Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with George L. West
So I put in for retirement. There were a lot of people retired. They were holding out that you would, that it was quite advantageous to get in '62... Special deal was on.
Everybody at that time was under the [$?] 20,000 limit. Everybody from the middle of Class Two all through Class One, career Ambassador, career Minister. I was Class One officer. I had made Class One from Class Two in three years, which was a record. But I was tied by Marshall Green. There were three of us that year. I had a great professional future, I thought, but I just couldn't see it.
Now, to get back to Indochina. All the time I was in WE I was very much involved with what was going on and had my own ideas about how far we were going, to get Bao Dai and that bunch. Also, there were an awful lot of things I didn't like the look of. The people who were trying to run the place under Bao Dai...
Q: Bao Dai was the so-called Emperor of Vietnam.
WEST: These types were guys who had toadied up to the French, and then the French had been beaten. The support for the government was mostly from the guys who'd voted with their feet from North Vietnam.
Q: Who'd left North Vietnam in '54 and come back.
WEST: And the Catholics, particularly. And, of course, Spellman was constantly popping up with this.
Q: This is Cardinal Spellman of New York, who was an extreme right-wing, very influential [?] at that time.
WEST: Don't we know it. I think it was about late '61 when we decided to appoint something like six hundred military advisors.
Paul Harkins was sent out. I had met Paul several times. First of all, when he came through Paris I had dinner with him and General Schuyler, who was Norstad's Deputy at SHAPE and an old friend of Harkins'. I guess they were at West Point together.
Mr. Harkins did not impress me very well. He was sort of a flamboyant, pseudo-Patton type. (I could tell you some stories about Patton and Luxembourg.) Then he was going out to take the NATO command out in Turkey.