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Saturday, 24 March 2007

Odds & ends from Phan Thiet, Vietnam

I was driving back to the camp when I noticed some activity at the begining of the cemetery.
I stopped and observed the situation with a mixed group of Vietnamese military and police.
Montagnards were slowly advancing from our camp down through the graves towards a building to our left. Huey helicopter gunships started coming in and firing their rockets from behind us, over our heads, and at the building. Viet Cong were holding out inside.
Personally I felt more threat at that moment from our own choppers than I did from the VC. I think they were using 2.75inch rockets fired from pods attached to the choppers. They had a crack that played on my nerves. Every time they fired my knees jerked much to the amusement of a somewhat overweight policeman standing next to me. At one moment everybody in the group seemed to open fire at something or someone. As ever, my reactions were slow and the target had either moved on or been eliminated by the time I understood what was happening. Tiring of this I took my chance and drove at speed back through the cemetery to our camp higher up.
One afternoon a few days later there was the sound of massive firing at our backs. We learnt that the guard posts along the perimeter had seen a boat aproaching the no go zone which stretched out from the bottom of the cliffs for about two hundred yards. Later it transpired that a local fisherman had probably fallen asleep and drifted towards shore. Grievously wounded he was taken to the base hospital. I don't know if he survived.
We were told to start preparing for the installation of the Mark12 station. Life started to return to normal. I was able to obtain an M2 carbine to replace the Swedish K the Saigon police had taken off me. This was a standard arm in Vietnam and actually one I liked due to its lightness.
We tried to get hold of a couple of maids. Long negotiation with the camp security officer, a sergeant major, originally from England. From time to time I met a few English doing there military service with the US army.

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