After reviewing the Laotian army company on the Laos/Vietnamese border in the village of Ban Vat, George and his partner were quite tired. They turned in early, after a typical military Laotian army supper of glutenous rice with local vegetable greens and some fried fish caught by soldiers in a local stream.
While eating, George had taken the opportunity of sitting around with the common soldiers to learn how they felt about their service. It had been evident through earlier weeks at the various Military Region Headquarters that the upper echelon of officers lived well, but George wanted to get a feel for the morale of the troops. He discovered that the soldiers had to find their own supplies of food with the exception of rice which was furnished and delivered by the army. The men did receive monetary compensation, but they considered it insufficient for local purposes in this mountainous area, where the people were not able to raise much food except for themselves.
George promised to look into the common problems facing the troops to see what could be done to improve the situation. George said nothing about his impression that the Laotian army philosophy was that it didn’t make any difference what the troops in the field thought or experienced. If they were attacked from an outside force, they would have no choice but to fight and defend themselves, thereby defending the country.
Upon their return to Savannakhet, George and his partner were taken to the officers’ club where they were fed an excellent dinner of water-buffalo steak, French fries and green salad, accompanied by good French wine. They were given comfortable accommodations for the night in the officers’ club before their return to the capitol, Vientiane.
I write of George’s Laotian service in the mid-1950s as America was making preparations for intervention in Vietnam in my book: Observer: The Colonel George Trofimoff Story, the tale of America’s highest ranking military officer convicted of spying.
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