[ Admin Note: Kevin left these comments to another Post about the Palace bombing. I’ve moved it here for all to read and so it won’t get lost in the Archives. You can read the original here. ]
Geeze Ken, you were out of the loop, and you went to school?
For those of you who are saying to yourself “Who the heck is Kevin Wells” and by way of explanation, I was the little fat kid that sold candy and popcorn at unreasonably high prices to Alhambra patrons.
Being a little fat kid, I took my mother’s advice and started going to the Cerc every morning at about 6:00 AM to do laps in the pool, then went back home out Ngo Dinh Koi (two miles from ACS) for breakfast and the bus to school.
That morning, the taxi driver that was always waiting for me was in his usual spot for the daily fare home. We left the Cerc, turned right toward the Palace and took the left towards the airport and ACS. This was the street that aligned with the end of the Palace on the right as it was viewed from the front.
Just as we made the left turn away from the Palace, an A4 flew over at less than 100 feet right down the street with his smoke generator on and passed directly over the Palace. I remembered thinking that buzzing the Palace was a really bad idea because of the track vehicles with the machine guns on the Palace perimeter.
Next came the trailing aircraft which released a napalm that hit the end wall of the Palace. Things got intense very quickly. The driver was driving as fast as those little cabs could go, but he was looking out the back window. I started looking out the windshield, mostly because he was not, to see one of those conical hats and a cage of ducks bounce off the hood, the windshield and disappear over the roof. (Ducks and the person involved survived, the bicycle did not.).
By this time the perimeter guard had caught up with current events but had no target. That changed when the first aircraft returned and finished the job with high explosive, also hitting the end of the building.
And me without a camera. I had carried a camera as an article of clothing for years, but for some reason, not that day.
I made it home, tore in the house, shouted that the Palace had been bombed, dashed for the camera and headed out the door only to be stopped by my father’s simple question about where the HELL did I think I was going?
We had no phone (who did?) and relied on word-of-mouth for news. The rest of the story, some undoubtedly true, came to us the usual way, around the pool at the Cerc.
Kevin L. Wells