National Geographic : 1952 Sep
317 A Chinese Shopkeeper Hangs His Roast Ducks Up to Public Gaze in Saigon Saigon lives are lived in public. Sidewalks are extensions of homes and shops where people eat, wash, gamble, sleep, gossip, and barter (page 289). These ducks are lacquered red, a Chinese custom. firewood and opium down from the mountains for bartering. In a misty rain we visited a front-line strong point 25 miles southwest of Hanoi. Near by, sawtooth mountains rose abruptly from the plain. The first, crowning a steep, flat-topped foothill, commanded the road from Hoa Binh (pages 289, 292). Sandbagged out posts honeycombed its brow; concrete bunkers encircled its base. "Need any help?" a strange voice shouted in English. A young sergeant was running toward us. He thrust out his hand. "I'm Georges Messanot," he said. "Born in Canada and lived my first 12 years near Palisade, New Jersey. How's the good old U.S.A.?" With the sergeant we hiked all over the hill. Crude signs named parts of it after Paris precincts; rough trails bore the names of Paris boulevards. On this quiet day the enemy was boredom. Soldiers in dugouts wrote letters, read, or whittled toy planes. Some of the more energetic played a brisk game of volleyball. American Arms Aid French The fort's armament was American-made. Everywhere, but especially in the delta, we saw evidences of United States military aid. Ever since the end of 1950, when the late Brig. Gen. Francis G. Brink, chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group for Indo china, hurried to Tokyo and obtained urgently needed war materiel from General Mac Arthur's reserve supplies, tanks, trucks, guns, planes, and landing craft have streamed in from Japan and from the United States. Because rivers are important highways in Indochina, and in the wet season millions of acres of rice fields are flooded, amphibious craft, even small seaplanes, play an important role in the war. The French Navy and Air Force coordinate closely with ground forces for even the smallest operations.