I wanted to provide information about the 3rd ITT. I am Richard Hornbeak,
and I believe I was the first marine interrogator in Vietnam who spoke
Vietnamese. The second marine who spoke Vietnamese was Sgt. Michael Murray. We
had gone to language school together and interrogation school at Fort Holabird,
but somehow he was delayed coming to Vietnam, hence my being the first
interrogator that spoke Vietnamese. When I arrived in July 1966 the members of
the 3rd ITT that were already there did not speak the language. Gy/Sgt. Patino
was the third interrogator to speak the language when he arrived towards the end
of 1966. So far I've never heard the following names mentioned concerning the
3rd ITT. Cpn. Kenworthy was there in July 1966; he was the team leader. He was
later replaced by Cpn. Green in 1967. Others who were members of 3rd ITT that
as far as I know came in 1965, and were there when I arrived, were S/Sgt. Weist
and S/Sgt. Glassburner and S/Sgt. Beatty.
I'd like to relate what I think are some humorous and interesting anecdotes from my experiences in 3rd ITT. Within the first month I went over to Dogpatch and was talking to a whole group of elementary age Vietnamese kids for about 10 minutes. When I left to go back to 3rd ITT's compound I discovered to my dismay that my leather Benrus wristwatch was gone. The kids had taken it without me even noticing.
Another amusing incident occurred again a couple months later near Dogpatch in which an Ontos cooked off a round hitting the jeep in front. I didn't see the round hit the jeep but I arrived a few seconds later and somebody was already bandaging up the jeep driver who had minor injuries. As I drove by the Ontos driver said in a very glib manner, "Sorry 'bout that!". Later on, having never seen the TV show Get Smart, I discovered that was the origin of his using such a flippant remark.
Do Phi Hung, an interpreter I worked with in Vietnam, once invited me over to his house in Da Nang. He offered me a concoction that had lots of spices and tasted pretty good. Only after eating it did he tell me it was a dog burger, knowing full well Americans do not eat that. He was rolling on the floor laughing and I never forgave him; but I didn't give him the satisfaction of saying anything about it. I thanked his wife for the meal and left.
Another eye-opening event with Do Phi Hung and I happened around January 1967, also in Da Nang, in which we were driving the jeep on the way back from an interrogation at a hospital. I saw a Vietnamese woman selling French bread on the street. My friend Hung asked me to stop so he could get some. Naturally I stayed with the jeep so the kids wouldn't run off with the gas can while he bought the bread. When he came back I asked him how much the bread cost. He said 50 piastres. I asked him to stay with the jeep while I went to purchase the bread for myself. The Vietnamese over there were used to Americans knowing a little bit of their language. So when I asked how much in Vietnamese "Bao Nhieu?", she didn't seem surprised. She told me 100 piastres, twice what my friend paid. I then proceeded, in my fluent Vietnamese having been in the country about six months by that time, to say the following, "You sold my friend the french bread for 50 piastres. I am here fighting for your country and don't think you should overcharge me like this. You are not showing me any gratefulness for me being here fighting for your freedom." She looked at me with her mouth wide open in disbelief that I could speak to her like that. I got the bread for 50 piastres.
Does anybody remember the late night bullshit card games with S/Sgt. Glassburner (I think it was him or it may have been someone else) who would never look at his initial cards, roll on the floor laughing like crazy, and still seem to win almost every hand? During some of those card games somebody would put Smirnoff vodka in ashtrays on the floor for the captured Viet Cong puppies to drink. The puppies would drink until they passed out, but they woke up later. Does anyone remember this besides me?
That's all folks!
Sgt. Richard Hornbeak