Memories of a Vietnamese Sailor #10
(6/25/01 9:26:20 am)
| Del All Memories of a Vietnamese Sailor #10
Ms. Gorilla, oh Ms. Gorilla! Technically, Ha Tien was, and still is, a province just like any other province: Rach Gia, My Tho, Nha Trang, Da Nang etc… but Ha Tien was very poor and small too. Most of the locals were either fishermen or peasants with a small band of merchants who traded illegally with Cambodia. Three languages could be used in Ha Tien: Vietnamese, Chinese and Cambodian. There was not much entertainment is Ha Tien. We spend most of our time-off getting drunk and visited Ms. Gorilla. One summer night, Swifties and other sailors from a gunboat (from Saigon) asked Ms. Gorilla to join us at a small restaurant and asked her to strip dance for us, which she did but during the … party, VC started lobbing 82MM into Ha Tien, the army returned fire with 105 MM. The owner of the restaurant asked us to leave so we left with a case of 33-beer, the table and Ms. Gorilla. We got to the dock and asked Ms. Gorilla to continue her … duty. She did. (I am wondering if she is still around now.) Luckily nobody got hurt during this episode. Our ears, however, were hurt from hearing so much cussing and rapping from our officers for being … stupid. During this time we heard that South Vietnam started to attack communist’s supply bases all over Cambodia; we also heard that Cambodians killed a lot of Vietnamese who had lived in Cambodia and let those dead bodies float toward Vietnam. We were put on high alert.
One morning we saw South Vietnam construction army showed up and started building a pontoon to connect Ha Tien with the other side of Vietnam (Ha Tien is separated from Vietnam by the river). By the way, uncle Ho’s wicked nephews were still using this pontoon when I visited Ha Tien in 1998. Soon we saw the 16th Armor Detachment and the 21st Infantry Division crossing the pontoon heading toward the Vietnam-Cambodia border. We then received order to go out to sea and head toward Cambodia. I believe our first mission was to secure the coastal area and to provide supports for the 21st Infantry Division and the 16th Armor Detachment. We cruised up and down the coast of Cambodia (along the resort town named Kep) for a few days. My OinC (new one) got tired of cruising and eating C-Ration so he decided to beach the town hoping to find fresh food. We beached and four of us with M16 on hands walking on the road that ran along the beach. We then encounter a group of South Vietnam army from the 21st Infantry Division; we asked them if there were any fresh food we could find. They just laughed and said that the whole town is deserted and that there were only a few Cambodians left and they were servants to the rich and powerful Cambodian. We later learned that Prince Shihanook, Lonnol, and other powerful Cambodians’ houses were right on the beachfront. We proceeded and saw a group of cows; we stopped and waited until one guy came by on a bicycle. We then asked to whom those cows belonged? That person told us that he did not know but he was sure that the owner had already left town. Our OinC then told us: Okay, we’re tired of eating C Ration and now we encounter a group of cows; I’d suggest that we take one and make good meals out of it. We took one.
We got the second order to go into Cambodia to rescue Vietnamese, this time the whole Swift group gather with Yabutas, LCM, Ferro-Cement Boats etc…. We came in in-force. The town is on the other side of the north-end of Phu Quoc Island. We came in and out without incidence; on the way out we carried full-load of Vietnamese (mine carry at least 35 persons). We unloaded our “cargo” in Ha Tien.
(To be continued...)
Note: Ms. Gorilla was a famous(infamous) prostitute in Ha Tien. She kept the market up in ampicillin, bicillin, and tetracycline...