Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Diary Entry 41: Saigon, Saturday Morning, 7 August 1965

                                                                                        Saturday Morning, 7 August 1965

Just been as busy as a one-armed paper hanger and plain tired out.  Activity is stepping up here so fast it takes 18-20 hours a day to keep things under control.  So many things happen that it is hard to remember what I have done.  Guess that must be a sign of getting old!   Either that or so many things happen that you just get lost in the maze of events.  So let’s see if I can tax my brain and recall what has happened since I last wrote.

Wednesday morning took a flight up-country to look at some real estate from the air but we did not land.  

Got back before noon.  We have to move some people around, so it was essential to take a look at a couple of different places. [The "real estate" Clark looked at was at Pleiku, Duc Co, and An Khe.  The Viet Cong besieged a U.S. Army Special Forces camp at Duc Co west of Pleiku in early August, and attacked a South Vietnamese overland relief column.  Clark was aboard one of the U.S. Air Force C-123s that made airdrops along Highway 19 between Pleiku and Duc Co, resupplied the blocked convoy, and dropped supplies into the Duc Co camp.  Clark also flew over An Khe, where, on 22 August 1965, the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, moved by sealift and airlift from Cam Ranh Bay, swept the area around An Khe and provided security for the future base camp of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile)].   

About the time I got back to the office, Colonel Simmons who is CO of the 2d Brigade., 1st Infantry Division, and who was at Leavenworth with me, came by the office to visit.  He ended up taking me out to lunch at the Rex because we agreed to airlift some equipment for him as a favor.  At lunch, he introduced me to Major General [Jonathan O.] Seaman, who is CG of the 1st Division.  He’s here on a visit.  The rest of the day was spent working on papers at my office and later chewing my nails over in the Combat Operations Center at MACV I where we had a couple of tight ones going for a while. Nowadays, it is very important that one of us be over in the COC at all times, and I usually go over about 9 [p.m.] and stay till 12 [a.m.] as this is the time things seem to develop.

On Thursday was informed that not only are the troops mad at me for not getting beer and whiskey up by plane, but now even the Catholics were mad.  The Catholic Relief Organization wants to ship some free rice and clothing to the highlands, but since we are already flying General Ky’s rice up there and we have a big backlog of bullets and beans that need to go, had not been very willing to transport much of anything except essentials.  So a Mr. Mooney, chairman of the CRO, made an appointment to talk to General Throckmorton, [MACV]  Deputy Commander, about his problems on Friday, 6 August.  So I had to go see Gen. T and explain the situation and tell him we could not afford the lift right now and the reasons why. Gen. T is a very fine and understanding man.  Had a pleasant talk with him.  Kinda got a chuckle out of him at the end when I said if the Catholics aren’t getting things moved it is their own fault, because the Chief of Airlift Coordination Center and Chief of Sealift Coordination Center are both Roman Catholics!  Met again today with Mr. Mooney and Gen. T, but will tell about that later as it would interrupt the continuity of events if I told about it now.  All yesterday afternoon and most of the night was tied up in a J-3/J-4 planning conference with visitors.  [The visitors were members of the advance party of the U.S. Army 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), who were enroute to South Vietnam.]

Today has been one of those which you hope does not come along too often---the busiest kind.  Started off very pleasantly with a Transportation Division staff meeting over coffee at 7 a.m.  Things went well until about 9 a.m. when we learned that USOM (United States Operations Mission---a part of the Embassy) is also mad at me because we won’t carry more civilian rice in airplanes than the 75 tons a day which we now program.  I reckon they wouldn’t be happy even if we carried 5,000 tons a day.  So the rest of this morning had to go back up to MACV I and explain to the [MACV] Chief of Staff (Major General William B. Rosson) the same things I told Gen. T yesterday.  Reckon I should have stopped by Gen. R’s office yesterday on the way upstairs and might have saved a trip today!  With all the visits to high places, am either gaining fame or notoriety!  Don’t know which one and don’t much care, but expect they are getting to know my name anyway.

At noon, while trying to eat a sandwich at the desk, got a call from BG Crowley in Honolulu. He was upset because he’d just seen a message from the [U.S. Air Force] 2nd Air Division
(Tan Son Nhut) where they were saying the war would be lost unless J-4 gave them a ship berthing priority at Nha Be.  We’d already given them a ship priority the day before, but our message had not yet caught up with Gen. C and he was worried about the situation.  But we finally made him happy by saying we had taken care of the situation.

That done, I tried to go to work on some reasonably important papers, but all hell broke loose in II Corps on tactical emergencies.  A B-57 was hit by ground fire and crashed in downtown Nha Trang with a full load of  bombs and this caused people there to worry.  In the mid-afternoon we had problems at Duc Co and one of our aircraft got shot up bad at that place while trying to fly out with a load of wounded. [A C-123 received mortar damage and more than twenty small-arms hits during a medical evacuation.] So I had to go over to COC earlier than usual to work out reinforcing and withdrawal moves by aircraft with J-3 people.  This lasted only till 5 p.m. when a real hot message came in from BG C. in Honolulu about a back-channel message where a Blue Suit man (US Air Force general) proposed to take over running of all air/sealift in Vietnam---take away from C, that is.  The message directed me to gather facts and put them on a scrambler phone to C before 2 a.m. Saigon time which is 8 a.m. Hawaii time.  This caused a lot of running back and forth between MACV I and Tan Son Nhut until just a little while ago.  We got all the facts and I just finished talking to him again.  

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