From:  Jim White   (Never mailed)

   Dated:  December 12, 2019
Subject:  Saigon and Other Tales...

I saw free use of the outdoors as a toilet regularly by all ages in Korea in the 1950s.   And of children doing the same in Japan through the early 1960s.  The 1964 Tokyo Olympics provided the Japanese Government with an incentive to ban the practice.  Even so, as late as 1974 when we first moved to Osakasayama we often saw a grandmother take her two or three year old grandson out for a walk.  And, if the kid had to wee-wee, she would hold him out over a roadside ditch so he could do his thing.  This upset the wife greatly but I rather ignored it.

Related to this, Japan, until the 1964 Olympics had a problem with what they called "yellow mist."   Commuter trains in Japan do not have toilets, but the long distance trains do.   Unfortunately they were typical-of-day holes in the floor squat toilets  and did not have a tank or floor to catch whatever,  This was not much of a problem with solid waste which would fairly straight down, but urine would be caught by the wind and often be blown sideways outside the tracks.  With little space, there were many homes built almost right up to the tracks and the resulting "yellow mist" was a real problem.  Again, the 1964 Olympics and the introduction of the bullet trains the same year required that the National Railroads enclose the toilets which were then emptied properly when the trains were at a station.  

    From:  Robert Wilford

   Dated:  December 12, 2019
Subject:  Saigon and Other Tales...

I too saw the women in Saigon and Nha Trang.  And New York City…she came out of a walkup, ran to the closest subway grate, lifted her skirt, and much to the fascination of my wife and her niece completed her mission.

    From:  Rick Fredericksen
   Dated:  December 11, 2019
Subject:  Saigon and Other Tales...

Thanks Jim, glad to have more comments and you have some good ones. I had missed that he called the Saigon River the Mekong. FYI, the Majestic does have a roof garden restaurant, though not as spectacular as the Rex or the Caravelle. Gen. Swarzkopf was up there (at the Majestic) when the My Canh floating restaurant was bombed in 1965. It was his first night in country as a young officer. He leaned out over the railing in time to see the second bomb detonate, tossing fleeing customers into the river. I have also stayed at the Majestic and eaten at the roof garden and can confirm it was still in operation as of last year. Hope others can weigh in. 
Rick Fredericksen

Saigon and Other Tales

December 2019

    From:  Bob Peetz

   Dated:  December 14, 2019

Subject:  Saigon and Other Tales...

Yes, but I wouldn’t be believed if I told you what they were: Seaplanes at Cam Ranh Bay, A4s at Cu Chi.  Google: JATO Vietnam and you will get an idea of it.


    From:  Steve Sevits

   Dated:  December 12, 2019
Subject:  Saigon and Other Tales...

Steep glide path? Bullshit: a 45° angle of descent is pure nonsense, this would be an aircraft descending one foot of altitude for every foot forward it traveled.  This would result in  a crash. 
A conventional glide-slope is frequently 4 or five degrees. I speak as someone who holds a commercial pilots license (over 40 years experience) as well as an instructor rating, today I serve on the FAA Safety Team. 
There are other ways of dumping altitude quickly such as a forward slip which leaves the aircraft at far less than a forty-five degree angle, and if you want to learn more about aircraft control go take a flying lesson. 
There used to be an aviation approach to the old Kai Tek Airport in Hong Kong which required a near 45° TURN on final approach, but this was a turn in the horizontal plane, effecting direction of the aircraft. 
Quizzing fellow aviation people at the FAA, nobody has ever heard of an intentional 45° angle of descent. To the uninitiated some descents may appear far steeper than they are. 
Pulling up abruptly from such a steep descent to effect a landing would likely tear the wings off of the aircraft. 
This passage about the steep descent alone causes me to think the war correspondent narrative as uninformed at best, which causes one to question the substance of the entire piece. 
Steve Sevits 


    From:  Brian Wickham
   Dated:  December 12, 2019
Subject:  Saigon and Other Tales...

There were comments that no one ever saw anyone defecating in the street. Actually I did and have a photo to prove it. Granted this is a child which is a lot different than saying he saw an adult. I do have a memory of seeing an older woman, probably urinating, in the street. She was squatting and covered her eyes with one hand, I presume for modesty’s sake! 
Brian Wickham

    From:  Rick Fredericksen
   Dated:  December 11, 2019
Subject:  Saigon and Other Tales...

Nice legwork Bob Wilford in tracking down Lyle Davis online. I have some observations that cast some skepticism on Mr. Davis's claims but I will give him the benefit of the doubt since I was there only in 69-70 and not a foreign correspondent until the postwar years. 
Is it not odd that he would he not reveal who he was working for? Even if he was a stringer and worked for numerous editors, one would think he would mention at least one news operation that bought his freelance work. Granted, there were thousands of accredited reporters, producers, photographers, etc. during the war. Some were there for days or weeks. But naming an agency or two would have given him much more authority. 
I never saw any Vietnamese civilians poop in the median of a road, or anywhere. He quotes his driver as saying it was not all that unusual. In San Francisco maybe, but I didn't witness it in Saigon. Neither did I see traffic accident victims unattended along the road. 
I knew lots of civilian correspondents during the war and none of them could simply call for a car. Arranging air travel yes, to get into the field and cover the war, but never heard of ground transportation on-call. 
I have never heard of watching/hearing tank fire from the Majestic Hotel. The other side of the river was pretty wild and where rockets were fired from, so I cannot discount it---just never heard anyone mention tanks at that location. They were in Saigon during Tet, or at the presidential palace during a coup, and of course NVA tanks on Tu Do and the Palace the end of April 1975. 
The graph about getting a friends military brother out of the jungle to become his assistant for two weeks is far-fetched. Pulling some strings to have him assigned as his press aide? Come on. 
Frankly, it sounds like someone who has read a lot about Vietnam---or had too many Mai Tai's at the Continental---and strung together lots of the time worn highlights to build a boastful story: danger,  prostitutes, the press corps, 5 O'clock Follies, a famous hotel, visiting wounded in a hospital (MASH units were in Korea, not Vietnam), aircraft cork-screwing down to land, eating exotic jungle meat, etc....... 
Lastly, this is a time when it is popular to be a Vietnam Veteran. Fake POWs are being revealed. Why not a fake Vietnam war correspondent? Thank you for your service. Still, lots of other points in Mr. Davis's story ring true. I even wore one of those reporter suits with the cargo pockets. It was a long war and my time did not overlap with his so he could have had entirely different experiences. I hope he is genuine----and joins this AFVN group. 
Rick Fredericksen


    From:  Bob Peetz

   Dated:  December 13, 2019
Subject:  Saigon and Other Tales...

They are known as combat or tactical landings. 
Her is a link to a C-130 practicing one -
https://youtu.be/Ca3NFShK5Xs - watch the horizon. 
Google it – plenty more videos. 
I worked on 130s at Tan Son Nhut for about a year, never saw anybody do one over Saigon. 
When C-5s approached, it was a long slow approach. It’s really not an airframe that does tactical landings very well. 
We never ventured close enough to problem areas in our KC-135s to warrant doing them, but the C-130s & fighters do them regularly in the Mid-East. 
Handheld & Ground to air missiles have gotten a lot better since Vietnam.


    From:  Stan Pratt

   Dated:  December 12, 2019
Subject:  Saigon and Other Tales...

I too remember though did not photograph older women urinating on the streets in Saigon and in some other towns and villages. 
Stan


    From:  Steve Pennington

   Dated:  December 14, 2019

Subject:  Saigon and Other Tales...

There were sea planes in Vietnam. They were Grumman HU-16 Albatros used mostly for search and rescue, and could get pretty close to the beach.

SLP

    From:  Jim Anderson
   Dated:  December 11, 2019
Subject:  Saigon and Other Tales...

Not having any experience as a new correspondent, newscaster, or anything remotely related, I was going to stand down and let others with more knowledge than mine comment on this item.  And gratefully they have. To me it started to give off an odor at the beginning with no dates in-country  or employer provided. I made several commercial landings at TSN, including Pan Am, and never experienced a 45 degree glide path. MACV providing airport pick up for a civilian correspondent?  That wouldn't seem likely even if he was already  credentialed. Transportation would normally be provided with whatever (unnamed) news organization he was affiliated with. MACV HQS in the Majestic Hotel, a real laughter.  The Majestic is not on the Mekong River, it was simply the Saigon River. I only stayed in the Majestic one night, I don't recall  a rooftop bar, and I ate and drank on the ground floor.  His rooftop bar comments sound familiar to the many references that have been made to both the REX and Caravelle Hotels. Never saw any public defecation or dead bodies on the streets of Saigon. A VN man could just walk in from the street into MACV HQS, the civilian press exempt from curfew, more nonsense. The only references I ever heard of "Disneyland East" was as a negative description of MACV HQS. As for giving up his story, there was more than a few articles done on "Sin City" An Khe.  A lesser known group of similar establishments was "Fairyland" Lai Khe. I totally agree that this story is probably a composite of numerous articles written by several, if not numerous, correspondents that have actually had these experiences.  Plus a few additional "enhancements". But enough, I owe Mr. Davis (if that's his real name) thanks for a few laughs! 
Jim A.

    From:  Robert Wilford

   Dated:  December 13, 2019

Subject:  Saigon and Other Tales...

Yeah, I sent a message to that clown that I had been on one of those “special” angled landings. I never said 45 degrees, and it probably was not that steep, just felt like it. 
No warning or explanation from the cockpit, just a dive that felt a  lot like a crash to me. Guy in the next seat was coming back on his sixth trip and told me what was going on (he was in the  middle of telling me about the Dawnbuster show on AFVN). He tried to be nonchalant but even if you know it’s coming it’s “thrilling”

    From:  Jim White

   Dated:  December 14, 2019

Subject:  Saigon and Other Tales...

I don't know if it was a 45 degrees or what, but I experienced a C-130 or C-133 landing at Quang Tri in 1970 that came down so fast and hard that the shocks went down but never came back up.  It was just a flat squat.

    From:  Bob Morecook
   Dated:  December 11, 2019
Subject:  Saigon and Other Tales...

Sounds about right.  A bunch of us went to the five o'clock follies and not much happened there. The real stories were in the field.

Bob M


    From:  Rick Fredericksen

   Dated:  December 13, 2019
Subject:  Saigon and Other Tales...

Bob, I watched a C-130 in a JATO take off once. Don't remember where but it was a demo only. Spectacular, and probably close to 45 degrees, take off only, of course. Was Jet Assisted Take Off ever deployed in Vietnam, to you knowledge?
Rick Fredericksen


    From:  Robert Wilford
   Dated:  December 11, 2019
Subject:  Saigon and Other Tales...

Well he is  not hiding. He’s all over social media. Claims he was a radio broadcaster for 25 years, and a “war correspondent” in Vietnam 1967 and 68. Google “Lyle Davis And Vietnam” and you’ll get his profile, twitter address, facebook link, etc. He is the “editor and publisher” of “The Paper” in Escondido, CA. He has a weekly blog, “Lyle-lylesplace.blogspot.com. Google “’the Paper-Escondido” and you’ll f ind the last six issues of the paper as well as the current one. Claims he was anti-war, but many articles are pro vet. Mostly reprints others work, so I couldn’t find much in the way of original thought or samples of writing. There is, or at least used to be, a “military friendly” radio station in Escondido as it was one of the stations that ran my show in l967-68  which was produced at the studio at MCRD San Diego as part of the PIO offices productions. I’d bet there is a likely platform for him….. 
Bob Wilford


    From:  Jim Anderson

   Dated:  December 11, 2019

Subject:  Saigon and Other Tales...

This was forwarded to me today.  Obviously a mixture of fact and fiction. 


On Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 04:44:23 AM PST, Lyle Davis 
Sunday, December 9, 2018 

From time to time I have people ask me, "what was it like, being a war correspondent?" 

Lots of Memories. 

As we approached Saigon we knew were would be landing at Tan Son Nhut air base, just outside of Saigon. We had been warned that our landing would be unusual. Instead of the low, steady glide you normally experience when landing at an airport we would approach the runway, then point the nose of the aircraft at about a 45 degree angle downward and only pull up and level out as we approached the outer limits of the runway. 
Reason for this? We were involved in guerilla warfare and Saigon was surrounded by jungle. Viet Cong learned quickly that they could take out any aircraft if/when it made a traditional landing, entering the landing pattern and then slowly descending until the plane made touchdown. Rifle fire, machine gun fire, RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenades) - all were used to knock our aircraft out of the sky. 
I arrived at Tan Son Nhut via Pan American airlines. Fairly comfortable flight for a long, long plane ride. 
Upon arrival I was met by a jeep and driver from MACV (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam). For the moment, I was a big shot. A member of the press who had come to report on the war. Once we were credentialed and headed out on assignment we were just another working stiff As we drove into Saigon from the airport I was conscious of my surroundings. The buildings, storefronts, vendor stalls, etc., reminded me a lot of Tijuana, Baja Mexico. Dusty, dirty, hot and very humid. 
I saw one sight that has stayed with me to this day. A rather abrupt change in cultural activities that quickly taught me I was now in a different world. As we drove into Saigon I witnessed an older Vietnamese woman stop in the median of the road way, drop her pajama trousers, squat and take a dump! 
My driver told me that was not all that unusual; another thing I was likely to see was pedestrian victims of a traffic accident - just lying in the road with no one in any hurry to attend to them or to dispose of the remains. 
They would get to it, eventually - but it was no big deal that someone died. 
We arrived at MACV headquarters which was housed in the Majestic Hotel, downtown Saigon, hard by the Mekong River. I was ushered into the press relations office, given my press credentials and allowed to make my hotel arrangements. I met a Lt. Colonel who headed up the office. Nice guy but not terribly handsome. Slender, grey hair, very crooked teeth. I found out later that he had a phenomenally beautiful black girl friend from one of the islands where he would go for R&R (Rest and Recreation). He had an apartment there and she was always at his beck and call whenever he was in town. 
I was an enlisted man when I served at Brooke Army Hospital way back in 1957 to 1959 but now? Now I was an assimilated grade/rank of a Lt. Colonel, thanks to my press credentials. I could go almost anywhere I wanted, had priority transportation, could call the motor pool and order up a jeep and driver and have at it. It is better to be an officer than an enlisted man (though I usually ate with the enlisted men instead of the officer's mess - the enlisted men were where the stories were). 
Another sight I remember. While at MACV headquarters I entered the men's restroom. There I found a Vietnamese man, from off the street apparently, and he was washing his feet in the sink! Seated on the counter of the vanity and just casually washing his feet. 
My hotel was a comfortable, quiet one. Right out of a World War II movie - with ventilator fan in the ceiling, rotating at a moderate speed, lots of bamboo furniture, comfortable bathroom and the bed was comfortable. However, I was to spend very little time in my hotel. I would spend most of my time out it in the boonies, with the troops, sleeping in tents, sometimes at BOQ's (bachelor officer's quarters). Most of the stories were not in Saigon - they were out where the combat troops were . . . and that's where I wanted to be. 
Which brings up another fact/memory. Probably no more than 5% of our military in Vietnam were engaged in combat. Most of our troops were there in a support category, logistics, medical, administrative, food service. Many spent their hot, muggy days in Saigon on air conditioned offices. A "Vietnam Vet" does not necessarily mean the vet was in a high danger zone. 
Upon arrival I wanted to do my first story on the MP's (Military Police) - to ride with them and see what it was like in the heart of a war torn country's major city. Several folks in the know told me, "whatever you do, don't go into Cholon. That's the Chinese section of Saigon and it's loaded with VC and/or their sympathisers. They'd just as soon slit your throat as look at you." 
So, naturally, the military took me on a tour of Cholon. 
The Majestic Hotel, which housed MACV headquarters, also had an outstanding rooftop restaurant, open-air. A menu that was unsurpassed. Steak dinner? You got it! Chinese food? You got it! French cuisine? Absolutely! (Vietnam was under French rule for many years and many Vietnamese spoke French and there were a large number of French restaurants in Saigon, on TuDo Street, the main thoroughfare.) 
One additional unique feature of the rooftop restaurant . . . you could dine and look out over the jungle and see and hear battles that were going on, often less than a mile away. In some cases a number of tanks would be shelling enemy positions and you both heard the powerful BOOMs but saw the flash of the firing and subsequent explosion. It was not lost on us that while we were consuming a tasty filet mignon with a lovely glass of wine - there were troops from both sides out in the jungle fighting and dying. 
Naturally, I had heard of the fantastic tailors on TuDo street and, sure enough, I stopped and bought myself a "war correspondent's shirt/jacket." Took only a couple hours to custom make for two me and I think I paid $30 for both. It was a soft and cool cotton fabric, one dark blue and one grey, with pockets on the shoulders for cigarettes, note pads, etc. Two large pockets on the chest area, both sides and, if I remember correctly, it also had large pockets on both sides of the hips. Very form fitting yet comfortable. Have no idea where they are today. Would love to have them - but doubt they would still fit. 
I now looked the part of a war correspondent - just like the guys from CBS, NBC, and ABC. 
But we only wore the correspondent shirts, generally, in Saigon. When out in the bush we wore fatigues, comparable to our military troops. 
I kept very busy. There was a lot of war to cover and only 24 hours in a day. I wore myself out fairly quickly. I remember one evening I called the motor pool and ordered a jeep and driver for the next morning at 0700. Came 0700 and the phone rang, telling me my driver and jeep were waiting for me. I dismissed them. I was just too damned tired and wasn't gonna roll out of bed unless we were under imminent attack. 
Every day, if in Saigon, we would have a briefing at 5pm in the press room. They were called "The 5 o'clock Follies." We were briefed by PR folks from the various military branches and soon learned that, more often than not, the stories we were fed were out and out bullshit. Manufactured stories designed to keep the folks at home happy. 
If you wanted the truth, you had to go out and get it yourself. 
I had the brother of an old Chicago area girl friend who was stationed in Vietnam. His name was John. I tracked him down, pulled a few strings, and got John out of the jungle and assigned to me for, I think, a couple of weeks. He saw more of Vietnam the weeks he was with me than in all the time he'd been in country. And he traveled first cabin wherever we went. I had him assigned to me as my photographer/press aide. I'm not sure he even knew how to operate my camera. 
During one visit to Saigon I took him out after curfew (being a member of the press we were exempt from curfew) and went to a local hotel. I arranged for him to meet a couple of hookers and he soon headed upstairs with one of them. I sat in the lobby and enjoyed a cup of hot tea and some pastries. When John returned I noted he had a big grin on his face. (John wrote me several months later and told me he had come down with a case of the clap (gonorrhea). It was worth it, he said. A couple shots of penicillin and he was right as rain. 
He was amazed we could walk the streets of Saigon so freely as they were off limits to him - but now, he was press! We walked through town and took note of the "White Mice." The White Mice were what we called the Vietnamese cops who worked Saigon. A bunch of corrupt crooks - but they left us alone. 
On one assignment I ventured to Pleiku - a town in the highlands. I loved Pleiku because the weather was so similar to San Diego's! Warm, not particularly humid. While there I met a young enlisted man by name of Hickey. I learned that he has since passed away after returning home but he has a son with whom I am still in contact via email. 
Just outside Pleiku is a small village called Plei-monu. This is a Montagnard village (mountain people - and not Vietnamese. In fact, there was a lot of friction between Vietnamese and Montagnards.) Montagnards were, however, fierce warriors and served the allied cause well. I remember in particular one tall handsome, bald, young Montagnard man who smiled a lot - when he smiled you couldn't help but notice he had a big gold tooth. 
The Montagnards were generally referred to by the military as "Yards." Our guys seemed to appreciate the Yards a lot more than the Vietnamese did. 
It was at Pleimonu where I first ate monkey and drank rice wine. The Vietnamese Army wanted to stage a ceremony where they had awarded new rice mills to the Yard Village and to do it they had a bit of a feast. Monkey and wine. And, yes, monkey does taste like chicken. 
There is a rule, supposedly, that pilots are not to fly their aircraft for at least 10 hours after ingesting alcohol. Don't you believe it! Not in a combat zone! These guys don't know whether they are gonna be alive tomorrow so they live life while they can. And they do know how to party! 
The night before a scheduled early morning lift-off (5am) for an Insertion of "Little People," the pilot's term for S. Vietenamese soldiers, they held a night meeting and party. They had a large brand new garbage can into which they poured vodka, tequila, rum, pineapples, watermelon, anything and everything they could think of. And they drank it. And they sang. And they danced. And they told jokes. Then they'd sleep for a couple hours and then take off for the Insertion, dropping the "Little People" at some LZ (landing zone) near a forward operating base. Later in the day they'd return for the Extraction of "Little People." 
Up to this time most of the battles were hit and run by the VC. Now, however, a large NVA (North Vietnamese Army) unit had penetrated the area and a pitched, traditional military battle ensued. We won but we had a lot of casualties. I flew to one the MASH (Mobile Surgical Hospitals) and walked through the ward, viewing the wounded. Each casualty had been stripped of his clothing and they had written on his chest, blood pressure, any other medical info, and what, if any medications he had received. This was to ensure some poor trooper didn't wind up with a double or triple dose of morphine or other pain killer - which could be fatal. 
I remember one lad in particular. You could tell he was a handsome kid. Dark black, closely cropped hair, very nice facial features...except for the fact that his left cheek had a huge gash, about an inch wide and about three inches long, probably from shrapnel, perhaps from a bullet, and you could see the muscle, top and bottom of the gash. The medics had cleaned him up nicely and we would survive but he would always have a huge scar on the left side of his face. 
I remember another occasion when I thought about doing a story on "Disneyland East," the term used for the brothels in and around the various cities, town and villages. An Army Captain, assigned to Public Relations, learned of my interest and approached me ... "You planning on doing a story on Disneyland East? Man, please. don't do that. The story will hit home and every mom, wife and daughter will be on the phone with their Congressman and raising hell. Then there'll be a congressional investigation and they'll probably shut down Disneyland East. These guys don't need that. It's one of the few comforts of home they have. You wanna get laid? I'll get you laid. Just don't do this story." 
I was not interested in getting laid. I was happily married and the last thing I'd want to do is bring home some type of STD to my wife. I had plenty of danger and excitement just doing my job - I didn't need nor want any complications. 
I chose, however, to not do a story on Disneyland East. 
Many other memories are floating around my memory bank. A number of other stories. They will have to wait till another day as my eyes grow weary and it is time for bed. 

lyle e davis editor/publisher The Paper 

    From:  Preston Cluff
   Dated:  December 11, 2019
Subject:  Saigon and Other Tales...

Honestly, Bob, this guy just doesn't sound right to me.  Firstly, his grammar is atrocious; then, there are numerous generalities.  He spells the name of a village differently.  If he really was a journalist, I wouldn't hire him.  Just my opinion,

Preston


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