CMAC Tape Recorder


When I was at the Public Affairs Office at Fort Gordon, I worked with a GI by the name of Ron Rosenbaum whose brother, Dick, happened to be the ABC Bureau Chief in Saigon.  Larry Hughes, a childhood friend of mine, had been a copy boy at ABC Radio Network in NY and he also knew Dick Rosenbaum from that job.

So now I show up in Saigon and the Information Office doesn't have a portable tape recorder or any way of getting one.  To be able to do my job as a broadcast specialist I needed one to conduct interviews.  So I mentioned to Lt. Mahin that Dick Rosenbaum could probably give us some good advice on what to get that would work reasonably well.  Mahin more-or-less said, "YOU know the ABC Bureau Chief?"  He volunteered to escort me to the Hotel Caravelle offices of ABC where a mention of Ron and Larry got us right in to see Dick Rosenbaum.  He was very nice and said his people used a portable Philips cassette recorder that cost $40, was light and recorded quite nicely, He offered to pick up one for each of us in Hong Kong as soon as possible.

After some pleasantries we left, with Mahin on Cloud Nine having been introduced to the ABC Bureau Chief.  A week went by and the recorders showed up.  We drove into town, paid for them, and returned to the MACV Annex.  I kept mine close by and took it with me to my hotel room that night.  Mahin had a standard metal office desk so he locked his in a file draw.  When we returned in the morning Mahin opened the desk and his cassette recorder was gone.

Everyone who has been in Vietnam knows everything they own would disappear unless kept within eyesight.  The oft told story was of the truck driver who stuck out his arm to signal a left turn and had his watch stolen, on the fly!  It's probably apocryphal but you get the drift.

My portable recorder stayed with me the whole tour and as Rosenbaum said, it worked quite well under difficult circumstances.  At the time I was surprised that he recommended the Compact Cassette format.  In broadcasting it was considered an amateur format but, I suppose, the alternatives were becoming too expensive or were too bulky.  By the time I got home there was a cassette deck in every tape room in the network newsrooms.

Here I am with my trusty Philips Cassette Recorder atop a Flash Tower (probably Camp Davies, Saigon c. Oct 1968).  That's a Minolta SRT-101 around my neck.  (Photo by Spec/5 Chuck Galloway)