Saturday, April 30, 2011

Diary Entry 73: Saigon, Saturday Night, 2 October 1965

                                                                                                Saturday Night, 2 October 1965

The VC set off some sort of bomb [near his hotel].  Was still at work way up the street when it went off. We had a hard time coming through the area on the way back to the hotel as traffic was jammed up and police were stopping all cars and searching them.
I am absolutely exhausted.  Can’t remember when been so pooped.  Think I’ll go by the dispensary tomorrow for a check-up and see if I need any vitamins.  Lately have been tired even when waking up in the mornings.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Diary Entry 72: Saigon, Friday Night, 1 October 1965

                                                                                                  Friday Night, 1 October 1965

This has certainly been a busy week.  We have about 60 ships in port now and another 100 due this month.  All that cargo has got to be moved and I worry about it.  Well, I’ll just have to do my best during the day and pray at night.  Wonder why I don’t have any gray hair!

Tomorrow we are having a big meeting with the Army guys [1st Logistical Command] to try to get them moving on some important things.  Sure hope they take hold and get cracking.  Am sure that my needling them is quite irritating, but don’t intend to stop until they take charge.  

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Diary Entry 71: Saigon, Thursday Night, 30 September 1965

                                                                                                 Thursday Night, 30 September 1965

Came home from work early tonight as our electricity was off all day at the office and we had no lights or ventilation and it was just miserable.  Needless to say, we got very little productive work done and finally Colonel Plate just authorized everybody to close up shop.  I sure was glad.  Our office has no windows and when the power goes off we try to work by candlelight but the heat is suffocating.  The way power failures occur these days, we’d be better off out in a tent somewhere!

Today was also payday and the Army took over the responsibility for paying the Army people.  Up until today we have been paid by the Navy and all paydays have been quickly done and efficient.  You could tell the Army took over today as we had to stand in pay line for about 3 hours.  The Army did not pay in checks like the Navy used to, but rather in scrip (all in $5 bills).

Tonight would be a good time to go down to the Majestic Hotel and have a good supper.  That will probably make me feel some better.

USS Jerome County, LST 848, 1965.  (Photo courtesy U.S. Navy)

Yesterday evening I was invited aboard a Navy ship, LST #848, named the USS Jerome County, by the ship’s captain (a young Lieutenant, senior grade) to have dinner, inspect the ship, and visit with its officers and men.  This ship came under my control when we asked CINCPAC for assistance in moving the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry from Cam Ranh Bay to Saigon.  Reckon the young captain felt obliged to extend me some courtesies and I was very pleased with the invitation. Was treated royally to a fine roast beef dinner with all the trimmings, a tour of the ship with introductions all around, an invitation to sit in the captain’s chair (such an invitation means the captain approves of you), and coffee and dessert in the wardroom with the ship’s officers.

You know, kinda think I’m going to miss my steamship company and airline when I turn them over to Colonel Tooley on 15 October.  It has been a hard job but there have been rewarding experiences such as this one.  The ship has been away from its home station at San Diego for 10 months and is due back home on 17 December.  I sure hope they make it for Xmas with their families. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Diary Entry 70: Saigon, Tuesday Night, 28 September 1965

                                                                                           Tuesday Night, 28 September 1965

Just didn’t feel like writing any more last night, so I just quit and tried to read a magazine.  That didn’t last too long as I dropped off to sleep with my clothes on, the lights blazing and the radio blaring.  Old tired just caught up with me!

Hadn’t seen [Major] Grady [Cole] in some time, so went over to his office this morning.  Our power was off and we couldn’t make any coffee, but his power was on and they had coffee.  Had a pleasant hour of talking with him.  And it gave me a good chance to get away from the ringing of phones and all the panic that seems to pervade my office all the time. 

Am still staying in Saigon.  It is hard for me to do, as we have lots of movements going on and I’d like very much to go to Vung Tau tomorrow and the next day.  Vung Tau is a beautiful beach area, the air is so fresh and clean, and it is quiet compared to my office in Saigon.  However, I am now an executive, so Captain [Robert] Dendtler and Major [Charles] Holbrook will take care of this one.  The real reason I like to go is to get away from work.  Reckon I’m getting tired.  The other day I was down at the port and paid a call on a ship leaving cargo for us.  It’s home port is Mobile and I just wished I could have stowed away on it!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Diary Entry 69: Saigon, Monday Night, 27 September 1965

                                                                                                     Monday Night, 27 September 1965

Tonight I feel a little sad.  [Colonel] Jim Simmons who was Director of the Department of Larger Unit Operations at Leavenworth when I was there, is here in Vietnam and has been the commanding officer of the 2d Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division.  I have mentioned him in several previous entries.  Today he was relieved of his command for unsatisfactory performance and lack of leadership by General [John] Throckmorton [Deputy Commander, MACV].  I saw and talked with Colonel Simmons this afternoon right after he was relieved; reckon he wanted a friend to talk to.  Never saw a man so hurt.  Deep down inside he is a dead man now, because he has been judged a failure at a job he has trained himself to do all the time he’s been in the military service---to command.  I sure did feel sorry for him.  All the time I’ve known him to be a thoroughly outstanding officer.  But I reckon the general just did not like him.  So tonight I’ve been kinda thinking about how hurt he must be.

 Finished up work this afternoon (Ha!) at 7:30 p.m. and did not feel like going to eat at one of the BOQs.  So I fixed some peanut butter and jelly crackers and some pineapple juice in the room for supper.  Tasted all right, but want to buy a grill and a hot plate to fix better suppers.  Cheese and crackers get old after a while!  Will get a good breakfast at the Rex tomorrow morning. 

So far I have met only one other officer on the same floor as I’m on.  His name is Lieutenant Colonel [Joseph] Fant and he is an advisor with the Capital Military Region (i.e., around Saigon).  Seems to be a nice fellow.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Diary Entry 68: Saigon, Monday Noon, 27 September 1965

                                                                                                    Monday Noon, 27 September 1965

This morning I woke up earlier than I wanted to (about 5 a.m.), but couldn’t go back to sleep.  Finally decided to get dressed and go on down to eat breakfast where I took a lot of time.  Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Detherow, who was in the Department of Command at Leavenworth, just arrived in Saigon and has been assigned as a sector advisor at Qui Nhon.  He had breakfast with me and we chatted about people we knew or people we had seen.  Ralph just came here from attending class at the Armed Forces Staff College.

 After breakfast I caught a ride over to MACV I headquarters and attended the morning J-3 briefing.  Then I came over to our place at MACV II headquarters across town and got some projects started before going back across the town to MACV I again to attend a movements briefing.

When I arrived back here, BINGO!  It’s lunchtime already.  So here I am writing.  My day so far has not been very interesting, but it has been kinda busy.  This afternoon I have a meeting scheduled in my office with the Deputy G-4 US Army Vietnam and the Transportation Officer of 1st Logistical Command.  I hope we get some problems solved.  The biggest problem is one of personal communication, as I see it.  Over the past three months I have been trying to do some effective management of transport resources which are quite limited.  And I’ve been trying to force the component commands to do some intelligent planning instead of working all transport on a crash emergency basis.  Well, when people don’t plan ahead well, they get into trouble and need bailing out.  For the first month here, I was sympathetic until it occurred to me that we were just having more emergencies than we had transport capability and then you can’t handle true emergencies which come up.  At first, I tried talking to the operators, but it didn’t do much good.  Then I tried talking to their bosses and while it did some good, it did not solve the problem.  Lately, with the tremendous requirements generated by all that has been reported in the papers (everything that moves does so on my resources), I just had to get hard and have General Crowley bring gross mismanagement practices to the attention of the Commanding Generals. Naturally, the mismanagers got in trouble and I’m not the most popular guy in Vietnam.  While I like to be liked, it was a question of whether the transport systems collapsed or people started working properly.  So today my objective is to reestablish personal communication with the people I have to deal with so that we all work together to accomplish the theater objective.  Hope it works out. 

Right now it is raining cats and dogs.  Sure will be glad when the monsoon season is over and we get into the dry weather.

I expect much of my responsibilities as an operator to be transferred real soon to Colonel Tooley and his newly established Traffic Management Agency.  He is getting his people and his office and gradually is taking things over.  Just as about as fast as he can take them, I’m ready to let them go.  I’m probably one of the first guys here to reorganize myself out of business.  Usually people try to build empires, but I’d rather not build empires.

Someone just brought me a newspaper with an article in it about singer Phil Crosby.  The gist of the article is this:  Crosby came into Saigon this week for the purpose (according to the article) of entertaining troops but complains he can’t find any ways to get out to entertain the fighting guys.

So this is my business.  While I suspect this is a press agent’s way of getting publicity by complaining he can’t find the troops, I will get in touch with the J-1 people and offer transportation to him to some damn fine places where troops are:  like places where he will have to sleep on the ground and can’t get into except by armed choppers working in pairs.  Will see if he takes up the offer.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Diary Entry 67: Saigon, Sunday Night, 26 September 1965

                                                                                Sunday Night, 26 September 1965 

This has continued to be a good day since I wrote this afternoon.  However, I didn’t go to the Rex for the cookout after all.  Major Metheny and Commander Schafer talked me into going to the Hong Kong instead and having one of the filet mignons there.  I was hungry enough for it to be good, but it turned out mediocre---a little too tough and stringy, so it was not as enjoyable as the last one I had at a Rex cookout.  Haven’t had a cookout since Grady moved and took his grill, so perhaps I’ll buy a hibachi next payday and cook my own steak at home next time. 

I forgot to mention it in my last entry when I wrote that Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Detherow had breakfast with me---Lieutenant Colonel Humphrey at Leavenworth who broke up with his family---Detherow said Humphrey committed suicide at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. and the secretary he ran off with was pregnant.  I sure hated to hear that, as everybody lost all the way around. 

The news just came over the radio and the report sounded like we are winning.  I get a lot of enjoyment out of listening to the radio, but will sure be glad to get home and watch TV again.  Been so busy that I have not missed it much, but it would really be a treat to see it again.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Diary Entry 66: Saigon, Sunday Afternoon, 26 September 1965

                                                                                                     Sunday Afternoon, 26 September 1965

This has certainly been a nice day!  Although I have been at work and have kept busy and have had a few problems to handle, it has been pretty quiet all told, and I’ve felt real relaxed and real good.   The sun has been shining brightly, everyone has been pleasant in the office, and it is one of those rare days where you appreciate the fact that it has been a lovely day.

It is hard for me to visualize that the trees are about to turn the color of the leaves, footballs are being tossed in the air, and children are starting back to school.  Here it is warm, wet, and humid and until somebody reminds you that back in the States it is a different season, you don’t sense it.  Right now, it is the monsoon season here and the rain comes down in the tubfuls.  Perhaps that is why today was so lovely. . .no rain, just pretty sunshine.

This morning I woke up about 5 o’clock and took my time getting a shower and getting the uniform ready for work.  Then I walked down to the Rex and had a good breakfast of hotcakes and link sausages, a big glass of orange juice, and a cup of coffee.  Then I caught a cab to work.  I got a little busy at work and did not take time out for lunch, but will eat a big supper tonight.  Every Sunday night is cookout night at the Rex.  You select your own steak, either T-bone or filet, cook it yourself to your own taste, and eat it on the patio (5th floor) while a Vietnamese band and singers entertain.  I’ve only been there a couple of times because the Rex is still on the VC target list and it is jammed on Sunday nights.  But I think tonight I’d sure like that steak dinner even though it costs $2.50.

Before I go to eat, I expect that I will go down to the Hong Kong BOQ and check up on Major Metheny.  He has been very sick and on quarters for the last 4 days or so.  Don’t know what made him sick, but his stomach is in terrible shape and he looked bad the last time I saw him which was yesterday.  His getting sick reminds me that I have been here about 4 months now, and I need to go down and get several boosters to make sure that I am protected.  Will do that Monday or Tuesday.

Have my people busy and out on the road.  Commander O’Neil is at Cam Ranh Bay observing a movement for me, and he will come in by vessel tomorrow afternoon.  I don’t think he likes to fly anymore after some of his unhappy experiences, and I detected a note of happiness when I talked with him this afternoon and said he could take the boat instead of flying.  He’s a good man.  Tomorrow Major Holbrook will take a vessel trip down the Saigon River to Vung Tau to observe a movement that we are interested in at that location.  He’ll come back Tuesday and the probably take off up-country to Qui Nhon on Friday as things are moving all over the place.  Am sending Captain Dendtler out to do some flying movement observation, so have one more on the road.  And sometime next month I am going to send Major Eckard, my Airlift chief, around the boondocks as an escort for the performance of Hello, Dolly! which is going to be given to the troops.  Major Eckard has been working much too hard lately (he works harder than I do even) so this trip was decided for him by me so he would go away from his office a little while and get some rest.  Now all I have to do is make sure he goes!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Diary Entry 65: Saigon, Friday Night, 24 September 1965

                                                                                                    Friday Night, 24 September 1965

Today has just been a real long day.  One of those where you feel just kinda washed out and a little worn.  Kinda pushed myself to get things done, and I reckon the physical and mental strain is kinda catching up with me so will try to ease off tomorrow if I can and will try to take Sunday afternoon off.  Guess it is a good thing that I can recognize when work overruns me so that arrangements can be made to try to relax a little.

Couldn’t sleep tonight so it really is not Friday night.  To be accurate, I’d have to say it is just barely Saturday morning as the radio says it just turned midnight.  When I have some things going on in movements and am not sure all contingencies are locked down, it seems that I tend to worry and don’t sleep very well.  That’s the way I feel tonight---uneasy.  Wish I had the ability to say the dickens with it all; if other people don’t worry, why should I?  But I rationalize that if I don’t care and try hard, very few others care at all and I’m afraid things would just collapse.  Somebody has to care, and reckon I do even if few others do.

In 3 or 4 weeks all of my operating functions of being an airline president and steamship company executive will be transferred to the new MACV Traffic Management Agency, and I sure hope I can quit worrying as it will then be someone else’s problem.  Will try to be just a plain old staff officer who has no responsibilities to anyone.  Probably won’t like the inactivity, but I’ll get used to it.

Tonight my branch finished work at 9:00 p.m. and all went to have dinner together at the Hong Kong BOQ.  Kinda late for dinner, but I really felt good that my “troops” like me well enough to invite me to go with them after work is done.  That is usually a pretty good indicator that they like to have the boss around.

Got home to the Vinh Loi about 10:30 and then sat out on my porch watching Saigon go by for an hour to try to relax.  While sitting on the porch, I thought that one of the things I look forward to is lots of fresh air.  Saigon is just a bunch of smog like Los Angeles.  Fresh air would just be a pleasant tonic.  Think that’s why I like to get out of here every now and then. The fresh air is so good at Vung Tau, Qui Nhon, and Nha Trang.

Most of my efforts today were bent toward writing messages which will make no friends, probably more enemies.  Most of the subordinate units (CG, US Army Vietnam [2-star], and CG, Air Component Command [3-star]) have nicknamed me as the Poison Pen Pal because the messages I prepare usually are blasts.  As Lieutenant Commander Schaefer says, “Boss, you draft the nastiest messages, call the Army guys up and tell them what you are going to do so they can put on bulletproof vests, and then you shoot them with an atomic bomb.”

After this tour as a Joint Staff officer, I don’t really know whether I can ever go back to the Army again---have nailed those guys down quite frequently.

From The Editor: MACV and Military Payment Certificates, 1965-1966

Until 1 September 1965, U.S. dollars were the medium of exchange in South Vietnam.  With the rapid troop buildup and attendant inflationary trend in South Vietnam, plus the increase of gold flow from U.S. sources, MACV introduced Military Payment Certificates (MPCs) as the only authorized medium of exchange in all U.S.-sponsored activities.  

On 1 September 1965, all military personnel were paid only in MPC, and all American currency possessed by soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines was collected by MACV Agent Officers who in turn exchanged the money for MPCs.  The introduction of MPC was intended to reduce currency manipulation and simplify financial controls. 

MACV eliminated problems in piaster-dollar conversions and established piaster conversion points that operated on a twenty-four hour basis all South Vietnamese ports. 

All U.S. civilian contractors dealt only with MPCs and piasters.  Whenever a civilian firm did receive funds or profit from U.S. government agencies, the agency made out a check to the firm or its bank and mailed  the funds directly to the U.S. 

Source:  MACV Directive 37-7, 23 August 1965, Subject:  Procedures for introducing Military Payment Certificates into the Republic of Vietnam.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Diary Entry 64: Saigon, Thursday Night, 23 September 1965

                                                                                         Thursday Night, 23 September 1965

Another month is just about done with and when it is, I will have completed 1/3 of my tour of duty over here. That doesn’t sound like much, but to me it is a milestone and I’m anxious to mark it off. 

Things seem to be going pretty well over here now.  We’ve just about got the 1st Air Cav Division into the theater and settled down and we’re in the midst of doing some planning now.  Early next month, I will have to send a couple of my officers back on the road again, and I will just stay home and watch from the grandstand seat in Saigon.

On the first of the month, we received military scrip in place of dollars.  Most everyone here refers to it as “Monopoly money” because that is what it looks like.  

Ten-cent U.S. Military Payment Certificate.  (Image courtesy Richard P. Clark, Jr. collection)

Ate supper in my room tonight as I’ve had a chance to go to the commissary and PX to restock my supplies.  For my supper tonight I “cooked” a can of pork and beans, a can of Vienna sausage, and a peanut butter sandwich.  Tasted pretty good!

Our electric power is off so am writing this by candlelight.  We are experiencing more and more power failures as there is a tremendous increase in US forces and buildup and the existing power cannot support the buildup.  Just one of these inconveniences you have to live with. 

Reckon I’d better stop and think about how I am going to get the Army to change its mind on assigning me to Washington when my tour is completed here.  Need to sit down and think over all the courses of action and figure out how I’ll proceed.  While anyplace is better than this place, there are places in the States that I’d rather be at than in Washington.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Diary Entry 63: Saigon, Wednesday Night, 22 September 1965

                                                                                           Wednesday Night, 22 September 1965

Just finished eating supper in my room.  Had crackers, peanut butter, olives, Vienna sausage, sweet pickles, and canned pineapple juice to drink.  Had not planned to eat at home tonight, but one of my officers, a Major [Charles] Holbrook, wanted to talk to me after work.  By the time he left it was too late to go to the Rex or to one of the French restaurants near here.  So I just decided to simplify matters and make do in the room.  Major Holbrook, who is a new addition to my branch, was worried because I’ve not been very friendly and he thought that perhaps I felt he was not doing a good job.  He has really shown me that he is a fine officer, so I spent about 2 hours assuring him that he cuts it just fine for me.  I am just too aloof, cryptic, and short with people.  Reckon I ought to take more interest in how others feel and react to my orders, as expect I’m a little too short most of the time.  Get carried away with one thing:  getting the job done as quickly as possible and never stop to think that perhaps it would get done more efficiently if I asked rather than told.

Last night I did not get a chance to write as we were in a decision conference until 9 p.m. with General Westmoreland, General DePuy, General Crowley, General Seitz, and other staff officers on a move coming up.  I might add that I lost my little battle at the decision conference, but I won a lot of friends in the process.  They at least know me as an honest staff officer who, when the decision goes against him, can and is willing to provide 1st Class Service to those who won the battle.

[Major] Bud Metheny is quite sick on his stomach tonight.  He had to leave work early today and yesterday.  Looks pretty bad, so he must have gotten some bad food.  So far, I consider that I’ve been real lucky not to have been sick at all.  As most everyone says, I will probably get sick sooner or later, but am going to try to keep clean, eat carefully, and sleep well to see if I can put in a full year here without getting ill.

Today was busy much of the time chasing around town trying to find a building that the Traffic Management Agency can lease as a headquarters, getting an official sedan lined up for Colonel [Jack] Tooley (new TMA commander), and arranging for telephones, a place to live, etc.  Not very interesting at all.  However, it did wear me out and I’m just ready to drop in bed, real worn out.

Then And Now: Room 406, Vinh Loi BOQ, 129-131 Ham Nghi Boulevard, Saigon, South Vietnam

Room 406, Liberty 2 Hotel, 129-131 Ham Nghi Boulevard, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 2007.  The room Clark lived in from September 1965 to June 1966 now houses tourists.  (Photo courtesy Richard P. Clark, Jr. collection)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Diary Entry 62: Saigon, Monday Night, 20 September 1965

                                                                                                    Monday Night, 20 September 1965

Things are quiet here, and sometimes I think the war is settling down to something reasonable.  Colonel [Jack] Tooley, the commander of the [MACV] Traffic Management Agency, is moving ahead fast, and it looks like we will be transferring some of our functions over to him rather early.  Be glad to get rid of all my problems.  But knowing myself, I’ll probably miss those problems when they are gone.  They keep me busy and working, and realistically speaking, I’ve always liked to keep busy.  If they put me too far out of business, I’ll just have to shop around and find a TC battalion to command.

I have only a single room, but it is very spacious, air conditioned, and has a private bath, private porch facing out on Ham Nghi Street, picture window all across the front and is bright and cheerful.  I like it much better than the other BOQ.  The floor plan looks like this:

Clark drew in his diary this diagram of the floor plan of his room, Room 406, Vinh Loi BOQ, 129-131 Ham Nghi Boulevard, Saigon, South Vietnam, 20 September 1965 (Image courtesy Richard P. Clark, Jr. collection).

The draperies across the windows are a blue shantung silk with Asian scenes woven in.  The furniture is blonde.  The walls are a pale green (I don’t like that color on the wall) the bath is pink tile and blue paint, and the floor of the bedroom is blue and white tile.  My room overlooks one of the busiest streets in Saigon, and I like to sit out on the porch at night and watch the traffic go by.  It’s kinda funny to be able to sit on the porch with a comfortable room at my back and hear artillery firing just a few miles away, watch flares being dropped on the outskirts of the city, and see the tracers fire at Nha Be.  It’s a strange war.

Will sure be glad when my tour is over and I can come back home, although am still put out about the proposed assignment to DCSLOG in Washington.  Have not yet made up my mind as to how I’m going to get them to change their minds, but I’ll figure out a way if there is one!

Another conference is being held in Hawaii at the end of this month, and I was again hoping to go but was not among the few chosen from J-4.  Lieutenant colonels have to make way for the full colonels on conferences like these!  The conference probably isn’t a good deal, as there is much work to be done.  But I’d kinda hoped to get away from here for a few days to a place where you can relax without wondering if someone is going to set off a bomb next to you.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Diary Entry 61: Saigon, Sunday Night, 19 September 1965

                                                                                 Sunday Night, 19 September 1965

General Crowley kept me tied up all morning in a conference and wouldn’t let me go to Qui Nhon to check on our downed bird.  Then [Lieutenant Commander] Dick O’Neil turned up as one of the six who were rescued without injury, and tomorrow [Major] Bud Metheny is going to ride the railroad because Colonel Plate wants me handy for some more meetings.  

Feel real good today!  Received some real fine reports on one of my officers at Qui Nhon---a Major [Charles] Holbrook.  The 2d Battalion, 101st Airborne Brigade got in trouble near An Khe and we had to get a lot of stuff up to help them out.  Major Holbrook went into An Khe beginning with the first C-123 and he then saw to it that things were properly moved in by taking a chopper right into the firefight area and saw to it that things were moved in the way it was needed.  I’m real proud of him and am recommending him for the Silver Star for gallantry in action.  As you can gather, I’m very proud of my little outfit!  When things move, we go along and see to it!

Diary Entry 60: Saigon, Saturday Night, 18 September 1965

                                                                                                      Saturday Night, 18 September 1965

This afternoon we lost our first C-130 transport aircraft at Qui Nhon.  It crashed in the bay when trying a landing.  Early reports indicated that 6 people got out okay and 4 passengers are still missing.  Am worried about it as one of my officers from J-4 ([Lieutenant Commander] Dick O’Neil[, U.S. Navy]) left to go to Qui Nhon this afternoon and I don’t know whether he was on this particular flight or not.  I sure hope he wasn’t.  Maybe I’ll run up there tomorrow and look at it, but don’t know why.  I sure can’t do anything about bringing the people back or getting the plane out of the water.

This U.S. Air Force C-130, above, with Movements Branch staff officer Lieutenant Commander Dick O'Neil aboard, crashed while attempting a landing at Qui Nhon, South Vietnam, 18 September 1965  (Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force).

There was some action at An Khe today with the battalion of the 101st Airborne Brigade and we’ve been sending C-123s in all day with reinforcements and with supplies.  Sherman was right when he said:  War is hell.  I’ve grown to hate it intensely.

Monday am going to ride the railroad from Saigon to Bien Hoa air base.  I want to start using the railroad and there is a good bit of reluctance on the part of shippers to do so, because they are afraid that it isn’t secure.  Figure the best way to convince them is to ride it myself. That way I can say for sure that I’ve been over the route and I know it is secure.  We will have armored cars with Vietnamese soldiers going with us.

Haven’t seen Grady or anyone else I know in the past few days.  Just been very busy trying to keep ahead (or up with!) all the movements we have going!  Things are looking up, however.  Colonel [Jack] Tooley, the commanding officer of the [U.S. Army 507th] Movements Group has arrived and has opened a small headquarters.  Within the next 2 months, I should be out of business and turn over running the airline and steamship companies to him and his 300 people.  Will be real happy to do so.  When that happens, maybe I’ll have just a little bit more time to rest, relax, or do some shopping.

Still very put out about the proposed assignment to DCSLOG (Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Department of the Army) in Washington.  I am going to write them one more letter and see what they say.  As far as my “career needs” are concerned, I sure don’t care about being a general and don’t care whether I become a full colonel or not.  Just want to come home and relax without any pressures being put on me.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Diary Entry 59: Saigon, Thursday Night, 16 September 1965

                                                                                           Thursday Night, 16 September 1965

Feeling a little bit down in the dumps and kinda mad with the Army this evening.  Got an answer to my request [regarding his next tour of duty assignment] when I return next summer and they seem bound and determined to get me in Washington again [as a staff officer for the U.S. Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (DCSLOG)]. Have not yet given up hope in getting the assignment changed, and I may have to try to get compassionate consideration if can’t force them to change their minds otherwise.  I don’t want to be a general or even a colonel. Would just like to come home and stay there the rest of my life.  At this point, career development and military requirements are secondary considerations so far as I’m concerned.

Most of yesterday was just a plain old work day with paper, except for a message we received from the Chief Western Transportation Officer, Pacific Command; this caused a minor flap.  He requested a statement of my availability for assignment to establish and head up a branch office of his office in Vietnam.  Asked for me by name.  His inquiry caused a good bit of consternation around here for a while, but finally General Crowley sent a message saying that his request was not favorably considered.  

Today we’ve been meeting with the J-3 people all day on operations and planning some more activities.  I’ve just about run out of ideas now.  When I first arrived, we had only airplanes and ships.  Since that time, working with the J-3 people, we have been able to open certain roads, have reduced reliance on planes and ships, and next week hope to run a lot of cargo by the railroad.  Feel pretty good about this as people have been real reluctant to try to put stuff over the highway or railroad and it now looks like both are about to become rather large realities.

Expect to go out of business as an operator in about 30-60 days.  The movement control group [the U.S. Army 507th Movement Control Group, later to become the MACV Traffic Management Agency (MACV-TMA)] (322 officers and EM commanded by a colonel) will replace most of my functions pretty soon, so maybe I’ll start getting some rest and will quit worrying.  The headquarters has already been activated and the commander, Colonel Jack Tooley, is here now and I’m working with him on a schedule to turn over activities as the rest of his people arrive.  I am real happy to see this come about, as there have been times when I did not think it was possible to hold the transportation resources together before it all exploded in my face.  Today for example, I have 61 big ships from the US in various ports (a month ago there were only 12 in port) and 49 large air transports working on the air lanes.  I’ll sure be glad to get rid of all we have to do and settle on being a planner for a while.  The responsibility has been pretty hard to bear.

Tomorrow I am having a coordinating conference on movements for the next 30 days, and I hope these are the last ones that I have to execute as an operator.  Probably won’t make any friends with this conference as somebody must lay down some laws and since most of my superiors are running popularity contests, reckon I’m elected to do the hell-raising.  Oh well, never wanted to make full colonel anyway!