Leftovers (captioned photo)

 

 

Gentle Musing

I finished up work meetings the day before Thanksgiving and it gave me some time to read and write. Everyone wore suits to the meetings but me. I was picked up by a co-worker in his Bentley. Nice new car. The restaurant offered me a tie but it clashed with my twenty-year-old khaki 511 shirt and levis so I declined. A quiet word and they let it go.  I felt a bit like Mike_C…

New WWM Ball Cap

There isn’t much going on today besides delicious leftovers. I’m in the city but there are no movies worth going to see. Slasher films,  cartoons,  racial films, and homosexuality have no appeal. In past years movies at theaters were something I’d do with my children, catching a matinee. That ship has sailed. Baseball season has passed and I’m not a huge football fan, though I do go to Superbowl parties when that comes around.

The idea of fighting crowds to buy gifts for Christmas likewise has no appeal. I’ve bought everything I’m likely to buy for people. I thought that I’d have the challenge coins to give you all by now, but the pressure of life and the schedules have kept me from doing that. It’s still on the list.

And I’m in the city – a very nice home with my own suite, in a very nice neighborhood in a very nice city, but I feel confined by the press of humanity around me.

The holiday has been remarkably good for business, a thing that I had not supposed would happen.

 

Bullet Point:

* The US Army anticipates missing its recruiting goals by 48%. They are blaming those numbers on everything but themselves.

 

This is NOT a photo of MikeW

A member of No. 1 Squadron, Special Air Service (1SAS) on patrol out of the Battalion Headquarters of 7th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (7RAR) Bien Hoa, Sth Vietnam, Feb 1968. His FAL has been converted to full-auto and is equipped with an improvised 40-round magazine.

 

Another Teaser for MikeW’s Memoirs, coming soon

A VISIT TO CAN THO

© MikeW 2021 – All Rights Reserved

Mid-morning, on a very hot, humid, Delta day, Nga, our other four team members (Khan, Minh, Dung, and Suong), and I, flew into the Can Tho airfield, aboard an Air America Beech 18, also known as the Twin Beech, from the Bien Hoa Air Base.  We were the only passengers.  On our exiting the aircraft the pilot advised us that he would be back to collect us in four days, not including that day, at the same time, unless advised to the contrary.  From the aircraft, Nga and I went to flight operations, located under the control tower, where, as pre-arranged, we collected the keys to two International Harvester Scouts.  These vehicles we found parked in the carpark at the rear of the building.  Leaving the airfield, the whole team drove into town, where we located our safe house.

Changing into a set of our “about town” tailored tiger stripe fatigues, with Bao Chi stenciled above the upper left shirt pockets, Nga and I now, to all intents and purposes, looked like a pair of correspondents on an assignment.  The other team members changed into civilian clothes.  We all then set out to explore the city.  Although Can Tho was the largest city in the Delta, situated on the south bank of the Hau River, a tributary of the Mekong, with its narrow back lanes and wide, tree-lined, major streets, its large floating market, and many small shops and restaurants, it was not a large place and was a very pleasant place to be.  The waterfront, with its numerous fishing boats, ferries, and other rivercraft coming and going, was extremely busy.  During our stroll, which was, in fact, part of our reconnaissance of the town, Nga and I stopped for lunch at the Restaurant Mekong, which occupied the ground floor of a two-story shophouse, situated in a row of two-story shophouses.  Here we sampled the local cuisine which was delicious.

Our mission, on this occasion, was the neutralizing of one Nguyen Van Binh (he was the target from our earlier, end-of-course mission, in Vung Tau).  He had been released from detention, either by paying a bribe to his jailers, or through the machinations of Communist sympathizers/agents within the South Vietnamese system, we were never told which, some weeks earlier.  He certainly had not been released legally, as a participant in the Chieu Hoi program.

It was obvious that his previous arrest, his causing the Communists to lose a very considerable amount of money, and his subsequent interrogation and imprisonment, albeit short lived, had not affected his career as a Communist tax collector.  He had, it appeared, been promoted, and he was now the chief tax collector for Can Tho and the surrounding province.  To facilitate his operations he now, rather than his Vung Tau occupation as a lowly bartender, was practicing as a notary.  Whether he was qualified for this occupation I have no idea.  To this end, he had established an office, on the ground floor of a shophouse, whilst living upstairs, on the road leading from the city to the Can Tho airfield.  Not far up the road from his office, and adjacent to the airfield, was the US Special Forces B Team compound, a roughly square establishment, comprising a number of buildings constructed of waist-high block walls, then with screens up to their palm-thatched roofs, and with concrete machine gun bunkers positioned at each corner of the complex.  The nickname for this installation was, as I understand it “The Alamo”.

Following the team’s reconnaissance of the city we identified and confirmed the target’s premises.  It was a two-story shophouse, at the city end of a row of six two-story shophouses, all painted a brilliant white, with blue doors and window shutters, and blue-tiled roofs, north of the town center, on the road to the airfield, roughly halfway between a bridge over what appeared to be a major canal and a T intersection with a roundabout.  Unusually, for a shophouse, the roller shutters, which normally covered the ground floor, when a business was closed, had been replaced, on this particular one, with plate glass, both door and windows.  Surveillance was then commenced.  We established that the sole occupant of the premises was in fact our target, Nguyen Van Binh, albeit his black hair was somewhat longer that it had been in Vung Tau, that it appeared he had put on weight, and that he was far better dressed, now wearing a European style three-piece suit, rather than a grubby white Tee shirt and blue jeans.  It also appeared that he did, in fact, live alone upstairs.  From all appearances, it seemed that he actually was practicing as a notary.

Observations showed he had a steady stream of visitors, most carrying a small satchel, between 09.00 hours, when he opened for business, and 12.00 hours, when he closed for lunch and the early afternoon siesta.  Very few of these morning attendees appeared to stay very long.  Those that only stayed a short time, who appeared, from their dress, to be country people, we surmised were his low-level, provincial, village tax collectors depositing their takings, whilst those that stayed longer, and who, in the main, appeared, from their mode of dress, to be townspeople, we surmised were people actually seeking his notary services.  Following lunch and the early afternoon siesta break, with him re-opening at 15.00 hours, he had few, if any, visitors between then and 18.00 hours, when he closed for the day.

At our team planning meeting, it was decided that Nga would enter the shop, posing as a foreign journalist, late on our second full day of surveillance, and make an appointment with the target to conduct a civil marriage ceremony, between herself and a fellow foreign journalist, beginning at 17.30 hours, the following day.  That Nga and I would then attend the target’s office at this time, posing as the prospective bride and groom, and kill him.  Neither Nga or I were particularly worried about him recognizing us.  When we had abducted him in Vung Tau it was dark, and he only got a quick glimpse of us before we sapped him, and put a cloth bag over his head.  Nga and I, because of our serious personal relationship, which was in addition to our professional relationship, seriously considered letting him actually marry us, before we killed him, but saner minds (Khan, Dung, Minh and Suong) prevailed.  Had we gone through with a civil marriage ceremony, it would have caused the pair of us a couple of unnecessary problems, both personally and professionally.

Firstly, there would have been very serious problems with her family.  Were Nga to get married, it would be a major social event, given her family’s social standing, particularly in Cholon, and that they were from the former Mandarin class.  The ceremony, given the family, was staunchly Roman Catholic, would be conducted in the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, and this would be followed by a lavish reception in an upmarket restaurant in Cholon.

Secondly, it would have caused us problems within the unit.  Whilst personal relationships between operatives were not actively discouraged per se, particularly if the operatives concerned were on different teams, they were most definitely not encouraged either.  Given the size of our unit, its personnel makeup, and the nature of our work, personal relationships between operatives were, perhaps, inevitable.  That Nga’s and my relationship had gone unnoticed, other than within the team, among my housemates, and Nga’s friend and our fellow operative Hoa, probably owed more to good luck than good management, although we were very discrete.  Had we married, one, either, or both of us, would have had to go to another team, as having a married couple on the same team, would have been seen as having the potential to impair operational efficiency.

In addition to us despatching our target, it was also decided that, if anyone else was on the premises at the time Nga and I arrived, unless they departed on our arrival, they would have to be despatched as well.  Were this to happen, we envisaged it only being a potential problem if they were townspeople, as their presence would be more easily missed.

As a backup plan, if a marriage ceremony could not be arranged, it was decided that accompanied by the whole team to contain the premises, Nga and I would enter the building that night (the end of the second full day of surveillance) using our lock picking skills, and despatch him then.  The flaw with this, though, meant that we would then have a full day in Can Tho, before our scheduled departure, unless we could arrange an earlier pickup, during which time it was highly likely that the deceased target would be discovered, thus alerting the local VCI to our (an action teams) presence in the city.  As it turned out there was no cause for concern.  The marriage ceremony was able to be scheduled as planned.

Just prior to 17.30 hours (at the end of the third full day of surveillance) Nga and I arrived at the notary office, having been dropped off just up the street by Khan and Dung, in one of the International Harvester Scouts.  Nga was resplendent in a red silk ao dai, with her long, dark hair cascading down her back and, unusually for a bride, she carried a large, red leather, handbag, whilst I wore a dark colored suit, crisp white shirt, and red tie.  On entering, Nga engaged the target in conversation, whilst I discreetly twisted the lock on the front door into the locked position and flipped the open/closed sign to closed.  Fortunately, for them, there appeared to be no one else on the premises.  We were led into the target’s office, at the rear of the building.  There he sat himself behind his desk, and began pulling forms out from a drawer, whilst not looking at us.  Nga opened her handbag, we both reached inside, and withdrew individual .22LR Colt Woodsman suppressed self-loading pistols.  All the while the target was unaware of our actions, he concentrated on getting his forms in order.

Nga said, “Comrade Binh.  Do you remember us?”  When she spoke the target looked up, and froze.  I said, “Does Vung Tau ring any bells?”  He sat, nodding his head, looking wildly back and forth between Nga and I.  Nga said, “Remember we told you then, that if you crossed our path again, we would put you to sleep permanently?”  He nodded.  I said, “Well, today is that day.”  Both Nga and I then fired several rounds into his head.  Once we were satisfied that he was dead, and to make doubly sure, I placed the muzzle of my pistol in his left ear and squeezed the trigger.   We then policed up all our spent shell casings.

Seeing that the safe was open we decided to have a look at the contents.  Besides a number of account ledgers, there were also numerous documents and a large quantity of money, mostly Vietnamese Piastres, with some US Dollars and French Francs thrown in for good measure.  We managed to cram all of this into Nga’s large handbag, as well as into a briefcase that we found sitting alongside the desk.  Once we were satisfied there was nothing further of interest to take, we left the premises.  On our departure, we made sure the front door was securely locked behind us.  Khan and Dung promptly arrived, picked us up and, after about twenty minutes or so of driving around Can Tho, to ensure we were not being followed, we arrived back at the safe house where Suong and Minh were awaiting us.

The following morning, after a team breakfast at the Restaurant Mekong, we secured the safe house and then traveled to the Can Tho airfield.  After parking the Scouts in the car park, at the rear of the control tower, Nga and I returned their keys, as pre-arranged, to flight operations.  We then sat in the shade awaiting our flight.  As promised, right on time, the Air America Beech 18 arrived, flown by the same pilot who had brought us on our outward journey, we boarded, and had an uneventful flight back to the Bien Hoa Air Base.

On our arrival at our headquarters, we lodged all the documentation we had taken from the targets safe with the Intelligence Section.  The monies would go into the fund the unit maintained, for the widows, children, and orphans, of those unit members who had previously been killed in action, died of wounds or would be in the future, and for those members who had been, or would be, incapacitated.  After completing the after-mission reports, which, because the mission was a straightforward neutralization, and had gone smoothly, were not overly lengthy, we stood down.

 

36 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting snippets that turn into books are the bane of my checking account. Looking forward to the finished book.

    Congratulations on your successful business trip.

    Army missing recruiting goals. I image the other services (excepting the Marines) are in the same boat albeit to a lesser extent. Nobody in positions of power will truly understand the reasons why the recruiting goals were missed and the answer will be for the services to become even more woke. And then the vicious cycle will repeat itself.

      • Its great when you can do something that is good for you and is also good for society (civilization) as a whole. A distributed electrical grid is almost certainly the most resilient way to provide power.

        • The real interest is outside of the US. The permitting process in the US and the opposition to even low-enriched fuel create vast and expensive barriers. Maybe one day it will change.

          • Present it to Musk, he’s got the Powerwall battery backup. A non-hackable homeowner nuclear solution would eliminate noisy wind turbines and ugly solar arrays and noisy Generac’s in neighborhoods while offering reliable cheap power not reliant on the larger grid.

            That’s pretty renewable to me.

          • As long as the technology exists and is fieldable (commercial) that is a huge plus. Don’t get me wrong, I hope the US remains the king of the hill but if we don’t accept innovation maybe we need to be toppled.

        • PaulM – in this case, Musk could be the opposition, so while you’re right, there goes my profit, into his $200 billion pocket.

          EdC – The technology is being fielded now by companies like NuScale (also competition). NuScale is on the low end in terms of power generated, but they’re aggressively in the foreign market and they will expand.

          What can take the US 10-15 years to approve, and countries like Poland approve in 30 days. That is why pursuing the US market requires BIG power companies with BIG legs who can work on a 10-year approval process.

          • If someone NOT associated with Big Pharma came up with a foolproof cure for cancer (vastly more important than a stupid virus “not a vax”), the FDA would demand 10 years of challenge studies, testing results and paperwork out the wazoo, and no EUA…resulting in allowing people to die so they can meet “approvals” that, in effect, kill cure.

            You have a perfect energy grid solution and they won’t even speak with you because they’ve been bought.

          • Paul M – I remember hearing about an experimental cancer drug program being run in Houston about 20 years ago. There were a high percentage of cures, but the FDA did not let it go from experimental to a treatment available to doctors and the public. There were rumors that it would have cut too far into the profits Big Pharma was getting on existing drugs.

          • Don’t doubt it. MrsPaulM has always said “they will never “find” a cancer cure because there’s too much money in it”.

            LL has the future of energy production as a business plan, the idea helo’s aren’t dropping in at the WWM to discuss it speaks to the level of strangulation going on in the energy sector. Innovation is being clamped and shelved.

            MrsPaulM was directly involved in desktop computers at it’s infancy, knew all of the players (even turned down offers from Microsoft when it was a start up). With personal printing emerging she watched Kodak try to bury direct to press printing because it ruined their film sales. Ultimately the “new” tech won out. Maybe LL will wake some people up with this smarter power tech…because adult sized pinwheels and solar panels are a joke for industrial power generation. Problem is, to the delusional people, nuclear is as evil as PDJT so must be squashed despite it being the only viable solution.

        • Nuclear power, even an SMR solution is designed to power a grid. Some of the very low-power SMRs that the military plans to field that can be hauled around on a semi-truck are designed to service a base’s power needs. Sixth-generation nuclear generators use low-enrichment fuel (doesn’t blow up) and are cooled internally rather than using a water source (there are exceptions) and are modular, which means not quite plug and play, but almost. They can scale up (add reaction generators) as the need increases. There are plutonium generators that fly on spacecraft that could be plugged into a residential re-purposing BUT they’re too expensive to be practical at that level – mainly because of safety certification. If a home had a forever power source that came with the house, it would certainly be a game changer. Musk and others are working on that scale.

  2. Christmas tree cutting day in the National Forest…a yearly tradition on Black Friday. MrsPaulM and I did do NYC one Black Friday many moons ago, an experience for sure. But as the Danes say, “Now we did that.”

  3. Like me? I’m confused. Surely you haven’t achieved the seemingly contradictory yet all-too-real (alas) state of being simultaneously scrawny and fat.

    Interesting that a VC tax collector would have no security, apparently. Did they have such power (even in the South) that they assumed no one would move on their people, or was it some attempt to keep a low profile, or something else? And are such parallel/underground quasi-governmental structures in our (not-so-U SA) future? (I’m thinking they almost certainly already are, in some inner cities.) While I don’t doubt that such hits (I’m thinking operationally only, not of the legal context) happen here and now, how are they carried out in this era of ubiquitous (though not yet omnipresent) surveillance?

      • Ah. Well, I’m here at the office, failing to do actual work, in jeans and a pinstriped Lands End button-down shirt. And Hanwag half-boots. The last part makes me suspect I’m living in a crappy simulation. Last week I was in either Redmond or Bellevue, Washington standing in a checkout line when some Asian guy who looked remarkably like Benedict Wong (who plays Dr Strange’s buddy “Wong” in the M-She-U) said “I really like your shoes, man. What kind are they?” That was strange enough, but almost the same thing happened a couple of years ago, around Mordor on the Potomac, IIRC. Same question, from another stout Asian guy with the same cropped haircut.

        This is either a loop subroutine in a bad video game, or (horrors) maybe Hanwag boots are some sort of secret sex code (like having a bandana hanging from your back pocket). If the latter, it’s a bad sign that I’m not aging well. I used to get hit on by much better looking guys. Sigh.

        • I’m simply too old to be much good to any of the 36 or so genders out there, no matter what I am wearing Mike. You may be living in a simulation and this blog may be the product of your vivid imagination.

          • @drjim: highly improbable— I’m not smart enough to imagine either our bloghost or you. (I washed out of my STEM PhD program and had to get a trade degree instead.) My money is on that you actually exist 😉.

        • I can’t find any Hanwag boots subtext on the internet, but Rules 37 dictates that it must exist somewhere, now that I’ve looked.

          -Kle.

  4. There were a few unit level FAL conversions during Vietnam by Australian units. Mostly to full auto and shorter barrel. Used to be a good display at Lithgow small arms factory museum. Where Australian version of the FAL was made. Not sure if it’s still there.

    Battalion RSM told me of the version he came up with in about 1970 as a secondary weapon in his 10 man section. Put the sear from full auto L2 version into semi auto model then added 30 round mag from full auto and bipod from old style M16.

    Said it saved them one day when their M60 jammed.

    Not a sustained fire weapon due to light barrel but it did its job.

  5. Always informative and educational with a splash of humor!

    Should you ever find yourself in the wonderland called The Land Where It’s More Fun, (selling your services of course)

    I wouls be most honored to welcome you with a sincere
    Mabuhay!

    May the Lord continue to bless prosper and protect you and yourn clan.

    Juan

  6. What an outstanding hat!

    And… serious business from MW.

    Do cities seem increasingly at odds to you? They do to me, though I love London and would probably have fun visiting New York. But places like that are exceptions.

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