Sunday, 4 February 2018
Visit to Bangkok: Memories of Vietnam 1965 1975
Visit to Bangkok
Bangkok airport was a hive of activity. Related to Vietnam or just normal tourist activity I can't remember. I tried to find out if there were any flights to Saigon. Nothing. All cancelled. The airport at Tan Son Nhut closed.
I went to the section that dealt with US personnel. There was nothing to Vietnam..... The last aircraft they had sent in had been fired upon and all further flights were postponed.
I then went down town and had a shower and some food. Feeling refreshed I returned to the airport and hung around for some time. Upon further enquiry I found out the Americans were going to attempt to send a plane into Tan Son Nhut. No places. Full up. I was as usual in a suit, tie, carrying my trilby hat and the inevitable furled umbrella. Maybe this helped. Always put the opposition in doubt as to who you are. The opposition of course being any kind of authority which stands in one's way. I also produced my very impressive travel orders obtained from the US Embassy in London earlier. As I had a grade of GS 12, the equivalent of major, I must have outranked a fair number of people on the flight. Whether the one I bounced off was happy about it I don't know but there wasn't one smiling face amongst the men who boarded that flight. A mixture of US army personnel and government civilians. It was a three engine Caravel. Belonging to what airline I have no idea. One of those that serviced the US government in any case.
The flight to Saigon was uneventful but there was no slow descent from the coast as usually happened. The pilot had one of those slow reassuring American drawls that I so love. Utterly relaxed. The kind of person one would give one's whole hearted support to. He announced that due to the events below and that any aircraft that attempted to land was being shot at he would do a corkscrew landing. The only thing he promised was that it would be quick.
We did land, the right way up, a few moments later. It had been quick. My heart took somewhat longer to descend from the 10,000 feet where I had left it moments before. I had arrived back in Saigon. A Saigon that was later to become my home.