AFLS-Vietnam Significant Events

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1956



6/18/56 The Army Language School opened at Camp Tran Hung Dao (JGS Annex), Gia Dinh Province, Saigon.

At the beginning, the school operated with a Director, a US Advisor and seven (7) Instructors teaching thirty (30) students in two (2) small buildings which were used as offices and classrooms. [Evaluation: RVNAFLS]

The Vietnamese Armed Forces Language School opened in Saigon in June 1956 with the mission of teaching English to Vietnamese who were programmed to attend offshore schooling in the United States. Its capacity at that time was about 1,000 students. [ HQ, MACV, Command History, 1969, II, VI-81-VI-92, and Command History, 1970]



1961



9/1/61 The name was changed to Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Language School.



After five consecutive years of activity, the Armed Forces English Language School was redesignated the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Language School. This occurred on 1 September 1961. [Evaluation: RVNAFLS] ]



1967



7/1967 The Armed Forces Language School doubled its capacity. MACV Study.

In July 1967 the school doubled its input by increasing facilities and operating on a two-shift basis. The school's mission was then expanded to include training of Vietnamese translators for requirements within the country.[HQ, MACV, Command History, 1969, II, VI-81-VI-92, and Command History, 1970]

To adequately comprehend the present status of this school, one must start with the 1967 study performed by a MACV Board of Officers at the request of the Training Directorate. … At this time is was recognized that the Language School (located on the JGS Compound ) facilities were inadequate and the school must be expanded and relocated. Pending the drelocation of the school, COMUSMACV approved the alloction of $30,800.00 to improve the unsatisfactory classroom and language laboratory facilities. The renovation was scheduled to begin in Feb 68. However, the Jan 68 TET Offensive precluded the initiation of the rennovation. [After Action Report]



1968



1/31/68 VC infiltrated the Army Language School. Gunships destroyed the VC and most of the Camp Tran Hung Dao facility. 3 students killed. 720 student capacity.

The Vietcong intended to mount a simultaneous attack at Gate No. 4, but their Go Mon battalion was delayed in reaching its assembly position until 0700. Nevertheless, the VC knocked down the gate with B-40 rockets and swarmed through, taking the buildings housing the Armed Forces Language School and JGS Headquarters Company. With only the ARVN Honor Guard battalion, plus an armor troop for the entire JGS complex, South Vietnamese reaction was weak and uncoordinated. Had the Go Mon battalion pursued, it could be [have] overrun the JGS building and the Joint Operations center, but instead, the VC dug in to defend a perimeter, mistakenly believing the JGS building itself [was] already in their hands. At 0900, ARVN countered with two paratrooper companies and that afternoon committed a Marine battalion, hurriedly flown up from the Mekong Delta, as reinforcement. The JGS compound was secured at 1030 on 1 February, and VC remnants were driven back into the city of Saigon.[Tet Attack]

On 31 January 1968, the school was severely attacked by Viet Cong forces. The VC occupied the school during the period 31 January 1968 thru February 1968. All major buildings were destroyed. Three students were killed while facing the enemy in the initial attack. During the ensuing battle, helicopter gunships were successful in repulsing the Viet Cong but at the same time severely damaged and destroyed a good part of the school’s buildings and equipment. In order to resume classes on a limited basis, the school acquired 10 temporary type “Cholon” tin buildings. Each building contains 4 classrooms providing a total of 40 classrooms available for classes. [Evaluation: RVNAFLS] ]

During the Tet offensive of 1968, 70 percent of the school's facilities were destroyed; however, new facilities were obtained and the training continued almost without interruption. [HQ, MACV, Command History, 1969, II, VI-81-VI-92, and Command History, 1970]

A rehabilitation project to include soundproofing, lighting and air conditioning of language labs was started on the RVNAFLS in January 1968.During the TET offensive, 31 Jan – 1 Feb 68, the language school was severely damaged by enemy action. Rehabilitation was cancelled on Feb due to the destruction of classrooms and steps were taken to relocate RVNAFLS. Attempts were made to rent existing facilities but neither Vietnamese or MASF funds were available for this purpose. Ten expedient metal huts were constructed on the grounds of the RVNAFLS. These buildings are considered inadequate for classrooms due to noise and lack of electrical outlets. [Progress Report]

At this time the RVNAF Language School was entirely located in Camp Tran Hung Dao on the JGS Compound. The school had a double shift capacity of 720 students and a 120 student position language laboratory facility. During the 1968 TET Offensive the school was occupied by the VC and approximately 70% of the school, including the laboratory facility was destroyed during the ensuing fighting. Subsequent efforts to obtain a new location for the school were unsuccessful. [After Action Report]



4/68 The student load was 1,451 students.



The peak student load experienced at the school during the month of April 1968 was 1,451 students. [Evaluation: RVNAFLS]

5/1/68 The school consisted of 40 classrooms and offices. 27 US military instructors were assigned to the school.

These 40 classrooms along with offices which were set up in damaged buildings comprised the Armed Forces Language School as of 1 May 1968. There was no language laboratory as it was completely destroyed as mentioned above. [Evaluation: RVNAFLS]

Ten metal prefabricated buildings were then erected at the school location in Camp Tran Hung Dao in May 68 as an interim measure pending relocation of the school to a suitable training facility. These building, combined with useable classroom space in the damaged facilities, gave the school a double shift capacity of 1000 students. This capacity was sufficient to accommodate the ARVN Offshore and ARVN Interpreter training requirements. However, a new requirement to provide English language training for VNAF students in support of the RVNAF I&M Program was identified in May 68. This necessitated the acquisition of additional facilities to accommodate the VNAF students. [After Action Report]

As of 1 May 1968 there were a total of 27 US military instructors assigned to the school. [Evaluation: RVNAFLS]



6/68 Students required to serve as security forces in Saigon.

The programmed objective has been increased to 1961 students. During the first six months, 671 students were graduated. However, classes were interrupted for 6 weeks because of the Tet offensive. Additionally, the school has been required to provide students and tanks as security forces in Saigon for periods of 5 to 7 days at a time. [Progress Report]

Statement of Objective: To train 3,820 students in English in CY 68. [Progress Report]



8/68 The Dong Khanh facility was allocated to the school.

A GVN owned building at 29 Dong Khanh, Cholon was allocated to the school in Aug 68. This building was considered undesirable as a language training facility due to the high ambient noise level resulting from its location on a main thoroughfare. However, due to the pressing need for additional facilities, it was decided to utilize this facility. Extensive renovation was also required before the building could be used for the conduct of language training. [After Action Report]



9/68 The detachment strength was 1 officer, 38 enlisted men and 1,600 students. Reconstruction of the administrative building at Camp Tran Hung Dao was started. Renovation of the Dong Khanh Annex was started.

Upon my assignment to the RVNAFLS Field Advisory Element on 17 Sep 68, the detachment strength was 1 officer and 38 enlisted men. … During this period, the student strength of RVNAFLS was approximately 1600.[After Action Report]

Little repair of the damage which the school had sustained during the 1968 NVA/VC Tet Offensive had been accomplished. During the latter part of September 1968, reconstruction of the administrative building was started on a “self help” basis. [After Action Report]

The renovation began in Sep 68 with 100 classrooms programmed for completion by 1 Mar 69. The renovation was to provide a facility with a double shift capacity of 2000. Instruction of VNAF students began at this facility on 4 Nov 68. [After Action Report]



Renovation of the building located at 29 Dong Khanh Street was commenced. This building when completed was to have provided RVNAFLS with 100 additional classrooms. This building was considered unsatisfactory by the school Commandant and Senior Advisor for the teaching of language due to the very high ambient noise level. However, Central Training Command directed that the building be utilized by RVNAFLS. [After Action Report]

10/68 Renovation of Dong Khanh Annex continued.



The renovation of the third floor of 29 Dong Khanh was completed. Reonovation consisted of partitioning large rooms into smaller classrooms. Lights and some over-head fans were installed. No work on the latrine was accomplished. [After Action Report]



11/4/68 Dong Khanh Annex opened at 29 Dong Khanh Sreet, Cholon

The first class of VNAF mechanic candidates entered training at the 29 Dong Khanh Annex of RVNAFLS. [After Action Report]



12/68 A new requirement to train VNN students. CY 69 peak of 4610 students.

In Dec 68 the VNAF program was accelerated and a new requirement to train VNN students for the “Accelerated Turn-Over of Navy Assets” Program was identified. This created a peak CY69 student load of 4610 students. [After Action Report]



12/23/68 Koelper Compound opened at 8 Nguyen Van Trang Street, Saigon.

Acceleration of the VNAF program made it imperative to obtain additional classroom space. Reconstruction of the Camp Tran Hung Dao location was not feasible due to the time frame involved. The decision was made by the Chief of Staff, MACV to turn over Koelper Compound, the vacated MACV Processing Center, to RVNAFLS. It was hoped that 100 classrooms would be provided by this facility. In fact, due to office space requirements, only 80 classrooms were obtained. The VNAF mechanic students who were undergoing training at 29 Dong Khanh were shifted to Koelper Compound on 23 Dec 68. [After Action Report]

Immediate action was taken to acquire Koelper Compound, 8 Nguyen Van Trang, Saigon for use as a language school. This facility was expected to provide 100 classrooms and a double shift capacity of 2000 students. The three facilities were expected to give the school a double shift capacity of approximately 5000 students.[After Action Report]



12/31/68 By the end of 1968 the schools capacity had grown to 5,000 students.

As the Vietnamese armed forces grew and the requirement for offshore schooling increased, the school enlarged its facilities until, by the end 1968, it had a capacity of 5,000 students. [HQ, MACV, Command History, 1969, II, VI-81-VI-92, and Command History, 1970]

Offshore trainees who graduated from the school had an excellent (rated "70 percent") language capability and attended U.S. schools without the previously required three-month TDY period of English schooling in CONUS. [HQ, MACV, Command History, 1969, II, VI-81-VI-92, and Command History, 1970]



1969



1/69 USAF instructors arrive from CONUS. School headquarters moved from Camp Tran Hung Dao to Koelper Compound. Projected student load 5,555. Personnel increased from 38 to 500.



Eighty-eight (88) USAF personnel arrived from CONUS. These individuals had received 2 weeks pre-service training at Lackland AFB and were attached to the RVNAFLS FAE for 6 months temporary duty. [After Action Report]

The school headquarters was transferred from Camp Tran Hung Dao to Kelper Compound. [After Action Report]

In Jan69 additional VNAF training requirements were identified which increased the peak projected CY69 student load to 5555 in Jul 69. … The Advisory Detachment commenced an expansion from 38 to 500 personnel to provide additional advisory and instructor personnel to support the increased training program. The Advisory Detachment established preservice and inservice instructor training programs to train the additional instructor personnel provided on a TDY basis with little or no instructor training. [After Action Report]

Vietnamese Armed Forces Language School (AFLS): This command on numerous occasions has attempted to procure qualified interpreters for the CIDG program. The AFLS quotas for ARVN NCOs assigned to 5th SFGA is insufficient to support present operational requirements. To rectify this situation, the VNSF-HC and the 5th SFGA have asked and received permission to send VNSF and CIDG personnel to the Vietnamese Armed Forces Language School in Saigon every month for twelve months beginning January 1969. The course of instruction is approximately eighteen weeks in duration. To date 38 VNSF and 76 CIDG students have been enrolled in the AFLS. The first class enrolled on 13 Jan 1969 is tentatively scheduled to graduate on 14 Jun 1969. [RVNAF English Language School]



2/69 Renovation of Dong Khanh Annex continues.

The renovation of the 2nd floor of 29 Dong Khanh was completed. Latrines were not usable. [After Action Report]





3/69 Instruction resumes at Dong Khanh Annex. 2nd floor renovation completed.

Instruction for VNAF mechanic and pilot candidates resumed at 29 Dong Khanh.. [After Action Report]

2nd floor renovation completed at Dong Khanh. No latrines useable. This facility provided 80 rather than the 100 classrooms anticipated. [After Action Report]



4/69 Vung Tau facility identified.

A building located on the Military Police Compound at Vung Tau was identified for possible use as an additional Annex of RVNAFLS. [After Action Report]





Reconstruction of Camp Tran Hung Dao begun. First USAF PCS instructors arrive from CONUS with 6 weeks training. Student load was 4.435 students.

Reconstruction program at Camp Tran Hung Dao Annex was begun. Building 41 repaired and Engineer Corps began tearing down damaged Quonset Huts. [After Action Report]

Arrival of first USAF PCS insructors from CONUS who had received 6 weeks training at Lackland. Outstanding group. [After Action Report]

This compares with a peak student load during the month of April 1969 of 4,435 students [Evaluation: RVNAFLS] ]

.

4/11/69 Nha Trang facility opened.





5/1/69 Unit strength 495. Instructors are not professional language instructors. Security threat.



This compares with a total of 495 instructors assigned as of 1 May 1969. These US military personnel are not professional language instructors. The average US military instructor possesses, as his principal qualifying skill, the ability to speak English as a native language. Methods and techniques employed by US military instructor personnel capitalize on this native skill. Maximum classroom time is devoted to oral drills and repetition by the student. [Evaluation: RVNAFLS] ]

An increased threat to the security of personnal and material at RVNAFLS occurred concurrently with the expansion of the school from a relatively secure location at Camp Tran Hung Dao to 3 other unportected buildings located in the busiest sections of Saigon and Cholon. This threat to security is the vulnerability of the school buildings to terrorist activities. This occurs because of their close proximity to the crowded and busy city streets. At all 3 locations there is not enough area between the school buildings and the street to allow for adequate student dispersal. [Evaluation: RVNAFLS] ]



5/69 VNAF Tent City project started. Reconstruction of Camp Tran Hung Dao continues. Unit strength 6 officers, 585 enlisted.



VNAF Tent City project started. This project will house and feed 4000 VNAF students upon completion. Target date for completion of 1st phase is 1 Jul 69. [After Action Report]



Auditorium repaired at Tran Hung Dao. Sidewalks are laid. Destruction of Quonset Huts continued. [After Action Report]

RVNAFLS Field Advisory Element strength reached 6 officers and 585 enlisted personnel. [After Action Report]



6/69 Renovation of first three floors of Dong Khanh completed. Thirteenth anniversary of RVNAFS celebrated.

First, second and third floors of Dong Khanh accepted by RVNAFLS. The workmanship was very poor. Fans were missing, electric fixtures defective and latrines inoperative. These deficiencies were being corrected on a self help basis. [After Action Report]

Thirteenth anniversary of RVNAFLS celebrated at 29 Dong Khanh. All former Commandants were present. [After Action Report]



7/1/69 Tent City accepted first input. 500 VNAF students sent to Nha Trang.

VNAF Tent City accepted first input on 1 Jul 69. Two thousand VNAF students will occupy Tent City during Phase I. Two thousand more will move to Tent City during Phase II (1 Sep 69). [After Action Report]

An agreement was reached to send 500 VNAF airmen to the VNAF English School in Nha Trang for training during Jul-Aug 69. This was necessary to prevent the capacity of the RVNAF Language School from being exceeded. [After Action Report"]



8/7/69 A car bomb destroyed much of Dong Khanh Annex. 28 instructors injured. RVNAF allocates Tan Son Nhut facility. ARVN students to Dong Khanh, VNAF at JGS.

On 7 August 1969, twenty-eight Air Force members were injured during an explosion which occurred front of the Dong Khanh annex building on Dong Khanh St. a few blocks Ease of the St. GEorge and Capital BEQs. [Dong Khanh Explosion]

A Vietnamese mini bus was parked there armed with high explosive and the explosives detonated spreading shrapnel throughout the area inflicting injuries to the members. [Dong Khanh Explosion]

On 7 Aug 69 a VC terrorist attack temporarily put the Dong Khanh Annex out of operation. Training for the affected VNAF students was continued at VNAF Tent City and a Public School on Plantation Road. An impact statement was also dispatched to JCS outlining the effects of the attack on the I&M Program. Significant actions resulting from the attack included the allocation of new facilities for the school by RVNAF. These facilities are located next to Tent City and will provide an additional 120 classrooms by 1 Dec 69. The JGS Compound is now being utilized to train VNAF students and the ARVN students have been moved to the Dong Khanh Annex. Additionally, a decision was made to pursue to immediate construction of a permanent 200 classroom facility which would ultimately replace all the temporary facilities. [After Action Report]

At least 12 Vietnamese were killed and more than 60 persons, including 23 U.S. airmen, were injured Thursday afternoon when a parked car laden with 60 pounds of plastic explosives blew up in front of a language school on a bustling street in Saigon’s Cholon district. It was the most serious terrorist act in Saigon this year. [Stars and Stripes]



10/11/69 CBS-TV news special.



On 11 Oct and 12 Oct 69, CBS-TV news commentator Charles W. Collingwood visited RVNAFLS with a camera crew to film classroom and laboratory facilities for an upcoming CBS-TV news special on the I&M Program. The English language program in Vietnam was to be part of the TV special. The sow appeared 2 Dec 69 on CBS-TV in the United States. [Quarterly Report]


10/13/69 Tan Son Nhut Annex opened near MACV.

On 13 Oct 69, classes began at the new Tan Son Nhut Annex. … The annex has a maximum student capacity at present of 1200 VNAF helicopter pilot candidates. [Quarterly Report]



10/31/69 The 3-track system was implemented.



The purpose of the 3-track system is to reduce the number of VNAF mechanic candidate students eliminated with ECL scores below 40. … The 3-track POI allows students to be tracked, or classified, at the end of each Book in the ALC, as either slow, fast, or average learners, based upon three criteria in the following order of importance: 1. instructor evaluation; 2. ELAT score and 3. entry ECL test score. [Quarterly Report]



12/8/69 Vung Tau Annex (Army) opened at the Kiet Compound Building, Vung Tau.

A new requirement to conduct English language training in support of the Integrated Communications System (ICS) Program was identified. Actions were initiated to establish an annex of the Language School at Vung Tau and to obtain 106 additional advisory and instructional personnel to provide this training. A target date of 1 Sep 69 was established for commencement of instruction at the new facility. [After Action Report]

An additional facility for the school was established at Vung Tau by renovating the Kiet Compound building to make possible a capacity of 660 students. The facility was completed on 5 December, and the first class began three days later. Four hundred and sixty-four ARVN Signal Corps students entered the class to learn English in preparation for further training in the ICS program. [HQ, MACV, Command History, 1969, II, VI-81-VI-92, and Command History, 1970]

The Republic of Vietnam Language School Vung Tau will begin classes on 8 December 1969. Of the 106 US Advisory/Instructor personnel authorized, 92 are presently on hand. The 40 position language laboratory is now being installed with a completion date of 24 November 1969. The renovation of the Kiet compound building (the school’s facility) is scheduled for completion on 29 November 1969. The Defense Language Institute (DLI) Instructor Training Course will commence on 17 November 1969 under the supervision of 3 US DLI Civilians. There are over 500 students presently at the RVNAF Signal School awaiting the opening of this facility. The facility has a capacity of 660 students. [Vung Tau Opening]



12/31/69 Location. 559 instructors. 4,273 student load and training problems.

Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Language School (RVNAFLS) is located in five separate facilities in the Saigon area: Camp Tran Hung Dao (Known commonly as JGS and which will be refered to in this report as JGS), Koelper Compound, Royal Annex, Dong Khanh Annex and Tan Son Nhut Annex. A refresher course is also in operation at two temporary buildings on the Tan Son Nhut Air Base for Vietnamese helicopter pilot candidates who have graduated from RVNAFLS and are awaiting shipment to CONUS. RVNAFLS also has a school annex at Vung Tau, Vietnam for ARVN signal students. On 19 January, an additional building will open adjacent to the present Tan Son Nhut Facility in the Saigon area. [Quarterly Report]

All instructors perform full time, except for 11 Vietnamese civilians who are on a part time schedule. The instructor staff consisted of (as of 31 Dec 69):



USAF – 354 assigned instructors. Actually 282 were teaching as of 31 Dec and 30 were being used in supervisory academic roles, such as evaluator assistants and 42 were either on leave, sick, R&R or on other miscellaneous duties.

USA – 15 instructors at Dong Khanh Annex

ARVN – 29 instructors at Dong Khanh Annex
VN Civ – 11 instructors at Dong Khanh Annex
USA – There were 80 US Army instructors in TDY (6 months) at Vung Tau
[Total=559 instructors] [Quarterly Report]



As of 31 Dec 1969, student loads at the RVNAFLS were:

JGS….1,006 TSN…990
Koelper…832 Royal…537
D.K….447 V.T….461

[Total=4,273 students] [Quarterly Report]

ARVN students at Dong Khanh attend four hours of class per day, six days per week. All other students attend class five hours per day, six days per week on a double-shift schedule which means that the classrooms are utilized twice daily. [Quarterly Report]



The great bulk of RVNAFLS students (approximately 70%) are VNAF students in the helicopter program either as pilot or mechanic candidates. This program has the highest priority of RVNAFLS, yet it is in this program that the most serious problems exist. Academic losses among VNAF mechanic candidates ran approximately 65% during 1969, which means that RVNAFLS had to enter 100 VNAF airmen through the gates to get 35 out the other side. Along the way, 65 were lost for academic reasons. Helicopter pilot candidates (cadets), however, were almost the opposite – only on paper though. Academic losses ran but 25%, which meant that for every 100 pilot candidates who entered RVNAFLS, 75 go out the other end. Only 53 were lost. [Quarterly Report]



1970



1/19/70 Koelper Compound instructors moved to Tan Son Nhut Annex. Dong Khah Annex closed and instructors moved to Koelper Compound.

Annex 2 (Tan Son Nhut) commenced training on 19 January 1970 for VNAF airmen with a capacity of 1,080 students. [HQ, MACV, Command History, 1969, II, VI-81-VI-92, and Command History, 1970]



Annex 1 (Dong Khanh) of the language school was transferred to the Adjutant General's School on 16 January 1970, and the capacity of the annex was increased from 420 to 1,000 students. [HQ, MACV, Command History, 1969, II, VI-81-VI-92, and Command History, 1970]

On 19 January, an additional building will open adjacent to the present Tan Son Nhut Facility in the Saigon area. Projected plans are for the VNAF students and instructors, as well as the administrative staff of Koelper Compound, to move to this new annex. Students, instructors and administrative staff of the ARVN school at Dong Khanh Annex will move to Koelper Annex. Both of these moves will take place around 19 January. RVNAFLS is an ARVN-administered, tri-service school. [Quarterly Report]



Dong Khanh Annex will have closed up and moved to Koelper Compound by 19 Jan 70. [Quarterly Report]





1971



1/71 Unit strength 440. [Meritorious Unit Commendation]

4/71 ELT for Vietnamese helicopter pilots completed.

Both U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force CONUS installations were used extensively to train Vietnamese Air Force pilots. This practice made it necessary for all prospective pilots to receive extensive language training. English language training for all Vietnamese helicopter pilots were finally completed on schedule with the last group leaving for the United States in April 1971. CONUS helicopter pilot training was scheduled for completion in July 1972. At the time, a total of 1,642 would have been trained including 341 who would have received instrument qualification training. The total Vietnamese Air Force offshore pilot training requirement, including helicopter, fixed-wing, and high-performance aircraft, was 3,334. During 1971, 1,007 students departed for offshore training while the remainder were scheduled to depart for continental United States by May 1972 for eighteen months of training. Completion date for the major portion of the offshore pilot program was September 1973. [Pilot Training Completed Report]





6/71 Unit strength 365. [Meritorious Unit Commendation]





9/71 Koelper Compound closed.



12/71 Unit strength 222. [Meritorious Unit Commendation]



1972



1/72 Unit strength 225.[Meritorious Unit Commendation]

5/1/72 Vung Tau Annex closed.



6/72 Unit strength 80. [Meritorious Unit Commendation]

8/72 Nha Trang facility closed.

8/72 Tan Son Nhut turned over to the Vietnamese Army.



1973



2/12/73 The Field Advisory Element 62, Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Language School was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation by the Department of the Army.

The FIELD ADVISORY ELEMENT 62, REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM ARMED FORCES LANGUAGE SCHOOL, ARMY ADVISORY GROUP, HEADQUARTERS, UNITED STATES MILITARY ASSISTANCE COMMAND, VIETNAM, distinguished itself in support of military operations in the Republic of Vietnam during the period 1 January 1971 to 30 June 1972. The members of this unit demonstrated extraordinary diligence, initiative, and consummate skill in a unique program dedicated to teaching English as a foreign language to members of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces. Through their efforts thousands of Vietnamese soldiers, sailors, and airmen gained sufficient proficiency of the English Language to prepare them for the advanced technical schools where they received training that enabled them to replace large numbers of the United States forces operating in Vietnam. The FIELD ADVISORY ELEMENT 62 also prepared Vietnamese instructors and administrators for the continued operation of the Language School after the withdrawal of American forces. Through their dedicated interest and concern of mission accomplishment, the FIELD ADVISORY ELEMENT 62 has contributed invaluably to the Vietnamization program. The remarkable proficiency and devotion to duty displayed by the members of the FIELD ADVISORY ELEMENT 62 are in keeping with the highest tradition of the military service and reflect distinct credit upon themselves and the Armed Forces of the United States. [Meritorious Unit Commendation]



1975



3/31/75 Final Assessment – United States Department of Defense.

The republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Language School (RVNAFLS) designated by the CTC as the primary English language training center for all three services, operated at less than 20% of its rated capacity. The military student load decreased from 271 to 212. Of 151 SATP designated candidates who took the official English Comprehension Level Test, 80% achieved the average qualifying score of 70 for direct entry into CONUS training. [RVNAF Final Assessment]

The VNAF English Language School (VNAFELS) located in Nha Trang also conducted an intensive ELTP geared to qualifying VNAF personnel for the SATP. The student load decreased from 83 to 33 with a marked shift in emphasis from training to combat readiness. [RVNAF Final Assessment]

From its beginnings in the mid-1950’s to the fall of the country, the program became highly developed and sophisticated, operated almost exclusively by the Vietnamese themselves, with only minimum guidance from two American English language experts. In the entire spectrum of in-country training, it was one of the best examples of “Vietnamization.” During the last year of operation, instructors in the schools were able to train prospective students to the maximum comprehension levels required for direct entry into CONUS courses, making South Vietnam one of the few nations under the SATP that achieved this goal. [RVNAF Final Assessment]

Yet, even the ELTP had internal problems created primarily by interservice rivalry. The VNAF, even when student loads were reduced by 90%, still clung to its Nha Trang school and full staff. The VNAF school could have easily been absorbed by the RVNAFLS at Saigon at substantial manpower and cost savings, had VNAF accepted the DAO recommendation and agreed to turn assets and responsibility over to the ARVN. The title of the Saigon school, “RVNAFLS,” implied a joint service school and indeed did accept students from all services. Yet as with nearly all other “RVNAF” schools, it had an exclusive ARVN staff. In addition, as student loads decreased, the RVNAFLS refused to substantially reduce its staff to make the officer instructors available for combat duty, a practice which was generally followed in all the RVNAF schools and training centers. [RVNAF Final Assessment]

Student selection by the RVNAF was always suspect. The vast preponderance of students selected for CONUS training cam from the Saigon area. While large numbers of units were located in and near Saigon, the ratio of Saigon selectees versus other area selectees was heavily imbalanced. The development by TMS of computer runs of former students, both by alphabetical listing and by courses, showed other interesting facts. Substantial numbers of students returned to the CONUS for training two, three, four or more. The computer runs were provided to the RVNAF and used by TMS to end the “professional student” concept and make offshore training a more equitable procedure. [RVNAF Final Assessment]

Assignment to a school or training center was a lucrative and much sought tour. Most instructors and staff personnel spent many years in the same jobs. Virtually every school or training center staff was bloated, with student-instructor ratios as low as one-to-one, some even worse. In the case of one school, during a nine-month period no students were assigned; yet the 40-man staff remained. When student loads began to decrease in late 1974 as enemy pressure increased, staffs remained largely unchanged. In the early lpart of 1975, when it became obvious that maximum mobilization would be required, the staffs were not reduced to any appreciable extent. [RVNAF Final Assessment]



4/29/75 The Last Days



At 12:30 noon on 29 April 1975, 819th Company’s 1st Platoon, commanded by Second Lieutenant Nguyen Cong Danh, rescued and protected a convoy of two buses that was being robbed and threatened at gunpoint at the gates to Tan Son Nhat Airbase. After resolving the situation, 1st Platoon escorted the two buses into the airbase. The passengers boarded an aircraft, and the aircraft took off at 2:45 in the afternoon. This was the last aircraft to take off from Tan Son Nhat. 1st Platoon then went back to deploy with the rest of 819th Company, commanded by Captain Truong Viet Lam, which was then deploying its troops at the Army Language School and the Army Arsenal. Captain Lam showed his soldiers how to use M-113s and they drove three brand new M-113s out of the Arsenal to establish an outer defensive perimeter. [The Last Days of Vietnam]






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