May 2023
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Journey To Saigon – Maile (Miller) Doyle

Hi Bob,

You asked us to answer some of your questions:

Where were you when you found out your parents were taking you to Saigon?
My dad was stationed at Fort Monroe, VA when he came home one evening to ask us if we wanted to go to Vietnam. We did not know even on what continent to find it, so Dad got out the Atlas and we looked for it.

What was your life like in the months before going to Saigon?
We had moved so often, that this was just another in a series. As a family we withdrew from friends and became more insular as a means of coping with the impending move. We had to begin our series of shots which were very unpleasant for my little sisters. My brothers and I were old enough to face them with a modicum of courage. We moved in the summer, so the transition was easier.

What was your trip to Saigon like?
We traveled by car across the US to Washington State to visit my grandfather before we left on a military cargo plane from Travis Sir Force Base. It was a dreadful flight! We were traveling for 36 hours stopping in Hawaii, Guam, Wake, the Philippines and finally to Saigon.

When did you arrive in Saigon?
I don’t remember the exact day, but it was in the summer. My very first venture out of our house was to the Circe Sportif to meet the other kids who were there. Ernie Coutler asked me if I smoked – all the kids had cigarettes, so I made the quick decision to say that I did – he handed me his cigarette and said prove it – talk about peer pressure! I took it and I puffed on it and thought I would die right there on the spot. lol

What was your first impression of Saigon, upon arrival?
I remember the assault on my senses of noise and smell when we arrived and were transported to our new house. Everything was so strange and so very hot! There were street vendors and the people next door to us had a large barrel that truly smelled – it was the household fermenting barrel for nuc nam. We had cut glass on the top of the walls surrounding our house and many servants. I remember being so excited to be a part of this new adventure for our family. My time there has had a lasting impact on my life unlike any other.


10 comments to Journey To Saigon – Maile (Miller) Doyle

  • Ken

    Maile, didn’t you live almost across the street from Westmoreland? that’s what I seem to recall. I initially lived over the PX on Phan Dinh Phung street while dad was in the Army. Later we moved to the JDP compound out near the airport when dad became a USOM contractor. I think you may have left by then as that was in 1963 or early 1964. Mind is a bit fuzzy. Strange though, I can recall from those years better that from last month. Must be age. Ken

  • Admin

    Larry Smith and family lived over the PX in 1959 to 1961 when I was in Saigon … and, the Pope sisters lived out at the JDP compound.

    Ken, have a couple Ba Muoi Ba’s … they say it improves ‘short term’ recall .. lol 🙂


  • Susie Stann

    I lived across the street from Westmoreland –actually it was General (Hangin’ Sam) Williams’ house and then (I think) Gen. Harkins’ while we were there (1959-61). Did Maile live there after me? Maile’s comments mirror my experience so closely! Look for an article soon about my recent return trips to Saigon~
    Susie Stann

  • Sarah Rogers

    Aloha Maile,
    I have thought of YOU specifically since I moved to HI in 1997. It seems like we had asked you about your name and you said you were born in HI and it was a Hawaiian name. Is that true? I mean, I know maile, but can’t remember if the rest is so!
    I love it here and would sure be happy to welcome you back if you ever come.
    Sarah Bush Rogers

  • Maile Miller Doyle

    Hi Sarah, yes, my name is Hawaiian. I was named for the Maile leaf. I was born at Schofield Barracks on Oahu when Dad and Mother were stationed there. My brother, Bob, was born the following year at Tripler Army Hospital.

    I have been thinking about you and Barbara since I found the website and this blog. I am envious that you are living in paradise. 🙂

    My husband and I have been talking about a visit, so will let you know if and when.

  • Sarah,

    I don’t know of you got my previous message but I’ll be in Kauai in Dec. on business. Would love to see you! My current email is: xx RSP

  • Admin

    Randy, I’ll send and email to Sarah directing her to you comment here.


  • Tom Hanna


    I hung out with with Ernie Cutler and was likely one of th smokers that you met that day at the Circe Sportif. I took up that filthy habit there and smoked for 35+ years.


  • Sandy Hanna

    I see my brother Tom has responded and I am wondering if I knew you Maile…I would have been in the 5th and 6th grade from 1960-1962. Our travel experience was the same only we started out from Hinsdale,Illinois and traveled down to Texas to see our grandparents. I am so glad to find this website…the whole Vietnam experience seems so bazaar and yet as you said…probably the most memorable time of my life. Sandy Hanna

  • Suellen Oliver Campbell

    How did I find out about our going to live in Viet Nam?
    My Dad came home from work and my parents together told my brother and I that we would be moving to V.N. Dad was to be the Naval Attache to V.N.,Cambodia and Laos. Later Loas was dropped and added to the Thai U.S. Attache’s responsibility.
    We had weeks of shots, which left me changing the side I could sleep on each night. I recall the thyphoid shots being the worst, making my arm so sore, swollen and beet red and I could not lift it, and about the time it stopped hurting it was time for the next one. We got 2 shots in one arm and 1 in the other twice a week, for weeks, changing the 2 and 1 each week from the left arm to the right. We were given thyphoid, tetnus, cholera, typhus, smallpox and polio shot series plus boosters for each type of shot.
    My baby sister had had a previous serious reaction to her smallpox vaccination as a tyke, and the doctors had to lie on her certificate saying she had recently had the shot, when in fact she did not.
    After 50+years I hope the statue of limitations has ended or else you can forget this confession concerning any knowledge I may have mentioned about the falsifying of an official document!

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