Doc I just got through reading Joe C's narrative of his experience in Beruit. Moving is an understatement. This site chronicles the experience of American Forces Radio and Television Service broadcasters in general and AFVN broadcasters in specific. Some stories are funny, some not so funny. Thanks. I know most of those guys and they're good writers, every swinging d of them. Perhaps with a tall glass of Merlot, they might get on the computer and write an historical tome for the rest of us to enjoy. Whatcha think? Class assignment, Doc?
Jack: Speaking of the weather.... I don't know why you folks are complaining about the Viet Weather. I personally enjoyed it very much. Besides, it gave Bobbi something to talk about. Hell, it was just like Louisiana! If we'd had alligators and gumbo I'd have stayed for a third tour!
OOOOOHHH No! I feel another story coming on... Some viewers will be cutting away now to preclude being bored to death by yet another Cal story! "This is the American Forces Vietnam Network. (three-second break)"
Announcer: It's 8:00 AM. We now rejoin the program already in progress.
... ith the rain. One afternoon, during a break in the monsoon rain, Pat and I were riding to the station in a cyclo-never got used to being the front bumper for a VC peddling me to work, did you?
Anyway, the Whafoong tree, a beautiful, flowering tree was in full bloom. I mentioned it to Patrick who said something or other about doing something about it for the weekend Panorama show. That evening, sitting on the roof of the Kyson, wafting the odor of the Ngoc Nam factory behind the building and swilling some Bah Me Ba, I wrote a piece called "The Legend of the Whafoong Tree" which incidentally blooms coincidentally with the annual flooding of the Mekong. So, conceived in the mists of Nhuc Mahm and refined with a fine beer, was born a bunch of BS about the tree being the gift of the Mekong to remind the folk that it was time to plant the rice and ya de ya de yah.... Not satisfied with having had the balls to invent an old Vietnamese legend, the next morning I went over to the Vietnamese RTV building across the way and got a 15 IPS Master Tape the famous Pham Xui who conducted the Saigon Symphony and I'm not sure if it was Ken or Scott who did the production on the piece but when it was finished, it was pretty freakin' cool! That Saturday afternoon, it aired. Monday, Radio Saigon requested a copy of the tape which they translated to Viet-speak and aired it. Later that week, a guy from CIA came in and got a copy of the tape, the script and a dub of the background music and they in turn produced the piece (with no credit to AFVN, thank you very much) and aired it over the CIA station with a straight face. Forgot what the station was called. "Air America FM," I guess. Anyway, we aired it once more a couple of months later but by then the intro read something like, "The legend of the Whafoong Tree is the story of an old Vietnamese legend which radio Saigon aired recently. Cal LaMartiniere reads the legend in English against the music of the Saigon Symphony."
My copy of the tape was destroyed in the flood and I'd love to hear it again and reminisce about the softly scented air of Ngoc Nam and taste once again the subtle undertones of formaldehyde in the beer. Chu Hoi!
Cal LaMartiniere, TSgt, USAF (1966-1968) - 2