Cover

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pp. c-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-x

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Introduction

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pp. 1-20

From 1965 to 1972, Thailand sent 37,644 military personnel to South Vietnam as part of the Free World Military Assistance Forces fighting there.1 Thailand sent two special units of the Royal Thai Army, and one each from the Royal Thai Air Force and the Royal Thai Navy.2 The Queen’s Cobra Regiment, Thailand’s initial army offering in 1967, consisted of a...

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1 Sawadi, Vietnam

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pp. 21-52

Montri Rasi listened closely to the radio announcement that morning, but he still could not decide. On 15 February 1967, the twenty-four-year- old was working as a surveyor in a sugarcane factory in the northern city of Uttradit when he heard the final call for Thai volunteers to come forward and join a special combat regiment that Thailand would be sending...

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2 Firing Up the Thai Public Sphere

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pp. 53-80

It was late afternoon when the US Navarro docked at Saigon’s Newport naval facility. A light rain had begun to fall on the Thai troops gathered on deck. Despite the drizzle, the soldiers felt elated as they looked out over the crowds of Vietnamese and Americans assembled to receive them (fig. 2.1). A South Vietnam Navy band was playing marching songs while...

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3 Muang PX

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pp. 81-116

Legends were conceived and born in the line outside Bearcat Camp’s post exchange, or PX, as it was universally known. It was said that the only time the line ever dissipated in daylight was when the camp was under attack. Even then, a popular story goes, there were always a few Thai soldiers who held their places while mortar fire exploded around them. In numerous versions...

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4 Trading Magic for Modernity

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pp. 117-136

The Thai troops came to understand American culture through whiskey, drugs, and magic. If they were initially dazzled by the opulence and volume of goods housed in the PX shops, the volunteers soon realized that the Americans did not have everything. They quickly discovered that the rich catalog of modern products and services on sale in these bustling stores...

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5 Thai People Have No Enemies

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pp. 137-179

Beyond the American realm of Bearcat Camp, the Thais found even greater admiration and appreciation among the South Vietnamese. According to the recollections of the veterans, the South Vietnamese people welcomed the Thais’ presence in their midst. This reception encouraged the Thais to think of all Vietnamese—civilian and military, friendly and hostile—in...

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6 Fighting on the Metaphysical Landscapes of South Vietnam

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pp. 180-212

Even while the Thai soldiers’ battlefield successes were being reported with great enthusiasm in Thailand’s daily papers and generating medals that were awarded in well-publicized ceremonies, another contest was under way, out of sight of the news media and unacknowledged by the public. It was a conflict that unfolded in the realm of the metaphysical, a continuous battle...

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Conclusion

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pp. 213-226

On 24 December 1967, a few days after news reports of the Queen’s Cobra Regiment’s first major battle with the Viet Cong were published in Thailand, the Bangkok Post ran an editorial praising the “historic role” that the volunteers seemed destined to play in the Vietnam War: “Perhaps in [the] not too distant future the country will honour our brave men in South Vietnam...

Notes

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pp. 227-262

Bibliography

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pp. 263-268

Index

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pp. 269-278