The drug problem in Vietnam in 1971 was out of hand. This book covers the Army's attempt to detoxify those who had become addicted. For many soldiers, drugs had become a war within a war. Drugs were cheap, available, and sometimes deadly. The drug of choice was heroin.
It was time to go live with Operation Gold Flow. It was June 15th, 1971.
At 0700 hours, the returnees were collected under the shed, knowing
nothing about what they would face. The NCOs of the 259th took them
through the area for police call. There were the usual remarks about
going home, fuck the army, and Vietnam. At 0730 the troopers formed up.
This was the easiest part because everyone wanted to be on that plane.
An NCO began to call out the names for the afternoon flight. As each
name was called, a soldier would leave the formation to gather his
possessions and go to the customs shed. While the NCO was reading the
list, the rest of the NCOs from the 259th were drifting into the area
and taking up positions in and around the podium. As the last name was
called, the troopers began to break up. The NCO called them back and
announced the the battalion commander had an announcement to make.
I stepped up to the podium.
"I have a message from the President of the United States."
That didn't seem to impress them at all.
I read the directive. It was general in nature but specified that each
person leaving Vietnam would have to give a urine sample. The initial
reaction was dead silence. Then came questions.
"How long will this delay my departure?" someone called out.
I answered , "If negative, not at all. If positive, detoxification will
last approximately seven days."
"Is this program for officers also?"
There were some snide remarks about officers.
The NCO marched them to the helicopter pad, where the medics were ready
to begin taking samples. The first group took about an hour to give
their specimens. So far, so good.
Excerpted from "The Vietnam War: An Untold Story of Drugs" by William E. Campbell. Copyright © 2018 by William E. Campbell. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.