Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Diary Entry 85: Saigon, Saturday Night, 6 November 1965

                                                                 Saturday Night, 6 November 1965

As can be seen from the dateline above, I made it back okay from a whirlwind tour of major points of interest in South Vietnam. There was just no time to write on the way except at Da Nang and Qui Nhon and even at those places time just was not available. The urgency of this trip was such that it was go-go-go and work-work-work from dawn until late at night coordinating some tough decisions with various commanders along the line. Not sure I accomplished as much as we set out to do, but won’t know the answer to that for a while.

Since returning here today, have been closeted with the chain of command from Colonel Plate to General Crowley to General Westmoreland making reports and recommendations.

On Monday, 1 November at 4 a.m., I got up and was driven to Tan Son Nhut Air Base where a 2-engine Army aircraft was waiting for me. At 5:30 a.m., we landed at Plei Me before dawn to discuss certain transportation matters with the commander there. At 7:30 a.m., we landed at Pleiku for discussions with General Kinnard of the First Air Cav Division on the same subject. At 1:30 p.m., arrived in Da Nang and talked over transportation matters with various Marines, including General [Lewis B.] Walt. On 2 Nov, flew to Chu Lai to observe operations there during the day and returned to Da Nang that evening. On 3 Nov went down to Qui Nhon and talked about terminals, ports, and airplanes with Colonel [Richard] Aronson [commander of the U.S. Army 4th Transportation Command] and Colonel [Joseph] Mayo [commander of the U.S. Army 29th Quartermaster Group]. Observed operations there all day and went out to board several ships. The battalion CO of the port unit at Qui Nhon has to go [Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Emery, commander of the U.S. Army 394th Transportation Battalion (Terminal Service)]. His productivity is so low that we can be in serious trouble if it is not increased. On 4 Nov flew to Tuy Hoa and went wading again in the South China Sea. Again the wading was not satisfactory for my measurement purposes so we went looking for better places and were successful. Spent the night in Qui Nhon with Ralph Detherow. We talked over everybody we knew at Leavenworth.

Friday went to Nha Trang and examined port operations there. Talked for half a day with [Lieutenant Colonel] Leo Martineau, an old Leavenworth acquaintance who commands an Ordnance battalion there. Late in the day we hopped a chopper down to Cam Ranh Bay to watch Lieutenant Colonel Bob Gentleman’s operations on the pier [the U.S. Army 10th Transportation Battalion (Terminal Service)] and to evaluate certain air operations at our new 10,000-foot jet airfield. Spent the night at Cam Ranh which is primitively beautiful but just too primitive. Reminds me of Korea as it is desolate and you sleep in a tent on the beach. This morning I flew to Phan Rang in an armed helicopter to go wading in the South China Sea again. The wading was pleasant and successful. Later today I went to Vung Tau and watched troops and equipment unloading there, then flew up the Saigon River to Bien Hoa and finally back to Tan Son Nhut. After that I presented briefings and recommendations.

Upon arrival I had a note in my box from [Lieutenant Colonel] Grady [Cole] saying he had been medically evacuated to Clark AFB in the Philippines because he was coughing up blood. He wanted me to take care of some of his bills here at the hotel and mess which I will do. He probably won’t come back as that old cancer probably got to him again he thinks in the lung.

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