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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Road to Baria: part 1: Vietnam notes & photos 1965 1975

The Road to Baria: part 1

I mentioned earlier that we always travelled by air. That is to say all our official trips were made by air. Whatever journeys I made by road were completely unauthorized and if I had vanished nobody would have been any the wiser. However we had to go to Van Kiep by road when we lived in Vungtau. The French had had a convoy wiped out on this road, but this was unlikely to happen to the US with their air power. The Vietcong did blow up the bridges periodically and once mortared the airfield at Vungtau.

At first we travelled by these three wheeled vehicles. The Vietnamese would put eight or ten people in. We travelled alone. It was not an unpleasant journey. Once though coming off duty all I could find was one loaded with charcoal which took days to clean off my body.

We were then sent some official transport. We should have had a jeep and a three quarter ton truck per station. No stations received any jeeps and it was said our US major lent them all out to his friends for favours (I think the figure was fourteen). We were given US military driving licences without asking us if we could drive. I had to pick the truck up one evening from the airfield. In the dark I couldn't find the lights nor could I find the reverse. I managed to drive it back to the mess. We then used it as transport to go to Van Kiep. I should add here that the camp was called Van Kiep and the town nearby, the provincial capital, was called Baria, the province being called Phuc Thuy.
While the US would only drive this road in an armed two vehicle convoy we usually drove alone. Sometimes there were two of us, often just one. I am trying to remember the distance. I will say about twenty or twenty five miles until someone corrects me. It was the big white star on the side of the vehicle that worried me. Later we bought our own cars which improved things considerably.

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