“We spent about three months in Saigon and we, the paratroopers, were always near the airport so that we were always ready. We were chosen for the Storming-Party. Company, Storming-Party, Battalion - there were two hundred soldiers in each but we were only eighty. They taught us languages.” “Basic Vietnamese?” “Yes, on the whole, I learned also Russian and Polish there. In case the World War III broke out then we would be counted as diversionists with. Especially with us, the Slavs, who knew languages. We had a special training. Well, we were murderers. There were language lecturers, training instructors – either the Canadians or former German soldiers. They were specialists, for example in silent killing etc. When we were in an operation and came back from an action, we had the day and a half rest. It was not such drill but we were training all the time and we had to be ready. When we had some time off we could move freely but they had to know about us. If you were in the cinema or in the theater or in a brothel - ‘busy working’, then they came running that it was alarm and we were off.”
“We, the green berets, we refused captives. And the Vietnamese when they captured a green beret, they also killed him. The green berets were paratroopers from the Foreign Legion, the red berets were paratroopers from proper French Army, those who were conscripted. The green berets were the greatest rascals. Nobody was soft with us and neither could we be soft with anybody else. There was no other way.”
“We used to go to a restaurant in Saigon for a Chinese soup - soupe chinoise. They served it in china bowls, it was delicious. We always went for soup at dusk and then we got drunk sometimes. Once we sat there with Kosťa Fašunk and we said to the bougnoul, we used to call the Vietnamese ‘bougnoul’ (a French racist nickname for aborigines – author's note), that we wanted to know what the soup was made from. There were tiny little cubes of meet, centimeter by centimeter, lovely meet. - ‘What sort of meet is that?’ - ‘I'm not gonna say.’ We were armed all the time, two hand-grenades in hand. We didn't dare go out unarmed. I took the grenade and said I would release it. - ‘But sir won't shoot, won't kill.’ He took me to the yard and I thought I would shoot him in the first split of a second. There were huge rats in cages, they specially fed them and it was their meet.”
“So I went on holiday for a month. I came to Břeclav, they came for passports, two soldiers and a commissioned officer. So I gave it to them. They took it from everyone and left. They came back in about half an hour and they were giving passports back to everyone... Boys warned me beforehand... I was not given any passport. Well, they left and came back in about ten minutes and a guy introduced himself to me. He said he was a major, I've forgotten his name, and that I went with them. I was thinking to myself: ‘There you go... your fate is sealed.’ I was sat in a car and we went. They took me to Brno, they gave me some supper and we got in the car again. We went to Sadská at Prague (Nymburk). There was a collecting camp for such people, many people came back. We were completely stripped off, I had two pieces of suitcase, they took everything. They gave us some kind of striped hospital tatters. They closed us in a room. We could move inside the building, however we were not allowed to go out. We were guided by about fifty members of frontier-police of the Home Office. I was interrogated in the morning and they told me there I would not be allowed to go back. ‘How come, I'm a French citizen.’ - ‘No chance, you are Czech in origin, you ran away from here.’ I was sentenced to fifteen years in my absence.”
“We were twenty-eight Czechs out of eight hundred people in the battalion. They allocated us in such a way that we were separated. There were about fifty percent of Germans there at that time. We spoke mainly German among ourselves in our rooms. We had interpreters for the first two or three weeks during our training. Then they left and all was in French only. You either understood well or you didn't. The instructor kicked your ass and then you understood. Everybody tried then for his own sake.”
“We fled, we crossed the Rhine by boat and went towards Strasbourg. French police stopped us in Kehl at Strasbourg at night. We had no documents, we couldn't give a French look, much less to speak. They took us to their police headquarters, they captured us and interrogated us. The second day they took us to another office. There was already an officer with an interpreter who asked us if we wanted to sign joining in Prchal Exile Army. An Exile Army was said to be formed, the same way as it was in WWII. We were eighteen-year-old boys, we agreed. They gave it to us to sign it in French, the interpreter probably shit us there whatever he wanted. We signed it and that way we signed up for the Legion. We were there for three days already. When we were about fifteen they put us on a train and took us to Marseille.”
We had a special training. We were simply murderers
He was born in a farmer‘s family in South Moravia. He decided to flee abroad in July 1948. He got to French Strasbourg through West-Germany refugee camps. He joined the Foreign Legion there. He belonged to the first soldiers who were at the formation of II BEP (Bataillon étrangere de parachutiste - II Parachute Battalion). He was trained in Algeria. He got his Parachute Battalion Member badge at the end of 1948 and embarked the steam boat Maréchal Joffre. He landed in Saigon in South Vietnam in February 1949. He served with special troops of the Parachute Battalion of the Foreign Legion from 1948-1955. He served in Indochina, on Madagascar and in Italy. He took part in battles that preceded the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu. Květoslav Kovařík decided to spend his holiday in Czechoslovakia in 1955. He believed the promises of the Communist regime that those who come back would get amnesty. He was hoping he would be able to come back to France as he was a French citizen. Having arrived at the border checkpoint in Břeclav, the frontier police took his passport and all personal belongings from him. He had to do seven months - apparently as a part of his fifteen-year sentence to which he was sentenced in his absence. He was drafted into the Army in Ostrava Mines as a member of PTP troop - 13 Auxiliary Technical Battalion. Then he tried many different jobs in Czechoslovakia. After his stroke he partially retired as an invalid in 1985. He presently lives in Planá nad Lužnicí.