One week a month was spent in the field on patrol. But the rest of our time was spent at camp, on alert. We were generally free to do anything we wanted, although we had to stay in the area. This meant we had a lot of time to read, write, play, listen to music and sleep. I even took correspondence courses from the University of California. When we were at LZ Betty, we were allowed to go to the beach or hang out at the beach stalls where enterprising Vietnamese sold a variety of things, including cokes and beer. Occasionally, we got passes to go into town.
We would hitch rides into Phan Thiet from the airfield, cross the Phan Thiet gate (shown above) and pass the ARVN barracks, which were on the right side of the road. We were allowed to take weapons and ammunition into town, but could not carry them loaded. Phan Thiet was a city of about 50,000 and divided by a river. The west side of the river, with its residential areas, was off limits to us. We stayed in the downtown part of city where there was a main plaza, movie theaters, cafes, bars and other business establishments. Additionally, Phan Thiet was the center of Nuoc Mam production and the fermentation and bottling plants were in the downtown area.
As mentioned above, relaxation at camp consisted of reading magazines or books, sleeping, listening to the radio, writing letters and whatever other pastimes one could come up with. There was a lot of time to get to know the other guys in the platoon.
Last Updated: 01/05/09
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