A Dutchman in Vietnam!
Gerrit spent the first half of the ’60s in Greenland working at the BMEWS base, one of the coldest parts of the world. You can read more about him there in the earlier blogs about him: Gerrits Travels – Part 1 – BMEWS at Thule Air Base – Greenland The second half of the ’60s he spent in tropical Vietnam working state related contracts.
As he passed away I am not sure I will ever know what he did there exactly. He worked in some capacity for RMK-BRJ the largest building conglomerate active in Vietnam during the war. You can read more about their history here: RMK-BRJ wiki
He had some form of medical education in the US (he stated to be an MD but I found no actual proof for this though) and he worked in some medical capacity it seems, probably in the line of Health and Food safety for RMK-BRJ.
Below a photo of his kit-bag (his original Dutch one, not a US version!): GHM Medical Department / Facilities & Operations RMK BRJ / 6th Division Vietnam
Here some paperwork form his time in Vietnam:
His MACV ID Card (Military Assistance Command Vietnam)
His S Government drivers license with Vietnam Road Sign test
Saigon Hospital card and Saigon Freemason membership card (look at the date?)
As he spent more than 4 years in Vietnam he witnessed most of the war and not always from a safe distance! On several occasions he risked his life during the line of work. As can be read on the Wiki regarding RMK-BRJ with more than 52 emplyees killed.
I’ll share here some of my favourite pictures from his collection (these are mainly prints I took from the slides he made).
Some local forces:
Do you something bulbing inside his white shirt? He always carried a grenade there for safety reasons, but not visible….
Driving a river boat, he went with the river forces on patrols on several occassions, just for fun and he spoke French fluently so he could help out in communications too.
With the Marines he had a Dutch friend there too, recently emigrated to the US.
And some random photo’s:
Some of the items he collected during this period:
The Marbles pilots survival knife he already got in Greenland and brought to VN.
The Rolex Datejust he bought for his Birthday during R&R in Bangkok! It can be seen on the stairs of a friends house in Saigon. He is guarding the house with his M1 with double (taped together) banana magazines.
A relatively rare item among his military gear are these: Military Survival Kit – Hot Wet environment. Mainly issued to Special Forces in Vietnam – complete with all items including flare gun and amphetamine tablets (also called no sleep tablets). For more info see http://www.vietnamgear.com/kit.aspx?kit=370
At least one more episode to follow! Congo and Persia are the next stations in the trip…
You cannot hide your heritage 🙂