The Horse Doctor
The Horse Doctor
After three months at Cua Viet, I was ordered to Saigon. I served on the staff of the Commander Naval Forces Vietnam. I guess the Navy figured I had enough of bombardment and bullets.
I did usual staff things, writing intelligence collection plans, training Naval Intelligence Liaison Officers (NILOs) for work with the South Vietnamese Navy, etc. Basically, it was a nine-to-five job in a nice air conditioned office.
Living in Saigon was very much like living in any large city with the relative comfort of nice hotels and restaurants. My quarters were in a small apartment on the second floor of a building downtown — private bath, small kitchen, comfortable bed and air conditioning. Maid service, peace and quiet. Instead of eating C-rations three times a day I took all my meals in a restaurant on the roof of a hotel across the street.
WHAT A CONTRAST TO CUA VIET !!!!
I bought a French motorbike to go back and forth to work and to tour around the city in my off hours. Saigon was a pretty city for the most part. Someone even termed it the Pearl of the Orient. I don’t know about that.
The relative safety of the city was in stark contrast to being shelled regularly by NVA artillery and shot at on the Cua Viet River. My thoughts, if you have to be in a war, this was the way to do it.
After awhile a new guy moved into my two-man room. He was a Veterinary Officer in the Army and he was new to the war business. On the first night he was there we had incoming rockets. The distant explosions woke us up. Frightened, he asked me what we should do. I told him he could get down on the floor behind his bed if he wanted to but that I was going to go back to sleep.
I knew the capability of the NVA 122mm rocket and felt sure that we were safe in an interior room down two floors below the roof. Being new to the war he didn’t know that. He took my suggestion and hid behind his bed. I rolled over and went back to sleep.
When I woke up the next morning, he was gone and I never saw him again. I still wonder whatever happened to that frightened “horse doctor.” I guess he just got spooked and bolted.
Captain Herman W. Hughes, PhD,
US Navy, Retired