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Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Phan Thiet. nuoc mam & war. Memories of South Vietnam






Phan Thiet, 1965
Photos courtesy of John Hansen working with Decca Navigation Systems Inc.

Phan Thiet was known for its ‘nuoc mam’.
Its quality was not up to the standard of Phu Quoc island but the manufacturing process imprinted itself on the town. Being the national fermented fish sauce without which Vietnamese cooking could not function it was a vital part of the food chain.
The fleet of boats would put to sea most nights and from our camp we could see their myriad lights bobbing on the dark mass of the sea most nights.
Our camp wa situated on the airfield at the edge of the cliff on the southern edge of the town of Phan Thiet. With the ever present sea breeze we never suffered from the heat or humidity present elsewhere.
The dust and sand was however an ever present problem. Typical of an American camp all plants, trees and undergtrowth had been cut down and we were left with the bare earth or rather sand which got into everything.
One day a lone fisherman must have fallen asleep in his boat because he drifted into the no go area below the cliffs. The United States army opened up with a massive barrage of fire. He somehow survived and was taken to the hospital but I do not know if he lived to tell the tale. The perimeter guards were always very trigger happy. From time to time during the night they would have a Happy Hour when everyone would let fly with everything they had for a minute or two.

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