Haven't written lately, because of the sameness of everything that was going on. But, something new is coming our way, and I, personally, don't think it can be done.
We are getting a 20 ton crane added to our equipment, and Major Mong and I have been trying to figure out how to get it from Saigon to Soc Trang.
Checking conditions and capabilities of QL-IV, we figure we can drive it down from Saigon without any problem, except for the Phong Hiep Bridge! This is the first Eiffel structure on the highway, and all our tables show it won't hold the weight of the crane.
There is no way to reinforce the bridge like we could a U S Bailey, which is actually an English bridge adopted by the Americans in WW-II. And, that is it is an Eiffel Bridge, only if it is up. Kirk has told us the VC have blown the bridge, for the umpteenth time this year, and presently the only bridge is a float bridge made out of light tactical raft components, which certainly won't hold the crane.
I told Major Mong that we should not try to move the crane until we can obtain some stronger bridging equipment from USARV, and that action is moving slowly, if at all.
A month ago I started up through channels, requesting a Class 60 raft be constructed at Phong Hiep for us to use to ferry the crane, and through the IV-Corps Engineer Advisor's office, I am informed that there is still discussion going on at "highest" levels on whether we will get that aid. Unofficially, through a Navy engineer friend in Saigon, I am told that the US Army is reluctant to send Class 60 rafting components to us because, the ARVN haven't the experience with Class 60 bridging, and there are no American troops available to do the job.
Never mind that I could build a Class 60 raft in my sleep, having done at least a dozen times in Germany and Fort Belvoir since 1958.
Actually, Major Mong left today to go to Saigon to personally escort the crane down the highway. I wished him good luck, and told him that I was going to leave this evening to go to Hong Kong for the week! Joel, my roommate, and I have permission to go to Hong Kong on annual leave!
Most people going on annual leave have to wait at Camp Alpha for several days before getting on R&R flight. However, Joel has a friend who went to the MATA course with him who is now assigning seats on R&R flights, and we have seats tomorrow! This allows us to save our annual leave for other things.
We get a night flight with Air America to TSN, and check in to Camp Alpha around 2000 hours and are assigned bunks in the officers quarters. It is obvious to us who are the "experienced" hands like us, and who are the newbies! Poor fucks, the newbies, and we mumble answers to their questions. Most these guys are going to ARVN units, since the guys assigned to MACV are billeted in their own area on TSN.
At least, we get a decent meal out of Camp Alpha, and I am amazed their chow hall is open so late.