MY CANH RESTAURANT BOMBING
Friday evening, June 25 was quiet and sultry in Saigon. Along the waterfront strollers sought the evening breeze, children played, commuters waited for ferry rides across river and diners crowded the popular "My Canh" floating restaurant.
Shortly after 8 p.m., an explosive device planted by communist terrorists shattered the dark night. Many died. The surviving strollers, children, commuters and diners fled the scene only to be cut down and mutilated by a second blast seconds later.. Many more died.
The toll: 42 men, women and children murdered; 81 more injured, many seriously-all victims of the Viet Cong.
"This surely was the act of criminally minded men trying desperately to advance a cause which, by its very repugnance to the Vietnamese people, in the long run cannot win," said U.S. Ambassador Maxwell D. Taylor.
"On behalf of the United States Mission, I should like to extend my heartfelt sympathy to the victims of this crime. They have fallen on a battlefront which extends through the streets of the towns and hamlets of South Vietnam as well as through the fields of the countryside," the ambassador said.
From North Vietnam, Radio Hanoi broadcast: "A new glorious exploit".
|U.S. Army Specialist Recalls My Canh Death Bombs
"I don't recall hearing the first explosion. All I know was suddenly everything was in shambles and the girl across the table from me slumped forward dead."
Speaking from his bed in the Saigon Navy Station Hospital, U.S. Army Sp4 Robert G. Silliman Jr., recounted how an evening climaxed by dinner aboard a floating restaurant on the Saigon River ended in death and horror.
It had been a gay party. Silliman and four of his buddies, accompanied by Vietnamese friends, had just finished a leisurely dinner at the My Canh and were settling back in chairs for small talk.
Then came the explosion that Silliman cannot remember hearing.
"I think the explosion was a little below us and to the left. It was very close. I was hit, and the girl across from me fell forward.
"When the bomb went off people began running all over the place in panic. They were going over the side of the boat trying to get off the pier.
"I stayed behind to see if I could help the girl. I couldn't. She was dead. I tried to tell everyone to keep calm, but they were already moving off the boat.
"I had just started going down the ramp when the second bomb went off up in front of the walkway. It seemed much more powerful. It knocked me off my feet. What it did to those people bunched up on the walkway was horrible."
"Two of my buddies had left the boat before me. I saw one of them later. His head was gone."
"After the second explosion I ran out onto the street to stop some cars to get help. Pretty soon the MP's came and we started carrying out the wounded."
"The 22 year old Pennsylvania soldier stayed on his feet and kept hauling the dead and wounded off the shattered restaurant until someone noticed that he was wounded.
One of the bomb pellets had passed through the fleshy part of Silliman's left leg. Some other smaller fragments had peppered his back.
"I'm ok, though. There were many others who were hurt much more badly than I. I guess I'll be up and around in a couple of days," Silliman said.