The dwindling number of American soldiers in South Vietnam is beginning to make a sharp impact on the Saigon economy.
The dwindling number of American soldiers in South Vietnam is beginning to make a sharp impact on the Saigon economy. Once the city was a 'sea of green' - green as in uniforms rather than dollars - but no longer. Even on a Saturday afternoon after pay day for the GIs, the once-active cyclo drivers sit glumly at the street corners to recall those boom times when American forces totalled more than 600,000. Now they are down to 230,000 and within a year will be down to 100,000. On a Saigon street corner, the major American officers' quarters known as the Hotel Rex now stands empty and abandoned. Some shops have closed and others are likely to suffer the same fate. Business is equally bad for the souvenir sellers. Once American soldiers were always described as 'number one.' Now they are number ten. The hordes of kids who roam Saigon's streets no longer have the big men in green to take an interest in them. The bar areas are where they are really feeling the pinch and it has given rise to a certain amount of anti-American feeling of bitterness and anger at the departing dollar. Muggings and robberies are on the rise, especially against American servicemen. Pimps and bar hostesses are becoming more and more desperate with each announcement of departing units. And behind them the Americans are also leaving a social problem caused by the war - children whose only home is a street corner and who exist by petty crime and old beggars who owed their meagre living to donations from the men in green who no longer crowd the streets of Saigon.