Sunday, June 24, 2012

President Nixon's Visit to New Delhi India (1969)

New Delhi India
 U.S. Embassy New Delhi, India
Coordinates:                                      28°36′50″N 77°12′32″E
 216 m (709 ft.)
Population (2001)
 302,363 (New Delhi Only)

New Delhi is the capital city of India. It serves as the center of the Government of India and the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi

The foundation of the city was laid on December 15, 1911, and was planned by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, leading 20th century British architects. Inaugurated on February 13, 1931 by Viceroy, Lord Irwin, the city is known for its wide, tree-lined boulevards and is home to numerous national institutions and landmarks.

It is situated within the metropolis of Delhi and is one of the fastest growing cities in the world and home to a population of 14 million. New Delhi is one of the nine districts of Delhi. The total area of the city is 42.7 km.

Rashtrapati Bhavan is the official residence of the President of India 
Rashtrapati Bhavan is the official residence of the President of India
The Rashtrapati Bhavan or The Official Residence of the Head of the State is the official residence of the President of India, located in New Delhi, India... It is the largest residence of any Head of the State in the world

During our stay in New Delhi the U.S Embassy and the State Department arranged for a tour of the Taj Mahal in Agra, India

Agra is a city in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, some 200 km from the Indian capital city of New Delhi. It is also the home of the Taj Mahal..

Main entrance to the Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is an immense mausoleum of white marble, built between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife. Taj Mahal means Crown Palace; one of the wife's names was Mumtaz Mahal, Ornament of the Palace. The Taj is one of the most well preserved and architecturally beautiful tombs in the world, one of the masterpieces of Indian Muslim architecture, and one of the great sites of the world's heritage.

President Nixon was inaugurated in January of 1969 and this was his first diplomatic state visit to discuss his plans to bring peace to Southeast Asia. This worldwide trip would be the foundation for Nixon’s diplomatic success that he accomplished by ending the Vietnam War, his historic trip to China, and an improved relationship with Russia.

President Nixon arrived at Palam Airport in New Delhi. Acting President Mohammed Hidayatullah’s welcomed the President to India. In 1969, Hidayatullah served as the Acting President of India being ex officio Chief Justice. He served from 20 July to 24 August, 1969.

In his arrival speech Nixon said “The first principle of the relationship between India and the United States is that our two countries share fully the basic objective of peace in Asia and peace in the world. Only in peace can Asian nations devote their full energy and attention to the most important problem they face: the grave human problem of meeting the expectations of men, women, and children to share in all the benefits of modern science and technology. Mankind has reached the moon. Now we must improve the quality of life here on earth”.

President Richard Nixon
 Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
He continued by saying “It is in this spirit that I come to New Delhi and it is in this spirit that I look forward to fruitful discussions with Prime Minister Gandhi and the other leaders of this bastion of democracy in Asia”.

”I leave with a sense of destiny, and also with a greater confidence than ever before about the future--the future for this country--and because this country's future is one that will have such an enormous effect on all of Asia and the world, confidence in the future of the world”.

President Nixon with India’s Prime Minister Gandhi
President Nixon’s first diplomatic visit to promote his administration’s new foreign policy would circle the world and would take him to eight countries meeting with their heads of state.

Presidents Travel Itinerary July-August 1969

Manila Philippines
July 26-27, 1969
State visit; met with President Marcos.
Jakarta Indonesia
July 27-28, 1969
State visit; met with President Suharto.
Bangkok Thailand
July 28-30, 1969
State visit; met with King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Saigon, Di An Vietnam
July 30, 1969
Met with President Thieu and visited U.S. military personnel.
New Delhi India
July 31-Aug1, 1969
State visit; met with Acting President Hidayatullah.
Lahore Pakistan
August 1-2, 1969
State visit; met with President Yahya Khan.
Bucharest Romania
August 2-3, 1969
Official visit; met with President Ceausescu.
Mildenhall United Kingdom
August 3, 1969
Informal meeting with Prime Minister Wilson.

WHCA’s Role in the Presidents Worldwide State Visit 

WHCA would send communications teams to every stop on the President’s trip itinerary. On July 11, 1969 the New Delhi contingent formed at Andrews and loaded all personnel and equipment on to another C-141 the preferred mode of travel for all of our overseas trips. We left Andrews on the first leg of our trip that would eventually take us around the world. We would refuel in Madrid, Spain and fly to Incirlik AFB in Adana, Turkey. 

We arrived on July 12, 1969 and because we had to wait for final approval of our flight plan to New Delhi, we spent the night in the bases BAQ. My first experience with nickel slot machines came at the NCO club there, they must have been broken because I came away with over 100 dollars in my pocket by the time we left. Departing the next day and arriving in New Delhi on July 13, 1969.

The inside of a C-141 with a comfort pallet
In-route to New Delhi
Our first order of business would be to unload the tons of equipment that we brought with us and get settled into the Janpath Hotel where we would spend the next three weeks.

The switchboard, Comm. Center and FM radios would be installed in the Ashoka Hotel where the President and his staff were staying.

The US Embassy would become our base of operations using the Annex to set up our HF radios. We installed two Collins Radio 1KW HF systems for long range communications. RCA Corp. also installed a single channel satellite earth station capable of reaching the United States.

We were up and running within a week of landing in New Delhi, all we had to do was keep the radios up and operating until the visit was complete. During this period of time we were communicating with other WHCA locations in Thailand and Pakistan...

We had a native for a driver. He wore a turban, was impeccably groomed, and wanted someday to come to the United States. He took several of us several of us to look for some brass souvenirs. I think I have a business card for the merchant where we visited and bought souvenirs. John Parkash, yes I remember he gave out his business cards to all of us when we arrived at the airport. It’s strange the things that we remember, I can remember John Parkash, but I cannot remember anyone that went on this souvenir hunting trip with us. I bought a brass tea service and two very large brass lamps.

When we left the shop there were some Buddhists using elephants in farming activities. We stood outside the car watching them work when suddenly they came running in our direction. Our driver told us to get in the car and we sped away. He explained they saw us taking pictures and believed that if someone took their picture you were stealing their soul. We really moved when they started towards us and quickly left. I also remember his stopping the car and waiting for a cow to get out of our way. He would not honk; we had to just set until the cow decided to move on.

 The Janpath Hotel 
 Embassy assigned driver
President Nixon arrived at Palam Airport in New Delhi on July 31, 1969. I was assigned to work the arrival which included setting up the motorcade and plugging in the ramp into the nose of AF1 when it stopped on the tarmac. After the Presidents arrival, I went back to the hotel and changed my clothes because my suit was soaked from the 100+ degree temp, and went to the annex and pulled an eight hour shift on the HF radios.  On this trip we also had a Collins Radio Tech Rep (Leo Crane) who was there to make sure that the Collins system worked.  I don't remember the model number but it was black with thumb wheels on the control panel, but I never saw them again after we returned.  I guess they were experimenting with them that is why we had LEO!  I remember that our call sign was Circus Star,

I have no idea how anyone picked these particular systems. I remember that we were installing the verticals with the temp well above 100, and at about 11 Am we sent a couple of guys over to the annex's cafeteria to get something to drink, well, I guess they tried to buy some beer, I don't know what the problem was but CWO Desautles received a call from the embassy wanting to know why we were trying to buy beer and if he approved. We never did get anything cold to drink, so we crawled down from the roof, took a break and drank some water. I cannot remember if we had any other system with us like the URT-28.

The State Department set up a tour of the Taj Mahal they provided the air transportation and flew us to Agra. I was lucky enough to be off that day and was able to make the trip. We had a tour guide that showed us the sites and explained everything to us. 

I got tired of eating hamburgers at the US Embassy, but it was about the only safe place to eat. I remember we did eat a "wheels up" dinner at the Jan Path Hotel’s restaurant the night before we left. We all had Sweet 'n Sour pork since there was no beef on the menu. None of us got sick and we were ready to return home the next day. 

The President spent the rest of his time conferring with the Heads of state of India. On Aug 1, 1969 President Nixon departed New Delhi for his next stop in Lahore, Pakistan. It was now time to tear down and pack up all of the equipment and continue our around the world trip.

I can remember CWO Desautles threatening to throw off of the plane the entire load of souvenir's to make room for the equipment and luggage. We departed New Delhi on August 3, 1969 headed for Bangkok, Thailand. After a refueling stop we flew over Vietnam, where we could see artillery flashes from 29,000 feet in the air, I remember that because we flew over a war zone that we were tax exempt for one month. We really knew how to make money! We arrived in Tokyo Japan on August 4, from there we flew to an AF base outside Sacramento, and then on to Andrews, we ended up flying around the world. Everything made it back ok, but I remember several large horns that were vigorously HONKED whenever we took off and landed on our return trip. 

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