April 2024
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Tom Hanna: BSA Troop 1 – Camping with Termites

Welcome to the blog and our Saigon Kids family and community! Glad you found us.

Everyone give Tom a BIG WELCOME … he was in Saigon in 1960/61. Read his most interesting adventures of camping in the rain with Boy Scout Troop 1 … Click here to read more

Thank you for the story Tom. Great having you here. Visit often. Be sure to Register on the Blog and Photo Gallery – and subscribe to the Newsletter. The links are on the Menu over there ——>

Again, WELCOME     🙂


7 comments to Tom Hanna: BSA Troop 1 – Camping with Termites

  • Ken

    Always happy to welcome another SK to the “found” group. Welcome and join the fun. Ken

  • Tom Hanna

    Does any one remember Artie Driscal (Chef Boy Artie)? He was in Siagon in ’64/’65. I knew him at Ft Monroe after I came back from Siagon in ’62.

  • Tom Hanna

    I found these questions on Maile’s entry and decided to answer.

    Where were you when you found out your parents were taking you to Saigon?

    Dad was a Lt Col in the Army and was completing his MBA at the U. of Chicago when we found out. We, my sister Sandy and I, went directly to the atlas to find out where Vietnam was. About the same time there was a documentry about the North and South being divided that I remember watching.

    What was your life like in the months before going to Saigon?

    We had been in the Chicago area for about 2 years, and like every one else had moved every year or 2 for as far back as I could remember. I was in the 7th grade at Hinsdale Jr High. I do remember making several trips to 5th Army Headquarters to get all of those shots. The Colera one made me real sick.

    What was your trip to Saigon like?

    Jun-60 Left Hinsdale, Ill – Went to Texas to visit my Grandparents. 1957 Ford Fairlane Station wagon with top-carrier and pulling “the trailer” my father had built during WWII.

    June-July 1960 Left Texas – Drove to Anaheim, CA. Crossed desert with out Air Conditioner working. Found a motel with swimming pool – Stayed 3 or 4 nights. Went to Disney Land – 2 days I think, maybe 3.
    Jul-60 Drove to San Francisco.

    July 14 thru 17, 1960 Flew from Travis AFB, CA to Saigon, Vietnam. Dad took a picture (slide) of the plane on the tarmac at Travis. 3 tailed Constellation. Was a MATS (MILITARY AIR TRANSPORT SERVICE) plane with a US Navy crew. Flight took 3 days. Aircraft was full, all seats were taken Stops:

    Stop 1 – Honolulu, Hi – 6 hours in the middle of the night
    Stop 2 – Wake Island – 2 to 3 hours during the day – very hot – Ushered us in to a large quansit hut with no air conditioning. Served us pot roast. I remember the wreckage left from WWII on tthe beach.
    Stop 3 – Guam – US Airforce base – 6 hours – during the day – I got a haircut – The barber asked me a lot of questions about who Dad was and where we were going. I made up some stuff and then told Dad after about the questioning. Not sure what he did if anything.
    Stop 4 – Clark Field, PI – 6 hours
    Stop 5 – Saigon, VN – Walking out the door of the plane was like walking into hell it was so hot. And it was my 13th birthday.

    When did you arrive in Saigon? July 17,1960

    We were first taken by car to our new home on Don ti Dim just down from the US Ambasadors residence. To me it looked like a palace. Large yard with tall wall 10 to 12 feet high with glass embed on the top and bob-wire going up an additional 4 to 5 feet. I had my own room but did not have an air conditioner till later.

    They took us to the Brinks BOQ (Batchlor Officers Quarters) Hotel roof garden for lunch (about 15 or 16 floors high) near downtown. God was it hot!

    The day after we arrived started school at ACS. A special bus picked us up in front of the house. I was in 8th, Sandy was in 5th, and Patti was in 2nd. (Bob stayed home at first, but later went to a French Preschool I think. I was not happy about having to start school right away because school in Illinois had gone up until we left and summer vacation was short lived. The school term had begun 2 or 3 weeks prior to our arrival. They started the school year at that time because it was the rainy season and cooler temps I think but it was still hot. The school was not air conditioned. The 2 8th grade class rooms were in the very last building. Buildings were connected by a breezeway, roof open on the sides. It housed the High School kids also. All of the boys seemed to be much bigger than me and had pompidor slicked back hair. A big difference from suburban Hinsdale, Il. I was at first afraid to go to the bathroom because the 8th grade shared a toilet with the High School kids and they were in there smoking.

    What was your first impression of Saigon, upon arrival?

    It was so hot! And the smells were like nothing I had ever experienced. There was the Army camp next door and they cooked nuc nam all day it seamed like.

    We had 3 Vietnamese Servants working for us when we arrived: Tiaba, Tieto, and the cook (don’t remember his name – Dad caught him watering down the Gin and fired him. (Also there was a time when he was cooking some of his food next to ours and used the same pot top on both dishes and got the nuc nam taste in our food. When I tasted it I think I lost my stomach.)


  • Sandy Hanna

    Brother Tom – You have such a good memory. I enjoyed reading your input. Thanks for the memories. Sandy

  • Suellen Oliver Campbell

    Thanks for sharing your memories of your posting to Saigon. My Dad was assigned as U.S.Naval Attache 1958-60 and I remember clearly the night he came home and gave us the news we were going to Saigon…and would have to learn French. We were living in Long Beach, CA at the time. I recall trying to find Viet Nam on the map, too. Little did I know how it would change my life and vision of the world.
    The heat, sights and smells were memorable. I enjoy reading other SK’s thoughts, as I believe most of us shared the same ones upon arrival, regardless of the year we were there. Isn’t it interesting how clearly we all remember our time in Viet Nam?

  • Tom Hanna


    My email address has changed to xxxxx @ xxxx.com.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

    • Admin

      Tom – Thank you for the update of your email. I’ve changed it on all lists, etc. (Note: I removed it from your comments above so Spammers can’t harvest it, etc.)

      Have a wonderfully blessed Christmas and New Year!


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