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Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Goodbye Van Kiep: notes, photos and memories of Vietnam 1965 1975

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Goodbye Van Kiep

At about the time the new colonel arrived there were some US army engineers doing some construction work on the American compound. They were very undisciplined and amongst other things either didn't shave or tried to grow beards. The new US colonel blamed this on my beard giving a bad example. He banned me from the mess. I had been on the base for over two years and he only two weeks.

I was by this time rather tired. I had only had one proper weeks leave and needed a breath of fresh air. I could probably have carried on quite well without the messing facilities but we had always had very good relations with the army at the camp but were in no way subject to their dress code. I had always considered myself very correctly dressed, always in clean pressed khaki drills when I came on or off duty, plus my beret or bush hat. So I said good bye to Van Kiep never to set foot there again. When a year later I was ordered back I refused and went to Tay Ninh instead.

I went to Saigon and became one of those odd bods who hung around the office for some time before deciding to leave the country on long leave.

During this time the new colonel killed himself whilst driving down the road to Vung Tau at night without lights at high speed and slammed into a broken down lorry. Rather a waste to get killed that way when he could have been honourably killed in battle.

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