This column's Dec. 4 item,'THE JOB MARKETEERS,' described some shady
'employment agencies' which prey on semi-desperate men in Saigon. Herein are two
subsequent developments: (1) December 16 'Global Assignments' publicly
announced the closing of its Saigon office, adding that "No responsibility will
be accepted for any past or future dealings with Global. (2) This column has
received a letter from Overseas Services, Inc, of Lynwood, California, dated
The letter is signed by Bruce Magruder, Jr. a former Lt. Colonel in the US
Marine Corps who has served in Southeast Asia both in military and civilian
capacities. Together with the letter, Mr. Magruder enclosed an impressive
variety of documents and credentials testifying to the integrity of his
These include advertisements, the firm's monthly pamphlet, transactions
with the Governments of Vietnam,Korea and California, plus dozens of
correspondences with employers like RMK, BRJ, Standard Oil, Sheraton in Hawaii,
Philco Ford, Department of State, Lockheed Aircraft and the University of
Mr. Magruder, during his visit to Saigon to open a liaison office
experienced "dismay when learning of subsequent efforts of fly-by-nights to
operate in Saigon."
He adds: "I note with interest that you refer, in your article, to the many
'so-called' employment agencies currently in Saigon. I couldn't agree with you
For the text of Mr. Magruder's detailed letter, please see page 3.
A WORD FROM MARS
In a recent Letter-to-the-Editor, a Pedro L. Rodriguez says of this
columnist: "I believe he is not worth a space in your paper because he said he
was born in the moon and is a naturalized citizen of Mars."
The reply to Mr. Rodriguez (in Martianese): "Awk-awk ot shash vim mazlimbka
oosh ba ooshka!"
(For translation you must go fly a rocket.)
VIM, VIGOR, VIRGINITY
Le Prince et la Vierge (The Prince and the Virgin) at the Eden.
You must be 18 to see this, but it's worth it. A very professional
Italian-French production in classic Latin tradition: sex as a symbol for fun,
humor, wit and intrigue. with neat glimpses of Renaissance Italy.
American-Swedish sexploitation is often boring and childish in comparison.
....An impotent Prince can make love only on rainy Sundays. His virgin wife
has suffered through a whole year of rainy Sundays. Finally a truly stormy
Sabbath arrives. The Prince rises to the occasion. Unfortunately he does it so
well that he dies of heart failure. What is the Princely domain to do now for an
heir? Enter the Prince contender (Vittorio Gassman). This dashing contender, so
often victorious, both on battlefield and in boudoir, gets three chances to
prove himself with the lovely Virna Lizt. The royal subjects stand outside the
castle all night, hoping and praying for success, But the dashing lover, who has
bestowed himself on so many women in the past, begins to fear the prospect of
failure. Has he spent too much of himself in prior adventures? Can he conquer
this greatest of all challenges. A doctor offers encouragement. The doctor
assures him that every healthy man, in his lifetime, "has 3000 arquebus shots in
The Prince and the Virgin. Not your typical sex movie.
P.S. TIPS? COMPLAINTS? WANT ACTION? Phone/write us at the Post. Names
withheld on request.
(Part of on-going Vietnam Legacy Project as detailed in July 4 post.)
The Saigon Post, April 9, 1971
The Will of the West
Wheaties or Cheerios for breakfast, of course, is no guarantee of political
stamina. Communist and fascisr propoganda against the West has always been
emboldened by the theme or conviction that the capitalist democracies are monied
forms of semi-anarchy without real staying power in the jungle of world
politics. Lenin, Hitler and Ho Chi Minh have all been convinced that Western
will is fickle or downright flabby in comparison to the iron will displayed by a
Nazi Berlin, a Stalinist Moscow, a Red Hanoi or a fascist Tokyo.
US news media, especially the major television networks, generally disclaim
any responsibility in molding American attitudes and wills. This, despite the
fact that American families, whose TV screens serve generous helpings of
selected carnage, violence, firefights and wounded soldiers and civilians with
dinner every night, have actually seen much more of the war than the average
resident of Saigon has seen. Their nerves have been played upon for hundreds of
evenings this way. This electronic living room war is a new event in history,
still awaiting its sociologists, psychoanalysts and other intellectual
And so, in the April 3 New York Times, Max Frankel in Washington reports a
new kind of Indochina debate and "enlightens" us as follows:
"Whatever the past divisions between Hawks and Doves, or Conservatives and
Liberals, it is clear from the polls and discussions in Congress, that more and
more of the country is united in its desire to quit Indochina---sooner rather
than later---and for a growing segment of the population, regardless of the
"The daily reports of civilian as well as military casualties and the
preoccupation at home with talk of war crime and high-level guilt are leading a
number of legislators on all sides to conclude that the country can't stand much
more such pressure."
That's just part of Frankel's piece. He plays artfully on the theme that
the US is becoming a nervous wreck over Vietnam. Watch him closely. Observe how
the literate, logical NY Timer throws his ponderous weight behind a policy that
calls for the US Government to rectify its mistakes by acting like a depressed
fishwife who shouts, "Max, I can't take it anymore. I ain't gonna take it
anymore, I ain't, I ain't. You hear me, Max, you old bastard?"
INFORMED SOURCES SAY
Semi-intelligence sources are speaking again of a general increase in
defection from VC ranks, especially by long-term cadre members who have had as
much as 20 years experience in the underground. They say this development, which
is most noticeable in the Delta, includes many political officers, committe
members etc who entered the movement as young idealists and are leaving it in
middle-aged disillusionment, Dwindling numbers in the ranks are leading the
organization, at times, to make party secretaries out of 20-year olds. Which
indicates that there are lots of executive and junior executive positions
available for ambitious young men wo see Red in the future. Qualifications:
better than average intelligence and willingness to do lots of night work.
These same sources add cautiously that the VC infrastructure, even when in
shreds, has much tenacity and refuses to die altogether.
"Let's face it," one official said. "No other organization in the world can
hold together like the Communists---except the Catholic Church."
A WORD TO THE NUDE
One of the specialties of a certain hotel in downtown Saigon are signs
which are painted on all the corridor walls. Some give information on how to
safeguard your valuables. Others describe the do's and don'ts which a guest
should observe. One sign by the stairway is very emphatic about the
"Please don't wander about the building when your body without trousers and
shirts or your body naked, partially clothes. Don't tease, embrace and kiss
women and girls in public....
"These rude manners will lose the good morals, customs of the Vietnamese
and the serious appearance of this building."
AROUND THE TOWN
An exhibition of watercolors by JOSE DE MONTREUIL, at the ALLIANCE
FRANCAISE, 24 Gia Long Street. Lots of Vietnamese scenes with a European
influence of primary colors, often done with brief vertical or horizontal
dabs....Film ROMEO AND JULIET due soon at the REX....The new iron grill work in
the corner window of the Givral cafe is one of the most elegant little sights in
PS. TIPS? DOPE? (The information kind) Write c/o The Saigon Post. For fast
action, leave note on bulletin board, JUSPAO, 145 Nguyen Hue Street.
(Ongoing Vietnam Legacy Project. Details at July 4 post.)
November 30, 1970, The Saigon Post
SAIGON NOTES:The Commando Raid in N. Vietnam
Bold, yes. Imaginative, yes. A propoganda coup that may eventually aid the
POW's indirectly. In motivation, even noble. The volunteers, heroic. But
successful in the stated task? Let's stop the kidding.
The abortive rescue mission demonstrates how strongly the US feels about
the POWs and Hanoi's exploitation of them.
Unfortunately, it also demonstrates an open secret: the US military in
Vietnam has no intelligence system adequate for such a delicate operation. A sad
thing about all this is that such an operation has to succeed the first time.
The enemy won't give you a second chance to surprise him in the same way. Does
anyone doubt that he will now make it virtually impossible to rescue the
surviving POWs in another such raid? Kidding each other won't change this fact.
Neither will it change the fact that the US military's intelligence was bush
We see no equivalent of the German air commandos who sprung loose Mussolini
himself from Allied captivity in Northern Italy. Or the tiny Israeli team that
tracked down Eichmann in Argentina and whisked him all the way back to Tel
All we see is people congratulating each other for an aborted mission.
Brave men were landed in N. Vietnam and found nobody home. In Vietnam the US
military, it seems, is best suited for expensive meat-grinding, H & I fire
and saturation bombing. In football terms it produces a maximum of blistering,
hulking tackles, a minimum of artful quarterbacks and deft half-backs. It may
snow the Washington civilians, but we don't propose to be snowed.
ps The American-distributed Vietnam Round-up and Vietnam Press Review will
be excused from reprinting this commentary.
AROUND THE TOWN
Strange rains? Folks are wondering why the beginning of the dry season has
been so wet....TITO V. CARBALLO has settled in Phnom Penh with his wife BLANCA,
for the Phillipine News Service. TITO has been with the Saigon Post for two
years....An American who retired from the US Army after more than 20 years
service is living in Saigon with his wife and children and working for a
US-Government operated contractor. Yet MACV refuses to give him Commissary
privileges, he says. He claims that USAID employees get these privileges with
no sweat....LOLITA re-appeared at the Vinh Loi cinema recently. James Mason
plays the poetic middle-aged Humping Humbert who does a cross-country station
wagon tour with glorious fair-haired nymphette played by Sue Lyon. In the movie
she's about 16. In NABOKOV'S original novel she was 13....Remarkably the
non-political Association of Foreign Correspondents in Vietnam has decided to
involve itself in the accreditation case of DON LUCE who is firmly established
in many minds here as a political personality....What is ARTHUR DOMMEN smoking
up there in Vientiane? More on this later...Chinese own the TOKYO restaurant on
Le Loi. but the food is Japanese-style and reasonably priced....Somebody has
spread reports that we're wedding HENNY SCHOUTE the air-borne blonde. Nothing to
it. We are not jump-qualified.
Phone, write tips in to the Post, or leave phone number.
(The Vietnam Legacy Project. Details at July 4 post)
June 12, 1971 The Saigon Post
A POW BREAKTHROUGH?
Now that the Associated Press (Bangkok) on Teusday of this week confirmed
the story that appeared in this column the previous Sunday, the question of the
neutral of "third country" looms larger.
The private American group, headed by the CROSBY brothers, BING and LARRY,
is seeking to bargain with Hanoi by offering to re-build war-damaged facilities
in North Vietnam. This week it got a qualified "maybe" from Hanoi officials in
Vientiane. This is already more than US Government officials have ever gotten.
Vis-a-vis the US Government, Hanoi has always demanded the prior withdrawal of
all American troops before the POW issue can be settled. Obviously the CROSBY
group is in no position to withdraw all US troops from Vietnam. Yet it got a
qualified "maybe" in response to its offer. A source informs this column that
the group is emphasizing the pragmatic methods of the American
The private group, (initials PEACE) also proposes that the American POWs be
interned in a third country till the war's end. The country being proposed will
surprise a great many people. A source in direct contact with the CROSBY group's
chief spokesman has informed this column of the country's name, but we are still
not authroized to print it.
CALLING ALL US OFFICERS
This column issues a formal invitation to all ranking (and maybe not so
ranking) American officers in South Vietnam to appraise this country's mood
during the pre-Election period. While aware that the public analyses of a
country's "mood" are not the normal function of US officers, we couldn't help
but take notice of the anonymous officer who does just that in the June 7
issue of US News & World Report.
This column will offer any US officer equal time and equal anonymity.
Comments on the waiting list for General are certainly welcome to respond.
Generals anticipating a peaceful retirement are assured of the utmost
invisibility in this space, but let it never be forgotten that views of the
lowliest lieutenant are also eligible for airing.
If no replies are received, this column will not take the position that
officers experienced sudden mental blank spots. It will only assume that they
agree. Generally speaking, as the news mag says, the officer was drawing on
years of intelligence work here.
Samples of the man's views, according to US News & World Reports, June
"The Oppostion appears to be better organized for propoganda than the Thieu
Government. There are many signs of that in town. Consider the press in Saigon.
Consider the press of Saigon. Many papers published here could not possibly make
a go of it on their own. The money backing most of these papers must be coming
from Hanoi's Reds through local banks.
"The theme of such papers is 'peace now.' They expose scandal---and there
is plenty of that here. They appealto the under-paid, over-taxed, war-weary and
have-nots in terms which seldom offer both sids of any story."
He adds that, as October's elections draw near, expect more demonstrations,
more discovery of scandal and more anti-Americanism, both the calculated and
PS TIPS? CONSTRUCTIVE GRIPES? Do what others have done. Contact SAIGON
NOTES, the mon-Wed-Fri column that is read in the inner sanctums of Government.,
private enterprise, MACV and barrooms. Names withheld on request.
(The on-going Vietnam Legacy Project continues. For details, explanation, see July 4 post.)
July 21, 1970 The Saigon Post
URINALYSIS & DE=DOPIFICATION by Daniel Cameron
De-Toxification Center, Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam
G.I.'s in dress kakhis stood in line, processing for their flight home.
They had the contented look of
negatives. The positives, if any, would go into quarantine for five days.
It's part of the Army's new crash program to get G.I.s home without
heroin-deposited morphine etc in them. Every G.I. in Vietnam will go through
this 3-day process. COLONEL ROSS, a big silver-haired fatherly-looking surgeon
"The aim is only to de-toxify those whom the urine tests show to be
positive. The patient's social or psychological needs for drugs is another
problem. In this first month we feel the program has been a big success."
Later, a Major said, "First we're gonna take you people on a walk-through
of the various facilities just like the G.I.'s go through them. First come and
have a cocktail and lunch."
Lunch, which we also paid for, was in a mess hall where the sign said OUR
MEALS ARE NEXT TO MOM'S.
The soldier was going home now. Heroin was a problem where he used to be
stationed, up around Phu Bai. How did they take it? Any way---snort it, shoot it,
smoke it. When he first got there, they were on pot. Now, 90% of the old pot
heads were on heroin. But his buddy added that less than half the people he knew
were on pot or heroin. It was less than people thought.
A Negro MP from the Second Security Battalion was going home. Half the
people he knew in the Danang area were on pot or heroin. Why? Everyone got a
thing to do. How about when they got home? It'll be rough on 'em if they want
it and can't get it.
A number of senior officers wore dark glasses.
After lunch next to Mom's they took us to the Urine Collection Facility. A
big G.I. in tee shirt sat high on a shelf directly over the urinals. What was
his job classification?
"He watches the urinating," Lt. DINAPOLI explained. "Some G.I.s tried to
avoid the test by bringing in a bottle of a buddy's urine."
The Presidential Proclamation is available for any G.I. who opts for the
Amnesty Box. He is allowed to deposit anything in the box, no questions asked.
What did the Army find in the box? MAJOR MCMASTER said they found knives and
guns and Government property. Ever find drugs? Once they found three small
vials of heroin.
The other two centers were at Long Binh and Camp Alfa near Saigon. The
Major said stattistics for all three centers showed only 50% positive. That
showed that the use of hard drugs was less than everyone thought. The Major
wore dark glasses.
COLONEL ANGEL, Chief toxicologist, US Army, on special assignment in Cam
Ranh Bay: "Technically heroin is not found in the body. Morphine is the
indicator. That's what will show up in the chromotography tests."
Was there a de-toxification center for alcoholics? The Colonel said
The G.I.'s face was pale, freckled and well-etched. The program here was
good, he said. He was glad to be off heroin and going home. In March he was at
Khe Sanh. Some of the Arvins at Khe Sanh were using heroin, but not as heavy as
the Americans. Most of them just wanted to make money out of it. They made quite
a bit. Of the guys he knew at Khe Sanh, at least 40% were on heroin. You can
also buy it from mama-sans in Danang. Why did he use it?
"I had quite a few friends killed at Khe Sanh. That's what turned me
The ones who wore blue pajamas inside the wire fence were in quarantine. A
Vietnamese camera man working for a US network tried t6o sneak some camera
"That's the last time I'm gonna tell you," the Major said, pointing.
COLONEL FIKE, a physician, stated three objectives: (1) de-toxify the
patient (2)begin rehabilitation (3)make clinical observations and record
"Patients are generally dependent personalities. They respond especially to
female nurses and attendants. They prefer passive recreation and look forward
with keen interest to the afternoon snack period. They also get opportunities
for 'rap' sessions and...."
"Well," said a newsman in the back of the bus, " the Army's gone full
cycle. Now they're inspecting for heroin like they used to inspect for
(Part of a continuing series, digitizing a Vietnam Legacy Projects. See
July 4 post for details.)
(The Saigon Post, March 12, 1971)
A DISCRIMINATING EMBASSY?
One of our readers from RMK-BRJ---ROBERT H. VERLO, a Senior Systems
on February 5:
"Here's one for you. The US EMBASSY DISCRIMINATES FILIPINOS."(The block
letters are Mr.
"I work at RMK's main office. We're just a half block away from the
Embassy. The Embassy has a snack bar which is run under the name of
International House. (yet.) Supposedly it is open to one and all as the VN types
are always buying there.
"About a half dozen people in our office like a sandwich in the A.M. and we
have been taking turns going and getting them. However, recently, they (Marine
guards) have been refusing to let the Filipinos in. They have used a number of
reasons. No Embassy-issued I.D. card, the snack bar is only for Embassy
personnel etc etc. I have inquired about this myself, but the guards tell me the
snack bar is open to the public.
"I fail completely to see the logic of trying to promote harmony and
goodwill amongst your allies and yet pull some (unprintable) stunt like
"Maybe a few words from you in your column might get the situation
Right. We agree that if the snack bar is a public one, this indeed would be
a very naked case of discrimination. So we took the matter to the Embassy. A
spokesman made the following points.
(1) There is no snack bar at the Embassy called 'International House.'
There is a snack bar which is known simply as the snack bar.(2) The snack bar is
located strictly and exclusively within the perimeter of the Embassy.(3) Being
located inside the Embassy, it is not a public snack bar. (4) The Vietnamese
mentioned in MR VERLO's letter ought to be, in fact must be, employees of the
Embassy. (5) Generally speaking, to snack in an Embassy bar is the exclusive
perogative of Embassy personnel.
ANATOMY OF THE MEDIA
Some Stateside journalists are beginning to zero in on some of the tricks
of the trade as practiced by certain news media performers in Vietnam. We
welcome the company.
KENNETH CRAWFORD in the February 23 Washington Post reports a speech made
by former Post Editor J. Russell Wiggins who asked the rhetorical question: How
would the modern media have reported
George Washington's crossing of the Delaware at McConkey's Ferry on
We can't answer that, but Wiggins' reply sounds like Chapter 1 in a manual
of how to succeed in the Saigon bureaus of some US news agencies without hardly
"Television cameramen would have focused their zoom lenses on the
rag-wrapped feet of Washington's troopers. When it was over, microphones would
have been thrust under the noses of stripling recruits to catch their answers to
the question: 'How do you feel about some of your buddies being lost in this
sneaky operation'?....New York editorial writers would have followed
lamentations....Washington, instead of attacking, should have been
negotiating....His occupation of Trenton and quick withdrawal showed that he was
still engaged in search-and-destroy operations---following the will-o-the-wisp
of military victory...."
The tee-vee boys might have done unusual work in other wars, too. How about
a sequence in the US Civil War, entitled 'DISCIPLINE CRISIS IN THE ARMY'?
Camera pans as Irish tear up New York City in protest over the draft.
Draftees are seen running back to their farms. Captain shoots private who fails
to advance on line. Then camera zooms in on a drunken officer who is
shaggy-haired and wild looking. The camera strives to show us the lice in his
beard. He turns to the camera. A commentator questions him.
"But don't you agree this is a very dirty, unpopular war, GENERAL
ps Information suitable for this column can be mailed % Saigon Post, or
leave name on bulletin board at
(On-going Vietnam War Legacy Project. For details, see July 4 post.)
SAIGON NOTES, Aug 19, 1971 (The Saigon
Lawyer in a
Technically it may have been a midi, but MIss Dolores Donovan---known to
friends as Dede--undoubtedly filled it.
She looked up from the desk of the LMDC (Lawyers Military Defense
Committee) at 203 Tu Do St. Her hair isn't strictly red or utterly blonde, but
there's plenty of it. She can let it fall to a bohemian, or Vietnamese length.
Her face, suggestive of a higher intelligence, is womanly. A certain Praxitiles
cast to it---you might say an Athenian brow. At that momentit seemed weary:
care-worn, over-work, Vietnam blues. No-Doz or what the Victorians called
melancholy? Maybe a little of each. It changed quickly as she smiled, though.
The name rings Irish bells, but there could be a Scottish grandmother in the
line, keeping things properly sober.
Miss Donovan's home is Palo Alto. She's done a lot of living in San
Francisco and graduated from Stanford Law School in 1970. She specialized in
Constitutional Law. She was working in Paris last October when she heard about
the LMDC in Saigon and its work in defending G.I.s.
"I was interested in military law."
She could have gotten a job Stateside but decided to combine travel with
learning miliitary law.
Travel wasn't a series of plane hops from hotel to hotel. Following a route
crossed three times by this columnist, she left Istanbul by bus December 27 for
the ferry across the Bosphorus. Asia opens with immense plains, prairies,
deserts and mountains, The trip aggravates you and fascinates you.
Deserts end at the gateway to India, where Miss Donovan arrived in January
and traveled for six weeks. She hit Saigon in March and was soon employed by
LMDC is a non-profit organization incorporated in Cambridge, Mass. It's
funded by private contributions and takes cases on reccommendation from the
ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union.) The Saigon office was started in November
1970 by Henry M. Aronson. Yale graduate known for his 1965-67 Civil Rights
work in Mississippi. Other Saigon staffers include David Addlestone of
Washington, D.C, and Duke Law School, and Joseph Remcho of harvard Law School.
Secretary Susan Sherer is from New York City. This staff will be replaced by a
new one in November.
Another Saigon law firm also accepts G.I. cases, but LMDC accepts cases
Miss Donovan isn't the very first female lawyer here.
"There was a girl who worked for Kirkwood, but she left just before I got
here. She didn't do military law."
Does being a woman affect one's professional activity?
"It makes a difference with the line officers, but not the JAG (Judge
Advocate General) officers. The latter realize that a woman can be a
She is conscious about liberation movements, including the feminine
"I'm a member of Women's Liberation."
She said it firmly. I forgot to ask whether the 'W' and 'L' should be
At one time in her academic career---she majored in History and
French---she was considering a Doctorate in French Literature. She finally
decided on Law, because it seemed more vital and interesting. Bu she doesn't
plan a career in military law.
"In the future I'll never exclusively practice military law, but this
experience will be useful for civil liberties law."
She believes that in Vietnam there are many abuses of a soldier's civil
rights, due partly to the "character of the Army." She mentions pre-trial
confinement, gross curtailment of rights and JAG officers who are over-worked
and under-staffed. These things may be "unavoidable" but "that is no
Impressions of Vietnam: "It's turned out to be what I expected. The longer
I'm here, the more conscious I become of Vietnamese hostility."
Did she take this personally?
"Yes, when it's directed at me. People yelling, for example, particularly
at Tan Son Nhut."
(Not the time for me to analyze ways in which 2 million G.I.s---many of
whom would be unwelcome in neighborhoods where owners of the NY Times lived---
could affect a fairly sensitive population.)
When she returns to the States, she may join a 'law commune.' The term sort
of startled me. I must have been way behind the times.
"A law commune," she explained, "operates on a basis of equality.
Secretaries, for example, are on the same level as the lawyers. The commune is
formed for radical and civil rights cases. Members live on a subsistence
The times they are a-changing?
Female emancipation has always seemed to me to be a dull subject, yet not
without a certain border-line fascination. Was she, in fact, emancipated? No,
she explained. It was an on-going process of development, then? Yes. Even women
she knew had a long way to go. She knew two women lawyers in California who
were going through the process. Emancipation, then, seemed to be a journey, not
a goal. The goal, if any, was the journey itself.
How about idols? Were there any professional women who she espcially
admired or respect, whom she looked to for you-know-what? No.
That reply assured me that Miss Donovan is a woman.
Our interview was terminated at that point, as four Negro G.I.s entered the
office. The other lawyer had already left.
PS COMING SOON: The Talking New York Times Repertorial Blues.
PPS Tips? Contact the Mon-Wed-Fri column you won't find in Stars &
Note: This is part of a continuing series to digitize the Vietnam War legacy of reporter/columnist Daniel Cameron, especially work appearing in The Saigon Post. (See July 4 post for details.) The following is from the series 'ETCETERA' and was first published October 06, 1970.
THE HIGH COST OF KILLING
by Daniel Cameron
ETCETERA (Saigon Post, Oct. 06, 1970)
THE HIGH COST OF KILLING
by Daniel Cameron
In the Ho Bo Woods
Some grunts have education, you know. Have you been to the boonies as a
G.I. Or at least an I.G. (Instant Grunt?) If so, you may have marched with a
school teacher-grenade launcher,drank chlorinated water from the canteen of a
biology graduate, or maybe watched an air strike with a soul brother psychology
PFC Bill is from Pennsylvania. Because of his intelligence he may never
rise above PFC, but he's still a good guy. I bumped into him in the Ho Bo Woods
of Cu Chi Province. People like PFC Bill sometimes have interesting things to
say while trying to dodge the booby traps. Bill had entered d a school of
economics before entering the rice paddies.
We were out together on a two-platoon sweep in this wild hedgerow area near
the snaky Saigon River, right in the heart of booby trap country. In a bush, our
point man had discovered another of Charley's camouflaged trap doors that lead
down into a series of underground tunnels. One of our tunnel rats, Private
Ginger, volunteered to go down. Ginger found nobody home but came up with a
rusty Chicom AK-47, a Russian K-54 pistol, two bags of rice and three cans of
mackerel canned in Japan with tomato sauce. This weapons cache was Bravo
Company's main find for the day. Sometimes you do better, of course. Every hole
is a little different. Sometimes a lot different.
As usual, orders were to blow the tunnels so that Charley would have that
less many hideouts and chances for mischief. Naturally, everybody knew that
Charley woulld dig more holes somewhere else. That was part of the cat-and-mouse
Bill and I didn't mind so much. It would give us time to rest our
over-heated selves. We sat on the edge of a bomb crater while the detonating
team began work. Bill washed down his salt tablets with lukewarm canteen water.
He lit a menthol cigarette from his C-ration pack and wiped gobs of sweat off
his glasses. PFC Bill was in a lecture mood today, despite the Cu Chi sun.
"Someday," he said, "I'll have to do a thesis on the economics of Vietnam
military operations. It ought to win a humor award, anyway."
"Why's that, Bill?"
"Guess how much it costs to kill one Charley boy? Just one."
"I'm a bad guesser."
"Well, my conservative calculations say it's 199 thousand dollars. Green
"But that was three years ago. Now, with this galloping inflation...My
Bill took off his steel pot and ammo belt. The way he reached his figure of
199 thousaand per Charley sounded very complicated. Some of the professional
economy people might say the figure was too high. Then again, others might say
it was too low. PFC Bill used a lot of terms from professors, and from economics
books, but it all came down to one point: Hanoi is over-charging. It almost
sounded as if Charley boy costs more dead than alive.
Ginger popped yellow smoke and we watched the Huey chopper come down with
the load of explosives that had been ordered by radio. Five grunts from the
first platoon helped carry out the crates of forty-pound shape charges,
bangalore torpedoes, the C-4 sticks of plastique, det cords, fuses and blasting
caps. These would be used to destroy five or six holes in the ground.
PFC Bill opened his canteen again.
"Put that all together," he said, "And you have a nice $10,000 firecracker.
Charley, of course, paid maybe ten farmers and kids a nickel each to dig him
those holes...Paid, hell. He may have just pointed his bayonet...."
Sure made me think, that Bill. I suppose if a man asked a thousand dollars
to mow down ten cents worth of grass in my backyard, I'd wonder whether the dude
has all his crap together.
Bill would too. Bill also seemed to think that people who trifle with $10,
000 firecrackers are a gross insult to the nation's Gross National Product.
Especially when they fail to ram the firecracker up somebody's apparatus in
Hanoi. (He put itworse than that.) He also felt they were a gross national
insult to the grunts who had to do the actual detonating in actual booby trap
country. A grunt likes to feel that people in authority are squared-away
people. It helps, anyway. A strong jaw is good, but a strong mind is maybe even
Bill's war economizing covered the Vietnamizing business, too. He seemed to
think that even when most American combat troops leave, it will still cost many
thousands of dollars for one ARVIN to kill one Charley. At the same time it will
cost the Russians and Chinese about $1.98 a piece everytime their Charley boy
assasinates a village Chief or school teacher or Government official. Then we
pay thousands to get the killer (sometimes getting innocent civilians who
Charley boy is trained to put in our way. And in the meantime it costs the pious
protesters back home maybe 29 cents a placard (with free TV network time) to
tell us to stop killing the killers.
"I think Hanoi is overcharging something fierce," Bill said.
But if we left Vietnam and stopped payment altogether, Charley and his
gang, like any winner, would take all and we would have shown ourselves to be
history's impotent giant, or at least its biggest bungler. For if our past ten
years were all a vast and vain mistake, thousands of Americans killed in their
prime, thousands maimed, scores of billions of dollars washed away in the mud,
the nation denounced at home and abroad, then what nation ever bungled more?
Sounded like the Russian Bear and the Chinese Dragon had a good thing going
for them, anyway.
The detonating crew put ten-minute fuses on all the charges, and we cleared
out of the area. The boom came as we reached the rice paddy. We all turned and
watched the geyser of smoke, dust, clumps of earth and bits of trees fly high
and come down.
PFC Bill wiped more sweat from his glasses.
"We produce lots of big-bang firecrckers," he said, "but not many General
MacArthurs or Colonel Rheaults."
Bill may send me a copy of his thesis if he ever gets it published.
Note: This continues an Indochina Legacy series, digitizing (for scholars and researchers to come) the local reportage of Daniel Cameron in Vietnam. (Details in foreword to the July 4 post here.) The following appeared in The Saigon Post, October 06, 1970.
Mail Spies at Juspao?
A number of persons are seriously wondering whether correspondents' mail
arriving at JUSPAO is being secretly opened. They mention suspicious signs on
envelopes and packages
Having no hard evidence yet, this column is making no charges. Are the wary
individuals perhaps suffering from mild paranoia? We have no hard evidence on
Of course the mail clerks, who are obviously nice kids, are not mentioned.
What is spoken of are the "spooks" who roam JUSPAO.
SOME FEMALES IN SAIGON
Petite Eve Sharbert at AP: Southern charm is welcome in this town...Mrs. Co
at JUSPAO: With legs so shapely and smooth, it's humane that she doesn't often
wear the traditional ao dai...Hennie the Dutch airborne blonde: Good lines,
generally speaking, but her joints seem a little constricted, her bones maybe a
little tired. Too many jumps?...Gloria Emerson, New York Times: If there were no
New York Times, would Gloria feel a need to invent one?...Mary, the French and
English speaking reporter of Greek nationality, cultivator of confidences: She's
doing herself a big favor by reducing, but will Nature allow her to complete the
job?...Lisa Cronin, now Mrs. Captain Frank Wohl: Despite the bum deal she got
from AP, she has Celtic vitality and big blue eyes...Anne Bryam. Editor of
Overseas Weekly: Brittle but attractive, especially for an American woman in
Vietnam. Is she secretly a frustrated General?..Mrs. Dennis Cook at UPI: That
red Botticelli hair looks, at times, like it's on fire...Tony Pyle at AP:
Friendly, we are told, and can wield a pen...Miss Nga in the JUSPAO lobby: Cute,
dimply and theoretically pinchable.
SHARON TATE AT THE EDEN
It was a parody of the James Bond thing, old but entertaining. Plenty of
color, humor and style.
One test of a good movie is its appeal to different nationalities. This one
packed in the Vietnamese and made them laugh.
Dean Martin the title role of Matt Helm, hip secret agent,(Dubbed in
France, unfortunately.) Dean Martin knows how to be light and humorous without
ever compromising his dignity. There's a delicious karate combat scene between
Nancy Kwan and Sharon Tate.
Why must so many of the good ones die young? James Dean, Marilyn Monroe,
Montgomery Clift, and now the gorgeous redhaired Sharon, daughter of an Air
OVER THE BRINK
Eric Cavaliero, a former religion editor for the Honolulu Advertiser, was
evicted recently from the Brink Open Grille. Long hair, he was told. Yet Eric is
fairly bald. But he does have some hair on the back of his head, you see.
Naughty boy. Apparently he committed the cardinal MACV sin of letting it grow a
wee bit. So out he went. The Brink, you see, is "tightening up."
To the MACV types who are "tightening up." If you yourselves are deathly
afraid to grow hair, why not grow up? No wonder women make morons out of
HURRICANE IN VIETNAM
The Hurricane, published by H Field Force, has put out a special Cambodia
issue. The slick, glossy publication chronicles the May-June operations in
Cambodia. Many color plates. Interesting stories on General Do Cao Tri.
Oddly, the most remarkable photographs are, we think, the facial close-ups
of US Cambodian Commander, MIchael S. Davison, by someone named Joern. The
shots, illustrating an interview, reveal big patrician features resembling a
solid Roman Emperor before the period of Rome's decline.
SPIRITUAL LIFE AT AP
Now that the likes of (Pulitzer Prize) Peter Arnett are gone and (Foto
Chief) Horst Faas, now fat and famous, is largely gone, and Vietnam is
unofficially off-limits for future Pulitzers, what does Associated Press,
Saigon, do for morale food?
(Note: This is the second in a series for an on-going Vietnam War Legacy Project that began July 4. My features that appeared in The Saigon Post etc will be digitized for future reference and also posted here. (Details at July 4 post.) The following, under byline 'Daniel Cameron,' is the SAIGON NOTES column for March 15, 1970.)
by Daniel Cameron
THE 'I' HOUSE INCIDENT
Most Saigon hands remember the International House which closed down
last year on Nguyen Hue Street. You paid a $20 membership fee and then ate
low-priced steaks, drank the PX booze, played the slot machines and had
companionship. American civilians went there in droves, The place did a good
business---so good, in fact, that at least two managers are being indicted by a
federal grand jury in Los Angeles. The charge is conspiracy to defraud an
instrumentality of the US Government of hundreds of thousands of dollars. This
is according to a recent Stateside article by CLARK MOLLENHOFF.
The American Embassy here is involved because it had the authority to audit
the club and was also represented on the board of International House. This
Board was composed of officials from various US Federal agencies in Saigon. It
had the responsibility of supervising the club's finances and, presumably,
keeping the wrong hands out of the right pockets. Although no Embassy official
is implicated in any wrong-doing (aside from gross negligence) MOLLENHOFF
"The intital investigation of International House gives a clue as to how
one State Department official was able to afford Monday night parties with guest
lists as long as your arm, and still repay an old credit union debt of thousands
The International House was not an agency of the US Government. It was a
private club managed by non-Government managers. As an American official
explained to us, it wound up becoming a 'baby' of federal agencies here because
that was the only way it could get duty-free food and liquor. He said that
without these duty-free privileges the club would not have been able to serve
its 5000 members at bargain rates.
"There was a need for such a club," he said. "Almost everybody wanted it.
And so we let ourselves take the responsibility for the financial
According to MOLLENHOFF, a Justice Department audit says that "much of the
fraud was apparent, but nobody paid any attention to the evidence."
State Department auditors say the records are missing, equipment is
missing, money is missing and it's almost impossible to reconstuct financial
While official members of International House were meeting regularly in
Saigon, non-officials with hot hands were apparently having a good time
operating slot machine rackets, equipment-purchase rackets and kick-back
rackets. Liquor, meat and other foods would be bought from "favored" vendors for
as much as 30 or 40 percent more than the going market price. The vendors split
the amount of the overpricing with "key club employees."
An American official tells me, "We had no idea what was going on."
The funny or sad part is that he was probably being perfectly honest in his
reply. Did the Board of International House ever anticipate such possibilities
for hot hands in the "I" House?
MOLLENHOFF writes: "The US Embassy had the authority to audit the club, but
it did not have the specific responsibility to conduct periodic audits.
Consequently the club personnel operated with little or no supervision."
ps. Information suitable for this column can be mailed to The Saigon Post.
Or leave name on bulletin board at JUSPAO , 145