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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > Vietnam War

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Vietnam War The Battle for Vietnam. .

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Old 10 Jun 10, 06:36
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Arrow ACG Vietnam interviews: Gordon Rottman

Today Armchair General is interviewing Vietnam veteran and noted military historian Gordon Rottman. Mr Rottman has served 26 years in the U.S. Army including a one-year tour in the Republic of Vietnam with the Special Forces and is now a prolific author, having written no less than 50 titles for Osprey Publishing alone.


Armchair General: You volunteered to join the Special Forces in 1967, can you tell us what were your motivations back then? the war in Vietnam was in full swing at that time, what was your perception of it?

Gordon Rottman: Simple, I wanted to be a soldier. I'd read a book called "The Story of the Paratroopers" when I was ten and I decided that's what I wanted to do. (Please, no jokes about who would want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane... There is no such thing as a "perfectly good airplane.")

I was in high school ROTC for four years and joined the Army straight out of school. I signed up for airborne infantry. Vietnam was not all that controversial at the time (some historians will have you believe otherwise, but it was not the case until after the 1968 Tet Offensive.) There was a war in VN so expected to go there at some point. It was pretty much a given and I didn't give it much thought. While in Basic I was approached by an SF recruiter and I liked what he had to say. So I took the tests and was accepted. I went on to infantry then airborne training then to SF training. I found out there that just over 50 percent of SF went to VN so I resolved to volunteer for a tour after I got some more experience in a Stateside SF unit, but I came down on orders just before I took that step. It was rather humors as the guys who had went ahead and volunteered straight out of SF Training Group arrived there after I did.

ACG: When did you arrive in RVN (Republic of Vietnam)? Do you remember of your first impressions about the country?

GR: I arrived in VN in March 1969. It was rather interesting. We landed at Cam Ranh Bay in a 707 right on the heels of dawn and I think everyone was looking out the windows expecting to see tracers, rocket barrages, or human wave attacks across the airfield.

We loaded in buses and the wire mesh on the windows peeked everyone up. Especially since hundreds of VN civilian workers were coming into the base to start their day's work. Anyone could be grenade-thrower...we thought.

We sent two days at the replacement battalion doing paperwork and getting briefings. They left us SF guys alone as far as the few work details. There were eight SF in the replacement group of 200. On the third day they called the SF guys together and said our ride was there. It was a guy I'd gone through SF weapons training with along with a 2-1/2-ton truck. It was from him that I learned that a close friend on mine had been killed in a SOG op. That was rather sobering. We drove up the Nha Trang and the only weapon we had was the driver's M16.

There was kind of a surreal feeling about the whole thing. Everything looked so different, even from what we had seen on TV. Once at 5th SF Group Headquarters things leveled out with more paperwork, briefings, and running into guys we had served with Stateside. After a year and a half of training (in my case) we were assigned to undertake the Combat Orientation Course, more training. COC was run by the MACV Recondo School and would last two weeks, after which time we'd receive our assignments.

Overall it was not a big deal. We were here and had a year ahead of us. We all knew that if nothing else, it would be interesting and quiet an experience.


ACG: Can you tell us about your two weeks at the MACV Recondo School? Where did the Combat Orientation Course take place, Hon Tre Island?

GR: COC was operated by the MACV Recondo Course, but was separate from it. The first week was in Nha Trang. Everyone assigned to SF was required to attend regardless of their job and previous tours to VN. It was basic refresher training to include land navigation, first aid, radio procedures, adjusting artillery and air strikes, etc. PT was road runs with rucksacks filled with sand. The second week on Hon Tre Island was more of the same in a field environment. They issued us M2 carbines and we would not receive M16s until we were assigned to a company. We ran a three-day patrol with live ammo and a chance of contact. We didn't have any contact, but the class before us did resulting in two SF wounded and one VC dead. We had just arrived on the island when this happened. They brought the VC body in and that drove home the fact that this wasn't a training exercise. Myself and another guy were detailed to bury the body...welcome to Vietnam. We received our assignments and some of the guys left immediately to replace casualties in the 3d MIKE Force which had just had a pretty hard time. Our assignments told us only which company we were going to and nothing beyond that. Some of us hitched a C-130 ride down to Bien Hoa near Saigon for assignment to Company A, 5th SFGA, which controlled the SF elements in III Corps.

ACG: So that's in Bien Hoa that you received your assignment to detachment A-333 Chi Linh?

GR: The C-team (Company HQ) was in Bien Hoa. Company A had under it three B-teams, each with four A camps plus a B-team responsible for the 3d MIKE Force and a CIDG training center. That was 14 battalions of irregular troops. One of the A-camps did not have a battalion, it was just a commo relay site.

There we were issued M16 rifles and got a lot of briefings on what SF was doing. There I was assigned to B-33 in An Loc, but it was up to the B-team to decide which camp I'd go to. All the camps were short one or two weapons men so all of them were asking for me.

I sent a week at the B-team helping out with some bunker rebuilds and resiting perimeter machine guns and then I was assigned to A-333 at Chi Linh, which had no weapons man. That was a good prep at the B-team to get a feel for the CIDG troops.

ACG: How did you arrive at Chi Linh and what was your first impression of the camp?

GR: Twice a week a "work chopper" made the rounds of the camps under the B-team. They'd make two runs each days so people could go into the B-team for coordination, deliver mail, drop-off movies, etc. Guys going on R&R or who had business at the C-team hitched a ride. That was on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Anyway I flew out on the work chopper after stopping at a couple of other camps first. Chi Linh was rather forlorn looking. Most of the camps were. Parts of them looked run down and other parts looked band new as there was always new construction, repairs, and rebuild going on. A lot of work went into maintaining a camp. It was certainly out in the middle of nowhere I remember thinking and could not be reached by road. After the first few days I had a bit of a feeling that I was in prison as I was stuck there for a year. I didn't know at the time that because of meetings, chow scrounging runs, and so on that about once a month or so you visited the C-team or B-team. You got used to it and I started liking the place, especially after I got to know my Cambodians. I was actually crushed when I found out they were going to close the camp before my tour was over and I was assigned to A-332.

ACG: Can you tell us what was the purpose of Chi Linh? it was located rather far from the Cambodian border compared to some other SF camps in III Corps such as Loc Ninh or Bu Dop.

GR: Chi Linh was a late comer camp being built 2-1/2 years before I got there. It had been built on a newly discovered infiltration trail branching out of Cambodia. They had a hard time establishing the camp with the NVA giving them difficulties. Once it was in and it took, the NVA shifted to trail to the other side of the Song Be River and pretty much left the camp alone. The strike force's mission as to interdict the new trail network so we conducted a lot of our ops on the other side of the river. The AO covered a much larger area though and most of our action was in the north around the rubber plantations.

ACG: Can you tell us a bit more about the CIDG indigenous personnel? were they all ethnic Cambodians? and what about your South Vietnamese counterparts of the Luc Luong Dac Biet (LLDB – South Vietnamese Special Forces)? did they have good relations with the Cambodians and the Americans?

GR: Most camp strike forces were composed of the same ethnic group. We had a VN company, a Cambodian company, and one of Montagnards. The recon platoon was mixed Cambod and Yard. When I arrived there we had two Cambod companies, but one was sent to another camp. We never had any serious difficulties between them. VN were country boys and used to Yards. The Cambods were bad asses when they had to be so no one messed with them. I never saw any problems from treatment by the LLDB. I ended up with the Cambod company and the LLDB NCO I worked was a good dedicated soldier. We were always invited to company parties. The only problems I ever had with the LLDB was their team sergeant. He was just a plain jerk.


ACG: Did you make major contact with the enemy during your tour? Was Chi Linh attacked during this period like some other camps in the area?

GR: We tangled with an NVA regiment on one occasion and that was pretty intense over a period of days. Most actions were ambushes and firefights over within minutes or off and on for a couple of hours. The camp was never directly attacked. We knew they were reconing us, but nothing ever came of it.

ACG: What happened to Chi Linh after the camp closed? was it completely razed or turned to the Regional Forces?

GR: The companies were transferred to other camps to give them four companies. We tore down just about all of the buildings except those in the inner perimeter. The materials were helo-lifted to other camps for repairs and expansion. The team members went to other camps to fill out their A-teams. The camp was turned over to the 1st Cav Div and they used it as a first support base.

ACG: You said you were reassigned to A-322 at Camp Minh Thanh near the end of your tour, how was it there?

GR: Minh Thanh was a very small camp, very crowded. The LLDB commander was little war lord overseeing his fiefdom. He never went on an op. The camp was to be converted to an RF battalion and about two months before it converted a three-man MACV advisor team joined up with us to learn the ropes so I sent a lot of time with them. I became good friends with my LLDB counterpart and we got it set up to always go on ops together. He was hardcore and dedicated.

ACG: In retrospect what do you think of the CIDG program? was it still relevant in the 1969-1970 period?

GR: I think the program was very relevant. The focus had changed from village defense and local security to more offensive ops, but that shows that the program was successful. My main complaint of the program was that there was no training system or structure to train CIDG leaders, provide them with staff training, and to eventually take over command of the strike forces. The LLDB served as the strike force "staff" and that was not always a good deal.

ACG: It's been 40 years now that you came back from Vietnam, what are your feelings about this period of American history?

GR: That's a complex question to answer. For starters I think we should have fought the war, but we certainly fought it wrong. There was not near enough "winning the hearts and minds," we passed too much of our strategy on the British in Malaya (the two conflicts were far too different), we treated the NVA like they were guerrillas, and we failed to implement a joint command allowing the ARVN to remain outside the overall command. It was a political failure and a great many people in SEA died and suffered because of our weakness of will.

ACG: Did you return to Vietnam since then? if no are you planning to?

GR: I would very much like to return to VN, but probably never will owing to the cost. There's a few other places I'd rather visit first.

ACG: After your tour ended you remained in the Army until retiring in the mid-90's if I'm correct, can you tell us about your post-Vietnam military career?

GR: I had wanted to make a career of the Army, but I got out in 1970 when returning from VN. We weren't fighting the war to win it and I was disgruntled, not at what we did in SF, but what the Army was failing to do and the weak political will. I missed it through and almost went back in (glad I didn't because the post-VN Active Army in the 70s was pretty bad. I jointed the Texas Army National guard and was in Co A, 2d Bn (Abn), 143d Inf as a part timer for a year. I became the full-time battalion ops sergeant after a year and did that until 1980 when the 36th Airborne Brigade was disbanded.

We raised Co G (Abn Ranger), 143d Inf with 230 hand-picked men from the brigade and I was the full-time ops sergeant. It was a LRRP company with a wartime assignment to V Corps in Germany. It was by far the most gratifying assignment I've ever had. It was an excellent unit. I left the Guard in 1987 as I had it with beating my head against the wall of uniformed bureaucrats in the Guard

I transferred to the Army reserve and was assigned to the 75th Exercise Division and developed the new concept for operating the OPFOR in computer command post exercises. Later I was the division G-2 NCO. I retired in 1997.

ACG: You were still in the Army when you started writing military history books then?

GR: Yes, I started writing magazine articles for free in the mid-1970s and gradually became a "recognized authority" (chuckle). Osprey back then was mainly doing ancient armies, Napoleonic, and WWII; nothing modern. Then they did a book on the modern SAS so I proposed one on Special Forces.

I've did one or two Ospreys a year after that except for a couple of years around 1996-2000 when I was researching the Marine Corps Order of Battle, Korean War Order of Battle, and the WWII Pacific Island Guide (and remodeling a 90-year old house). I started writing full-time in 2003 (after I quite my civilian job as a Special Forces training scenario writer)and at the same time started doing more Concorde books.

ACG: What was your ambition when you took up the pen?

I'd always wanted to write military and weapons related books. I had complied a great amount of info and I wanted to share it.

ACG: What was the first book you ever got published? was it a volume for Osprey?

GR: That was the Osprey Special Forces book in 1985. I hadn't thought about anything beyond that, but then the editor asked me if I had any other book ideas. The Warsaw Pact and Ranger/LRRP books soon followed and I was hooked on writing.

As a side note, its actually the research I like. The writing's just an excuse to do the research.

ACG: I know one of your favorite research field concerns orders of battle and tables of organization & equipment but what are your other areas of expertise?

CG: That's true, those are areas I'm very interested in. I am also into weapons, mainly infantry weapons, plus combat equipment. While I've done few books on the German army, that is an area of interest for me as is WWII in general, though I lean more toward the Pacific. Special ops and airborne are also a big interest to me.

ACG: Your new volume in the Men-at-Arms series for Osprey is about the Army of the Republic of Vietnam 1955-75, can you tell us about it? I know it's been a long time you wanted to write about it, what interested you about the South Vietnamese Army?

GR: The ARVN book will be a Men at Arms, the smallest of the Osprey formats. It was very difficult to cam in a viable history of such a complex and ever expanding army in such a short space. I focus on its organization, but there is little TOE info. There just is not space. I also address the many issues of it record in action, corruption, politics, etc in an effort to help one understand what a complex beast this was. The color plates only give a sampling of the many and varied uniforms over the years.

ACG: Was it particularly difficult to research about the ARVN? very few is available in English on that subject.

GR: It was a bit difficult, but mainly because the book's so short, what goes in and what does not. I just ask the reader to understand this is no attempt to be the end all book on the ARVN, its not and could not be with such a limited format or even if four times larger.

ACG: The South Vietnamese Forces always had a bad reputation, do you think it is justified? or does it come from a lack of knowledge on this 'forgotten' army?

GR: Understand that there were good units and bad, and that changed over time. There were divisions that did well overall and others that did poorly. There were often instances in which you found both good and bad units within the same division.

ACG: You're a very prolific author, can you tell us about what you are working on right now?

GR: Osprey is soon released a new Weapons series. I've completed the books on the RPG and Browning .50-cal MGs. I'm working on one for the AK. I will also be doing a Vanguard on Vietnam Gun Trucks and a Warrior on a MACV-SOG recon team leader.

These are not yet approved, but I may be doing an Elite on Infantry Tactics in Vietnam and another on VC Booby Traps.

I'm also working on some novels, but these may not be of interest to this group as they're young adult adventure works.



Gordon's latest book, Army of the Republic of Vietnam 1955-75, has just been released by Osprey Publishing.



(Photos used with permission by Gordon Rottman)
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  #2  
Old 10 Jun 10, 07:24
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Good work, Boonie.

Quote:
I would very much like to return to VN, but probably never will owing to the cost. There's a few other places I'd rather visit first.
Are the costs for a trip to Vietnam really that prohibitive to an average US veteran? Can someone shed a light?
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Old 10 Jun 10, 10:21
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Originally Posted by altus View Post
Good work, Boonie.



Are the costs for a trip to Vietnam really that prohibitive to an average US veteran? Can someone shed a light?
The airplane flight is expensive compared to going to Europe. I could go to Europe and back 3 times for what it costs to go to Vietnam and back. So, for most people who are traveling, they are likely to choose Europe over the far east because they will get far more vacation time for the same money. More bang for the buck as we say. It is more a question of opportunity cost than affordability. Notice how he says that there are other places he would rather visit first.

So, for the average American it is more a question of how they will get the most out of a foreign vacation expenditure, and that clearly means Europe. Less money, less vacation time spent in the air, usually more cultural ties. Also, Europe doesn't require getting a Visa, whereas to go to Vietnam we have to send our passport to the embassy in Washington to get a visa. Not a very comfortable thing to do, mail my passport to a foreign embassy.

Europe is easy. I have literally decided on the spur of the moment to go to Europe, bought a ticket, and went. Without any reservations or plans just an airplane and Eurail ticket. I would never attempt that with a trip to Vietnam. Organizing a trip to Vietnam is not as convenient.

So, unless they have a direct motivation to go to Vietnam like myself, most Americans would choose going to Europe instead where they would get more foreign travel for the same money and time with less effort.
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Old 10 Jun 10, 19:25
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Well, Miss, I am familiar with that kind of expenditure breakdown that you provided, and will instantly agree that, for an average American, Europe or Latin America would appear more appealing a destination. But we are talking about Vietnam War veterans who have personal interests in going, who I assume would have gone had it not been for the costs. (I understand that there are many who don't want to go back for reasons other than just the costs).

I agree that the difference in air fares would be a few hundred bucks, but accommodation and foods in Vietnam might be significantly cheaper than in Europe, which would make for the difference in air fares? Of course I'm aware that most US Vets now are in their golden years and medical issues would be also a primary concern, but it is not directly tied to the difference in costs, it rather has more to do with psychological comfort.

Are there additional costs related to going to the old battlefields, other than hiring a transport and a guide, that would make the prohibiting difference?
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Old 10 Jun 10, 21:04
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Originally Posted by altus View Post
Well, Miss, I am familiar with that kind of expenditure breakdown that you provided, and will instantly agree that, for an average American, Europe or Latin America would appear more appealing a destination. But we are talking about Vietnam War veterans who have personal interests in going, who I assume would have gone had it not been for the costs.
Well, I am not sure about that. After all, this was one vet who said he would like to go back, but other places interested him more.


Quote:
I agree that the difference in air fares would be a few hundred bucks, but accommodation and foods in Vietnam might be significantly cheaper than in Europe, which would make for the difference in air fares?
Perhaps? But perhaps not. If you don't know any better or where to go Saigon can be just as expensive as Germany. I always thought that Saigon should be an inexpensive destination, but after much research I find that it is, but only if you have deeper knowledge than the average tourist. If an American just books a tour with a US agency and stays in a western style hotel, food and accommodation in Saigon can be very expensive. Now, booking with a VN agency can result in better deals, but most Americans are not likely to go that route. They are likely to stick with what they know and are comfortable with. People like Lirelou may be completely comfortable dealing with a VN agency, but probably the average American would not.

Another thing I have found from my travels is that if you are in a poor country, the minute people find out that you are an American they expect that you will only want to stay in the most expensive hotels and eat in the most expensive restaurants and are often uncooperative and obstructive if you try to get them to understand you would rather spend your travel money otherwise. The VN often do the same thing. When I have talked to VN in Vietnam most don't understand why an American wouldn't want to go "First class" in all things.

Quote:
Of course I'm aware that most US Vets now are in their golden years and medical issues would be also a primary concern, but it is not directly tied to the difference in costs, it rather has more to do with psychological comfort.
I know of an elderly man (not a vet) who went to VN to get a mail order bride. The whole trip was arranged by a VN American who wanted to play match maker. Anyway, the elderly man went and was having a good time by all accounts, but then went swimming in the ocean, went into shock, and died. It created quite a scene with his family back in the states who didn't want him to go in the first place.

Quote:
Are there additional costs related to going to the old battlefields, other than hiring a transport and a guide, that would make the prohibiting difference?
I don't think that for most vets the cost would be prohibitive. It probably has more to do with perception than anything else. For many of them the idea of going to Vietnam probably seems exotic and distant. You must remember that when most of them went the first time they were young men being sent by their government. Most of them never really experienced the country or the people. They spent their whole time there isolated in American enclaves or in the bush. Most did no sightseeing or touring whatsoever. So for these types of people to return to Vietnam today would really be like going for the very first time. And to that end Vietnam probably seems like a very exotic and remote place. Just ask people like RR and Ken. They can tell you that they never really saw Vietnam back then.

My experience has been that most Americans don't have a taste for the exotic and things that are very different from what they are used to. So most Americans are probably drawn more toward Europe than anywhere in the east. They may be wrong, but perception is a very powerful thing.

But you and I are on the same page with this issue. I would like to encourage all VN war vets to visit Vietnam. I think it would be good for them and good for the Vietnamese as well. I think that most would find such a trip far more rewarding personally than any vacation they could take to Europe. I encourage them every chance I get.

You might also want to encourage your government to remove the Visa requirement for Americans. Anything that would make it easier to go there would help. After all, when it comes to paperwork some people don't want to be bothered and choose easier destinations. Most Americans like convenience, including me. We are used to not having to worry about getting visas for most places we travel. When we do come up on a country that requires one it is annoying and encourages us to consider other places instead.
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Old 10 Jun 10, 21:34
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Well, I am not sure about that. After all, this was one vet who said he would like to go back, but other places interested him more.
...
Just ask people like RR and Ken. They can tell you that they never really saw Vietnam back then.
Well I already wrote I was aware that many have no desire to go back for reasons other than the costs. I was talking about Vets who would have gone but the only obstacle were the costs.

Not sure what US travel agencies charge an ordinary American tourist, but most Lonely Planet guide users that I know of agree that everything in Vietnam are in-your-facely cheap with virtually no effort on your part.

As far as the visa issues go, I project the SRVG would cease demanding visas from US citizens the moment yours does the same for Vietnamese.
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Originally Posted by altus View Post
Well I already wrote I was aware that many have no desire to go back for reasons other than the costs. I was talking about Vets who would have gone but the only obstacle were the costs.
I don't think this is the issue. I think RR would like to go, but again, he is too busy exploring his and his wife's roots in Europe which puts VN down the list. Ken doesn't seem to want to go back. I will have to work on him about this.

Quote:
Not sure what US travel agencies charge an ordinary American tourist, but most Lonely Planet guide users that I know of agree that everything in Vietnam are in-your-facely cheap with virtually no effort on your part.
I don't think most middle aged travelers use lonely planet or other guides. They are too organized for that kind of travel. I used to use Lonely planet and the Rough Guide personally, but you are confusing young people on shoe string adventures with middle aged Americans who don't like unexpected adventure. Most middle aged people will not travel half way around the world without knowing in advance where they will be staying. But again, I don't think it is about money.

Quote:
As far as the visa issues go, I project the SRVG would cease demanding visas from US citizens the moment yours does the same for Vietnamese.
Come on Altus, you know better than that. It is not about some quid pro quo save face thing. Countries have to meet certain requirements before they are granted Visa free access to the US. The criteria is the same for all counties. When a country meets these requirements then their citizens can come here without Visa. I used to know what the requirements were but I have forgotten. But it is not a political issue.

You know, Poles are required to have a Visa to come to the US while we have Visa Free entry to Poland, but they don't whine about it. In fact, my Polish friends who have come to visit me here say they understand that Poland hasn't met the criteria and understand why they have to get a Visa. None of them have complained.

So, your government shouldn't make a political issue out of it. Instead they should focus on encouraging more tourism which is very good for everyone.
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Old 10 Jun 10, 23:46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Saigon View Post
...Ken doesn't seem to want to go back. I will have to work on him about this.
Your right, Ken doesn't desire to go back - been there - it's hot and humid in the dry season and wet and humid in the rainy season. I'm
partial to cool mountain air, pine forests, clear running streams, rivers, and mountain lakes. Hey sounds like where I live here in Idaho.

heeheehee, If I can't drive there within a couple of hours, I'm not interested in leaving where I'm at.

I've been to AND lived in Germany (on the economy), been to Canada (many times), Philippines, Guam, Japan. Been to almost every state in the
U.S. (except 6 - N. Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Mass-a-2-chits, and Rhode Island); each state and country has it's own beauty; many with no mountains

I love people of all cultures; they are the same all over the world, except for about 20% of them that just can't help themselves from being butt-holes.

If I would ever go to Vietnam, I would stay away from the large cities and stay in a small rural village and get to know the people there. I don't
believe I would want to visit the places I had to "hump" - were not good memories for me; why torture myself!

I'm afraid my time for traveling around the world has come to an end. LOL, when I went to sign-up for my Social Security the clerk asking
me the questions and reviewing my "work record" said to me; "Damn, you sure have lived an interesting life". Poor guy had been sitting on his
Gov't chair (arz) for 20yrs.

P.S. In an attempt to stay with the theme of this thread, I think it would be recommended for our interviewee (Mr. Rottman) to read Gen Hay's document on "Infantry Tactics" before he writes his little book on the subject - at this LINK...
http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...ad.php?t=94065





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Old 11 Jun 10, 00:10
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I have Mr. Rottmans Marine Corp order of Battle WW2 and several of his Osprey battle order books.They are excellent.
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Old 11 Jun 10, 19:01
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Saigon View Post
I think RR would like to go, but again, he is too busy exploring his and his wife's roots in Europe which puts VN down the list.
I realize this is totally off-topic, but just to confirm Miss Saigon's assertion, and for the edification of Altus, yes, I would like to go back to Vietnam some day - but it is a matter of priorities . . . like my wife's Munich American High School reunion in Munich next year!

To a lesser degree, it is a matter of expense and processing. A particularly well-to-do member of our 328th RR Co (Americal) vets group offered to send everybody back at his expense and even went on a scouting trip to Chu Lai with hired guide and videographer in tow. He showed us the video and concluded there was nothing there recognizable anymore, so no go. Oh, well, it was his money!

The recently, and greatly, improved dollar-to-euro exchange rate has made European travel even more economical. I don't mind the need to get a visa, 'though. I shipped my passport off to the Hungarian embassy years ago and got it back with no hassles. Of course, I had to book through the state-approved travel agency, but I was quite satisfied. Even though we are middle-aged (or more ) we have no problem road tripping on our own anywhere in Europe (including the former Eastern Block) without reservations. With our combined languages (some more fluent than others), we do just fine. I'm sure I wouldn't necessarily try to travel that way in Vietnam, 'though. Cultural familiarity - or connections - is a help.

I don't have the bad memories that Ken has (for which I am thankful). Thank you, Ken, for doing the heavy lifting.

-- RR
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Old 12 Jun 10, 07:10
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Very good interview, Boonie. Thanks!!

I have read some books written by Gordon Rottman and I learned very much about the Vietnam War. I like specially the book about the Mike Forces.


Thanks from Spain, Mr. Rottman.
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Old 13 Jun 10, 00:26
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Question for Gordon.

Regarding your Khmer Krom. Were they using their Cambodian names, or Vietnamese names? Or were they using Cambodian names among themselves, but carried on the camp rosters with their officially dictated Vietnamese names?

Likewise, Were all your Khmer members/sympathizers of the Khmer Serai? And were there any tensions between any of your Khmer CIDG and your Vietnamese LLDB?

Did your camp have any Khmer LLDB?

Did any of your camp CIDG get transferred to Lon Nol's army?

(Hope you're not answering this from Fayetteville, as I left the SFA convention this morning due to a writing committment. It would be ironic if we missed each other.)
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Old 13 Jun 10, 21:37
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Good Interview

...and gradually became a "recognized authority"

I'm one of those readers who've always thought of Gordon as being the recognized authority on the US Army for the post War in Vietnam period. It was the Osprey books he wrote on the Special Forces, the Modern US Army and the first Gulf War that I thought were just brilliant. I've yet to read something of his that I haven't liked.

Stéphane, if you could do a subsequent interview concerning Gordon's time in Vietnam I'm sure it would be as welcomed here by everyone as was this one.

Good drills to all concerned.

Cheers,
Dan.
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Old 14 Jun 10, 01:12
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Thank you, Ken, for doing the heavy lifting.

-- RR
Yes. We are fortunate to have him
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Old 14 Jun 10, 08:38
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I've been back three times and encourage any vet who even thinks about going to just go. The welcome is extraordinary, the country tends to be beautiful, so far no terrorists are blowing up trains or buildings...for myself I found it as rewarding as any traveling I've done anywhere else in the world, which afer 33 years of workng ocean going tugs and workboats means most of the rest of the world [at least those parts near the sea].
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