Saturday, 4 August 2007
A rough crowd. Van Kiep, Baria, Phuoc Thuy Province. Memories of Vietnam
We were a pretty rough group when I first arrived in South Vietnam in July 1965. This photo of the Decca Navigator Systems Master South team must have been taken a good year later as none of the people in it were on station when I was first posted there. The station had been rather badly mortared, with interesting shrapnell holes everywhere. That was before the sandbags were put up. Once a snake got lost inside the ops room and I stopped sleeping in it for a while when I was on duty. This was the old ops room with the Decca Mk 5 chain. Later a Mk 12 would be installed at Van Kiep with a very new bunker. There is also one regular US Army fellow (with the M14) who certainly wasn't there at the begining.
There is an ex Royal Australian Airforce chap in the centre. Trevor if I remember correctly. I don't know what happened to him. I do know he took over my house in Vung Tau when I got tired of the town and moved to Long Hai. On the left is John (wearing glasses) I'm still in contact with him. I see him and his wife Nancy in Paris from time to time. The fellow at the end looked after the diesels but I can't remember his name.
We drank far too much, mostly beer. Trevor's Australian buddies were very unsafe to go out with. Decent fellows but heavy drinkers.
John and I became most civilised as time went by thank heavens. Generally though I look back on the more than two years I spent at Van Kiep (Baria, Phuoc Thuy province) with a certain nostalgia. I can't really compare it in any way with the isolated islands I had been working on in the Bahamas previously. No women on the Cays (small Bahamian Islands). Perhaps too many available in Vietnam. Or always one too many.