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Kinh Do Theater Research

by Ron Ward

Hi,

I’m doing some research on the Kinh Do Theater bombing and am looking for someone who can describe the inside of the theater to me and other recollections about the bombing and that period of time in Saigon.

I’m not a Saigon Kid, but a researcher for the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, living in Hanoi. We are the USG agency which searches for missing Americans from the Vietnam War.

The research on the theater bombing is non-official business, a personal interest of mine. I would appreciate anyone willing to chat with me about the old Kinh Do.

The best email for me is:
thehanoiview [@] hotmail.com

You can also reach me at:
ron.ward [@] jpac.pacom.mil

Many thanks,
Ron Ward

9 comments to Kinh Do Theater Research

  • John M. Adams

    Ron,

    I was thereat the bombing of the Kinh Do.

    I tried to contact you on the e-mail provided but it was kicked back. You can reach me at j2adams@aol.com

  • Kathy Conner Dobronyi

    There were two bombings — one in September 1963 and the major one in February 1964 during Tet where two soldiers died and many were injured.

    Which theater bombing are you researching?

    I remember the snack bar with candy, popcorn and soda to the left as we entered the theater. It was brand new and just opened soon after we arrived in Saigon June 1963.

    There were two large fish placks on the wall. I think they were made of wood and hung from the middle. When the women’s bathroom in the front and to the left of the screen exploded in September 1963, I remember the two huge placks rocking violently up and down, up and down, until they slowly settled back into place. I was surprised that they didn’t crash down from the walls and injure anyone.

    A hole was also blown in the screen in the September 1963 bombing.

    I think the seats were blue plush. I think I saw “The Longest Day” at the Kinh Do sitting with my father and brother in the balcony. I know I saw the movie there, and I seem to recall an upper floor.

    There were metal duct works suspended from the ceiling for air conditioning.

    • Kathy – There was also another bombing of the theater building after it was no longer used as a theater. On December1, 1966 the Viet Cong planted a bomb of an estimated 50 kilograms of plastique that blew the roof off the building. All the seats had been removed from the first floor and it was being used as a storage facility at the time of the bombing.

      Bob

      • Walter putrycz

        In Dec 1966 I was an 18 year old enlisted soldier assigned to HQ 6th PSYOP in Saigon. The Kinh Do was our HQ (command/control). I was there that morning clearing the rubble, checking for bodies. The charge detonated a little after 2 AM. It was pretty bad. I do not recall any fatalities however more than a half dozen of our people were seriously wounded and had to be medevaced. Most of the seats had been removed from the balcony so it could serve as a temporary billet for some of the enlisted personnel. The estimated 50 kilos is probably on the low end. More like a hundred if you ask me. My desk was under 10 feet of concrete and metal and plaster. Everything was destroyed. The really strange thing is that except for the windows the entire facade was intact. This is something you don’t forget. Its also something I try not to think about. I hope this little bit of information is of some value.
        Walter

        [Thank you for your first hand account. Much appreciated. — Admin]

  • frank

    Thanks Walter, for your comment and service.

  • Deborah B

    Hello to all of you Saigon Kids! I’m looking for info regarding the Kihn Do Theater. Can you tell me where exactly it was located. Does anyone have any info for locating its old placement (although it no longer exists)in modern-day Ho Chi Minh City? My son is going there in May and I’ve asked him to go take pictures of the area around there, to have an idea of what it looks like. My cousin lost his dad in the Feb ’63 bombing. Thanks very much.

  • Kenneth R. Yeager

    Using Google Earth, try
    10°46’19.37”N, 106°41’32.33”E
    Building used to be located at the corner of Cách Mang Tháng Tám and Nguyén Du, if memory serves me correctly.

  • Mario Villamarzo

    I was assigned to HHC 6th PSYOP Bn and lived in the Kinh Do theater for about 2 or 3 months. Several of us roomed in the very back of the theater. I arrived in Nam with the 6th by troop transport in late Jan or early Feb. I stayed with the HHC 6th PSYOP but asked for a transfer to one of our detachments in the field in Pleiku. I never felt safe living in that theater and asked to be sent somewhere were I could keep my weapon with me 24/7 something we were not allowed to do while in Saigon.

  • Edward N. Voke

    I was the Bn S-2 from the Summer of 1966 to Summer of 1967; as I recall, the Kinh Do was on Le Van Duyet, across from the grounds of the Circle Sportif (sp?).
    As mentioned above, at the time of the 1966 attack a few personnel were billeted up high at the rear of the building. But a number of personnel were also sleeping on cots in the balcony; they were part of a team that became part of the S-2. CPT Bill Palmer & SFC Billings had brought them from Ft. Bragg and they were billeted there until quarters could be found.
    The 50 kilos of plastique was the estimate we had. A new building was under construction next to the Kinh Do. The VC Special Pioneer unit that did the attack overcame the civilian guards at the construction site, placed the plastique on the lower edge of the Kinh Do’s sloped roof (there was a vertical facade facing the street) and placed bags of construction site cement over the plastique. That helped force the blast downward. The downward force probably bounced off the floor and then lifted the roof off the building. People I knew at the taller USAID building on the other side of us said our roof lifted to about the height of their building. When it came down, portions of it were burning and a lot of it broke up. At least some of those sleeping on the balcony were blown off to the main floor.
    I’ll try to email Ron to see if he is still interested in Kinh Do details.

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