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Saturday, 14 April 2007

The end of Decca, Tan Son Nhut, Saigon, South Vietnam

Fred dropped round to see me one morning. Under the circumstances he was remarkably calm. Somebody had thrown a grenade into his bedroom window. This was on the first floor (English style). Very luckily for some reason a few days before he, his wife and young child, who usaually slept in that room had changed to another room at the back of the house. They escaped unharmed when the grenade exploded.
What infuriated him was that when he went round to the police the following morning they laughed and more or less said crazy Americans shouldn't play with live grenades. He never did find out if it had been Viet Cong, a personal vendetta or just plain hooligans.
At the office we had all been hoping for a telegram renewing our contract but towards the end of June 1969 we had one saying everything would be wrapped up by July 1st and the operation and the office at Tan Son Nhut closed down. We all went our seperate ways, but in fact stayed on in Vietnam until other events would intervene.
To my knowledge nobody from the London office remained. At that time there were none under contract in Vietnam, but I always had the feeling their first loyalty was to the company, Decca, and not to the country they were working in. A good life for a bachelor who liked travelling the world. The Americans were of two varieties. Those that signed up for a short contract and then moved on to other things, and those that started to grow roots and become attached to Vietnam. A distinct minority perhaps.

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