One Time As An Intelligence Officer
Nguyen Tan Hung
Finally, there was one day that I had to go to Phu-Quoc island to
report for work. My new duty there was Chief of the Intelligence
Department, Fourth Coastal Zone Headquarters.
There was nothing too important about that job. That was true especially
for those who had worked in the intelligence field because that position
was an ordinary position for a staff officer, no more and no less. For me,
there was no secret fund to spend nor even a secret agent to command.
Nothing was so exciting about it! But, why did everyone always put their
eyes on that job? Why did everyone consider that the job was one for the
boss's pets? I thought I might have some advantages when I was in
that remote location, a far away island. I would be king of my
intelligence jungle. Anyway, I was so surprised to have that job.
I was lucky, I guessed.
Actually, I chose to move to Phu-Quoc Island because my wife did not want
to go back to the central part of the country to live. Her reason was simply
that our family's life would be much easier in the South. My reason
was simply that I listened to her. Therefore, I refused to take the the
position that my boss had already planned for me: commanding officer
of the intelligence net in the Second Coastal Zone. To command the net
meant to command your regular income, which was not too low, from the secret
fund. All of my co-workers told me that I was an idiot and crazy for not
taking that position. Some of them thought that I had a mental disorder.
"Why do you want to take responsibility for an island? Do you plan to
have a long vacation over there?"
Captain Hai Do Nguyen, the chief of Naval Intelligence Department, had
asked me some question like that. His thought was completely wrong about
my case because there was no vacation for me. I was busy and always had
something to think about in my mind. He did not know anything about
Phu-Quoc! I didn't blame him though because he had been with the
Intelligence Department for only a short period of time. If he had known
Phu-Quoc very well, he might not have let me go anyway. Truly, it was my
fate, I believed.
Recently, I had heard a rumor that there was a big chaos in Phu-Quoc. Captain
"Cowboy" Luat Gia Pham, the commanding officer of the Fourth Coastal Zone
Headquarters, had been criticized by Mr. Luong Van Doan, the Rach Gia
provincial senator, about corruption on this island. "Cowboy Luat"
had been sent back to Saigon to wait for trial by the Martial Court. He
tried to get a retirement deal, the best solution for corruption. His
follower, Lieutenant Xe Van Tran, Chief of the Intelligence Department
at the Fourth Coastal Zone Headquarters, prepared to sell his villa and
cars to pay a special fee for saving himself a long term vacation in prison.
At that time, I did not know what the last "emperor" on this island and his
supporters had done. I did not need to know either! The only thing I paid
attention to was that Phu-Quoc Island still had a cosmic impact on its
people. Everyone who came there to live would be rich,
sooner or later. It was easy if one had the magic power of
water to glue and sea water to fish sauce
. The name of the island spoke
for itself: Phu-Quoc meant rich state (in Vietnamese). However, when people
left the island, they had to leave their fortunes there. Then, they went
back to their original condition, empty handed, sooner or later. Their
"treasure which came from nowhere" seemed to be just in a transferring
from the heavens to the earth or from the river to the sea.
The new empire had been established right away for the very simple reason
that the island could not have a day without its "emperor", the island chief.
On paper, the island chief had his long title: Commanding Officer,
Fourth Coastal Zone (for the naval forces) and Phu-Quoc Special
District (for the army forces). The area of a special district usually
was bigger than that of an ordinary district and smaller than that of a
province. The district chief of Duong Dong District, Second Major Thao,
had to report to the island chief. I was surprised a little bit to see
that an administration force, a government body, had been put under the
control of a naval officer.
The new "emperor" of the island was Captain Ba Huu Khuong who replaced
Captain "Cowboy Luat." The emperor's strategic advisor (the emperor's brain
in the Vietnamese way of saying) was myself, replacing Lieutenant Xe as
the chief of the Intelligence Department. Our first mission was to form
a strong and clean empire. We intended to make history, if the conditions
would allow us.
Before landing, the crew of my small airplane, a Cessna, had made a big
circle on the An-Thoi air strip which was located at the south tip of
Phu-Quoc Island. I had the impression in my mind that I was a frontier
soldier who fought to protect his homeland right at the country's border
or even on foreign territories. I was on Cambodia if the Vinh-Te Canal
had been extended out into the sea as the border line between the two
countries. Looking down from high altitude, Phu-Quoc Island was truly
big. It was much bigger than Re Island (Poulo Gambir),
Thu Island (Poulo Spratley), or even Con-Son Island (Poulo Condor). I
sometimes felt that I had been flying in the sky of the Central of Vietnam
because Khu-Tuong Mountain on the northern part of the island looked like
one of the highest peaks in the Truong-Son range.
The metal runway made the airplane shake like a boat on rough seas. A few
minutes after landing, the airplane stopped at its hangar, a small house
near the control tower. Son, the officer who came to greet me at the air
strip was a Lieutenant JG. I was surprised at his size, big like an
American. With his short sleeved shirt, his muscles proved that he surely
was a body builder. I felt embarrassed about my small body size.
However, I had told myself in my mind that I needed an assistant officer
who had brains instead of muscles. I was in the intelligence jungle, the
strategic field! I only needed Khong-Minh (the most famous Chinese
strategic master), and I did not need Truong-Phi (the most famous Chinese
General of the Khong-Minh time). I also did not need a bodyguard! (I
heard another rumor that Captain "Cowboy Luat" was scared of snipers,
so he put sand bags all around his Jeep to protect himself). Son saluted me
and introduced himself:
"I am Son, Lieutenant. Did you come out here alone?"
My eyes at his name tag on his shirt, I warmly put my hand out for him to
shake. I said:
"Yes. How long have you been here?"
"It's been about two years, Lieutenant."
"Hmmm, your term will soon come to an end!"
The pilot, a First Lieutenant, joined the group of army officers who came
out to great their major, who had flown the same flight. The major
seemed to be commanding officer of a battalion in the Special District
Forces. Son took my marine bag and put it on the Jeep easily, like a boy
throwing saucers. I sat on the passenger seat as Son drove out of the
air terminal. The boundary of the air terminal was only a layer of bare wire.
We were on red clay road potted with many deep holes. A crooked line of
red dirt was created behind our Jeep as Son accelerated. Fresh wind from the
near-by beach blew in my face and hair. That helped my body temperature
cool down in the summer afternoon. I heard the friendly sound of waves
beating the shore line. I asked:
"How is your life here, Son? It's easy or rough?"
Taking advantage of this good opportunity, Son gave his answer from his
"It's not bad, Lieutenant. The only drawback is being too far from
home. You are lucky to have an airplane to go back and forth, but I have
to go home by boat. It takes a whole night from here to Rach-Gia Harbor.
From Rach-Gia to Saigon, it takes at least one more day, if there are no
battles along the road."
"So, how often do you have vacation?"
"It's about four or five months, sometimes over half a year."
I said to him, at the same time talking to myself:
"It's that long! I have to see what life is going to be like on this
island before I bring my family out. With wife and children, every move
is difficult do you know?"
Suddenly, I felt that I might have made a mistake this time. Why had I
chosen to go to this island. For a single person, there was not a big
problem being several months away from home, but I could not leave my
wife and children at the house of my parents-in-law that long. Who would
give her money to buy food for the children? Did I have to send a money
order each month? Was there a full service post office on this
island? Did the military mailman have to go back and forth to the
mainland by boat? I surely did not know so many things! I pulled out
my Blue Bastos cigarette and stuck it between my lips. I lit up and
inhaled long and deep. The smell of the cheap cigarette was like
burning cloth. I was not addicted to the taste of the Blue Bastos
brand of cigarettes, but I had to smoke it because I did not have enough
money to buy Capstan, Ruby Queen, or even the military type of Ruby Queen
that had the Vietnamese flag on both sides of the pack. I was a poor
soldier; I knew it.
We came to a three way intersection with one way going to the North and one
way going straight to the An-Thoi Shipyard. The main gate of this large
naval base could be recognized from far away by a sign board, huge
and high like a billboard with big painted characters. The check point was
a bunker with new sand bags that had been just stacked up and around. Son
"That road leads to the downtown of the village, Lieutenant. There
is only one commercial road, here. From this point, you can go up to
Mr. Thom's restaurant. He is a policeman. Then, you turn left to go
to the market. You turn left again to go to the ferry station and to a
fishing hamlet where people make dried fish and fish sauce. Do you want
to go around once, Lieutenant?"
I was tired, I said:
"Save it for the time. I need to know where I will stay and eat, first."
Son went straight ahead. The guard in seaman uniform opened the gate
and saluted us. I replied. The road here had been paved and topped with
asphalt. After a couple of turns, we came to the BOQ (the Bachelor Officer
Quarters), a one level, apartment type house with cement slab foundation
and cement block walls painted a light green color. The BOQ was built
on a small sand beach and faced out to sea. The sound of waves beating
the shore line now was heard much louder. Near by, on the front of the
building used as the headquarters, there was a long pier that stuck far out
in the water. I followed Son to a his apartment in the middle of the BOQ
building. Stepping inside, I saw a row of four small beds. An exercise
bench was set near the back wall. It was true that on this remote island,
except for body building, single guys seemed to have nothing to do after
hours of work. I felt sorry for them!
"Temporarily, you may stay here with us, Lieutenant."
That was it for the greeting of a Coastal Zone department chief. There
was no ceremony, no gun fire, no military band, not even a hand shaking.
Son went back to work, and I was lonesome in this strange apartment.
There was no separate room, no curtain, and even no table and chair. Was
this place used only for sleeping? Was there no cooking, no music, no
parties? I felt terribly sad for them, and now for me too. I took a long
breath. There was nothing so exciting about it. I then took out my stuff
from the marine bag and put it on the empty bed. It was my bed, I guessed,
because there was no mosquito net on it. I believed that I surely had
made a big mistake by this move. All the things I had thought about
Phu-Quoc were wrong. I remembered the days when I worked at the Riverine
Forces Headquarters. The BOQ barrack over there was still in good
condition with air conditioner and a refrigerator for each room, and
everyone could have his own privacy. Would I have to live with my
assistant officer? That made me laugh!
I had more surprises when to take a shower. I stepped into the utility
room behind the main room where we slept. There was no shower head nor hot
and cold water control knobs, but a little water reservoir formed by a dam
of cement blocks in the angle of two walls. A military helmet
sat silently on one side; I understood what it could be used for. I
carried a helmet of cold water and poured it on my head. It was lucky
that there was some water left in the water reservoir! Who would refill
it? I did not want to think anymore. Life on the island was not convenient
like I thought it would be. I put on my pajamas and stretched out on
bed for a nap.
That evening, Son invited me to eat out. We walked to Bo-Vang (Golden
Cow) Restaurant not too far from the boundary of our naval facilities.
This let me discover another drawback-the Jeep for the Intelligence
Department existed only on paper. Son had borrowed a Jeep from someone
to pick me up at the airport. At least, he had paid some respect to me
and had good communication skill.
After a bon appetite with a few delicacies of seafood and wine, we had
beef and celery stir fried with the restaurant's special sauce and
cognac as the main meal. The smell was good and the meat was tender.
There were a lot of green and beautiful prairies on this island, I
supposed. House pets such as chickens, dogs, pigs, goats, and cows
could live naturally around the barns and farmland. Everything was in
peace because the nonsense war on the mainland could not reach this
remote island. Wow! This would be my wonderland. . . But, once again,
my imagination was in the wrong direction! In the real world, Son
told me that poultry, cattle, and live stock products were imported
from the mainland! I wondered!
When dinner came to an end, I tested Son (in the Vietnamese way of
doing things, the one who invited friends to his party should pay all
"Let me have the bill."
Son cut me off:
"No, let me take care of it, Lieutenant. From now on, you don't have
to worry about these little things anymore. It is your deputy's
Oh, what did he say? Was he just kidding around with me? I did not want
to be a cheap person, a cheap chief of the Nọ 2 department. He had not
intended to put me down, I guessed. Well, I just let him take care of it
this time, and I would handle it the next. But, I felt uncomfortable at
all that I had bought, including a pack of Capstan cigarettes, and Son, a
body builder, did not smoke. It seemed too late to do anything now. Son
had already gone to the cashier.
Next morning, with the nice and clean uniform, I came to the office
of the new island chief, Captain Ba, to report to work. I had never met
him once in my life. Before I could see Mr. Ba, I met his secretarial
officer: Lieutenant Ngoc Nguyen. I was surprised because Ngoc had been my
naval classmate. I yelled at him:
"Oh shit, why didn't you greet me when you heard that I was coming! Why? I
don't need a friend like you who does not care for friends. Did you forget
what you learned about naval communication and friendship in the
"Heck, I don't have a Jeep, so how could I have come to pick you up at
the airport. Shit, your Intelligence Department is number one here, do you
know? Can't your men handle that simple job for their boss? Hey, I have
seen that a couple of apartments have been available in the officer housing
quarter. You better send your application right away for one before somebody
takes it. It is very inconvenient if you have to rent a house in the civilian
"How's about the house of the ex-chief of the Intelligence Department? They
have to save it for me, don't you think?"
"Well, I don't think so. Remember that Mr. Xe was kicked out several
months ago. Nobody has time to take care of the housing problem for you,
you know that."
I was joking:
"They have to pay respect to me as Chief of Intelligence, don't you know?"
Ngoc laughed harder:
"All right! They will pay respect to you by letting you have a house up
on the mountain, so you can be friends with the VC."
"Forget about it. Do we have any more of our classmates around here?"
"No. But, some of them, who have been assigned to the commanding officer
of the radar station, will come to this area soon. Mr. Toan Van Tran will
be the chief of Nam-Du Island. Mr. Minh That Ton will be the chief
of. . . what island? Is it Banana or Coconut Island? Oh! that is Doc
Island in the Hai-Tac (pirate) Archipelago."
My reporting to the new "emperor," Captain Ba, was nothing special,
only business as usual. I then came to my office for my first day at work.
The Intelligence Department building was located behind the NOC (Naval
Operation Center). It was a pre-constructed building with a metal roof
shaped like a greenhouse. There were several windows on each side for
fresh air. Beside it, a small plywood shed surrounded by barbed wire
was used as the jail house.
I checked my department's personnel. Mr. Son, Lieutenant JG, was the only
officer I had. Next to him was Mr. Thai, Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class,
who seemed to be shy like a girl. Mr. Nghia, Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class,
was next in line. He, the younger brother of my naval father in the
Vietnamese Naval Academy, seemed to be a guy who had guts. Next, the
"hero" (survivor) of the naval battle of Hoang Sa (a coral island about 400
nautical miles east of the coast of Da-Nang), was Mr. Nhieu, Petty Officer
1st Class. After abandoning ship, Nhieu had had one week on a
submerged life float in the rough sea before a rescue ship had rescued
him. I did not think he would fear anything else now. Next
to last was Petty Officer Mr. Danh-Un, a Cambodian. I would depend
on him a lot because he was my only interpreter for Thai and Cambodian.
In this area, violators of Vietnamese waters were usually his. . . friends,
who could easily understand what he said in foreign languages. Mr. Khuong,
a seaman who had just come out of Cam-Ranh Bay Training Center, was the
lowest ranking person in my crew. He had been here for only a few months.
I also checked the maps that had all kinds of intelligence notations. On
the enemy's side, there was only one local battalion which was spread out
over the whole island in small guerilla units. Their secret headquarters
was established in Khu-Tuong Mountain, an area that had many
farms for black pepper cultivating. On the friendly side, there were local
and regular forces of the Duong-Dong District and almost a regiment of army
forces that had often operated in the southern half of Phu-Quoc Island.
The naval forces of the Fourth Coastal Zone included the 41st Coastal
Division located at Poulo Obi (near the southern tip of Vietnam), the 42nd
Coastal Division located west of An-Thoi Naval Base, the 43rd Coastal
Division at Hon-Tre (Bamboo) Island, and the 44th Coastal Division
near the town of Ha-Tien, a district of Rach-Gia Province. The
Fourth Coastal Fleet was another main force that had about 20 PCF (Patrol
Craft Fast) speed boats. Our combined forces seemed well equipped and
much, much bigger than the enemy forces. However, I did not understand why we
could never get them all. On the contrary, our fortresses were often
attacked or shelled, and many men were killed or wounded. It surely was
strange to me.
I called Son in and asked:
"Who is the analyzer of intelligence information? Who writes the
briefing paper and who handles the daily briefing session for the commanding
"I take care of them all, Lieutenant. But, there is no daily briefing
session for the commanding officer here. If I receive some important
intelligence information, I usually bring my small map and discuss it
directly with the executive officer. . ."
I seemed not to hear very well, and asked again:
"Why do you discuss it not with the commanding officer but with the executive
"It has become my habit because I am around Commander Khoi so much. Our
new commanding officer is very busy these days, and he doesn't have time to
hear what we are guessing about the enemy strategy and situation."
"Hmmm, it is strange . . . Who takes care of these secret memo cabinets?"
"It's also me, Lieutenant."
I could not understand how the people worked around here. The rules
and procedures seemed to be contrary to what I had learned in
Military Intelligence School or even what I had experienced on the field.
Uncomfortably, I said:
"Everything is taken care of by one person, so the rest of the department
is left for the dogs to eat, isn't it?"
". . ."
Silently, Son went back to his office. I thought that I might call all my
crew in, one by one, and "interrogate" them to determine what was good and
bad about their professional skills. I had to know them well before giving
out assignments. If there was no order in ink and paper, it would be
difficult to say who was guilty and who was hero. Did I need to make
a true revolution? Or "if something works, don't fix it"? I had to
choose one way or another. But, it was too early for me to do that, I
believed. I took a deep breath and stood up from my chair. I told Son:
"I am going to the headquarters of the base maintenance unit. If there is
something important, you just let someone find me. Well, Son, you
continue to do what ever you have done. OK!"
"Yes, Sir. You don't have to worry about anything. I warrant that
nothing can go wrong!"
If there was no briefing session, what was there for the Intelligence
Department to do? If there was no meeting between them, the commanding
officer and his strategic advisor (his brain) would soon become far apart
like the sun and the moon.
Right now, the important job for me was not
to put an eye on my Intelligence Department but to get an apartment for
my family in the officer housing quarter. It might be good for me because
I could do whatever I wanted to do, and nobody would keep an eye on
me. It would be a very interesting situation.
I stopped by at the office of the unit's commanding officer, Lieutenant
Commander Cuong An Nguyen. My classmate, Lieutenant Ngoc, was wrong
because Mr. Cuong had reserved an apartment at the end of the block
for me. After finishing some paper work, I was happy to go out and
check on my "dream house."
Officers' housing was next to the main base and not too far from
the civilian market. It was fairly clean and quiet. There were two
long buildings with no fence between to distinguish soldier apartments
and civilian houses.
Opening the front door, I found that my apartment had only one big room
similar to the BOQ style. But, one thing was missing, the ceiling! I
could see the roof frame. I knew that it would be terribly hot.
Well, I had an apartment for my family, at least. Opening the back door,
I saw a big water reservoir made of cement blocks; the walls
of the apartment were two of its four sides. The roof, however, ended
there and a small patch of open sky took its place. The kitchen with
half roof was connected. Opening another door in the kitchen back
wall, I stepped out of the apartment. The W.C. shed
could be seen next to it. Between the officers' housing quarters and the
civilian area was a big black mud swamp. Across that swamp from my
apartment, it may be a store, which often looked like an ordinary house
in Vietnam, faced to the main road of downtown An-Thoi.
Going around my dream house, now I understood why nobody took this end of the
block apartment; the evening sunlight hit directly on the wall. A little
more heat was given to the inside oven. Well, I could make this place
more suitable to live in with the eight hours every day that I had nothing
to do. I would build a garage next to my apartment to hold out the heat.
I had a couple of petty officers and a seaman, so I could use their labor
for helping me finish my project since they had nothing to do, either.
It was time for lunch when I got back to my office. Again, Son invited
me to go along with him. I agreed because I did not know much around
here yet. I let Son pick the place he wanted by either the taste of the
food or the style of the waitress. With his good experience, he brought
me to a restaurant outside of the village with no sign on the front. The
tables and chairs did not have a fancy look, but we had both the tasty food
and the beautiful cashier. When we finished, I took my turn:
"Let me have the bill."
"No way, Lieutenant. You have to let your deputies do their
responsibility. I already told you that you don't have to worry about
these little things anymore, don't you remember?"
"Are you kidding me, Son?"
"No, Lieutenant. Do you not believe me?"
Surely, I could not believe it. What did this strange act mean? There was
no one in the world who showed this kindness to me. Instead of believing
it, I had to doubt it. I was an intelligence officer, I had to be like
Tao-Thao (a Chinese general who never trusted anyone). What did Son gain
when he did something like that for me? Did he want just to lose a shrimp
to catch a lobster? Why did he not tell me that in the first place? I was
set for his booby trap, I thought. I have to be careful, I reminded myself!
Not waiting for me to say another word, Son went to the cashier's counter.
He paid for our lunch and joked about something with the girl. With her
beauty, this girl might have come from the mainland because all pretty
girls on the island usually wanted to go to Saigon. I could not pay any
attention about girls around me at all. Although I was just in my thirties,
my youth seemed to be over. I felt old and had a lot of things to do and
to think about my wife and four children. Later on, I learned that the
cashier had come here to help her aunt at the restaurant after failing
the 11th grade test. Her aunt's business then drew a lot of customers,
Son and I came back to our office after lunch. The door was still
locked! Needless to say, I knew that none of the personnel in my
department had come back to work yet. They did not have
to be back on time when they ate their lunch at home. I did not care
about that. Everyone had his own business and I had mine. I told Son:
"You take care of the department papers. I am going to the shipyard."
The main things now were the ceiling of my apartment and the garage. I
went to the wood working area. A couple of questions came to mind.
Who was the boss of that area? Did I know him? I hoped so. And
"Oh, Daddy . . . Daddy . . . Where are you going?"
I was so surprised to see my naval son, Mr. Dao Kim Nguyen- a tradition
in the Vietnamese Naval Academy was that a senior cadet would accept a junior
cadet as his son randomly. He had made a terrible mistake at the Naval
Academy; he cheated on a test and was caught. He "graduated" right away
with the rank of petty officer instead of ensign. My big naval family came
to an end with him, and I never had a naval grandson. Was he an ensign
now? He might be allowed to go back to the academy to be retrained! Anyway,
I still cared about him as my real son, and the naval relationship between
him and me was still warm and great. We shook hands:
"Are you the boss of this quarter? It is very good. I just came here
a couple of days ago. I don't think I have met you since the day of
my graduation. . ."
"I was sent to work on a ship the day I had my painful and stupid
experience on the test, Dad. Two years later, I was recalled to
the academy because I had a gook working record. In my two years of
hard laboring, I learned a lot about life on the ship. My life had been
changed, Dad. Now, I have this shop. The number of people who need me
is quite larger than I need! What unit do you belong to, Dad, the Fourth
Coastal Zone Headquarters, the Fourth Coastal Fleet, or the ship dock?"
"I am Chief of Intelligence."
He was surprised and happy:
"Oh, you are in the right spot, Dad. I hear that the Intelligence
Department here has a lot of good business."
I was in doubt:
"Are you sure? I don't know yet what they do. I think I need
time to study what is going on in this area. I have to be patient, I guess.
Anyway, the important thing for me to do is to remodel the apartment which
I have just received. To tell you the truth, I need some plywood and two by
fours to make a ceiling. Can you give me a hand?"
"I cannot promise you other things; however, your request for plywood and
two by four studs is an easy one for me to do. Remember, I am the boss of
the wood working shop, Dad. I will tell my men to cut for you, and they will
deliver it to your home, too. We have GMC trucks."
"You don't have to do that. I will tell my men to come and pick them
up. You don't have to deliver the free cut order!"
Dao seemed uncomfortable to be involved with the intelligence personnel.
He changed the subject:
"We will talk about that later. Why don't we go to the cafeteria and
have a cup of coffee . . ."
After a long conversation, I knew that my naval son was a trusted officer
of the shipyard's commanding officer, Commander Tho. That was the reason
he got his position, which usually was taken by a lieutenant. I knew Dao
very well at the academy, but I was still surprised at his success.
Had he really learned anything in his two years as laborer on the ship? I
did not know!
I was happy that things happened so quickly around here. I got my apartment
and material for fixing it in a couple of days. Hmmm, I remembered that
it was very difficult to get a gallon of gray paint to paint my apartment
at my last duty position. . . With lazy eyes, I glanced at the papers
that had been prepared for my signature and closed the folder. I put my
feet up on my desk and smoked a cigarette. My mind was floating on a small
cloud. Well, the proverb said:
planning always depended on man but
achieving often depended on God
. Could I both plan and achieve this
time? I smiled. . .
Working time was over; Son and I went back to our room in the BOQ
and changed clothes. It was better to go out for dinner in civilian
clothes. I started to get acquainted with "let the deputies do their
Two weeks had passed quietly. My apartment at the end of the block had a
new look with the help from my two men, Nhieu and Khuong, who had spent
their full time remodeling. It was not a separate villa. From the outside,
it had only the ordinary look of an apartment in the officers' or seamen's
housing quarter. However, I fortuately did not spend a penny for a job
well done. That was one of my naval benefits, I guessed, and I had no
complaints about it.
The interesting thing is my naval benefit did not stop then, but continued
until I left the island. What kind of benefit was it? I often considered
that my benefit had come from Heaven like a gift from God, because it
brought me a total surprise. At dinner the day before I went back to
the mainland to move my family, Son secretly gave me an envelop:
"That is your part, Lieutenant!"
I opened it and took just one look. I then opened my shirt button and put
it inside, against my stomach. I asked a stupid question that I thought
anyone in my situation would ask:
"Where did this come from, Son?"
Son gave me his answer, a smile! By the number written on the envelope,
this kind of money was too much for me. In one second, I received
three months' salary. What could I do? Why did Son have to give it to
me? If Son had kept it for himself, surely I would have never known! There
were some rules that I did not know yet, and I had to find them
out! That was the reason Son always told me "don't worry about the
little things." He was right, the lunches and dinners were only the
little things. I thought that Son did only what was ordered by
someone else who still was unknown to me. I had to find out who that was.
I was then totally suspicious of Son; he might not give me the correct
amount. I got a little bit angry:
"I think that you ought to tell me what you have done. If there are
some dangerous matters along the line, we will have different ways to go.
If all of you keep doing whatever you are doing now, there is a day when
not only you but also I will end up in prison, do you know that?"
"From time to time, you will know exactly what's going on, Lieutenant!"
There was some money for my trip expenses. There was some money for
my wife to have some nice clothes. There was some money for my children
to have milk every day. There was some money for many necessary
things. . . Did I have to accept this deal? My question was my answer!
I had taken it with no complaints. I knew that I was a wheel in the
system. I had to roll because I had no choice. Would that be a corruption
act? I had imagined the terrible things that I would have to do in the
future. Well, whatever would happen, it would happen. I only knew now
that I was to receive a gift from the Lord. One time as an intelligence
officer, a true and clean officer, had passed away from now on.
(To know more about "one time as an intelligence officer, a true and
clean officer," please read
Honey Moon At The River-Bridge Bay
Book One of the "One . . ." Series
The Line Of Life
Book Two of the "One . . ." Series
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