Raymond T. Gray's
Recollections of Rach Soi
warning the French Caravelle began a jarring flaps down, gear down
steep spiral approach into the Tan Son Nhut airfield in a maneuver developed
to avoid enemy gunfire from the outer perimeters. Upon landing, our
aircraft, while taxiing around gun emplacements, left the tarmac and settled
in the mud. We deplaned and gathered under the wing to avoid the falling
rain while the aircraft was moved to a hard surface. After replaning, we
continued in our journey to the terminal. The FIRST DAY IN VIETNAM.
Within a few days I was boarding an AirVietnam, DC 3 for an uneventful flyte
to the Rach Gia/Rach Soi airstrip in the Mekong Delta to join a workforce
already at work on the rehabilitation of Kien Giang Province Hospital. The
expatriate staff consisted of Superintendent, Carpenter, Electrical, Plumbing
and Paint Foremen with a financial guy (me). It was September 1965.
While we lived in a local hotel, many of our meals were taken in the
Advisors' Sector Team House. We also relied on the Team for PX supplies
such as soap, razor blades and shaving cream. Generally we were informed of
the Huey flying PX arrival after it had departed, but the Supply Sergeant was
good enough to furnish us with the basics.
In 1966, while work continued on the hospital, we began work on the Rach Soi
Naval Base and added a Marine Superintendent and Engineer to the expatriate
staff. As work progressed we experienced the destruction of the gasoline
station across the street and the Sub-sector Team House a short distance away
as well as a mortar attack in Rach Gia by enemy forces.
Upon the completion of the hospital and naval base I moved on to Can Tho and
then to Cam Ranh Bay and happened to be in Nha Trang for the 1968 TET
From there it was on to Saigon where I became Field Administration Manager
which entailed travel throughout the country to our various jobsites. Those
were exciting times with many stories to tell.
The odyssey came to an end in February 1972 with my wife and two daughters
returning to the United States.
13 August 2001