Sunday, 27 July 2008
United States bombing and relations with the Vietnamese
Air strikes were frequent during this period.
I rather have the impression that a large part of the town of Phan Thiet that was destroyed was the result of the use of American bombing, in particular the fires caused by the use of napalm.
When one was very close to heavy bombing it had an effect on one’s nerves. I didn’t take any photos then. Like everyone else I was otherwise occupied.
It’s difficult to remember the feelings of the Vietnamese towards us.
In Saigon things were very political. In the countryside sometimes the locals were hostile, although not outwardly so. One just felt one wasn’t liked. We had very little dealings with the Vietnamese in the town. In Van Kiep and Phuoc Thuy province I had with difficulty made some friends. Here the atmosphere wasn’t right. I got on well enough with the military. Perhaps the Vietnamese civilians, if not pro Viet Cong, didn’t like the fact that it was American might that was destroying their homes.
Once when I was driving our military vehicle over a bridge I had a small accident. The car in front of me stopped without warning and I ran into it. It was of course my fault so I had to pay up in cash on the spot. The car behind me ran into me. That of course was my fault so I had to pay up as well. The reason it was my fault in both cases was the big white star on the side of the vehicle. This was a ¾ ton. Our major had given all the jeeps away to his friends in Saigon so up country on the stations we had none. Mind this ¾ ton was a fairly safe feeling vehicle. Once I’d paid everyone was happy. Much simpler in a way than on the roads in France where I live now.