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Wednesday, 28 March 2007

From Saigon to Tay Ninh: Vietnam memories

There were all sorts of rumours flying round the office. It was strange that at the very moment we were expanding everything began to fall apart. The Central Chain was now functioning. We were modernising. The Southern Chain had been converted from the Mark 5 to the Mark 12. The military were now more or less operating the system, with us in an advisory role.
There were questions being raised on the use of Decca. Was it efficient under these conditions? Was it the best navigational system available? Was it too expensive?
We had been operating at three or four people per station. I had heard though that the US Defense Department were paying for ten people per station. Was this true? If so its not so surprising that the military used ten. Two or three were quite sufficient with a small reserve at HQ for emergencies. The sick rate was quite high. There was another rumour that our US major had taken his general's girl friend joy riding in his, the major's, helicopter. This had upset the general at a delicate time. A lobbyist had come out from our office in Washington to promote our case.
It was probably all related to the Americans taking a closer look at where their money was going before in fact deciding most of it was being wasted which would lead to the begining of their withdrawl. Perhaps we were just another casuality of the Viet Cong Tet offensive. I always believe it was much better before when we were only a small project of curiosity value.
I was asked if I would go to Tay Ninh, Red South station. I agreed. I took a flight in a C123 from Tan Son Nhut and set off again.

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