in shifts and rotated every three months. I initially lived in the staff
my co-workers but later moved in with the Officer-in-Charge, Charles Willis.
The Receiving Station was located approximately 7 miles from our
residence. The station was gated and double fenced with
barb wire and search lights on every corner post. A few feet away was the
shack (made of straw) of the South Vietnamese guards (foreground).
The station was guarded 24 hours a day. .
During our days off, we rode around the city of Hue on motorcyles or bicycles which is their main mode of transportation. We visited the various places of the Citadel, museums, temples, and the market. On Sundays, we attended Church services. Surprisingly there were several Catholic churches in the area. Catholics comprise a small percentage of the population. Buddhism is predominantly practiced. Vietnam reminds me a lot of the Philippines because of the climate, agricultural crops and staples.
Pop and Art Balagot in front of church prior to their capture
I read a lot of books and wrote the family twice a week to fill my free time. I looked forward to receiving letters from Dorothy and the kids. Twice a year I would go home to visit my family for a month - first, in June (to celebrate my birthday!) and the other, is December to spend Christmas with them.
At the end of my term in 1967, I renewed my contract for another two years. After a month's vacation I headed back for Vietnam on January 16, 1968. Incidentally, this day was also our sixteenth wedding anniversary. The family and I rode a bus to Manila. Along the way, the bus made a sudden swerve to avoid a collision. The bus hit a concrete wall and injured several passengers. Fortunately, none of my family members were hurt. The rest of the bus ride was uneventful which left me anticipating my next home leave in June. But fate had her way. My expectation to be home in five months took a detour through the jungles of war torn South Vietnam and the desolate camps of the North, an extremely long journey that would last over five years! What an omen that accident was!
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