I straight up just received my orders for Vietnam on the day of my birthday in 1966, a great way to celebrate and spend your time on a birthday. Anyways during that time I was employed as a student mentor in the United States Army Radio Operators School in California. As a student, I passed my class and was granted to stay at the academy as a mentor rather than being dispatched to another group and maybe to Vietnam. During the time, I realized my post was a safe way out of the war. Sadly, my time in position of responsibility at the school did not last very long due to the fact that the U.S. was in the deep of a massive growth of units in a pointless try to save the helpless government of the Republic of South Vietnam. Later on, after getting my assignment, taking a 30 day leave, I had report to Oakland, California, to fly to Vietnam. We had to make our first stop in Hawaii and we had refuel and were not allowed to leave the terminal. Hawaii is so fascinating to be around that if the units were given any time to look around, less than half would have made it back to the airport for the next stage of the flight. We finally arrived at our next stop that was in Okinawa for another refueling. When I say refueling it shouldn't just be the plane but us too we need refueling that should include food,and drinks. The men on board the Braniff Airlines charter flight used up everything that wasn't guaranteed to be successful. The poor attendants literally walked across the Pacific while they brought food and drinks to the passengers. They got no chance but to have a sit except for takeoff and landing.Then what seemed like forever we finally arrived at Ton Son Nhut Airport in Saigon. While leaving the plane the first thing you really notice is the noise, smell and humidity. Theres Vietnam for ya.
They transported us to Camp in Saigon for just for the night. Camp was being stepped out and was replaced by the 90th Replacement Battalion at Long Binh, which was still being developed, they were taking troops in even though with the lack of proper facilities.
The transportation for the troops were protected by Air Force enlisted airmen. In addition, the person who drives the vehicle were two Air Force enlisted airmen, who walked up and down the path trying to make us exchange our “greenback” for the local “Dong”. They would even say to give a more rate of trade than the military could give. Then later, I did find that there was a very active “Black Market” in American dollars throughout Vietnam. Because the enemy (Viet Cong) were using dollars on the international market to purchase ammunition, all soldiers were not allowed to use this currency. Instead we had to exchange our dollars for Vietnamese currency or US issued Military Payment Certificates.
Later, I found out that many of the career enlisted soldiers saw the war in Vietnam as a method to earn money. These were not the grunts (frontline infantry soldiers) from Korea or WWII, but the number Sgt. and...