Friday, August 5, 2011

Diary Entry 113: Saigon, Friday Night, 7 January 1966

                                                                           Saigon
                                                                           Friday Night, 7 January 1966


This is briefing week for me. So far I’ve been on the platform for briefings to [Brigadier] General [John D.] Crowley [Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics (J-4)], the Deputy Chief of Staff ([Major] General [Richard S.] Abbey [U.S. Air Force]), the Chief of Staff ([Major] General [William B.] Rosson), the Deputy Commander ([Lieutenant]General [John A.] Heintges) and the J-3 ([Brigadier General [William E.] DePuy).   Sunday I must brief General [Frank S.]Besson (four-star) who is commander of the Army Materiel Command and who was formerly the Chief of Transportation. On Monday I must brief General [William C.] Westmoreland. The bad thing about all these briefings is that they are all on different subjects.

Seems like I spend all night studying up on a new subject so as to be ready the next day only to go through the cycle again the next day. For example, the briefing for General Crowley was on how some surface mail shipments got messed up (more on that later).

For the Deputy C/S and the C/S, it was on what we should or should not say to CINCPAC and Mr. McNamara about delays of shipping in South Vietnam.

General Besson is interested in the status of Army boat terminal service, and truck company operations all over this place.

The boss, his deputy, and the J-3 want to know what should be done about a high-speed passenger airline service in the country. And somebody else (don’t recall who) wants a briefing on whether or not it is more advantageous to contract the R&R flights to Hong Kong and Bangkok or fly them with Air Force planes. Haven’t even thought about that one yet!

No matter how you measure it, I seem to stay too busy all the time. If I had it to do all over again, think I’d just be a very mediocre officer and then no hard jobs would be given to me.

In the meantime, all sorts of exciting things are happening and can’t get a few minutes off to get out of Saigon. The 25th [Infantry] Division from Hawaii is beginning to stage into Vietnam. Would like to have been at Pleiku to watch them land. The 173d [Airborne Brigade] is on an operation in the Delta and in my old job, could have found an excuse to go on one of the air resupply missions.

Read in the paper that the VC are throwing bombs and grenades all over the place, but I have not heard any. The paper today said the Secret Police captured 3 VC with 275 lbs. of plastic explosive which was on the way to a US BOQ near where we work. Sure glad they caught them.

Four of the fellows in my former Movements Branch will go to Bangkok for a conference from 10 to 19 January.  If I’d stayed put, it would have been a nice trip to get away from here for a while. However, I was offered a chance to go to Honolulu for a conference on 10 and 11 January but turned it down as don’t dare want to miss out if Niederman sends for me at that time. Right now, just can’t afford to be gone as the word from him may come in any time. Am going to call the Alaska Barge people in Seattle tomorrow to find out the status of their movement to Vietnam, so maybe I can find out
something from them.

The reason for the briefing on mail to General Crowley: On 10 November some idiot loaded the surface mail packages (91 conex containers or about 273,000 lbs. of mail) on the Willamette Victory whose next stop was Da Nang. At Da Nang, the ship almost ran out of fuel and was sent to Subic Bay in the Philippines for bunkering. Then it was routed back to Vietnam with a load of planes. Then it went to Japan for repairs, later to Okinawa for trucks destined for Cam Ranh Bay. At Cam Ranh, someone finally discovered the 91 big conex containers with mail. They were immediately off-loaded there and are being flown back to the States as fast as we can scrape up MATS [Military Air Transport Service] airplanes returning to the States. Guess some Xmas presents will get there after awhile.

Talked to Grady [Cole] on the phone today. He wanted to know if I could do anything to get him back home early. Jo Ann [Cole, his wife] is in the hospital with an infection of the inner ear and John Cole [his son] is in the hospital with a cut-up head and face as a result of a car wreck. Still trying for him, but in times of emergency people forget the Red Cross as a rapid means of assistance.

So maybe my briefings aren’t problems after all in view of other people’s troubles. But in the meantime, I’d better quit writing and practice speaking!

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