June 2023
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Winning Friends…

After posting the note about the difference between civilians and GIs, it occurred to me that I might be too condemning of GIs and the choices they made. Many GIs were decent guys, and lived outside the “services” offered during desperate times for the population.

Clearly, the choices were offered by the population, and yet you all should be aware of some of the changes from the time you were in school and when I arrived in 1969. At the time we had MPC (Military Currency) which had a similar value to Vietnamese Currency. US dollars were nearly banned from exchange, and soldiers were paid in MPC to prevent US dollars from being able to be used by the “enemy” to purchase goods on the world market. Hawkers would line the streets asking to exchange MPC for Vietnamese Currency, and if you had a US dollar the exchange rate was nearly 10-times Vietnamese value.
Those who are familiar with the city will easily realize that it did not take long for the MPC currency to find its way into the local market and local black market. However, in late 1969 the military changed the currency and set limits on how much could be exchanged by GIs and civilians. It was a black day in Saigon, and many money exchangers lost their shirts.

My experience was tainted by the extremes, but I clearly grew from the experience and loved the people – from all quarters – from the street kids to the elegant dressed women, from the cyclo drivers with mirror sun glasses to the old women washing clothes. Like many Saigon Kids, my life is forever changed and I think in a good way.


6 comments to Winning Friends…

  • Admin

    George – I’m sure glad they didn’t have “funny money” when I was in Saigon back in 1959 to 1961. See this previous post to understand why? CLICK HERE


  • George Baggett

    I have to agree with Mimi about this site. However, until logging in and posting my photos I had nearly forgotten about the war and used my book as a cathartic process of putting it behind me. Looking around this site, I see some of my concerns have been discussed before, and yet with my study of the history – clearly different from that seen on this site I have a differing view of winning and losing of the war – the idiocy of the us and them logic, when so many other aspects were in play.

    My rationale for remaining on this site is based upon my very positive experience at 3rd Field Hospital and a connection to the history of the site. However, in its current incarnation of a war museum, I doubt this topic will be abandoned. My only reason to note about the history is due to my loathing of an intellectually corrupt authoritarian view of the history – like the so-called “Real Story” video demonstrates.

    Having all sorts of confusion and misunderstandings has clouded the path to what most thoughtful people hope for – the ability to return to Saigon and a beautiful country we all seem attached to, and enjoy the great benefits of a multi-cultural experience to the greatest extent possible. I sincerely hope this is a kind enough response.

    • Admin

      George – In the past available information lead us to believe the old ACS and 3rd Field buildings became what is known as the War Remnants Museum. However, we have recently learned through contributions of research done by several Saigon Kids that this is not the case. The War Remnants Museum is not located in the old school and hospital buildings. They are currently being used as a museum and reforestation research station involved with reforesting Viet-nam. We have yet to learn what is contained in the museum, as information we’ve discovered to date only talks about the reforestation research and activities being conducted in the buildings. From what I’ve learned to date I have concluded, but not yet confirmed, that the only utilization of the buildings is as a reforestation research station. However, the facility is part of the Army Museum System (Museum of Military Zone VII) of Viet-nam. Obviously, there is a lot of information previously posted to this site which is incorrectly identifying the school and hospital buildings as being the War Remnants Museum which needs to be brought up to date; and, will be as time permits.


  • Mimi

    It is kind enough for me, George,… 🙂 and I hope my post was not perceived as agressive or hostile, as it was not meant to be.

    And we definitely have something in common: posting our comments in the wrong place -lol-

    hugs to all
    xxx mimi

  • George Baggett

    Thanks for the kind response. I’m not a zealot about the war and details, and can focus on other topics. I am also one who did not drink the cool aid from the military about rationale – dominoes, commies, … I grew up in a very liberal, Unitarian household, and was forced to be a critical thinker and scientific person at a young age.

    Actually, my focus in life has been the environment, and have worked as an environmental scientist (consultant) for nearly 35 years.

    I worked in the hazardous waste disposal industry as my first job out of college as an engineer. Seeing the craziness of this issue first hand, I started a company called Liquid Products, Inc. – recycling industrial chemicals, namely sulfuric acid from soap plants and lime from acetylene plants. I did this for nearly 20 years, and was bought by a Union Carbide subsidiary – Praxair, Inc. in 1993 and work for them today.

    Years back I became interested in Agent Orange and the chemistry of dioxins. I attended the world conference on dioxins and ended up writing a technical paper on this group of chemicals. One drive became concern over the issues in Vietnam and the birth defects and environmental destruction that occurred as the result of the use of Agent Orange and the 100 other chemicals used during the war, most of which are still causing health problems for some of the more extensively exposed population.

    At one time I was considered to be an environmental activist by some in the media – because I showed up and gave expert testimony on technical topics. Since 1993 I have been cleaning up sites and have 25 clean sites under by belt. Now that I’ve had a heart attack and am 62, with time not on my side, the issues of exposure in our mutually loved part of the world impresses me and if I could help in any way I would.

    Anyone who wants a copy of my paper on Dioxins can obtain it by sending me an email.

    By the way, I love the moto: “Kind words go a long way!”

  • Mimi

    Well, George, that sounds great and you were ahead of our times! 35 yrs ago, environment was not “the” challenge it is now. I won’t ask for your papers, science has always been my Achilles’s(?) heel…I went through all my secondary studies with the lowest possible grades in chemistry, bcz the teachers would not dare give me a zero which was eliminatory…so I am all the more impressed. At least, one of us(may be some others?) is doing something for the planet.

    Ken was asking us to tell about our careers…well, Ken, you have a first answer.

    Hugs to all.
    xxx mimi

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