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.

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