Recollections of Vietnam
Can Tho, in the central delta, about an hour south of Saigon, was an entirely different and more leisurely TDY assignment. Here we would spend a week at a time flying around the airfields in the far south. The terrain in this area was absolutely flat and just a few feet above sea level. However tranquil it looked, though, one always had to assume that any turf not known to be held by Americans was held by the enemy. There was no facility at the airfield for housing us, so we stayed in a civilian hotel in the city which had been taken over by the U.S. military. There was no air conditioning, no hot water, and no screening. The water which was available was not safe to drink. The bunks were arranged with mosquito netting and, if we could get it, we sprayed insecticide to kill the mosquitoes which were inside the netting before turning in. The trick was not to let any portion of your anatomy come in contact with the netting during the night, as that allowed the mosquitoes to get at you. On the one occasion I was careless enough to let my forearm rest against the netting, I was rewarded with so many bites that my whole arm was swollen.
Can Tho was a typical war-time Vietnamese city. There were the usual bunches of teenage kids out for anything they could steal, the Chinese and Indian businessmen, making a bundle of money on the Americans, and a whole lot of decent people caught up in a war they neither understood nor wanted. Due to the French colonial influence, there were a number of reasonably good places to eat and we took advantage of the opportunity to sample French-Vietnamese cuisine. The prices were incredibly low - a plate of 4 lobster tails was 100 piasters (about 25 cents).