Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Diary Entry 101: Saigon, Thursday Night, 16 December 1965

                                                                      Thursday Night, 16 December 1965

Well, about the best way to describe Saigon is to say that everybody is pretty shook up in town. This morning I overslept and got to work 15 minutes late to learn that bombs had been set off this morning in 3 compounds and a police-MP station was overrun by VC right smack in the middle of town last night. Leave it to me to not be knowledgeable on what is going on.

Amid all the gossip about the VC activity, it was difficult to work today. Security control was so tough that it was hard to get to the office this morning. Many streets were blocked off for several blocks around us. There is a rumor that the VC are going to try a repeat of last year’s Xmas Eve bombing. Other key places are also cut off to traffic. Reckon the Metropole Hotel bombing had a profound effect on the security people here.

The Viet Cong used 250 pounds of plastic explosive and detonated a truck bomb outside the Metropole Bachelor Enlisted Quarters on 4 December 1965.  U.S. troops and aid workers sift through the wreckage in search of survivors of the terrorist attack.  (Photo courtesy Stars and Stripes)

Americans in Saigon have been advised to NOT be on the streets on the 19th, 20th, 23rd, 24th, 25th, and 31st of December. They are expecting something big on those days. Well, they won’t have any trouble with me. In fact, they may even have trouble getting me to go to work. I may just camp out under my bed to take full precautions!

Spent most of the day working on a "nasty" message to the Navy [MSTS, Far East] on coastal shipping support. The other day I wrote a similar message on aircraft support which shook the Air Force all the way back to the Pentagon, but we got additional support [C-130s] into Vietnam before dark last night.

I like my new job [Special Assistant to the J-4] very much. It cuts through the red tape very effectively. I deal directly with General Crowley on any logistic matter that comes to my attention or in any area he directs me to. Am glad to be rid of the other job [Chief, Movements Branch, J-4] as it seemed to be getting the best of me. There were so many people you had to go through that I felt nickled and dimed to pieces.

As usual, I am tired out tonight. Sometimes I wonder if it is worth it to work so hard, but of course I know that it is. Everybody has got to do his best over here if we want to win this thing. Reckon every little bit helps.

Everybody in the US must be sending packages to Vietnam. We are just smothered with packages from well-meaning Americans. The problem is that all the extra stuff sent to "A GI in Vietnam" is interfering with regular mail service to Vietnam. We have not been able to get out from under the packages to get the regular mail sorted out in a week.

1 comment:

  1. John: Very interesting article. I was there at the same time: 10/65 to 4/67, Third Field Hospital, one mile from TSN. In late 1965, the hospital was deluged with cards and packages addressed to "soldier in VN". I think the APO found it easy to dispose of all that stuff on the hospital, thinking that the patients would love it. There were usually 100 to 200 patients. But we hadn't the manpower to sort thru all of it. Our red cross ladies delivered piles of cards and boxes and cards every day to every patient. Most of the packages contained cookies, candy, and other goodies, but a lot of it was no good by the time we got it. Our patients also got a lot of mail addressed to them, but most of it arrived long after they departed. We returned it to either the APO or forwarded it to them if we knew where they had been sent. You just cannot visualize just how much of this stuff we received every day.
    Darryl Henley