1959-1964 Home in Korat

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November 14th 1959
Published: June 9th 2011
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After 4 months at school we would have two months at home. For this entire period my family lived in Korat, Thailand. There was another missionary family in town. Their daughter Barbara and son Jim were close to my age, and also went to Dalat School. We hung around a lot. We played badminton with our Thai friend Sawat. We would also ride our bikes all over town. One favorite destination was the rice mill. Next to the mill was a hundred foot high pile of rice husks. We had fun climbing it and sliding down.

I also enjoyed riding out to the Thai Army base, which was next to the Thai Air Force base. The Thai Army base had a race course. They let me ride race horses around the track, which was quite exciting.

In the early ‘60’s we had several families move to town who were with aid agencies. Israel sent a farmer to show the Thai how to grow cotton in the arid climate of Northeast Thailand. They had a son and daughter about my age, so we hung around together. They liked horses too.

Several American families with the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG) or with the U.S. Overseas Mission (USOM), now called USAID, also had kids my age, so pretty soon we had a regular foreign community! One of their kids also went to Dalat School.

But bigger changes were in store for Thailand. I was out at the airbase one day in the very early 60’s when a U.S. Air Force 707 landed. I hung around to see who was arriving. It was William Averill Harriman, President Kennedy’s Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, and General Maxwell Taylor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They were there in preparation for the first U.S. troops to deploy to Thailand in support of the Vietnam War. I had been leaning against a jeep, but snapped to attention when they approached me. They probably wondered what an American kid was doing there. Word got back to me that they thought I was very respectful. That’s about the only time I have been respectful of authority! While they were doing their thing the crew showed me around the aircraft, and I got to sit in the cockpit with the flight helmet on.

Not long after that battalions from the 25th Infantry (Tropical Lightning) Division were deployed to our province. That’s when I started to collect unit badges. Soon the Thai army and air bases were converted to U.S. Army and Air Force bases. F-105 bombers were stationed at Korat Air Base in support of the bombing of North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia; creating constant noise as they thundered off for their missions. We would wait for their return, and count the number of planes hoping they all made it back safely

My parents would host a Bible Study at our home that provided our troops an opportunity to get away and enjoy some home cooking. I got to know a couple U.S. Army pilots who flew the C-9 Canadian DeHavilland Caribou, a transport aircraft capable of landing and taking off of short runways. They once visited me at Dalat and brought boxes of American chocolate bars. It was difficult having to share with all my classmates!

The trips I took while in Korat were mostly within Thailand, to visit Darrell and Don in Roiet and Johnny in Ban Phai. It was rice harvest time when I got to Roiet, so we helped the farmers harvest their rice. A day bending down in the hot sun, then grabbing a bunch of rice and using a sickle to cut it, was hard work. I decided riding water buffalo across the rice fields was much more relaxing!

One memorable trip was to Phu Kra Dung National Park with my Dad, Uncle Wayne, Johnny, and his dad. It was about a four hour hike to the top of the mountain which was a flat plateau. We stayed in a nice lodge, and hiked to waterfalls and other sights.

In 1962 Khao Yai (Big Mountain) National Park opened about an hour west of Korat. Our family would take short vacations there to get away from the heat. The temperature on the mountain was about 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the low lands. The park had a lot of wildlife including deer and wild elephants. Gibbons could be heard hooting as they swung through the trees. There were also hiking trails to the many waterfalls. Our favorite was Heo Suwat falls.

Our favorite vacation spot, however, was to the Presbyterian mission cottages at Nong Kae or the Railroad Hotel in Hua Hin, each at opposite ends of a long beach. At the Nong Kae end there was Khao Te Giep (Chopstick) Mountain that we climbed. Over the years the local people built a temple on top. We would spend two weeks or so at the beach. I learned to swim there and got my Cub Scout merit badge. Jelly fish were the only nuisance; except for sun burn. We didn’t seem to know about suntan lotion so we always got burned. I still go to the dermatologist every year to make sure that the damage hasn’t caught up with me.

The Asian Fair was held in Bangkok, and when it was over my Dad arranged to have one pavilion delivered to Korat to serve as an interim church. He also built the permanent church, where Sunday mornings he preached in Thai, and Sunday evenings he preached in English where many servicemen attended. I remember one evening, the lights went out and he continued to preach without his notes.

Additional photos below
Photos: 15, Displayed: 15


Bob and Sue at Hua Hin beachBob and Sue at Hua Hin beach
Bob and Sue at Hua Hin beach

Sue loves to ride horses

30th December 2011

What an amazing childhood :)
My childhood consisted of mostly catching newts, climbing trees and digging holes in my back garden. I must confess to being a tad jealous hee hee :) Is the church your father built in Korat still there?
30th December 2011

Thanks for commenting...I try to do the same for you. Your latest blog was especially insightful...and I lived through the Vietnam War as a child! As for the church, I went to Google Maps using the satellite view, and couldn't find anything that I recognized...no church, none of the houses I lived in, nothing. Thailand has totally changed since the 1950s and 60s, and even 70's when I went back after college with Linda.
7th September 2012

Bob the jet pilot!
As a young boy, that must have been a highlight of your youth, sitting in that jet. How wonderful to have seen as much as you have and to have lived in so many different places. Such interesting reading - I am reading in installments!
7th September 2012

It's hard to pinpoint one highlight...
but sitting in the cockpit of that jet that just brought the high level team from Washington to make arrangements to station U.S. troops in Thailand and Vietnam was definitely a highlight not just because I was in a jet, but because I was witness to the start of the Vietnam War. I have been witness throughout my life to so many historical events, including the end of the Cold War when I was at NATO. Thanks for reading.
6th October 2017

Remember meeting at the fair?
We had a lot of fun playing badminton. We played with Joe Broom too right?! I remember when you said you would meet me at the fair. When you found me you said it was easy. All you had to do was "jump up in the air and look for my head above the others." Your dad was a great tour guide. I remember when he took us to the River Kwai (and other places). Remember when your dad took us to meet Cardinal Spellman at the base? I still remember what your Grandpa Northcott did!
6th October 2017

We share so many memories...
and some I've forgotten. Thanks for bringing them back to me.

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