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McNamara Returns to Saigon

May 11, 1964 - Defense Secretary Robert McNamara arrived in Saigon this morning for his fifth visit to South Vietnam. He was several hours ahead of schedule. Discreet but elaborate security precautions provided the only note of tension in a visit otherwise free from the air of crisis or need for urgent decisions that marked his previous trips.

After he had heard senior American officials review steps being taken to strengthen the South Vietnamese Government of General Nguyen Khanh, McNamara and Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge joined Mrs. Lodge for a late afternoon swim at an exclusive sporting club, the Cercle Sportif.

The security measures were ordered following the discovery over the weekend of a Viet Cong plot to kill McNamara as he drove from the airport into town.

After the official limousine had pulled away from photographers at Saigon’s Tansonnhut Airport, both McNamara and Lodge put bulletproof jackets over their shoulders and legs. Bulletproof material covered the floor and other areas of the automobile.

As the motorcade and police escort roared over a bridge Viet Cong terrorists had planned to blow up, the Secretary’s car took a sudden turn onto a side street and followed an unannounced and roundabout route into the center of Saigon.

The police arrested two more Vietnamese believed to be members of the Viet Cong assassination squad. Two terrorists were apprehended Saturday night while laying mine and electrical detonation wire under the bridge on the main airport road.

McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who arrived yesterday, are scheduled to leave Saigon late tomorrow after a working meeting with General Khanh.

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