The beginning. Memories of Vietnam
My oldest memory of Vietnam was when I was still at school in England. It was called Indochina in those days. I can remember my history teacher bursting into a maths class, portable radio in his hand, crying out "Dien Bien Phu has fallen, Dien Bien Phu has fallen". This was of course in 1954.
I was 15 years old. It was the first event that pointed my way to Vietnam as the United States then became involved.
Another element in my progress to Vietnam was to find myself working in the Bahamas in 1965.
I was stationed in the Exhumas working for the U.S. office of Decca Navigator on the AUTEC Project. It was an idyllic life. How I had come to be there was a long story. Why is someone in a certain place at a certain time to meet an event that changes the course of one's life?
In June 1965 we were informed the contract had been taken over by the London office and there would be a 50% cut in personnel and for those under the U.S. office a 50% cut in salary.
I asked if there was anything else going and was told the Americans were looking for people to go to Vietnam. I said I would think about it.
Not to appear too hasty I waited five minutes and called back on the radio to say that I would volunteer.
After an absolute storm with my family who were opposed, a month in New York with my girlfriend (Where are you Laura? You were abandoned also), where every day was my last whilst waiting for a flight, I eventually arrived in Saigon at the end of July 1965.