Vietnam Law and Stealing

by: Ernie Vagedes
© © 2000


I was in Vietnam from 1965-1966. Qui Nhon first and then on the Cam Ranh Bay.


When I got to Cam Ranh, I needed some jungle fatigues. I was told that I would have to purchase them from the "black market." I asked why don't I just get them from the Army Supply. Well, the problem was that Supply didn't have any, because they were all stolen. It was easier to just get them at the market. I remarked why don't we just take the fatigues from the sellers at the market. The fatigues had stamped on them "Property of the US Government." I was told, no, no, we could not do that because that would offend the Vietnamese people, since Vietnamese law says one is not a thief unless caught in the act of stealing.

Taking the fatigues from the sellers would accuse the Vietnamese of being thieves, and that would be wrong. This was a sore point to me since I and the rest of us were there to help the Vietnamese people.

Is there anyone out there that could advise me if I received a correct interpretation of the law, or did I receive some confused information.

Ernie Vagedes
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