I don’t know what happened to my previous Blog that non of the Pictures were visible but here’s a revised Blog with pictures.
Belay that last Blog!
Life in a War Zone wasn’t to bad, at least for me. Things were changing here in Danang. The USO set up Entertainment for us in an old Building that the Seabees remodeled and made usable. They had Ping Pong Tables, Pool tables, a grill that provided Lousy American food cooked by Vietnamese like hamburgers and Hot Dogs, Plus a variety of Oriental Food mostly Vietnamese Cuisine. They also had a good Library of reading material and a place where yo could listen to Music other than what the Armed forces were Broadcasting.
Basically Danang was “OFF LIMITS” to Military personnel but you could travel thru it and only stop at Military Billets of Offices or the USO to eat or pick up some reading Material or a few Candy bars.
Danang was a open sewer! Sewage flowed thru the streets via the gutters on either side. These were referred to as French drains as they were the ones who built them back in the early 50’s.
Water was obtained from open wells located on the corners of intersections of streets . People would Bathe there and draw water for their personnel use to cook with or do laundry.
Open Markets were strewn throughout the City offering everything from Clothes to fruits and vegetables and Souvenirs Currency was the local Vietnamese Dong or the American dollar that if you used it to make a purchase, you never got your change back, plus the chance you’d get caught being “Off Limits”
Souvenirs were out of the question,If caught with one it was a sure Captains mast for being “Off Limits.” The same if you came down with a Venereal Disease, being Danang was the only place you could contract it.
There where a lot of Kodak Moments in and around Danang and the Harbors and China Sea areas. The use of a camera was limited to non-military areas.
Most people welcomed you to take a picture of themselves and would sometime posed for you. Developing your pictures was another thing. All film rolls dropped off at the PX went to Hawaii for developing and took about two weeks before you got them back. You could have them developed locally by a business in Danang but you also took the chance of being caught in town and you know what that brought you, plus not getting your pictures back.
Christmas of 1967 we received a notification that the USO was coming to Danang with the Bob Hope Show and everyone was trying to make sure that they were going to be around for it. But the Powers to be were keeping quiet about it for Security reasons and would inform us of the time it was going to be presented. When our Division was notified, we made a beeline over to the area where the show was going to be held. When we got there we were amazed of how many marines were already there. I guessed about 10,000. They kept it a secret from the navy, but not anyone else. Damn, I forgot my Camera, but luckily I had my Movie camera. I got some good shots of Bob Hope, Jerry Calonna, Ann Margaret, Anita Bryant, Phyllis Diller, Vic Damone, Connie Stevens and Les brown and his band of renown as they left the show and traveled to their waiting Helicopters. It had rained and everything was coated in Mud and if you could imagine 10,000 people tramping around the area what the ground looked like.
Our new Division Building was right off the Beach from the China Beach Hospital and we often would would spent some of our free time visiting the Wounded that were flown in daily from the Field. One day while I was over there a Celebrity showed up also to visit with the troops. I was so excited as it was Robert Mitchum the Actor. I got to talk to him briefly and held a get- together with some of the Doctors and nurses and several of us who were there. I asked him what it was to act along side Debra Kerr, referencing the movie “Heaven Knows Mr. Allison”, he said, “Son, That is one talented and Beautiful Lady”.
The USO tours and the visits by celebrities like Robert Mitchum did a lot to help the Moral over here.