Sunday, 2 January 2011
Memories of Vietnam: part 74: Photos, notes from 1965 1975
The French Fort: Tay Ninh 74
Tay Ninh was about sixty miles North West of Saigon, not far from the Cambodian border. It was a town that I would have liked to get look at more closely but I never really had the chance.
Decca was based in an old French fort.
It had the usual two Decca technicians plus about seven or eight US military from the 16th Signals Company. We were operating the Mark 12 system. I had used it in the Bahamas, but that had been some time before and I had to get to know it again.
However when I arrived everybody was occupied with the more mundane task of filling up sandbags and building a defensive wall. Evidently the threat of an imminent attack was taken very seriously. Shortly before they had received two direct hits from mortar rounds on the roof of the ops room. Luckily, since the installation of the no doubt more valuable Mark 12 equipment the sand bagged protection had been re-enforced. I have a few photos of our old ops room in Van Kiep and the sandbags were in a pitiable state. Now they mixed them with cement, which evidently hardened with the rains and did not seep away. They had also been shaken up not too long previously when a store of captured Viet Cong ammunition blew up. This had been kept in a shed not far from the ops room and blew up one day for some reason or the other. Nobody hurt or injured luckily.
In the fort we had a troop of US 106mm recoilless rifles.We did not really mix with them. Security was provided by a force of Khmer Serei with their US advisers. These were free Cambodian mercenaries. Free from what I don't know nor from which side of the frontier. However they did salute me whenever I drove in or out of the fort which was more than the Vietnamese soldiers had done at Van Kiep. There I had found them bordering on the insolent, but perhaps that had been to do with deeper undercurrents between the Vietnamese army and the Americans.