The Black Market

There was no shortage of corruption during the war in Vietnam. I witnessed the black market in action in many locations during my 12 month tour. One of the most brazen was at the front gate of an ARVN (Army, Republic of Vietnam) Basic Combat Training camp. The camp commander was an ARVN Colonel. He set up a crude, make-shift booth that displayed dozens of obviously brand spanking new U.S. supplied items such as uniforms, flak-vests, canteens, jungle boots, webbing gear, hats, etc., all at a handsome asking price.

Even U.S Army soldiers got some action by selling PX items to the indigenous personnel such as electric fans and small refrigerators. There were some limits, of course, because those type items were listed on our issued ration cards. Once those items were punched, the soldier couldn’t buy any more of those items. But, there were work-arounds. I had a 1st Lt. from a sister radar team approach me one day and ask if he could use the unused fan and refrigerator punches on my ration card. Knowing what he was up to, I refused.