VIETNAM CHRONICLES

CAPTAIN RICHARD L. KLOPPENBURG

SHORT STORIES FROM 1966-1967 IN VIETNAM

BELOW ARE SOME TRUE BUT UNTOLD STORIES
VIETNAM WAS THE GREAT ADVENTURE OF MY GENERATION

Never Trust Any Vietnamese

The MACV in Bao Loc hired Vietnamese civilians to work in different capacities.  We had civilian girls that worked in the mess hall and kitchen.  The girls would also act as servers in the mess hall.  We also hired Vietnamese men to do landscaping and mow the grass.  We had Claymore mines along with the parameter of the MACV property line.  One of the duty officers of the day job was to arm the Claymore mines at night.  That day the officer of the day found one of the Claymore mines turned around.  Claymore mines clearly have, in raised letters, “FRONT TOWARD ENEMY.”  The projectiles from the mine would only blast in one direction., therefore blasting toward us, rather than toward the enemy.  Which Vietnamese reversed the mine?  Someone from the mess hall,  landscaping staff or one of the maids?

There was a catholic church located about a mile North of the MACV compound, on highway 20.  I remember that a Sgt. Delgado went to church for the services.  He was driving one of the MACV jeeps and was by himself.  After the service, he found a hand grenade at the top of the intake to the gas tank.  The gas tank had a screen at the entrance to the gas tank so as to prevent anything from entering the gas tank, except gas.  SHOW PICTURE HERE. The hand grenade pin had been pulled, leaving the hand grenade handle intact.  A hand grenade will not arm itself until the handle is released.  The handle was held in place by black electricians tape.  The perpetrator thought that the black tape would erode when the grenade hit the gasoline?  That is true.  Delgado was a lucky man because the grenade did not enter the gas tank and for some reason, Delgado opened the gas tank lid and found the unexploded hand grenade. The force of the hand grenade blast and the explosion of the gas in the tank would have made a “BIG” mess.  HE WAS A VERY LUCKY MAN.  

​All of the Americans would have their haircut by a local Vietnamese barber in the town of Bao Loc.  He would cut your hair with both scissors and an old-time shaving blade.  We found out that the barber was a Viet Cong.  I can still envision myself sitting in  the barber chair with the old-time shaving blad at my neck!

  ​How to develop our 35-millimeter film while in Bao Loc?   We would take 35-millimeter pictures while in Bao Loc.  There was a developing studio in Bao Loc.  The pictures would be developed and returned, just like in the United States.  I still have some of the pictures.  At some point, we determined that the Viet Cong COULD be looking at our pictures of the MACV and the friendly Vietnamese headquarters.  He could be sharing the pictures with the Viet Cong.  After that revelation, we decided to send all pictures home to the USA for development.  

 

  CHIEU HOI
One of my missions was to drop Chieu Hoi leaflets. We called the leaflets, “safe conduct passes.” I remember the Chieu Hoi leaflets were delivered to me, at the airport in packages of about 300 to 500 leaflets.  The mission was to fly over suspected Viet Cong areas and drop the leaflets a few at a time, out the window of the airplane.  I remember dropping Chieu Hoi leaflets a few at a time and becoming frustrated by the task.  Consequently, I also remember throwing the whole package out at once!  I never remember ANY Viet Cong bringing in a Chieu Hoi leaflet, and surrendering.  Looking back, I think the leaflet was printed on thin paper, which would deteriorate quickly because of the rain.

The following was reprinted from Wikipedia
The defection was urged by means of a propaganda campaign, usually leaflets delivered by an artillery shell or dropped over enemy-controlled areas by aircraft, or messages broadcast over areas of South Vietnam. A number of incentives were offered to those who chose to cooperate, along with psychological warfare to break enemy morale By 1967, approximately 75,000 defections had been recorded, but analysts speculate that less than 25% of those were genuine. The program had some difficulty catching on, due in part to culture gap—errors, such as misspellings and unintentionally offensive statements.

Overall, however, the Chieu Hoi program was considered successful. Those who surrendered were known as "Hoi Chanh.”


 

 

NVA PITH HELMET


On my “RETURN TO VIETNAM”  trip in 2001, I decided to buy 100 NVA helmets.  I was planning to have them shipped to Seattle and then give them away at Seahorse reunions.  They made great door prizes. During one of our reunions, one of the guys started that he would give $100.00 for one of those helmets?  

I found that the helmets were made in a factory near DaNang.  My Vietnamese tour guide was from DaNang.  His name was Chan Neuwan (sp).  Chan found the factory and found the price per helmet was less than $4.00 for each helmet.  During the negotiations, he found that the price was without the red star.  

  I did not want the helmets without the red star emblem.  The factory did not want to sell the helmets with the red star because they did not sell anything that relates to Vietnam's national security.’  We then renegotiated by “paying off” the Vietnamese contact at the factory.  I paid an additional $.50 for the red stars.  The stars were not attached to the helmets but were included in a separate package within the shipping container.  With shipping and a commission to Chan, the total delivered price FOB Seattle was $4.95 per helmet.  Chan had the helmets loaded into a wooden crate and shipped from DaNang to Seattle.