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John B. OakesJohn B. Oakes
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in the field hospital, and then on to another location in Vietnam where Westmoreland did a terrific sendoff to a platoon, or, more than that, perhaps a company -- a group of paratroopers who were just about to get into a plane to be dropped off in enemy-held, North Vietnamese-held territory, across in the middle of Vietnam. On another occasion I went down into the Delta of the Mekong, more or less south of Saigon, which was infiltrated with Vietcong. I wanted to see exactly what the conditions were with our American troops, trying to fight these Vietcong infiltrates, all through the swampy area there in the Mekong Valley.

Then, on still another occasion I went up to -- this was all the same week or so, obviously, but these were different flights, different trips -- to Hué. This was a few months before the surprise assault of the Vietcong on Hué. I spent the night in Hué with American intelligence officers, just trying to get, again, a picture of what was going on. Incidentally, when I wanted to leave the next morning my plane couldn't take off from the little airport in the middle of Hué because of fog. So I had to get a hold of a jeep and, with a small Uzi [machine gun] in my hand, I was driven about an hour along a lonely road out of Hué to an American-held military airport, down this road that was frequently raided and shot up by Vietcong infiltrators. They had just a few days before done a horrific job on a village on that road, where they had eviscerated the local chieftain. They were in and out of that road, so there I was, cradling a machine gun in my hand while the driver raced some fifteen or twenty miles down to the airport, hoping we wouldn't get ambushed on the way. So I'm afraid this is a long response to your query about traveling. So I did as much traveling to places and people --


Well, in that case, how did that influence you specifically?

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