Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Diary Entry 109: Saigon, Tuesday, 28 December 1965

                                                                  Tuesday, 28 December 1965

Yesterday, 27 Dec, the week started off with a thrill if you can call being nervous a thrilling experience. At 6:30 a.m., I was debating whether to get up and get dressed or to stay in bed for another 5 minutes. At that moment the VC and MPs and Vietnamese police in front of the hotel decided to have a shootout. That decided me. I got up right away, like the fastest man in the world, and ducked into the bathroom.

After 15 minutes of silence and no explosion, I got shaved and dressed in jig time and went to work. Either no one knew what it was all about or else they aren’t talking. But last night the street was all blocked off when I came home from work, and we had to get off the bus a block away. Tonight the street is open again, but no one seems to have any knowledge of the shooting yesterday morning. And I wasn’t about to go look over the balcony to see what was going on!

The VC also set off a Claymore mine at the Special Services marina, wounding 4 GIs. Last night I even had supper with Grady to see if he would tell me anything about the shooting, but he either doesn’t know or he isn’t telling the truth.

This morning, 28 Dec, shortly after we arrived at work at the MACV II compound we were all evacuated from our building as a bomb was found wired to the water tank of a toilet in the officers’ latrine. After the Ordnance Explosive team searched the area we went back to work. I understand the bomb was wired to the handle of the commode so as to explode when someone flushed the toilet. The humor is grim, but can’t you imagine how surprised some officer would be if he had used that toilet! He really would have thought he had real diarrhea! Ever since this morning, we all check the commodes for booby traps when we go to the bathroom. That just shows you we have at least one VC working in our compound and they are able to bring in explosives in spite of the fact that each Vietnamese is searched thoroughly upon entry to the area.

Before leaving the office tonight, I placed a call to Washington to talk to Mr. Niederman about the trip to the States but since it was only 7:30 a.m. [in Washington, D.C.], he was not then at work. So I said what the heck, might as well have the operator ring OPO [Officer Personnel Office] so I could talk about my assignment. Major Gonzalez [a former classmate at CGSC] answered the phone and we had a nice conversation. He said I was still scheduled for an assignment in DCSLOG [U.S. Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics] but he would see what he could do to help me and asked if I would like an assignment to the Strike Command in Tampa, Fla. And I said like: "Yeah, man!" So I’ll write him this week to see if he can engineer something for me. Gonzalez said I could get a command (battalion) at Ft. Eustis, Ft. Lee, Ft. Bragg, Ft. Benning, Ft. Carson, Ft. Riley, or Ft. Lewis, but if I took it would be back over in Vietnam in less than 6 months. Told him that was just a little too short of a time to be back home before having to come back and get shot at. Even if I can hide out in an assignment for 3 years in the States, the situation looks like nearly everybody will have to pull a second tour over here. TC officers in Germany with only 2 years on duty over there have been alerted for assignment directly to Vietnam. And others are coming from places I can’t mention. Well, maybe they will get like they did between my tour in Alaska and this place---keep me in schools so much that I won’t have to come back again.

Finally got through to Mr. Niederman. He said the company [Alaska Barge & Transport] had been so busy getting equipment together that they had not had time to get things in order for contract negotiation. But he also said to rest assured that he would call for my services when negotiations start either in the latter half of January or first half of February.

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