Memories of a Vietnamese Sailor #2

Discussion in 'The VMBB True Story Tellers' started by Guest, Feb 26, 2003.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Posts: 17
    (6/8/01 9:20:55 pm)
    | Del All Memories of a Vietnamese Sailor #2
    The Fall of Saigon --
    I am more than happy to share with my all of my brothers my feelings relative to the fall of South Vietnam (Saigon too). I
    believe that all of you are my older brothers for I am only 50 year young. I try my best to describe my feelings and I hope that my writing will not offend anyone.

    I ask for your indulgence for the story may be long
    and I may jump from one event to another because this
    is the first time I ever put my thoughts, feelings,
    experiences, angers, and frustrations regarding my
    (our) loss in Vietnam in writing. At time I may sound
    cynical, but please understand that I only attempt to
    portrait what happened in the pass and how I thought
    and still think about it now. I do know that this is
    my personal account; therefore, it contains bias and
    emotional recount. Further more, I may use some
    four-letter words to quote certain phrases (mine and
    others) to reflect the true situations and feelings.
    If my writing offends any of my brother/sister, please
    accept my apologies, for they are unintentional.

    South Vietnam was commanded, of course, by the
    government in Saigon; militarily Vietnam was divided
    into four tactical groups: The first tactical group
    was responsible for the area from the 17 parallel
    (DMZ) to Da Nang; the second tactical group was
    responsible from Nha Trang to Da Nang; the third
    tactical group was responsible from Saigon to Nha
    Trang, and the fourth region was responsible for the
    delta region that most, if not all of us Swifties, are
    familiar with (this includes Ca Mau, Ha Tien and Chau

    We relied heavily on air and sea (7th Fleet) supports
    during the war, but after the American pulled out, air
    support was limited for we did not have enough bombers
    and attack aircraft to support the four regions.
    Additionally, we had to limit our use of ammo. In my
    unit, we had to trade empty casings for fresh bullets,
    so, after any battle; we had to collect casings and
    brought them back to the base to exchange for fresh
    bullets (imagine the justifications one must come up
    with if some casings fell in the water; yeah, we
    swallowed empty casings by accidence).

    I served on Swift from 1969 to 1971 and then I was
    transferred to Saigon to work in the Naval Central
    Accounting unit. The transfer puzzled me because I
    was trained as a gunner, but then how comes I was
    transfer to Central Accounting Unit. I later learned
    that my buddy, who used to work with me in An Thoi and
    later, became an officer in the Naval Personnel in
    Saigon. This person pulled some strings to bring me
    back to Saigon (without my knowledge). I did not fit
    well in Saigon (where I grew up) with the structure
    environment, I guess it was a "Swifty's instinct" in
    me that made me unfit for working in a structured
    environment. In addition, I abhorred those soldiers
    who stationed in and around Saigon (their families got
    money to buy their positions and units) so I often
    got in "conflict" with those guys. One day I learned
    that the commander of my unit (a colonel) prepared the
    paperwork to send me to Cua Viet (DMZ/17th Parallel)
    to serve in Yabuta (as a punishment to me for not
    being a "model" sailor in Saigon). I called my buddy
    in Naval Personnel to ask him to do something to
    lessen the blow because I did not want to go to Cua
    Viet. There were two area that the South Vietnamese
    Navy used to send "bad boys" to: Cua Viet and An Thoi;
    and I prefer to go back to An Thoi to Serve on PCF
    again. My buddy was not able to send me to serve to
    PCF at An Thoi but he was able to send me to An Thoi
    to serve on the support base in late 1972 where I
    served in the ammo depot until the end.

    In or about 1972 Thai (president) made a tactical
    decision to move the Marine Crop headquarters to Hue
    (first region); therefore all of the Marine Crop
    divisions moved north and their main mission was to
    defend Hue and the DMZ (the first, second and third
    army divisions had been there all along since the
    beginning of the republic).

    Airborne divisions were responsible for the third
    region that encompassed Saigon. My personal opinion
    is Thai did not trust the Marines. In fact, Thai
    personally stationed one Airborne regiment right in
    downtown Saigon just to . protect him, his family, and
    his presidential palace.

    Two or three months before the April 30, 1975 fateful
    date, Charlies and their cohorts from the North cross
    the DMZ and attack all provinces and villages. The
    region that got the least, relatively speaking, attack
    was the fourth (delta region) including An Thoi, Ca
    Mau, Chau Doc, My Tho, Chuong Thien etc.. We were all
    very nervous, anxious, and confused. I was in An Thoi
    and left An Thoi 3 hours after general Big Ming (who
    became president 3 days before) announced the
    surrender of the South Vietnam Arm Forces.

    During the weeks and days leading to April 30, 1975,
    we were all hoping that the US somehow would get
    involved again. I actually hoped that at least the US
    ought to bomb "their" supply routes to slow their T54
    (tank) and trucks advances; but when it became clear
    that the US did not want to get involved again, we
    turned to another hope and that was: US congress
    would approve an emergency aid package of about over
    500 (or 700) million dollars in weaponry (requested by
    president Ford) to us so that we could fight on, the
    US congress voted down the request from president
    Ford. We knew deep in our hearts then that we were
    doomed. However, we continued to fight on.
    (To be continued......)