Friday, June 3, 2011

Diary Entry 104: Saigon, Monday Night, 20 December 1965

                                                                       Monday Night, 20 December 1965

Worked late tonight trying to find out how the [Alaska Barge & Towing Co.] barge loading is coming along on the West Coast. Finally got through by phone about 9 p.m. and learned that one barge left the coast on 18 December and the balance will depart on Christmas Eve. Thought to myself, that sure is a heck of a day for people to have to put out for Vietnam!

Curfew is still strongly enforced here. A grenade was thrown yesterday not far from where I work; a police station right in Cholon was attacked by a VC squad; and there was heavy fighting about four miles out of the city. Artillery sounds pretty heavy on the outskirts now. Came home from work in a military taxi with an MP guard for protection. Sure wish they would let people in Saigon carry weapons, but I reckon the authorities are afraid of someone creating an incident.

Still no word on the barge contract negotiations. Sure wish I’d hear something to plan on. It is pretty sure not to be at Xmas time, so expect it will now take place in January. Was hoping against hope for a nice Xmas present like a trip home, but I’ll settle for a late Xmas in January---hopefully!

People in the US are just too generous. Operation Xmas Star is in full swing now and honest to goodness we are just covered up with packages at Tan Son Nhut. Don’t know what the Transportation Division is going to do to get all of them delivered to units up-country by Xmas Day. Operation Christmas Star is in addition to the usual mail traffic (6,000,000 lbs. so far this month). Somehow or other the Americans will figure out a way to get it where it belongs.

Speaking of giving, I have contributed a little bit to the congestion myself in conjunction with some other people. Back in November I agreed to help other officers to get toys for orphans brought in at Xmas to Da Nang, Qui Nhon, and Saigon. I agreed to scrounge up the air transportation if the others could raise the money. Well, they are better men than I gave them credit for. These guys gathered up over $120,000 and sent buyers to Hong Kong to buy up toys. Now I am jumping around to find 3 C-130 airplanes to transport it all back. Fortunately, I still have a few friends in my former airline and 360,000 toys will be moved to Vietnam in the next few days. And maybe some kids will believe there really is a Santa.

I thought I’d go to Qui Nhon or Da Nang to watch the gift giving but have changed my mind as the VC have shot down 2 planes headed in that direction in the past week. After discounting that, I thought I might go up to my favorite orphanage near Bien Hoa and watch the sisters give out presents, but the VC just kidnapped 4 construction workers near there today. In view of the anti-American campaign going on now, it is prudent to stay close to protection. So I’ll just have Xmas here in my room. Am sure my friends will understand why I didn’t come. After all, I could have been in only one of the three places anyway. Best not to go to any of them so that no one can say I have a favorite.

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