Gerrit’s Travels, Part 2 – 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 in part 1, the earlier blog about him. The second half of the ’60s he spent in tropical Vietnam working official US (Army) related contracts. Probably 5 years in total between 1965 and 1970 but exact starting and ending dates are unknown. Only one passport survives has his 1969 Vietnam dates in it and some other paperwork from around 1969 survives but not much.

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

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Gerrit’s hardhat with the RMK-BRJ logo

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

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Photo of his kit-bag (his original Dutch one, not a US version!): GHM Med.Dep. (Medical Department) / F&O (Facilities & Operations) RMK BRJ / 6(th) Div (Division) VN. (Vietnam)

Here some paperwork form his time in Vietnam:

His late war MACV ID Card (Military Assistance Command Vietnam)

His Government drivers license with Vietnam Road Sign test

Saigon Hospital card and Saigon Freemason membership card (look at the date March 1975 just a month before the fall….?)

As he spent a long period in Vietnam he witnessed most of the war and not always from a safe distance! On several occasions he risked his life in the line of duty. As can be read on the Wiki regarding RMK-BRJ more than 52 employees were killed in those years.

I’ll share here some of my favourite pictures from his collection (these are mainly prints I took from the slides he made) there are many more!

Some local forces:

Do you see something bulbing inside his white shirt? He told me he always carried a grenade there for safety reasons, but not visible…. not sure how that would work….
This white truck appears on several photo’s so I assume it was his!

Driving a river boat, he went with the river forces (riverines) on patrols on several occassions, just for fun and he spoke French fluently so he could help out in communications too.

After a request on the US Militaria forum I learned the ship must have been part of River Patrol Section 532 based on the patch visible on one of the pictures!

Above shooting a M-79 grenade launcher and below driving the boat himself.

Patch of River Patrol Section 532 as I have learned!

With the Marines he had a Dutch friend there too, recently emigrated to the US.

I think his white truck can be seen on this photo!

And some random photo’s. A forget me not club, location unknown and with a Tiger Stripe boonie hat.

Some of the items he collected during this period:

The Marbles pilots survival knife he already got in Greenland and brought to VN.

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The Rolex Datejust he bought for his Birthday during R&R in Bangkok in 1967! 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. For more info see this page

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You cannot hide your heritage, reading a newspaper from Deventer, the Netherlands, in Vietnam!

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