as I had to treat him to dinner.  He kinda bought up Saigon to take souvenirs to everyone.  Had planned to go shopping with him but things happened and I had to get back to the office.  At the rate he spent money today, it’s a good thing I did not go with him!  I’d have been broke and neither one of us would have gotten supper tonight.

This morning I got off at 9:00 a.m. to move to my new BOQ [the Vinh Loi] and spent about 2 hours carrying things down the street.  Like my new place very much.  Quite comfortable.  It’s a relief to be in a place where you don’t have to put up with people like my roommate.

The Vinh Loi Bachelor Officers' Quarters, 129-131 Ham Nghi Boulevard, Cholon, Saigon, South Vietnam, 1965.  Clark lived in Room 406 from September 1965 to June 1966.  (Photo courtesy Richard P. Clark, Jr. collection)

After getting moved I went down to the Rex for lunch while Harry went over to MACV I to begin his out-processing.  At 3:00 p.m. we were going shopping together but I got a call to get back to work right away as some things suddenly turned up wrong.  We had a big flap going when I got back so we had a conference set up to try to settle things.  It was not a success, I’m afraid that I did not make many friends at the conference, but all concerned got my honest views anyway.  We have another conference set up tomorrow but that one probably won’t settle anything either.  I think we have a pretty bad situation, but not very many people want to hear bad news and I’m not willing to cover it up.

Harry and I had dinner at the Rex with Captain Jacques, US Navy, who is CO of the Military Sea Transport Service in Vietnam.  It was a real pleasant dinner (I had fried shrimp) and then we went out on the Rex patio to listen to the band and singers until 10:00 p.m. and then walked back up here.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Diary Entry 53: Saigon, Friday Night, 3 September 1965

                                                                                                  Friday Night, 3 September 1965

Don’t know whether this has been a good or bad day, probably some of both.  It has at least been interesting and sometimes fun.  One thing I can say about my work is that it’s never dull! 

Lee Surut called to say he was on the way back to Okinawa to ship Trudy and the kids back to the States.  They will live in Aspen, Colorado, near her parents.  I invited him to stop by and spend a night with me when he comes back.  I hope he will. 

When I came in from work there was Harry the Horse [Brockman] waiting for me.  He’s back in Saigon getting ready to go home to the Good Old USA in 9 days.  I’d been invited to dinner already by some Seattle businessmen who are here trying to expand operations by contracting for coastal shipping [The businessmen were executives of Alaska Barge & Transport Co.].  So I just took Harry along with me. We paid for our own dinners just to keep everything on the straight and narrow.  We have to be very cautious in dealings with business people because we have to be absolutely impartial to all.  Had dinner at the Majestic Hotel and it was really good.  I had chateaubriand steak. 

The president of the Raymond-Morrison-Knudsen Construction Co. (world’s largest) is visiting here on Sunday and I am one of many who have been invited to dinner.  Had to decline this one as his company does too much business over here with the military.  He must have about 500 million dollars in contracts going here right now.

Now we are back at my place, and he is writing a letter home.  The Hoss is anxious to get on the way.  I’ll sure miss his visits in from the field.  He’s good folks.

Got a call from the billeting officer today to the effect that I can move, so am planning to do so tomorrow.  Will sure be glad to get a room all by myself.  Have been assigned room 406 at the Vinh Loi which is just down the street from where I live now.  Think I’ll like it a whole lot better.

Had a little excitement in our compound this evening.  Some VC threw a grenade on top of the Transportation Office [at MACV II headquarters] from a passing car.  No one got hurt, but it caused a lot of excitement for a while.  I wasn’t there when it went off, so can’t give a first-hand account as I was up in the front office [MACV I headquarters] briefing General Crowley.  Everything was in a state of excitement when I got back and there were all sorts of guards and MPs around the building.  Reckon our office is a pretty convenient target as it sits right next to the street.  A couple of the captains and some of the EM were too excited about it, so I kinda made light of it by saying:  “Well, the only reason they did it was that they knew I wasn’t around to catch them.”

MACV II Headquarters, 606 Tran Hung Dao Street, Cholon, Saigon, South Vietnam, 1965.   [The Transportation Office, and Movements Branch's offices, were in the buildings near the fence at left.]  (Photo courtesy Richard P. Clark, Jr. collection).

Expect the VC are beginning to step up their activities against the US people.  Thursday a grenade was thrown in the 39th Signal Battalion compound at Tan Son Nhut, wounding three GIs.  Early today a grenade was tossed into an Ordnance repair shop right smack in the middle of Saigon near the Rex, wounding one GI.  Then the one tossed on our roof tonight, wounding none but scaring 10.  I expect to see more of this in the future.  Harry says he’s ready to go either back to the field or go home---Saigon bothers him.  He says if the VC don’t get you with grenades, the taxis will get you while you’re crossing a street!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Diary Entry 52: Saigon, Wednesday Night, 1 September 1965

                                                                                                 Wednesday Night, 1 September 1965

Although I am up late (it is 11 p.m.) tonight, can’t blame it on work this time. After having some supper at the Hong Kong BOQ, decided I’d go visiting for a while.  So came back here and changed clothes and went over to Grady [Cole]’s place just down the street [the Vinh Loi BOQ].  He was cooking his supper when I got there, as usual some sort of Mexican food, enchiladas I believe.  So had an extra helping of supper and some pleasant conversation until just a few minutes ago.  Had to be back here by 11 because there is a curfew in effect at that time. Seems like it has been a long time since I took a break and just sat down and talked with somebody about something besides business.  The new [promotion] list for lieutenant colonel is out and Grady’s # is 267, so he should be promoted in October or November.  I hope to move down to the Vinh Loi Hotel where he lives in the next 10 days.  It really is not any nicer than this place, but at least I get a room all to myself.

The Vinh Loi Bachelor Officers' Quarters, 129-131 Ham Nghi Boulevard, Saigon, South Vietnam  (Photo courtesy Richard P. Clark, Jr., collection).

Today I spent most of my time going to various headquarters at Tan Son Nhut and in Saigon coordinating papers.  Will sure be glad when we get a new headquarters building where everybody is reasonably close.  Will save time in coordinating, having meetings, etc., as we spend too much time traveling back and forth.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Diary Entry 51: Saigon, Tuesday Night, 31 August 1965

                                                                                                     Tuesday Night, 31 August 1965

Got caught in the monsoon on the way in and got pretty soaked.  Changed clothes right away as want to be sure to avoid getting a cold.  Been lucky with keeping myself well so far and want to continue.

Maybe work is getting better as we finished up tonight at 7:30.  The additional people I got in sure have taken a lot of work off my shoulders.  There is still plenty to do, but don’t seem to be rushing so much to get it done.  Sure hope everything is finally under control now.

Need to go to the PX and commissary to replenish my supplies of food, toothpaste, hair oil, etc.  Will try to get an hour off tomorrow to do that.  Like to keep a pretty good supply of food on hand as most nights I just prefer to eat something here.

The maid has been out sick for the last 2 days, so I now have to pick up after myself around the place, empty ashtrays, sweep the floor, etc.  Hope she gets well before I have to start washing my own clothes!

Diary Entry 50: Saigon, Monday Night, 30 August 1965

                                                                          Monday Night, 30 August 1965

Still have daily flaps so I guess that is just a fact of life to live with until things settle down to normal. They can’t keep on going like this indefinitely, and I see some healthy indications of change in the right direction. 

Saturday was a bad day at Black Rock.  Seems like I hustled around to all sorts of meetings, or briefings, or conferences most of the day.  Then Saturday night lightning struck about like it did Friday on that report I wrote about in the last entry [Joint Chiefs of Staff report on port status].  This time on a separate matter, we went all the way up the chain of command to General Westmoreland himself to get the decision made.  It is no fun to be grilled up the chain of command by a bunch of stars.  Kinda high pressure.  We didn’t get through with that flap until about 9 p.m., completely exhausted in the end.  But everything turned out all right. 

Sunday was at work early doing some paperwork and drafting up some messages.  Spent time in the afternoon briefing General Crowley and his deputies on problems until about 4.  Left and went to BOQ to shower and change clothes and went out to dinner with Mr. T.C. Franklin of USOM at his apartment along with the president and vice-president of a barge company from Seattle [Alaska Barge & Transport].  They are over here to try to get some of the barge business being conducted.  Found them to be very nice people.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Diary Entry 49: Saigon, Friday Night, 27 August 1965

                                                                        Friday Night, 27 August 1965

Well, I’m not sure at all of everything that has happened in the last 3 days but I am sure that never have so many panic buttons been pushed in such a short period of time!  Am not even sure of the details anymore as so many things happened.  Tuesday and Wednesday were 20-hour days.  Yesterday was all right as I got home about 9 p.m. but was so physically and mentally exhausted that I just wanted to go to sleep.  Started to get out of bed and write, but decided overall it would be better to get caught up on sleep.  Feeling much better today and am home at 6:30 p.m. for a change.  Maybe I’ve got control of things again.  I hope so. Thought I had a handle on everything Monday but things just seemed to collapse around me. Remember to write about the Joint Chiefs of Staff report on port status.

I expect to move any day now.  I am #1 on the list for new quarters.

We have had a lot of trouble getting car transport in the time I’ve been here but we are rapidly solving the problem in my branch.  We acquired a jeep about a month ago, got another one last week, getting another one next week, and have now set my sights on acquiring a 1964 Ford Falcon sedan with air conditioner. Getting known as the best scrounger in Vietnam!  

Some people call me the Miracle Man, and it gives me a good feeling to be able to do something when others think it just can’t be done.  For example, last night I got a call at 8 p.m. to see if we could transport 500 orphan children (flood disaster victims) from Da Nang to Saigon for the Catholic Relief Organization.  Before midnight all 500 were at Tan Son Nhut airport.  Some people didn’t think it could be done.  I get a big kick out of helping any children over here as they are the helpless victims of a war not of their own making.  Sometimes I think if we sent over here 5,000 doctors, 5,000 teachers, and 5,000 social workers, we would be doing a whole lot of good.  There is a great need for social help here.  There are so many poor people here and the tragic thing is that very few people care. The Peace Corps is desperately needed over here to do the things that the military cannot do.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

From The Editor: "The Situation Seems So Crazy That I Want To Get To The Bottom Of It"

On 22 August, Clark wrote:  "Major Dughi may be getting himself in some deep trouble over here.  He appears to have gotten quite indiscreet in his relationship with his “friend.”  He is being seen much too frequently at the BOQ mess halls, on the streets, and she calls him too much at the office. Think Colonel Plate is getting irritated about it.  He [Dughi] also seems to spend a lot of time away from work and on the weekends, Colonel Plate can’t seem to find him when something important comes up.

"I sure don't understand the situation.  He writes to and receives mail from his family nearly every day, so I reckon he and Mrs. Dughi are still married.  He also has lots of pictures of their house and his family on his desk so he must think something of them.  And he has pictures of his children in his wallet as he has shown them to me.  However, he really chases after this Vietnamese girl quite openly.  So I don't know what the story is.  One of these days I am going to sit down with him eyeball to eyeball and ask him point blank what the story is.  While it is none of my business, the situation seems so crazy that I want to get to the bottom of it."

Major Charles Horatio Dughi, U.S. Army Transportation Corps, was born in Tampa, Florida in January 1929.  He attended Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama before he became an Army officer.  In 1965, Dughi was 36 years old, married, and had an eleven-year old daughter and nine-year old son.  The Vietnamese woman was twenty-one years old.   Dughi divorced his wife, married the Vietnamese woman, and returned with her to the United States.  Dughi and his second wife had a son in 1967.  Dughi retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel and lived in Redington Shores, Florida until he died on 8 November 2002. 

Sometimes, people on the home front were the ones wounded in action during the Vietnam War.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Diary Entry 48: Saigon, Sunday Night, 22 August 1965

                                                                            Sunday Night, 22 August 1965

Been busy working since 8 a.m. today and though I’m a little tired now, this is pretty early for me to be through so some progress must be being made.  Had my whole shop in to work today as the office is quieter on Sunday than it is on most days.  So we got a good bit of work done.

In order to get more work done in my branch, am starting a series of staggered duty hours whereby half of my people come to work at 7 and work until 7 p.m. and the other half comes in at 12 noon and works until 11:30 p.m.  This way I think we can get more productivity. Eventually, when we get some more office space, we will go to a 24 hour-a-day operation and will set up a movements operations center.

Major Dughi may be getting himself in some deep trouble over here.  He appears to have gotten quite indiscreet in his relationship with his “friend.”  He is being seen much too frequently at the BOQ mess halls, on the streets, and she calls him too much at the office. Think Colonel Plate is getting irritated about it.  He [Dughi] also seems to spend a lot of time away from work and on the weekends, Colonel Plate can’t seem to find him when something important comes up.

I sure don’t understand the situation.  He writes to and receives mail from his family nearly every day, so I reckon he and Mrs. Dughi are still married.  He also has lots of pictures of their house and his family on his desk so he must think something of them.  And he has pictures of his children in his wallet as he has shown them to me.  However, he really chases after this Vietnamese girl quite openly.  So I don’t know what the story is.  One of these days I am going to sit down with him eyeball to eyeball and ask him point blank what the story is. While it is none of my business, the situation seems so crazy that I want to get to the bottom of it.

Frequently Mentioned Persons: Brigadier General William Eugene DePuy, U.S. Army, MACV J-3

One of the most influential and contentious figures in the MACV headquarters, and in Clark's diary, was Brigadier General William Eugene DePuy, the Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations (J-3). 

Brigadier General William E. DePuy, U.S. Army, left.  (Photo courtesy U.S. Army.)

DePuy was born in 1919 in Jamestown, North Dakota.  He was an ROTC graduate of South Dakota State University and the Army commissioned him a second lieutenant in 1941.  He served with the 20th Infantry Regiment and the 90th Infantry Division during World War II, from the D-Day invasion through the Battle of the Bulge.  DePuy rose from the rank of second lieutenant to lieutenant colonel in less than three years. 

After the war, DePuy commanded the 2d Battalion, 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division, and the 1st Battle Group, 30th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division, in occupied West Germany.  In 1948, he attended the Defense Language Institute to learn Russian, followed by a year's assignment as Assistant Military Attache and the acting Military Attache with the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, Hungary.   During the Korean War, the Army detailed DePuy to serve with the Central Intelligence Agency.   He served in a series of U.S. Army staff and command positions throughout the 1950s.  In 1961, he attended the British Imperial Defense College. 

In 1964, the Army assigned DePuy to MACV as Westmoreland's J-3.  According to several sources, Westmoreland and DePuy enjoyed a close personal and professional relationship. 

DePuy described himself during his tenure as J-3 as "impatient," a man "trying to make things happen, usually unsuccessfully, not wanting to be told things aren't working well."[1] 

One of Clark's fellow staff officers in the MACV headquarters in 1965 described DePuy in this manner:  "He was a ball of fire, he was dynamite, he exuded energy, he bounced around, he didn't walk around.  He had an opinion on everything, he was always there, if he wasn't there, he was on his way there." [2]

The staff officer related an experience when he briefed DePuy and a visiting congressman at MACV I headquarters:

"I was the J-2 briefer and I was up on the briefing platform pointing at the maps that we had and talking about the enemy situation and so forth as I did for each of these VIP kinds of briefings. 

"And as I finished, you get to the Q & A part and you try and phrase it so that they don't want to ask you any questions because you want to get off of that stage because this is a very dangerous time for you. 

"So he, this is DePuy, was escorting the congressman, so he was the senior officer in the briefing theater at the time, then the congressman and some staff people. 

"At the end, I got to, 'Well sir, are there any questions?'  The congressman I guess simply to show his interest, that he had been awake and listening, he said, 'Yes, I'd like to ask you a question.' 

"And he asked the question, something about intelligence, and I can't remember what it was, but it was some specific about intelligence and I knew that we had no position on that because we did not have definitive information, we didn't have two sources; so we did not have a position on that.  And I told him, 'Sir, we do not have a position on that for a variety of reasons,' and so forth. 

"And then he stepped right in it and said, 'Well, I don't care about that; I want to know your opinion.  You're in the J-2, what's your opinion of this?'  And I was stunned.  What do you do?  I mean, this is the congressman, he's got a general with him and he's saying, 'I want your opinion.' 

"And so I once again said, 'Well sir, you know, I'm a major, we have no position.'  And he insisted, 'What do you think?'  And so by prefacing it, 'This is my personal opinion, in the little time that I've been here in my shallow background, I think thus and so and thus and so.' 

"And General DePuy jumped up and hollered 'Horseshit!'  And leaped up onto the briefing platform, turned around, and took over the briefing in which he presented his view of this intelligence material that we didn't know anything about.  I got off there and then I had to go back [to J-2] and say that, 'Well in essence, General DePuy is up there now, he's giving his position,' and so forth and so on, so my shop would know that things had gotten a little out of hand." [3]

Clark confided to his diary that he and DePuy had a similarly adversarial and stormy professional relationship.  In practice, DePuy told Clark what he wanted moved and when he wanted it moved.  If Clark contradicted him, DePuy interrupted Clark with a curt, "that's wrong."  As the staff officer recounted in the quote above, and as Clark wrote in his diary, DePuy promoted a culture of authoritarianism within the MACV staff headquarters.  He was quick to threaten subordinates, especially during periods of stress.  DePuy thought he was exhibiting strong, secure leadership; junior officers like Clark and the staff officer percieved the opposite; to them, only weak and insecure leaders routinely used threats and poor commanders resorted to threats when they did not know what to do.  This threatening environment persisted in the mid-1960s because DePuy was insecure.  His insecurity derived from several factors.

The editor has italicized the fact that DePuy rose from second lieutenant to lieutenant colonel in three years.  The editor believes this fact explains DePuy's professional character and behavior in Vietnam as J-3 and later as the commander of the 1st Infantry Division. 

The U.S. Army expanded from about 190,000 troops to 8.2 million soldiers during World War II, when DePuy had just become an officer, and the expansion caused major changes in the Army officer corps culture.  The Army promoted DePuy to command and staff positions in which he confronted challenges and responsibilities far beyond his level of maturity and experience.  He had never really been a platoon leader, and he had never been a company commander, yet he commanded a battalion fifteen years before he should have been qualified to do so.  He was anxious about his ability to cope and he relied on subordinates who were relative amateurs, both of which exacerbated his anxieties.  DePuy coped and succeeded in the Army by adopting an authoritarian behavior pattern.  He was uncritically submissive to superior officers, insistent on unquestioning obedience from subordinate officers, solicitous of his own prerogatives, punitive toward his subordinates, and alleviated his anxiety by instilling fear in his subordinates.

By the time the Army commissioned Clark in 1950, authoritarianism was an norm within the Army officer corps culture.  Although the Army's regulations had not changed, its advice to junior officers emphasized that military orders must be obeyed and that the leader must obtain compliance. 

During the fifteen years of Clark's career, the Army officer corps emphasized looking good rather than being professionally competent.  For a time during the 1950s, the Army's motto was "zero defects."   When the Eisenhower Administration downsized the Army by thirty percent in three years,  senior officers like DePuy became insecure.  They refused to exercise any initiative or take any chances that led to career-ending mistakes or errors.  As a result, these colonels and generals compensated for their insecurities by inducing anxiety in their subordinates.  They demanded too much from junior officers, induced too much fear in their subordinates, dodged as much responsibility as they could, and covered up their mistakes.

As we can see in Clark's diary and in the staff officer's vignette, the authoritarian command climate was pervasive in Saigon in 1965.  DePuy in particular insisted on unquestioning obedience.  For him, punishment of "wrong" thinking or behavior was the only way he knew to ensure the order and efficiency of his operations.  He did not communicate with, nor respect, junior officers. 

DePuy proved just as willing to assert control over transportation, part of Crowley's domain as J-4, as he did over the briefing platform at MACV headquarters.  He explained how his operational philosophy impacted the movement control system in South Vietnam:  "Generally speaking, though, during the time that I was there [1965-1966], we were a little thin on the logistics side.  The best example of that came from a meeting I used to chair every morning in Saigon.  The first report I always got was on the backlog of our tactical intra-theater airlift, C-130s and C-123s.  That backlog would go up, and up, and up, whenever we ran an operation.  Then, we would work that backlog back down by stopping all major operations.  After doing that, we again would be able to move the 173d or the 101st, or the Vietnamese, and support another operation during which the logistic backlog once again would grow." [4]

Crowley's predecessor as J-4, Brigadier General Frank A. Osmanski, complained that DePuy rarely asked logistical officers for advice when he planned operations, which resulted "in the plans being imposed from the top."   Another MACV J-4, Major General Raymond Conroy, similarly criticized DePuy's methods:  "You don't call your J-4 in three days before an operation and ask him if he can support you and you've had your staff working on it for five months.  You get him in the game early and that is the only way." [5]

Perhaps a more experienced or principled J-4 than Crowley might have challenged DePuy on Clark's behald and preserved the integrity of the movements system.  But, as Clark noted in his diary, Crowley was "poorly qualified in transportation," and ignored the magnitude of cargo that backlogged at the aerial port at Tan Son Nhut and the seaport at Saigon. [6]
[1]  William E. DePuy, “Remarks to the Army Museum Conference,”  16 April 1974, Historical Office, US Army TRADOC, Fort Monroe, Virginia.
[2]  Interview with Dr. I. Thomas Sheppard, conducted by Laura M. Calkins, PhD, 3,18,20, and 25 October 2005; 3 and 17 November 2005; 13 December 2005; and 24 and 31 January 2006.  The Vietnam Archive Oral History Project, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Lieutenant Colonel Ronnie L. Brownlee and Lieutenant Colonel William J. Mullen III, “Changing An Army:  An Oral History of General William E. DePuy, USA Retired”, (United States Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, PA: 1986), 135.
[5]  Interview, Brigadier General Frank A. Osmanski, MACV J-4, 4 February 1965, MACV Military Historical Branch; Interview, Major General Raymond Conroy, General Officer Oral Histories, Biggs Library and Information Center, U.S. Army Transportation School, Fort Eustis, VA.
[6] RPC Diary, 5 September 1965.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Diary Entry 47: Saigon, Saturday Night, 21 August 1965

                                                                                            Saturday Night, 21 August 1965

Spirits high, because this has been kind of a “fun” day.  The day has seemed pretty much like a day-long comedy.  Reckon the comedy really started last night in some conversations with General DePuy, but I was unable to recognize it as the beginning of an amusing series of experiences.  It happened this way:

Last night I went over to MACV I to discuss some airlift plans with General DePuy.  One of the points of discussion was a very large number of airlift requirements requested by the Army guys (I wear a “purple” uniform as a joint command staff officer---refer to the component commands as:  “Those Army guys, those Air Force guys, or those Navy guys”). Well, to get back to the story:  The Army wanted to ship enough barbed wire to build a castle, so I questioned it when I spoke with the J-3.  The requirement got under the skin of General DePuy also and he got mad about it.  He was quite forceful in his instructions to me: “Dammit, these people act like they are going up there to hide behind a bunch of barbed wire.  They’re acting like a damned bunch of Frenchmen.  They’re supposed to be here to fight, not hide.  They better learn now how to dig a foxhole and live in it. . .”  Then he went on to say that the air movement of fortification materials was disapproved and would not go ever at all.  He also had some choice words about how the Army guys better learn to put their heavy tonnage across the roads rather than by air lines.

Got about 3 calls during my sleep from the Army about whether or not I intended to move the barbed wire, and after about the 3rd call and referral to the Chief of Staff of US Army, Vietnam, reckon they decided that I meant it.

The subject came up again this morning at our regular briefing conference by the Army guy, and General DePuy practically exploded again.  Thought this settled the question, but along about noon, the Chief Engineer of MACV called up and asked me to come up to his office to discuss a movement problem.  So I did.  And there were the Army guys again needling the Chief Engineer to try to put pressure on us to move it.  So I told them,  “Okay, just get General DePuy to approve it and we will carry it.  I just transport what people tell me to transport.”  This approach just cut the argument out from under them as it was a positive approach and they did not want to go argue with DePuy.  That seems to be the last guy they want to see.

Later on in the day, the Army guys tried to get General Crowley in the act on their side to fight DePuy, but I’d gotten to him earlier and explained that it looked like a fist fight was shaping up between Generals DePuy and Norton so it would be a good idea to stay out of it. He did.  He told them to check with DePuy.

I must have gotten about 10 calls this afternoon from the Army guys trying to glean information.  Think they are trying to find out whether this disapproval is just General DePuy’s idea alone or whether he’s discussed it with Gen. Westmoreland and got his say-so.  In short, they don’t know who the opponent is and it is funny to watch them run in circles.

Late this afternoon, I got a call from the Army guys again on another subject.  They wanted to know “what the theater policy is on a particular subject.”  This is a loaded question, because a joint command only makes policy when policy of the component commands (Army, Navy, and Air Force) conflicts.  So I answered that our policy is that we rely on the regulations, rules, and procedures approved by each of the separate services.

This answer kind of stunned them, so they hung up to try to figure out what I’d said.  Later they called back and said they had a difference of opinion within US Army, Vietnam about who was responsible for loading ships---transportation corps units or tactical units?  I responded that MACV thoroughly agreed with Department of the Army doctrine in this matter.  So they hung up to think about that one for a while.  Frankly, there was a big fight in progress in the Army side and they were trying to drag MACV into it.  

Finally, they got around to the real story:  We furnished some steamships to the Army to make a specific move.  Somebody goofed up and loaded all the trucks pointing the wrong way, and when General Larsen looked over the 1st ship, he blew his stack and wanted to court-martial somebody.  The TC people blamed the Infantry commanders and the Infantry commanders blamed the TC people, and no one knew (or would admit) to the blame or responsibility.  So they tried to drag MACV into it.  Well, we have enough trouble with INTER-SERVICE SQUABBLES without getting into any INTRA-SERVICE SQUABBLES.  Reckon they are still squabbling about it, and I’m having fun laughing about it.

I am still very careful.  For example, this week is the 20th anniversary of the first VC uprising against the French.  I now go only to work, to eat, and to the room.  My Vietnamese secret service agent stays close by and has now become a friend, because I give him a pack of cigarettes every day.  He has even agreed to pose for a picture which he would not do previously.

Don’t know whether I’ll take any R&R while I’m over here.  From what I hear, it is just a good excuse to go spend a lot of money---the GIs call Hong Kong the Big PX.  
The National Police Headquarters which was blown up early this week is not near my hotel, but it was damned close to where I work.  When the bomb went off, you should have seen people dive under desks.  Sounded like it went off in the compound.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Diary Entry 46: Saigon, Friday Night, 20 August 1965

                                                                                              Friday Night, 20 August 1965

Since 9 p.m. have been over at MACV I in the J-3 shop huddling with Brigadier General DePuy.  We have some good-sized operations now underway and it was necessary to examine the original plans closely, and to be sure that there are adequate backup resources ready to go.  In the end we had a real good argument on use of airlift, and he let me win one. He’s a real fine gentleman and in my opinion one of the best soldiers over here.  But I wouldn’t want to work for him.  We are both runts, each pretty cocky, kind of feisty on how moves should or should not be made---so we would not get along too well if he was my boss. But we both respect each other.

Brigadier General William E. DePuy, U.S. Army, Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations, J-3, MACV [pictured as a major general] (Photo courtesy U.S. Army).

From 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. was with Colonels Plate and Umpleby.  Colonel [Stanley W.] Plate [U.S. Air Force] is my direct boss [Chief, Transportation Division, J-4, MACV] and Colonel Umpleby is the Chief Western Transportation Officer for Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Command.  Colonel Umpleby has been with us since yesterday (Thursday) and we’ve been having verbal fistfights since he got in.  We are gradually getting to be a pretty big operation and are getting all our own assets---troops, planes, ships, people, money, etc.---all under our control.  These assets are coming from Colonel Umpleby and he hates to let control go.  But we’ve just about cut the umbilical cord. He doesn’t like it, but there is not much he can do about it.  I like Colonel Umpleby very much.  He’s a good man, very straight and honest in his dealings.  Believe he likes me too, so it must be a mutual admiration society!  Today he made me a firm offer to go to work for him when my Vietnam tour is over.  His office is located at Tachikawa AFB, Japan.  Told him I’d be interested if he could arrange a transfer NOW, but come next June I’m gonna go HOME.

Speaking of offers, it so happens that we have some military people who take off their uniforms for a year and work for the State Department over here in technical specialties. Some of these are TC officers.  The only real difference is that you are not paid by the Army for the year assigned to State.  You get State Department pay.  I have been approached by the Director of Logistics of the US Operations Mission with a very attractive salary offer ($22,000 yearly, Foreign Service Grade 4).  Haven’t said no and haven’t said yes.  The Director of Logistics for USOM is a Colonel Bellican, Quartermaster Corps, US Army.

After work tonight had supper at the Hong Kong [BOQ] with my “troops” before going back to work. Table of 5:  Major Metheny, Lieutenant Commander Schafer, Lieutenant Commander O’Neil, Captain Slauer, and myself.  Captain Slauer is not really one of my “troops” but I tell him he can come along if he wants to be on the first team.  Feel kinda sorry for him as his boss, Major [Eugene H.] Cathrall [III], can not do much to train him to be a good officer, merely harass him.  Believe he likes to be with the Movements Group.

Today was a busy one.  We are trying to get some pretty tight operations underway.  And this is the important thing.  In between the important things, had to brief the new Korean general who is bringing one of their divisions over here to assist (Ha! Ha!) us.  Also had to brief General Crowley on status of transportation matters, go visit with my airline and steamship company, help Colonel Umpleby around, and attend a meeting at MACV I at 7:15 this morning.  So that was my day in reverse.

Yesterday was pretty much the same except that I had to brief a Brigadier General [Hal] McCown who has been sent here as head of a task force from Mr. McNamara’s office to cut through bottlenecks in logistic supply.  He seemed to be a pretty nice guy.  [Editor's Note:  In August 1965, defense secretary Robert S. McNamara established a Department of Defense-level management team called the Vietnam Expediting Task Force (VNETF), and was headed by Brigadier General Hal D. McCown, U.S. Army, with members drawn from all services.  VNETF's mission was to serve as a liaison to MACV headquarters to solve crucial logistical problems in South Vietnam.]

One of my new officers came in on Wednesday:  Lieutenant Commander [Richard "Dick"] O’Neil from Washington, D.C.  Navy type.  

Can’t get used to all my nicknames the subordinates use to tell each other when talking about me.  Major Metheny says “The Old Man,” Lieutenant Commander Schafer says, “The Boss,” Lieutenant Commander O’Neil says, “The Skipper,” Major Beaver says, “The Colonel,” as does Major Kostner, Major Eckard says, “Colonel Clark,” and Captain Dendtler says, “Yes Sir!”  I reckon the enlisted men call me “That SOB!”

Got a military driver’s license the other day and drove our (Movements Branch) jeep in Saigon traffic yesterday.  Thrilling experience.  Told Lieutenant Commander Schafer that’s the first and last time.  From now on he can be the chauffer [sic].  If he can’t drive me, I just won’t go.