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Ken Yeager: “The Palace Is BOMBED”

This is a transcript from February 27, 1962 of ACS Saigon news reporter Ken Yeager:




We came to school Tuesday morning as casual as ever with toast in our hands howling “wait for me!” after the departing buses. We got to school and noted the general weather and heavy clouds while Vicki casually cracked a joke about the thunder!!!

We went to class after we heard the bell. Everyone was commenting and waving at the “funny” planes going by.

Approximately 15 minutes after the bell rang, Mrs. Jones casually stuck her head in the door and said, “It’s going to be hard to obtain a substitute this morning because, as you know the Palace is being bombed.” There was no screaming as many had been here during the first coup. The other ones took it as everyday news, mainly because they were flabbergasted.

Within 20 minutes we were being protected by members of our United States Armed Forces Overseas (rah, rah, rah, rah)

This is Ken Yeager signing off – rat tat tat tat!

P.S. The Palace is now burning (Ed)

P.S.S. There are snipers downtown. (8:43)

P.S.S.S. It’s rumoured that the bombing is being done by dissatisfied Vietnamese (not V.C. or Communists).

(Ref: The Bamboo Beacon Feb. 27, 1962)

18 comments to Ken Yeager: “The Palace Is BOMBED”

  • Admin

    Way to go Ken! πŸ™‚


  • Ken

    Did I really write that??? I don’t recall it at all…boy, talk about a senior moment. Did I win a Pulitizer prize??? and if not, why not. All kidding aside, I do not remember writing it at all. And where in the hell did Bob pull that from? This guy has more background info about VietNam…..amazing.
    Bob, I’ve said it before, but this site is cool. Oh, I belong to a few motorcycle sites and am seeking Saigon Kids there…who knows…other old farts ride motorcycles, not just me.

    Hugs to all – ken

  • Admin

    Yes, Ken, you wrote it. I have about 15 copies of it in my hand, all written in your ‘hand writing’ … LOL πŸ™‚

    We can thank Burt Parker for saving some copies of the Bamboo Beacon from 1961 and 1962. Most interesting the things you were up to, Ken!!! LOL

    They are pretty faded with age, but I think I can scan them and clean them up (with a photo editor) so they can be read again. Then I’ll post them to the Blog and later convert them into eBooks for everyone to download, if they want too.

    By the way, the ACS was originally founded in 1954, but I have a gap in the history of it from 1954 through 1958.

    Hmm? … ya just might find some old biker SKs … given the post Alice made a couple days ago about all the guys at ACS in 1963 having Honda’s … lol … put a sign on the back of your motorcycle jacket reading “Saigon Kids call 1-800-SaigonKid”, then as you are blazing down the highway at 95 mph on your bike maybe some stray SKs lost in Germany might see it and call … lol

    Have fun … be prepared for the next “Mind Blower” from your past at ACS that I have in store for you … ha ha ha πŸ™‚


  • RandySeely

    Ken: Having read that riveting description from The Bamboo Beacon, I would’ve bet it could’ve been the beginning of a terrific career in journalism!! πŸ™‚ Randy

  • Admin

    Randy, I think Ken got to distracted by the “Lovely Ladies” in his life to have continued his career in journalism … hence he went for the “easy life” in the Dept. of State traveling around the world chasing “lovely ladies” … lol … but, then he fell into the cleverly laid trap of one where he has remained every since … lol πŸ™‚ Ken, did you ever hear the saying “if you play with lovely ladies … you’ll get caught” … lol … not that it’s a bad thing, as I’m sure you’ll agree … πŸ™‚

    Sounds like you had a great cruise, Randy.

    BTW Randy you were right up with the latest fashions at the Saddie Hawkins Dance … lol … πŸ™‚ Was that a tailor made outfit from Yen-Tu tailor shop? … ha ha ha πŸ™‚


  • Randy Seely

    Damn…I’ve looked high-and-low for my Sadie Hawkins outfit, and can’t find it! Besides that, I can’t seem to find my collection of 1960’s-era bowties…what a fashion plate I was! I love looking thru the Geckos and reminiscing. You should hear my sons and their wives’ input on my youthful years. They…just…don’t… understand! πŸ™‚ Maybe my grandkids will have more of an appreciation of ‘those days!’ (yeah, right…) Seriously, sometimes I wish there was a time machine that could send me back to those days in Saigon…there are some people I would apologize to for being an ass…oh, well…I guess we were all suffering the burden of youth, huh? Randy

  • Admin

    Well Randy … just don’t bring out your ‘naked baby pictures’ …. ha ha ha πŸ™‚

    Ummm Randyyyyyyy …. remember when we didn’t understand our parents and grandparents ‘youthful’ years … lol … Gee … look at us now! πŸ™‚

    Fortunately, for me there are few if any remaining pictures of me around during my ‘hippie’ phase of life … lol … ‘Love Child’ that I was … ha ha ha πŸ™‚


  • Burt

    Bob, great posting!

    I hope you’ll be successful in getting my Bamboo Beacon copies digitized and cleaned up. There are other ‘treasures’ in them and part of the nostalgia is to be able to see them, read them in their original form.

    Thanx SO much for undertaking the digitizing of the yearbooks and other memorabilia! I’m sure that we all know that your effort will take a very considerable amount of time. Not only to digitized what you now have, but also to encourage all us Saigon Kids to dig into their personal archives and find their yearbooks and other treasures and get them to you.

    But, your efforts will be well rewarded, because,as we all know, once on the Internet, it ‘lives forever’…

    Oh, by the way, I got distracted today checking on the refurbishment of my boat that Dad gave us. So, I haven’t yet chatted with him about what he might know, as a school board member back in the day, about the origins of ACS. I WILL get to it soon, though I have to work around his naps, meal times, physical therapies, etc…



  • Admin

    Thank you Burt!

    After looking over the Bamboo Beacon copies I think they will clean up pretty good. I’m amazed at how good of condition they are in for being nearly 50 years old … and, mimeograph copies at that … geezzz I never knew those lasted this long. LOL … they probably used Ba Muoi Ba in the machine instead of the smelly fluid … lol. I’m going to scan them with a special bulb in the scanner which should help to left the light areas back to life again. Then with Photo Shop should be able to get them looking like new again … we’ll see … lol … you know me always the non-conformist … tell me it can’t be done, then watch me just do it! … lol … ha ha ha πŸ™‚

    Yes, there are some wonderful TREASURES in these!!!

    I fully understand about talking with your dad. I spent the last 7 years of my parents lives, assisting them through their ailments, etc. in there final years. So no big rush, just whenever you can talk with him, and he is up to talking about it, is fine.

    Thanks again, Burt

  • Alice Blackburn

    Hi Everyone,

    Found five copies of the Bamboo Beacon in my garage this weekend (thanks to the inspiration of Bob Mr. Wizard of Oz). They are dated April 29, 1964; June 11, 1963; Feb. 4, 1964; Oct. 31, 1963; and Feb. 22, 1964. There’s lots of other stuff too. Should I send them to be immortalized in this project? Is the US Postal service as reliable as our elected officials?


  • Admin

    Sure – Alice In Wonderland – send them, and lets immortalize them … πŸ™‚

    Heck the USPS is probably more reliable then those folks … lol

    Bob [The Wizard in Admin ]

  • Kevin L. Wells

    Geeze Ken, you were out of the loop, and you went to school?

    Not me!

    For those of you who are saying to yourself β€œWho the heck is Kevin Wells” and by way of explanation, I was the little fat kid that sold candy and popcorn at unreasonably high prices to Alhambra patrons.

    Being a little fat kid, I took my mother’s advice and started going to the Cerc every morning at about 6:00 AM to do laps in the pool, then went back home out Ngo Dinh Koi (two miles from ACS) for breakfast and the bus to school.

    That morning, the taxi driver that was always waiting for me was in his usual spot for the daily fare home. We left the Cerc, turned right toward the Palace and took the left towards the airport and ACS. This was the street that aligned with the end of the Palace on the right as it was viewed from the front.

    Just as we made the left turn away from the Palace, an A4 flew over at less than 100 feet right down the street with his smoke generator on and passed directly over the Palace. I remembered thinking that buzzing the Palace was a really bad idea because of the track vehicles with the machine guns on the Palace perimeter.

    Next came the trailing aircraft which released a napalm that hit the end wall of the Palace. Things got intense very quickly. The driver was driving as fast as those little cabs could go, but he was looking out the back window. I started looking out the windshield, mostly because he was not, to see one of those conical hats and a cage of ducks bounce off the hood, the windshield and disappear over the roof. (Ducks and the person involved survived, the bicycle did not.).

    By this time the perimeter guard had caught up with current events but had no target. That changed when the first aircraft returned and finished the job with high explosive, also hitting the end of the building.

    And me without a camera. I had carried a camera as an article of clothing for years, but for some reason, not that day.

    I made it home, tore in the house, shouted that the Palace had been bombed, dashed for the camera and headed out the door only to be stopped by my father’s simple question about where the HELL did I think I was going?

    We had no phone (who did?) and relied on word-of-mouth for news. The rest of the story, some undoubtedly true, came to us the usual way, around the pool at the Cerc.

    Kevin L. Wells

  • Admin

    Kevin – Great comments and story! I’m going to move a copy of it to the front page, so it won’t get lost here in archives.


  • Ken

    Kevin, when exactly were you in Saigon? I too worked at the alhambra selling popcorn, drinks and candy and while there, saw the movies for free and learned to operate the projectors – great fun. Ken

  • Admin

    Ummmm …. Ken .. your 1st clue is: The Day The Palace Was Bombed. hahahaahaa πŸ™‚

    BTW … good to see you back here Ken … I assume you are enjoying your ‘Home Comming” … πŸ™‚

    Rock on Biker Boy!


  • Burt Parker

    Bob, finally got a chat with Dad in a more lucid moment. He doesn’t know anything about the origins of ACS or any sponsorship. However, he confirms that the ACS Board members were all volunteers, except for “Frosty”, the principal, of course. He can speak to Board goings on in ’61, ’62, ’63, but that’s about all.

    Glad to hear that you think you can get good copies made from my Bamboo Beacons! Also glad other SiGnKds (hey, I’m inventing a new Internet term—Saigon Kids, ummm maybe SGNKDs would be better?) are digging into their archives…

    Oh yeah, I found a scrap from one of my Beacons that fell to the bottom of the box when I removed them to send to you. I’m mail it along to you so you can marry it back up to whichever Beacon it belongs to.


  • Admin

    Hey Burt … thanks for talking with your dad. It ceases to amaze me that it is so hard to find information on the orgins of the school and who ran the show, etc. There had to be some place that was responsible and accountable for the school’s existence and operation, etc. … a most interesting puzzle .. it is .. it is … lol

    Ahhhhh … look out … Burt’s creative juices are flowing … rock on Burt .. create those ‘slang’ words … lol … SKs secret codes … ahaha aha πŸ™‚

    Great @ the find of the BB missing parts … lol … I’ll keep an eye out for it … and conduct a ‘marrige ceremory’ worthy of it’s elite status … lol … ummm which half is the male and which half is the female??? …. enlighten me, brother Burt! LOL … πŸ™‚


  • Kevin L. Wells


    Ref you question (10/2/08) about my time in Saigon selling popcorn and candy to people not industrious enough to bring their own:

    I arrived in early November 1959 and left in May 1962. The Alhambra gig was (more or less) mid-1960 to late 1961.

    The original PX stand (my low-price competitor) was set up just at the end of the corridor leading from the street.

    The first person to staff the site was (I think) one of the military wives. I seem to remember that someone else staffed the stand, and I think it was one of the “big kids” perhaps you.

    I don’t offhand remember when there was a shift from the original person to a series of others.

    The Alhambra was a crossroads of sorts. I met Tom Dooley at the Alhambra, and was in such awe that I supplied munchies for him for free.

    For those of you who think Tom Dooley was in the popular song, I must remind you that he was a Navy physician involved with the US Navy assisted evacuation from the north after the Geneva Accords. Dr. Dooley was so enthralled with the country that he returned to RVN after his Navy service and was involved with rice paddy-level medical missions until his death in the early 1960s. If the Vietnamese ever recognize the good works of the US during that era, Tom will be the man they cite.


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