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dreamcatcher27371
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Posts: 17
(6/8/01 9:20:55 pm)
| Del All Memories of a Vietnamese Sailor #2
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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
Doc).

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......)
 
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