Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Diary Entry 100: Saigon, At Work, Monday, 12 December 1965

                                                                   At Work, Monday, 12 December 1965

Well, I just got Mr. Niederman put on a Pan American jet to go back to the US and finish up the contract. He’ll be back in Washington in 30 hours. After we got him processed through customs etc. at the airport he all but promised that he would call me back to assist in the negotiations. He doesn’t know when that will be, as the company has up to 6 months before they have to sign a final contract. However, it was his opinion that the company would want to clear it up fast and they would be banging on his door very soon to request immediate negotiation as it is in the company’s interest to get a firm contract price laid out.

Mr. Niederman is not sure whether the negotiations will take place in Seattle (home office of the company) or in Washington (headquarters of Military Sea Transport Service) or in San Francisco (West Coast procurement office for the Department of Defense). At any rate, I sure am anxious about getting back to the States for a while and taking a little leave to come see my family. Oh, I would be so disappointed if this thing falls through!

I am still tired. We have been working on this thing anywhere from 18 to 20 hours a day steadily since Mr. McNamara was here. During his visit I didn’t get a sleep for about 72 hours straight, and when he pushed the project from Washington and got the lawyer out here, we had to submit daily reports of progress. There was really a lot of pressure on the thing.

Other than what I did on the contract, I have absolutely no news. At the risk of being called a name-dropper, I am going to run through the list of people I’ve had to brief and persuade that this requirement is an absolute necessity in Vietnam:

Mr. McNamara and General Wheeler (Chairman JCS); Admiral Sharp, CINCPAC; General White, J-4 CINCPAC; Admiral Presse, Deputy Chief of Staff of CINCPAC; Mr. Niederman, Deputy Counsel for MSTS; Admiral Donoho, Commander of MSTS; [Rear] Admiral [William Davis] Irvin, Commander MSTS Pacific; Mr. Bob Carl, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Shipping; Mr. Baird, Assistant Secretaryof the Navy for Logistic Matters; and Mr. Baldwin, Under Secretary of the Navy and soon to nominated by LBJ as Secretary of the Navy; and [Rear] Admiral [W.M.] Heaman, Officer in Charge of Construction for Southeast Asia.

It isn’t as easy as teaching a class at Leavenworth. These guys ask a lot of questions and if you don’t have the answers they are not hesitant to tell you that you don’t know what you are talking about. They have done their homework and they expect you to do yours. I guess my performance was pretty fair as no one threw me out, and we got the contract approved.

Diary Entry 99: Saigon, Saturday Night, 11 December 1965

                                                                    Saturday Night, 11 December 1965

Have been busy working night and day to get the barge contract signed and sealed so that we can eventually get MACV out of the mess we are in at ports in Vietnam. I’ve briefed don’t know how many wheels in the last 2 weeks. Had a few anxious moments: At one point the contractor refused to sign the agreement because he did not like some of the terms. After Mr. Niederman (the lawyer from Washington) and I rewrote parts of the agreement to suit the contractor, then the Contracting Officer, Vice Admiral [Glynn] Donoho refused to sign it. Then we had to go around in circles to convince him that MACV would never get out of trouble if we didn’t get this help. I’m telling you it has been a rat race.

Vice Admiral Glynn R. Donaho, Commander, U.S. Military Sea Transport Service, 1965.  (Photo courtesy U.S. Navy)

However, the contract is now signed and needed equipment and people are on the way. I think General Crowley is real pleased at the way I steered this project through the jungles of administrative bureaucracy. He reassigned me to new duties as Special Assistant to the J-4. I am to work on special projects that he considers critical, the first of which is getting this barge operation going.

Mr. Niederman, the lawyer, leaves tomorrow morning to go back to Washington and gets ready to negotiate the price of the contract as well as other conditions. There may be some small reward for all my work in this. I may be called back to the States on temporary duty to assist in negotiating the final contract. And General Crowley said if that happens I can take a few days leave and visit at home. Sure hope I get to go; and if I don’t will be greatly disappointed.

[Lieutenant Colonel] Grady [Cole] came back (Thursday? I believe) and he came down to the room and woke me up. We talked for a while and he looks real good. He said the evacuation really scared him because he thought maybe the cancer had come back. Jo Ann [his wife] came out to Hawaii to see him for 10 days. He will be leaving here in about 2 months to rotate home. Has orders for Washington and will be assigned to OPO (Personnel Operations).

I put up the Xmas Tree and the decorations last night. It makes me kind of get in the spirit of things even though the weather is hot and the Buddhists don’t recognize Xmas. Reckon all the pretty decorations are up in Montgomery [Alabama] now.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Diary Entry 98: Saigon, Monday Night, 6 December 1965

                                                                     Monday Night, 6 December 1965

Just got in and it’s 10:15 p.m. Had dinner with the Under Secretary of the Navy, Mr. [Robert H. B.] Baldwin, discussed the need for the barge contract in MACV and also talked a while about philosophy and politics. From 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. was in a conference with Mr. [Paul] Niederman (the Navy lawyer) [a U.S. Navy Military Sea Transport Service counsel], a Captain Jacques (USN) [commander of the U.S. Military Sea Transport Service, Vietnam], and Mr. Carl Gray (Assistant Secretary of the Navy) about port and coastal shipping problems.

From 3 to 6 p.m. met with the [Alaska Barge & Transport] contractor (Mr. Bullock), Captain Jacques, and Mr. Niederman to firm up the conditions of the contract. From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. before that, I was getting guidance on how to proceed from General Crowley. Just before that I took 2 hours off from conferences to catch up on regular work at the office. All this morning I met with Mr. Gray and others on the barge contract.

Last night from 9 to midnight had dinner with a Mr. [Thomas L.] Ashley [Democrat, Ohio] and a Mr. [William S.] Moorhead [Democrat, Pennsylvania], both of whom are Congressmen. Very pleasant discussion. Congressmen are nice people, but they aren’t any smarter than most people and not as sharp as many I’ve known. Up until that time (9 p.m.) was with the usual group trying to come up with the contract.

Tomorrow the Under Secretary of the Navy [Baldwin] and Admiral [Glynn] Donoho [commander of the U.S. Military Sea Transport Service](the man who has to let the contract) come back for final discussions. Maybe we’ll come out all right.

Ever since Wednesday, it seems like I’ve lived with this problem of seeing the contract through and am tired of it. Maybe it will all be done tomorrow or the next day.

Don’t know whether the change of jobs will come about now even if this contract is nursed through. Gen. C is having second thoughts now and he may try to have me hold 2 jobs at once: the regular one plus supervising this special coastal shipping program even though I told him I can’t do it. Just one of those jobs has got me down; both of them will just overwhelm me. If I have to take over both jobs in the end, guess I’ll just have to go talk to him frankly and say that the hours and pressures are just too long and my health is more important. Have to have time to eat and sleep and in the last 2 days haven’t even had time to get a sandwich for lunch. T’ain’t worth it.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

From The Editor: Intra-Theater Coastal Shipping and the Alaska Barge and Transport Company, November - December 1965

As the U.S. military buildup progressed throughout late 1965, the requirement for intra-theater shallow-draft shipping increased sharply.  South Vietnam lacked adequate deep-draft ports, so military terminal service units had to unload cargo in the few ports available and then forward the cargo to up-country destinations.  The lack of secure roads and highways in South Vietnam necessitated transport by coastal shipping.

In August 1965, Clark was a member of a joint board consisting of personnel from MACV and the Military Sea Transport Service, Far East (MSTSFE).  The MACV-MSTSFE board studied the subject of intra-coastal shipping and established the requirement for MSTSFE to deploy twenty-two LSTs to South Vietnam no later than 15 October in order to relieve the shallow-draft shipping problem. [1]

However, MSTSFE never met this requirement.  By mid-December 1965,  only seven LSTs were available to MACV for coastal shipping.  The commander of MSTSFE explained that he used his entire fleet of twenty-five LSTs in support of MACV, but he refused to continuously use the LSTs to move cargo along the South Vietnamese coast because of other commitments including maintenance, shuttle runs to the Philippine Islands, tactical troop movement requirements, and return to Japan for crew home leave. [2]

Clark believed that even if all twenty-five LSTs were available, they would still be inadequate to handle the shipping requirements which by December had reached a 78,479 measurement-ton backlog at Saigon.  Nevertheless, Clark felt that any change in deployment of LSTs to South Vietnam should have been coordinated with MACV to insure maximum use of limited resources. [3]

After MACV raised the issue with Pacific Command, Admiral Ulysses S. Grant Sharp, the CINCPAC, directed that maximum coordination be effected between MACV and MSTSFE and stated the need for a possible re-definition of Pacific Command priority criteria.  Additional LSTs from both Pacific theater and continental U.S. reserve fleet resources were expected to arrive in South Vietnam in early 1966. [4]

General William C. Westmoreland, the MACV commander, accepted Clark's recommendation that a commercial shipping firm, Alaska Barge and Transport (AB&T) be placed under contract to supply part of the much needed coastal shipping capability.  AB&T had experience in supplying material for U.S. Air Force Distant Early Warning (DEW) line sites, and the company's directors stated it had the capability to move cargo in South Vietnam within sixty days of the contract date.  Clark performed a cost analysis study that indicated using AB&T would be less than fifty percent of that applied to equivalent MSTS LST operations. [5]

By the end of November, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara approved the concept and directed MSTS to send a representative, Paul Niederman, to Saigon to work with Clark to negotiate a contract. [6]

By 8 December, Clark and Niederman prepared a contract acceptable to the Defense Department, MSTS, and MACV, and AB&T was scheduled to begin operations in South Vietnam in early 1966.  Clark estimated that AB&T could move about 7,000 tons of supplies per month along the South Vietnamese coast. [7]

[1] Message, COMUSMACV, 170438Z Dec 65.

[2] Ibid.; Message, COMSTSFE, 180551Z Dec 65.

[3] Message, COMUSMACV, 170438Z Dec 65; Message, COMSTS, 181750Z Dec 65.

[4] Message, CINCPAC, 041042Z Dec 65; Message, CINCPACFLT, 150437Z Dec 65; Message, CINCPAC, 181735Z Dec 65.

[5] Message, COMUSMACV, 160105Z Nov 65; Message, COMUSMACV, 230600Z Nov 65.

[6] Message, CINCPAC, 280050Z Nov 65.

[7]  Memorandum, MACV, 8 Dec 65, Subj:  Staff Conference Notes.

Diary Entry 97: Saigon, Friday Night, 3 December 1965

                                                            Friday Night, 3 December 1965

Eating supper as this is written. Tonight am having peanut butter, crackers, potted meat, and canned pork and beans. The mess halls just don’t stay open long enough for those of us who really work over here. Glad we have a commissary where you can buy up a store just to take care of contingencies like this.

Am busy with a new project. Mr. Paul Niederman from Washington (a government lawyer) is over here to negotiate a contract for coastal shipping and certain other services. I’ve been designated as the project officer for MACV to oversee this negotiation. Inasmuch as we (MACV and Mr. Niederman) must make daily reports to Mr. McNamara on progress on the contract, there is a good bit of pressure placed on me. And this is my first experience with contracting (and the amount of cost of the contract
staggers the imagination)!

If this thing comes off like General Crowley wants, I’ll be reassigned to other duties as Special Assistant to the J-4. Being inexperienced in these matters, I don’t know whether I am competent enough to see it through to a successful conclusion. All I can do is try, and since 1 p.m. until 11 p.m. have been busy trying to explain just what our situation is to the Washington lawyer who has spent a lifetime in contracting work. Pretty tough competition.

Why do I work and push myself so hard? Once upon a time I read a book titled "What Makes Sammy Run" and it was about a movie producer who pushed himself until he wore himself down. Kind of feel like I’m Sammy tonight. Still no news from Grady. He isn’t back from Hawaii yet, and I wonder if he is ever going to come back.

This weekend I’m going to set up my Christmas tree and decorate it. Want to get into the spirit of things.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Diary Entry 96: Saigon, Wednesday Night, 1 December 1965

                                                         Wednesday Night, 1 December 1965

Well, Happy Birthday to old me! I got surprised and had a real birthday party after all. I got a call right after I came in from work to report to General Crowley’s quarters immediately on an urgent matter. When I got there, he had set up a small party (10 people) to help me celebrate being 38 and "my troops" were all there to help me celebrate also. They thought it up and talked Gen. C into the idea. So perhaps going without sleep for 72 hours to get papers and briefings ready for Mr. McNamara so that my boss looked good was worth it. At least he said that he appreciated it.

We had cocktails, a seven-course dinner, and small cup cakes for dessert with a lighted candle stuck in the top of each. I understand by the grapevine that my troops footed the bill, so reckon I’ll have to pay them back by giving a party for them. Hey! I even got a ride home in the general’s car!

My mouth is getting well. Had the stitches taken out today (a bit overdue) but the dentist said the gum was healing very well. Ate everything on the right side of my mouth tonight!
Cold is not over and still have a cough. So I’ll go get a chest X-ray sometime this week. TB is very bad here and it pays to be cautious. Don’t think I have it, but you can’t be too careful over here.

Today the VC tossed a grenade into a car carrying a colonel near our headquarters. He jumped out before it went off. Everybody has been put on the alert to be careful.

Say! Just occurred to me that along with my birthday I also celebrated passing 6 months over here. From now on I have less time to stay than I’ve been here. Getting shorter each day!

Gen. C hinted about a different assignment for me coming up soon. Sure would appreciate it as this one has just about worn me out. He didn’t get specific and I didn’t ask. Patience is a good virtue. Will just wait until he makes the next move. But would sure like a different job which is less demanding.

Better go to sleep. In spite of the fact that a party was given for me tonight by my boss, he still expects me to be at the desk at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow taking care of the problems.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Diary Entry 95: Saigon, Friday Night, 26 November 1965

                                                                  Friday Night, 26 November 1965

The patient is going to live after all!  The swelling has now gone down to about half its former size and gives every indication of being back to normal facial size tomorrow or the next day.  The doctor examined the stitches and the tissues early this morning and happily sent me back to duty. I sure was glad to go, too! Next Monday I go back to have the stitches removed and that should be the end of it. Hope so anyway. It isn’t any fun to be sick here as there is no one to take care of you. Just kinda have to endure.

Made it back to work just in time to get involved in all the flaps associated with the forthcoming visit of one of our distinguished guests [Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara]. Everybody was jumping through hoops all day today getting fact sheets, staff studies, position papers, and all that kind of stuff ready. We’ll have more of it to do tomorrow and Sunday; we’ve already been warned of that. It is a good thing that I got some rest and sleep with my toothache to face up to the long hours ahead until he leaves.

Ate my first good meal in several days after work tonight, but had to be choosy what was ordered. Had banana salad, corn chowder soup, scrambled eggs, and a soft roll. Also ice cream with chocolate syrup. Very delicious. I was so hungry. For lunch today I only had two doughnuts and a can of chocolate milk at my desk as noon was about the time all the panic hit on preparation of papers and I prepared a position paper during the noon hour to meet a 3 p.m. deadline. Like trying to write a history of the Civil War in 2 hours. It’s a nerve-wracking experience which drains you because of the pressures involved.

For breakfast this morning had a glass of orange juice and a glass of ice water. Guess the menu today was not glamorous, but I’m glad to be able to eat something again.

Grady has still not come back in spite of what one of his subordinates told me last week. Am still skeptical as the DB [duty board] announced that he was cleared from the command.  We should know one way or the other in the next week. If he does not return within a week, he’ll either be AWOL or on the way back to the States.

Grady’s boss, a Colonel [George] McCutcheon, died of natural causes in his bed at the Rex the other night. Had a hemorrhage. Grady will hate to hear about it as he thought lots of the man.

Colonel George McCutcheon, U.S. Army, Chief, Counterintelligence Branch, MACV J-2, 1964-1965. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army)

For the past few minutes my mind has been wandering as I listened to the radio. The radio is the most important mechanical device to have over here. It keeps you in touch with the rest of the world---kind of a link with the civilization you just left. You can listen to records, news, and sports---things about the USA. I don’t miss TV too much, but I would miss my radio very much if it were taken away. Back in the Korean War, I don’t recall listening to a radio more than 10 or 15 times. Don’t recall missing it too much at the time.

It was kind of a funny incident [during the Korean War] when my platoon acquired our first radio for commercial listening. The incident occurred in January or February 1951 when the Eighth Army under General Ridgway embarked on Operation KILLER after several months of fighting and falling back. We were on the offensive again.

Moving north up the Tanyang Valley to seize the city of Wonju and its strategic center of road networks, "L" Company led the [187th Airborne Infantry] Regiment and my platoon was the point of the advance guard, or the leading Infantry element of our task force. 

We were preceded by 4 light tanks from the combat support company as the main axis of advance was the primary road leading to Wonju from the south.  As the column moved out of the low hills into the open valley approach to Wonju, rifle, machine gun, and recoilless rifle fire concentrated on the tanks about 200 yards to our front. 

One of the tanks took off to a rice paddy to its right and immediately became bogged down in the muck, disabled and a victim of the hot 57mm anti-tank fire. Our platoon was able to place suppressing fire on the enemy and we sent a squad of Infantry to ring and protect the tank until the tank crew could drop out of the escape hatches in the floor and scamper to safety, covered by the protective fire of the Infantry.

When the squad regrouped with the platoon, I noticed one man missing and presumed him dead or wounded. We went on to Wonju that afternoon and after occupying positions that night north of the city, my missing soldier turned up, complete with a PRC-9 radio capable of reaching out all the way to New York or Paris or London or Moscow to pick up any commercial radio station transmitting. It is a military radio which also can tune in on civilian stations. The guy had the nerve to enter the tank after the crew dismounted and ran away and he removed the radio, all the time being rocked around by 57mm fire from the North Koreans. The radio weighs about 40 lbs. and he carried it all the way to Wonju in addition to his pack of about 40 lbs. Reckon that fellow must have liked music pretty much to have done that.

A PRC-9 military short-wave radio similar to the radio Clark described above.

Naturally, the combat support company salvaged the tank when they passed through and the area had been secured. The company commander was much put out because someone stole his radio. He made lots of noise and we only enjoyed listening to the music a couple of days before the threat of court-martial against the thieves caused me to turn it in to the rightful owners.

I wonder if young men are still as carefree and careless as the young soldier who risked almost certain injury or death to liberate a radio from the tankers. Bet they still do crazy things like that.

The fighting this time is so close to me yet so far away that I never see things like the incident described. I can stand on a porch over one of the main streets of Saigon and watch the flares, the artillery flashes, and hear the noise---not know what is going on really as I did in the Korean War, and yet know all that is going on.

The difference in my world and theirs is close, yet very distant. Now I’ve watched war from the bottom level of a scared second lieutenant with a rifle platoon, unsure of what I should do and when it should be done, to an assured staff officer at the highest headquarters who knows every move to be made and the strategic reasons behind it. High or low position, war is not a good thing. But I don’t know how to stop it. It has been man’s nature to war from the independent caveman to the sophisticated societies of today. I guess it always will be.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Diary Entry 94: Saigon, Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, 25 November 1965

                                                        Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, 25 November 1965

The day is just about to end and the night will soon begin.  And I'm sure glad.  This has been a long, hard day for me.  My jaw kept bothering me from time to time, but now it seems to be better.  Also the power was cut off about 7 a.m. this morning and that just complicates things, because you then feel hot and sweaty.

This morning I fully planned to stay in bed all day, but when they cut off the power I changed my mind and got up.  While I was dressing, the desk clerk came up with a bottle of aspirin as someone told him that I was real sick.  I thanked him and said that his offer was appreciated but I had my own.

Went to the office about 8:30 a.m. and stayed there until 11 a.m. when too many people found out that I was at work.  Too many phone calls and too many visits from people who really thought I was "at work" finally drove me away and back to the hotel.

Took a sleeping pill and went right off to sleep at noon and stayed that way until [Lieutenant Colonel] Adamo came by to see how I was doing and woke me up.  Then the afternoon desk clerk came up about three when I was again asleep to see if I wanted any ice water.  And finally the evening desk clerk came up about six with a bowl of soup from the corner restaurant.  While I accepted it, I'm not going to eat it.  Don't need amoebic dysentery in addition to what I have already!  I'll drink another can of juice in a few minutes.

Still a little groggy from that pill.  Feel like I am in kind of a dream world and I am floating around, just kind of floating along except when a pain runs through the jaw and pulls me back into focus.

Sat out on my little balcony front porch for about a half-hour and watched the people go by.  Wasn't fun particularly, but it was something to do.  Directly across the street from my room there is a rather nice 5-story apartment house with 8 apartments, 2 to each floor.  The top floor apartment directly across from me is occupied by what appears to be a French family---maybe they are Americans working for the big construction firms over here.  At any rate, they are Caucasians.  Well, the way the French built apartment houses here, they all have a balcony porch and wide doors leading to the living room.  The family across the street interests me because I am reminded of my own family through them.  There is a little girl with red, long hair about [my eleven-year old daughter's] age and size and a little boy about 3 or 4.  I don't know if he is [my son's] size as his size is now hard to recall.  The little girl and I are "waving friends".  Every morning I go out on my porch to drink a can of fruit juice before going to work and the little girl and her mother take their breakfast on the porch.  The little girl and I say good morning by giving a wave.  She seems to be a pleasant little girl.  I have never seen their daddy, so he probably is still sleeping in in the mornings or works out of town.

The night has now fallen and pretty soon I will be able to look up from this writing pad and see the artillery flashes between here and Bien Hoa.  Last night they apparently had a pretty good firefight up there as they fired for 3 or 4 hours, it seemed.  Then this morning the B-52 bombers woke me up when they dropped their loads just north of Bien Hoa Air Base.

Before my jaw swelled up, I had been working on a significant project from General Crowley, one which had come from the Secretary of Defense.  Had about 4 days with not much rest but we got the job done to all's satisfaction. [The "significant project" was a MACV recommendation to Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara that a commercial shipping company, Alaska Barge and Transport Company (AB&T), be placed under government contract to provide intra-coastal shipping in South Vietnam.  The company had experience in supplying material for U.S. Air Force Distant Early Warning (DEW) line sites, and claimed it was capable of moving cargo in South Vietnam within sixty days of the contract date.  Clark prepared a cost analysis study that indicated that unit cost using this service would be less than fifty percent of that applied to equivalent Military Sea Transport Service LST operations.]

We are supposed to soon get a very distinguished person over here to visit [Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara].  This morning while I was at the office was badgered about preparing a briefing for him, but I just flat told people that I'm not able to brief anyone till the swelling goes down.  Finally, they all agreed that someone else could get up on the platform for a while.  Some people allow as how I made a mistake in turning this opportunity down.  But after six months of it, you get tired of being an opportunist.  I'd rather be just a plain old plodding staff officer if people would leave me alone.  Once you demonstrate a competence at briefing and fielding answers to hard questions, you suddenly find yourself briefing every Tom, Dick, and Harry---whether he's important or not.  And as a consequence, you waste a lot of time.


Diary Entry 93: Saigon, Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, 25 November 1965

                                                     Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, 25 November 1965

I should be back at the hotel in bed and indeed had planned to stay in bed all day.  But at 7 a.m. they shut off the power and I just couldn't stand the heat and discomfort, so I got up and dressed and came to the office.  Am still having trouble with my jaw.  It remains swollen up about as big as a golf ball and it appears that there is still an infection in the bone or gum which will take a little time to cure.  I have several bottles of antibiotic pills and pain killer to take, but so far have only had to take the antibiotics.  There hasn't been too much pain, just a lot of discomfort.  I sure hope this is the last trouble with the teeth.

I heard from one of Grady's subordinates that Grady is coming back here.  He said he got a letter from Grady that the trouble was not serious, was under control, and that he was expected back in Vietnam in the next ten days or so.

Last night Lieutenant Commander O'Neil came by and brought me some soup to eat so that I didn't have to get up and go out.  I probably wouldn't have done so anyhow.  Later Lieutenant Colonel Adamo came by and spent a few minutes talking, but soon left.  Was kinda glad as I felt tired.

We have [Brigadier] General [Clarence J.] Lang (TC) visiting here from the Strike Command at MacDill AFB.  The [MACV J-4 Transportation] Division had a party for him last night at the Hong Kong [BOQ] but naturally I didn't go.  Understand that it was real nice.

Brigadier General Clarence J. Lang, U.S. Army Transportation Corps, Director of Logistics, U.S. Strike Command, 1965-1966.  (Photo courtesy U.S. Army)

It is a real pretty day here today.  The sun is shining very brightly and the sky is a real pale blue without a cloud in sight.  If I felt better, I'd probably go for a walk.  They have a big zoo here in Saigon and I've never seen it.

Today I understand that the Hong Kong dining room is having a big Thanksgiving Day spread.  It is unfortunate that my mouth is in such a shape at this particular time.  If I could chew, I think a real fine Thanksgiving meal would be enjoyable.  But will take a rain check on it and get a good Thanksgiving Day dinner next year.

People are beginning to come in the office or call me on the telephone and ask questions and otherwise bother me when I don't feel up to it.  So I will stop now and go back to the hotel and try to lie down for a while.  Perhaps if I take one of the sleep pills I won't notice the heat.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Diary Entry 92: Saigon, Wednesday, 24 November 1965

                                                                   Wednesday, 24 November 1965

Well, I'm still on quarters for a few days yet.  The swelling and infection in the jaw is still present, so they are now trying to get rid of it with antibiotic pills.  If that doesn't work, I reckon they will go back in again and do some more cutting to get rid of the infection once and for all.  I sure hate it if they have to.  But whatever must be done will be done.  The swelling is pretty good-sized---about like a golf ball.

Am tired of laying around the room, but don't want to go out either.  Just a case of being miserable.  Am mostly drinking fruit juices for my meals as the mouth is too sore to chew on anything.  I have a good supply of juices and canned milk so will do all right in this regard.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Diary Entry 91: Saigon, Tuesday, 23 November 1965

                                                                           Tuesday, 23 November 1965

Finally got sick again so I could get some time off to write.  Had 2 molars pulled from lower left side and part of the jawbone cut out.  It all started Saturday [20 November] with one of those big swellings to indicate an abscess so by Sunday I was ready for anything which would relieve the pain.  The doctor put me on quarters with codeine pills to take every 8 hours.  Am feeling pretty good now and expect to go back to work tomorrow.  This afternoon I have an appointment to check on the stitches in the gum.  Sure hope I don't have any more dental trouble.  At this rate, I won't have too many teeth left when I get back home!

I won't be going to Thailand for Xmas.  Probably will stay right here in Saigon, although Lieutenant Colonel Keith at Da Nang and [Lieutenant Colonel] Ralph Detherow at Qui Nhon have invited me there.  We are airlifting 200,000 toys for orphans at those places from Hong Kong.  The people (US troops) donated the money and I am arranging the airplanes to fly them in.

Diary Entry 90: Saigon, Tuesday Night, 16 November 1965

                                                                    Tuesday Night, 16 November 1965

Had to send one of my officers up to Plei Me again today.  The 1st Air Cav is in a helluva firefight up there.  Maybe I won't have to go again until all of my troops are rotated up there or unless some big wheel insists that I go.  It's nice to get out of Saigon every now and then to get away from the pressures of work, because you really are under intense pressure all day long.  Taking a trip is a way to get out of the office and forget about it for a while.

As yet I am not fully over my cold as the cough persists and the nose is a little runny, but I am not sick with it.  Had a little bit of recurrence of stomach trouble but also had some of my medicine left and a dose of it pulled it back under control real fast.

This was a long work day.  Finished up pretty late so came straight home and fixed supper in the room:  peanut butter and jelly on soda crackers, cheese spread, and Vienna sausages.  Pretty tasty!  Well, at least it was filling and nourishing. 

Clark planned to read this issue of Time Magazine, dated 12 November 1965.  The cover subject is John Lindsay, the recently elected Republican mayor of New York City.  (Image courtesy Time Magazine)

At lunch today I bought a Time magazine which I thought would be good to read tonight so as to catch up on what is happening in the world, but if I start to read now, I'd be up so late that tomorrow would come around the corner too fast.  Will save it to read some other night when there is more time.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Diary Entry 89: Saigon, Sunday Night, 14 November 1965

                                                                     Sunday Night, 14 November 1965

This has just been a lovely day!  Pretty sunshine, big white clouds, and no rain.  Had the morning off and relaxed a while, and that alone made me feel like a new person.

Went to the office for a couple of hours this afternoon to brief General Crowley on a problem, but took off as soon as the briefing was finished and went down to the Rex and sat on the patio to sip beer and watch the world go by in Saigon.  Very refreshing day.

Tonight Lieutenant Commander O'Neil and I had dinner at the International House which is a private club run by the [U.S.] Embassy.  He is a member as are many of the military and he took me as his guest.  A real fine place to eat.  For $2.00 each we got a big saucer of boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce, roast beef that you could cut with a fork, delicious turkey and sweet baked ham, potatoes, beans, cabbage, ice cream, iced tea, and coffee.  An outstanding meal.  Some time ago Grady had recommended that I join because the food was so good there, but I discounted his persuasion because he usually investigates the bar and membership costs $10.00 per month.  But I don't know now.  The food sure was good.  Maybe I can just get someone who is a member to take me as a guest!

International House, 57 Nguyen Hue, Saigon, South Vietnam, 14 November 1965.  (Photo courtesy Richard Paris Clark, Jr. collection)

Pretty soon I'll have to address the problem of settling my next assignment with the personnel people.  It won't be easy, but I'm not willing quite yet to accept the Washington assignment [as a staff officer for the U.S. Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (DCSLOG)].  Still have a couple of trump cards of my own to play.  The more I think of Washington and the restrictions of:  You can't take a piano, you can't take an organ, you can't have too many kids in the family---the more I am convinced to fight an assignment there to the last ditch.  Washington just does not understand that I don't care whether I make colonel or general.  Many officers do.  But I'd rather not go to the War College and I'd rather get out with my 20 years as a lieutenant colonel and just hang around the house, or write, or work in business.  This does not follow the normal pattern of drives and am sure that my insistence on a quiet assignment anywhere but Washington baffles the personnel people.  Will just wait and see what happens.  The assignment people are at a disadvantage as I can control the final decision and this does not make them feel comfortable.

Harry Brockman wrote me.  He is assigned to Personnel Actions Branch in Artillery, Officer Personnel Division---like my assignment was in Infantry Branch when I was in Washington [in 1957-1958].  He says he had to buy a $35,000 house with 5 bedrooms to find a decent place to stay.  I just can't see that sort of investment to get an assignment to Washington in order to live decently.  So I've decided to fight like a Tiger in that regard.  Should know preliminary results in January [1966], final results by March.       

Saturday, May 21, 2011

CBS News: The Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, 14 November - 18 November 1965 (Part III)

CBS News: The Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, 14 November - 18 November 1965 (Part II)

CBS News: The Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, 14 November - 18 November 1965 (Part I)

Diary Entry 88: Saigon, Saturday Night, 13 November 1965

                                                                  Saturday Night, 13 November 1965

Last night we had a little excitement which really turned out to be nothing at all.  All the lights in the block suddenly went off and plunged this area [Ham Nghi Boulevard] into darkness.  The police who guard the U.S. Embassy at the end of this block are understandably nervous since last year's bombing.  One of them got a little too nervous and started shooting at shadows.  Well, you never heard more whistles blowing and feet running in your life!  The police set up all sorts of searchlights and closed the street to traffic until power was restored.  The final conclusion by most everyone was that the National Police are just kind of jittery in the darkness.

Being involved in transportation has led most of the charitable organizations to my office or my telephone at one time or another.  On 2 occasions I had to go see General [John] Throckmorton (Deputy Commander, MACV) about transporting supplies for Catholic Relief Society.  The Catholics are the most persistent of the group.  They never give up!  I know all the various relief chairmen well and wish that none of them had my phone number, because they know I'm a pushover.  They talk me into doing things for the "orphans" that most intelligent people wouldn't do.  And I agreed for MACV to arrange transportation of gifts from the US for all the orphans that presents come for.  I have arranged for a genuine Santa Claus to fly into the soccer field at Da Nang by helicopter (after we have pre-stocked 100,000 presents there) and to arrive simultaneously at Qui Nhon by C-123 airplane.  I told friends at both Da Nang and Qui Nhon that I'd be on hand to watch the pass-out of presents, so don't know how that can be explained!

My favorite orphanage is at the village of Thu Duc at the Mission de les Notre Dames which is run by two nuns who have been here for 38 years.  This mission is near Bien Hoa so I can usually drop by to say hellp when we make a trip up that way.  It is the neatest and most disciplined orphanage in Vietnam.  The two sisters are named Reverend Mother St. Joan de Arc (she is French) and Reverend Sister Florida (she is New Zealand).  People who would devote 38 years of their lives to this God-forsaken place are pretty good people.

Diary Entry 87: Saigon, Thursday Night, 11 November 1965

                                                                        Thursday Night, 11 November 1965

According to my calendar, this is a holiday (Veterans' Day), but from my schedule of activities you really couldn't tell it.  Was at work just as early as I usually am, and back to the BOQ just as late.  Be glad when I get back to the States and can take one of these holidays off.  Maybe I'll just up and take off Thanksgiving Day!  Here I was a real bonafide Veteran, working pretty hard, and actually helping to fight a war on Veterans' Day.  Cruel justice!

Most of the day was spent reviewing certain contingency plans and making adjustments where it was necessary.  Lots of arguing which was not necessarily based on fact.  Afraid we didn't make much progress.

Tomorrow, Brigadier General [Hal D.] McCown who is Mr. McNamara's hatchet man on Vietnam is returning here for briefings on progress made since his last visit.  Have a 20 minute briefing with him on transportation posture at 3 p.m.  Then at 5 p.m. must brief General [Stanley "Swede"]  Larsen on transport support we can afford him on some contemplated operations.  Both of these should be pretty easy, but I'll probably bone up on some notes tonight or in the morning.  Briefings remind me of teaching classes at Leavenworth. . .easy if you do your homework.

Haven't heard from Grady yet.  Paid his mess and hotel bill and call his office every day to see if anyone there has heard anything.  So far they haven't.  Guess he was in worse shape than he thought.  His assistant tells me that he thinks Grady's cancer came back on him or else he got TB which is very prevalent in South Vietnam.  Reckon I'll hear from him sooner or later.

I am feeling pretty good now.  Cold is not entirely gone and am having a hard time getting completely rid of it but it is coming along nicely.  Hard to shake a summer cold, I find; though it is difficult for me to think of this as being a summer season.  Probably cold and wet in Montgomery [Alabama] but it is hot and humid here.

Friday, May 20, 2011

From The Editor: MACV and Port Congestion, November 1965

As the buildup of men and materiel deployed to South Vietnam in 1965, the combined volume of military, civilian, and commercial cargo overwhelmed the country’s inadequate ports and required emergency procedures to keep vital cargo moving through the intra-theater transportation system. Port congestion in Vietnam created a major logistic bottleneck for MACV.
The JCS and Admiral Sharp sent MACV a series of increasingly urgent messages between 7 and 23 October requesting information on reports of port congestion in South Vietnam. Westmoreland and Crowley dispatched Clark to survey port conditions. When Clark returned to Saigon on 6 November, he briefed the generals on his findings. This was his report:


Da Nang:
Facilities Available:

Museum Landing: One LST and Landing Craft Utility (LCU) ramp. No storage facility as landing site was in the middle of a main thoroughfare.
Commercial pier: One LST landing that shared the end of the commercial pier for an offloading area and 200 feet of frontage.
Tien Sha Landing: Two LST and two LCU landings that were shared with ARVN.
Seabee materials ramp: A very shallow landing area.
LARCs: Several of these US amphibious vehicles were on loan to the US Navy and were used to move US Air Force ammunition from offshore vessels directly to Da Nang airfield.
Factors limiting timely discharge of vessels:

Inadequate port facilitiesa. No deep draft piers
b. Insufficient stevedoring personnel and cargo handling gear
c. Insufficient open and covered transit, staging and storage areas because of inability to acquire real estate
d. Insufficient shallow draft lighterage facilities
e. Insufficient port clearance capability
f. Non-availability of harbor control communications
2) Chu Lai backloading requirement superimposed on Da Nang

Facilities construction required:

Bridge cargo facility: Build two LST ramps, two LCU ramps, an LST pier, and 1,600 feet of wharf for lighterage.
Expand the museum ramp to add facilities for an additional LST.
Add a sheet pile bulkhead to construction materials wharf.
Increase capacity of cross-harbor bridge to 50 tons.
Port capacity approximately 1,800 short tons per day. Estimated capacity at end of 1966 in excess of 4,000 short tons per day.
Qui Nhon:
Facilities available: Two LST ramps were located on the Qui Nhon peninsula and a floating causeway/finger pier northwest of the ramps. Primary unloading facilities: the beaches themselves.
Factors limiting timely discharge of vessels:

Bad weather (monsoons).
Insufficient all-weather LST facilities.
No alongside lighterage facility.
No anchorage for floating crane.
No in-transit open and covered storage facilities.
No alongside berthing for refrigerated cargo barges.
Lack of dependable civilian stevedore work force.
Facilities construction required:

Long wharf of sheet pile face from the end of

the breakwater to the peninsula to handle coastal vessels, LSTs, and lighters up to a 20-foot draft.
Study underway as to feasibility of three deep-draft piers and four buoy berths.
Possible installation of a 60 by 600 foot De Long pier.
Port capacity was 2,294 short tons per day. Estimated capacity at the end of 1966: 4,000 short tons per day.

Nha Trang:

Facilities available: Over the beach operation only. Support via rail and road from Cam Ranh Bay available.

Factors limiting timely discharge of vessels:

Insufficient lighterage and cargo handling personnel.
No deep draft pier facilities.
Facilities construction required: One De Long pier was tentatively scheduled; sheet pile wharfs to provide all-weather lighterage capability.
Port capacity was 1,039 short tons per day. Total planned capacity at the end of 1966: 2,752 short tons per day.

Cam Ranh Bay:
Facilities available:

Old deep-draft pier
New De Long pier.
Two permanent and two temporary LST ramps.
Factors limiting timely discharge of vessels:

Old deep-draft pier was too narrow for rapid discharge of even one ship.
No ammunition pier.
Insufficient LST sites.

Insufficient number of lighters.
No lighterage berths.
Limited stevedoring and beach clearance capability.
Heavy outloading workload compounded by congestion of inadequate port facilities.
Facilities construction required:

Additional De Long pier.
Widen and lengthen concrete wharf.
Construct additional LST wharfs and ammunition piers.
Construct additional sheet steel pile wharfs.
Current port capacity was 2,995 short tons per day. Estimated capacity at the end of 1966: 6,000 short tons per day.

Vung Tau:
Facilities available: LST ramps.
Facilities construction required: Two LST ramps and one T-pier. A De Long pier was tentatively programmed. Vung Tau was not designed to be a major port but rather to take part of load off Saigon; serve as transshipment port to the Delta region; to be used as unloading point for Bien Hoa, reducing congestion at Saigon.
Factors limiting timely discharge of vessels: None.
Current capacity was approximately 300 short tons per day. Estimated capacity at the end of 1966: in excess of 2,000 short tons per day.

Facilities available:

Ten berths alongside.
Seven large berths at mooring buoys.
Four small berths at mooring buoys.

Two LST berths.
Three T-piers for coasters.
Six to ten miles of canals to warehouses alongside.
Factors limiting timely discharge of cargo:

Insufficient deep-draft pier berths.
Insufficient barges to accomplish discharge in Saigon River.
Insufficient open and covered transit storage.
Insufficient and improperly located LST discharge and loading facilities.
Obsolete lighters incapable of handling palletized cargo, preventing effective utilization of materials handling equipment.
Inadequate facilities for offloading lighterage.
Port not operated by military personnel (under South Vietnamese government control); two or three berths normally assigned military operations; three to four berths assigned to USAID cargo; remaining berths assigned to civilian commercial vessels.
Facilities construction required:

One LST slip at the Messageries et Maritimes facility.
A concrete and floating quay in the fishmarket area.
A lighter and landing craft facility in the Newport area with mooring buoys on the opposite shore.
Port capability: was approximately 13,000 short tons per day, less ammunition, petroleum, oil, and lubricant, and construction materials. Estimated capacity at the end of 1966: 24,000 short tons per day.

All Ports:
The following general problem areas prevailed at all ports:

Improper containerization; lack of unitization; broken stowage of loose and domestic pack cargos.
Non-availability of short-mast forklifts for shipboard operations essential for expeditious handling of unitized cargo.
Slippage of deliveries of materials handling equipment and spare parts to support and maintain required equipment availability rate.
Vessel outloading by Continental US ports for multiple port discharge frequently limits discharge to only one hatch.
Failure of Continental US terminals to segregate block-stow cargo by consignee.
Receipt of non-sustaining vessels without notice.
Vessels loaded full and down without regard to Port of Destination capability to expeditiously offload between deck and wing-stowed items with ship’s gear.
Project shipments to improper Port of Destination causing delays by requiring multiport diversions and discharge in-country after arrival of vessels.
No programmed tonnage forecast by Port of Destination and commodity, to enable accurate operational planning.
Vessels arrived in South Vietnamese waters with depleted bunkers often necessitating ship removal for replenishment during discharge of critical cargo."
During his briefing for Westmoreland and Crowley, Clark explained that ten first-class ports in the continental US were shipping materiel to South Vietnam as fast as they could, but MACV only had four second-class ports to receive it.

He told the generals that on almost any given day there were 100 ocean-going ships in South Vietnamese harbors or anchored off the coast. Only forty-five of those ships could be unloaded simultaneously at the seven coastal U.S. bases. The remaining ships waited, sometimes for as long as two months, for their turn to discharge cargo.

Until new port facilities were completed, many ships unloaded cargo into small landing craft. These craft then battled their way through heavy seas and monsoon rain to the beaches.

Clark described what he saw at Nha Trang:  There, a freighter loaded with 30,000 bags of cement was served by a single US Army landing craft. That craft could handle only 300 to 800 bags of cement a day, depending on the weather.  On the same beach, a US Navy landing craft discharged its cargo of 5,000 barrels of asphalt at a rate of about 300 barrels a day.

Clark explained that the U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC) and two of its subordinate commands, the Supply and Maintenance Command (SMC), and the Military Traffic Management Terminal Service (MTMTS) were largely responsible for the port congestion problem.

He cited an appalling situation he witnessed at Cam Ranh Bay as a typical example. Stateside MTMTS depots had no concept of port conditions in a combat zone. The MTMTS crews loaded cargo ships bound for Vietnam under peacetime commercial "full-and-down" (cargo loaded so that all available capacity was utilized) conditions that emphasized efficiency and cost savings. In order to make full advantage of storage space, MTMTS stevedores at the Oakland Army Depot uncrated ammunition and napalm bombs and stowed them in the deep wells of a vessel destined for Cam Ranh Bay. Clark watched as the Army port terminal service battalion at Cam Ranh Bay unloaded the live ordnance, a dangerous and time-consuming task. The port crew could not use material handling equipment to get at the loose ammunition and instead improvised steel cables to snake the bombs out of the cargo bay. In the process, a majority of the bombs cracked, and napalm leaked out and congealed on the inner skin of the ship. The battalion commander had to send soldiers and stevedores equipped with gas masks and putty scrapers into the bowels of the ship to scrape off the flammable gel. The cleanup process delayed the cargo ship at port for two additional days and unnecessarily exposed the battalion and ship’s crew to enemy action.

On 9 November, Westmoreland sent a message to Sharp and the JCS that it was "premature at this time to slow CONUS shipping." Westmoreland informed them that the U.S. Army 1st Logistical Command had already begun to improve the existing port facilities by hiring more Vietnamese civilian stevedores and MACV planned to contract with US civilian barge companies. Despite Westmoreland’s assurances to Washington, the cargo backlog and the number of ships awaiting discharge at Saigon port continued to accumulate.