Monday, 5 May 2014
60th Anniversary of Dien Bien Phu: or why I went to Vietnam in 1965
About sixty years ago, the 7th of May 1954 if my memory is correct I was sitting in a maths class at my school, Framlingham College, Suffolk, England, when my history teacher Mr Hague, burst through the door, portable radio in his hand, crying out that Dien Bien Phu had fallen.
That led to the departure of the French from Vietnam and a gradual involvement of the United States.
Years later, June 1965, I was working in the Bahamas on the AUTEC project for the United States Navy. My company, Decca Navigator Systems, provided a hyperbolic navigational system. One day whilst working on Pipe Cay in the Exhumas I received a message that the contract had been taken over by the British with a 50% cut in salary and a 50% cut in personnel. I enquired if there was anything else going and was told they were looking for volunteers for Vietnam. I said give me 5 minutes to think about it. Which is why the next month I debarked at Tan Son Nhut airport in Saigon.
Of course all that led me to making my home in France after 1975, but that’s another story.