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.


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