Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Diary Entry 42: Saigon, Sunday Night, 8 August 1965

                                                                                           Sunday Night, 8 August 1965

Yesterday, Saturday, spent the morning working over staff papers and had a quick sandwich at the desk for lunch.  After lunch had to go over to MACV I to see General [William B.] Rosson, [MACV] Chief of Staff, about USOM rice shipments.  Interesting discussion but mostly one-way---chief did most of the talking and I did the listening.  

Major General William B. Rosson, U.S. Army, MACV Chief of Staff [pictured here as a general].  (Photo courtesy U.S. Army)
Later on had a meeting at our office with a bunch of people about ammo discharge at Nha Be.  Think we got a good start on solving the problems there.  Spent a lot of time reading the message traffic---it’s getting heavier every day and because of the nature of the beast it is necessary to read every message more carefully than we did before.  Can’t afford a miss these days.

Went out to Tan Son Nhut to look over the airplane half of my job as we had quite a number of tactical moves going north to Pleiku. [The tactical moves to Pleiku involved resupply airlift to a U.S. Army Special Forces base at Duc Co encircled by the Viet Cong and a South Vietnamese relief column trapped by VC forces on Highway 19 between Pleiku and Duc Co.]  Rode one plane into Pleiku so that they know I’m willing to go up there every now and then.  Got back in too late and too tired to write last night.  Things are popping up north.  Will be kinda tight there for a while.

Today I went to work at 7 a.m. and being Sunday, it was quiet for a while.  Then at 9:30, Colonel Kirby Smith, the Deputy J-4, called me to come over to MACV I in a hurry for a planning conference.  This tied me up until 2 p.m.  I sat with a number of generals, including [Major General Stanley R. "Swede"] Larsen, [Commanding General, Field Force, Vietnam], [Brigadier General William E.] DePuy, [MACV J-3], [Brigadier General John] Norton, [Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army, Vietnam], [Brigadier General Richard J.] Seitz, [Assistant Deputy Commanding General and Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, Vietnam], [Brigadier General John M.] Wright, [Assistant Division Commander, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile)] , [Brigadier General Paul F.] Smith, [Deputy Commanding General, Field Force Vietnam], and other lesser guests like myself.  

Feel real proud that when a question on transportation comes up, all these stars turn to me and they listen.  It’s really very amazing to me who I see and talk with on a daily basis.  The reason I have such privileges is ONLY because no one else in J-4 is willing to get the information I have in my head or they are unwilling to make decisions on important matters.

I am learning that power and influence gravitates to the one who is willing to step into a void and make decisions.  Decision-making carries with it the assumption of responsibility for the decision, so few people are willing to take responsibility.  I have been willing to take that responsibility, so people turn to me even though I’m just an Indian, not a chief (at least not much of one).  My boss, Colonel Plate, refuses to go out of the office, refuses to brief the generals on transportation matters, refers most of the decisions to me, and I’m sure not afraid to make one.  I am willing to go down to MACV I to argue with General DePuy when I think he’s wrong and no one else will do it except General Crowley when he’s here.  As a consequence of inaction by others, many people look to me for expertise and advice in transportation.  If I were going to stay in the service, this job would be a very valuable stepping stone.  But since I don’t plan to stay on, it is just plain fun.

Late today went over to USOM to visit with contacts there and invited Lieutenant Colonel T.C. Franklin (TC) who is on loan to USOM for a year, to dinner.  We have about 6 TC officers with USOM who wear civilian clothes and act like State Department people and draw State pay because there aren’t enough civilians to do the job.  Tired of eating peanut butter and crackers, so took him to dinner at the Rex.  Saw and talked with lots of people, among them Will Alice Carnathan’s [ex-husband] who just arrived and is assigned in J-4 Engineer.  He was kinda put out to discover my grade now.  Seems like I kinda jumped over him. Talked with [Colonel Lewis] Ashley and one of my officers, Captain Dendtler.  

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