Into Vietnam…from Just Let Me Walk Away

It was dark when we left Kyoto and near midnight when we made
Saigon. As the end of the trip grew closer, the mood on the plane
began to change. There were fewer jokes, more nervous laughs.
Voices, already low, became subdued. Conversation faded. Then, all
was quiet. Finally it was time, and we began to descend. As I sat there
in the darkness, the soft silence was the heaviest I had ever heard. It
was evening, 14 April 1966.
We saw the lights of Saigon’s Tan Son Nhut Airport as the huge
plane eased onto the runway. The plane was taxiing unusually fast
toward the terminal. I looked out the window and saw two jeeps of
military police with weapons escorting us down the runway.
Someone shouted: “Hey, there’s shooting on the edge of the airport!”
Wes turned to me and said, “Listen to that rookie. Hell, they
aren’t going to land us in the middle of a fight.”
I had been looking past the MPs at what I could see of what lay
beyond.
“Wes, I hate to tell you this, but that building over there is on
fire. And so are those storage tanks. I don’t think it’s a fireworks
display put on for our benefit.

Ray Kenneth Clark

February 14 ·

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