Bill "Speed" Palmer (NY) & 3 girls in Saigon - Because Irving Carter (see next photo) had been wounded three times and was the only grunt in the field with 3 PHs, he was sent, along with Palmer, to an infantry company, Company C, 52nd Infantry which was attached to the 716th MP Battalion of the 18th MP Brigade.These guys were all grunts sent to Saigon for various reasons, and there is a series of fictional books based on the unit - the series is called Saigon Commandos.
Here's what Palmer had to say about the duty:
"Guard duty consisted of 12 hours guarding the PX, enlisted and officer quarters, the motor pool, I even think we had to guard the dump. There were other places, Battalion HQ for instance. Being in the field was in some ways better. After the 12 hours of guard duty, we had to make formations (can you believe it?), square away our bunks, foot lockers, get haircuts, spit-shine our boots (crap like in Basic). I probably got more sleep in the field.
"It wasn't all that safe either. We were told to be wary of kids around the jeep; they would wrap rubber bands around the handle on a grenade, pull the pin and drop it in a gas tank (I don't know how they did that). When the rubber band dissolved in the gas...boom! The gooks would also throw grenades into the back of the open jeeps - boom. Also, everytime we pulled guard duty we were issued a different M-16. Now the one I had in the field was perfect for me; I zeroed in on the first three shots, and never missed what I was aiming at. If we left our quarters we were given a .45. (HA!)
"There was also the problem of determining who was an enemy. In the field, if they ran we shot them. Not so in Saigon. Also very weird to see a gook go over to the sidewalk curb, pull down his pants and take a shit - in the middle of the day with hoards of people going by.
"And, the rats were no smaller. Families living on stair landings in buildings with the rats running over and around the little kids.
"One good thing; the grass. We used to get on the back of a motorcycle and be driven to the alleys near the river. And while driving by someone would hand us a pack of Marlboro or Salem. Inside these sealed packs were filtered joints. Twenty joints for $2.00. And the motorcycle driver was...a Vietnamese cop!!!!
"We found a guy who had a shack on the river. We'd bring him a soda or sandwich and go in and he would offer us joints for free. He also had opium which he would charge like a buck. But the contact high from the O was enough. It seems his wife didn't like the smell, so he rented this ramshackle hut to smoke in. His young son would play some strange musical instrument, and when night fell we couldn't see a thing. One night, I left the hut with a smoking buddy and learned he was a sailor. He freaked out cause I was wearing the MP patch. The gooks understood: they saw the CIB and the MP patch. That was about the only good thing. Respect from fellow infantry grunts and, to a slightly lesser degree, from the MPs.
"We did see some action in Saigon, but nothing like my first day in the field with A/1/6. I'll leave that story for another time."