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Tales of Ramasun (US Spies in Thailand During the Vietnam War Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

M.H. Burton , R.R. BURTON
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"Tales of Ramasun" is a different kind of Vietnam War story. The kind of war story you may not have heard before, the story of the secret war, the war behind the curtain, the war whose soldiers were sworn to silence. Now is the time for it to come out, before all of the old spooks and spies who participated in it are gone. It is not a 'blood and guts' war story. There were no Rambos at Ramasun. It is a story of brains not brawn. Smart young men...linguists who rode their typewriters into battle, radio men who fought wearing headsets, not steel pots, intelligence anaylsts who teased the secrets our enemies did not wish us to know out of mountains of raw data. Young GIs, most of them dragged unwillingly from civilian jobs, college campuses, or fresh from high school, to fight a strange "Top Secret" shadow war in Thailand, a country most had barely heard of and which was infinitely more remote and exotic then than it is now.

Talk about culture shock! The Thailand of the 1960's was tourist destination to no more than a handful or well-heeled world travelers and a somewhat larger number of hippie wanderers in search of cheap dope and cheap sex. Few of either ever made it beyond Bangkok. Ramasun was definitely not Bangkok. It was 300 miles northeast of Bangkok but it could just has well have been 3,000, in Isaan (ee-sahn), the poorest, most backward, most remote part of the country...a place no guidebooks mentioned, a place the Thai government in Bangkok did it's best to ignore...near the tiny village of Non Sung. Home of the 7th Radio Research Field Station. "Radio Research"? A vague euphemism, a 'cover story' for spying, espionage, and electronic eavesdropping. On who?, you might ask. On everybody. Our enemies the North Vietnamese, the Soviets, the Red Chinese. Some puzzling neutrals, Prince Sihanouk's Cambodia and Burma. Our allies, Thailand and Laos. We spied on them all at Ramasun, the air waves were full of their radio communications and we had everything we needed to do the job. Translator/Interpreters, 'lingies' in Ramasun jargon...Thai, Lao, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Burmese, Chinese, Russian...Radio operators, 'ditty boppers' at Ramasun, and 'TA's', traffic analysts to keep track of who was sending what to who....not to mention all the techies needed to keep out state of the art equipment running.

So now you have the clinical description of Ramasun. The sort of thing you would put in a military unit history. But what of the people behind those cold facts? They were a wild, wacky, rambunctious crew. Never was a military unit short of the M*A*S*H 4077th less military than the 7th. It was not a 'by the book' operation and any officer or NCO who tried to make it one was in for trouble. The 'chain of command' was largely irrelevant to the mixture or Army, Airforce, Marine, and even a few civilians, who staffed Ramasun and whose respect for authority was limited to those who could demonstrate that they knew their specific trade regardless or rank. Clueless Colonels were ignored while Spec 5's who knew their stuff were listened to. All 'lifers' started with two strikes against them. By regular Army or Air Force standards the 7th was a nightmare. Sloppy on the parade ground, hopeless in drills, bad in attitude, but when it came to the mission you couldn't beat the 7th. It got the job done. It may not have looked good while was doing it, but it always got the job done.

A surprising number of men, and even a few women, served at Ramasun during its 10 years of operation between 1966 and 1976. I was one of them from 1968 to 1971. The nine stories in this book are based on my own experiences and on tales told to me by others. I cannot say that they are all strictly true. Fact or fiction I have tried to capture the essence of Ramasun the way it really was, with all the warts on. By the way, Ramasun is the Thai thunder god. It was officially a Thai Base (another 'cover story')

Editorial Reviews


Set in Thailand during the Vietnam War, Tales of Ramasun chronicles the lives of 'lingies' and 'dittyboppers' assigned to a signals intelligence listening post called Ramasun Station.  M. H. Burton does a wonderful job of recreating the sights, sounds, and feel of the period, including the perennial conflict between the junior enlisted and those few officers assigned to the remote outpost.  The adventures of the intrepid soldiers as they try to find humor in trying circumstances will leave you smiling.  Those who have an interest in military intelligence and soldier stories from the Vietnam era will enjoy this book.

Reviewed by Ed Cox (2012) MWSA Military Writers Society of America

About the Author

M H Burton was born in 1945. Served in the US Army Security Agency from 1967 to 1971. After training at the US State Department's Foreign Service Institute as a Laotian translator/interpreter he was assigned to the 7th Radio Research Field Station based on Ramasun Station near the small rural village of Non Sung in northeastern Thailand. He was based there for two and one half years though he was on temporary duty in nearby Laos for some of that time. Returning to the United States he completed an unfinished Batchelors Degree and a Masters in Public Administration. After that he spent the next thirty plus years as a Computer Systems Analyst and Programmer for several employers, as a freelance contractor, and as the head of his own software development company. Retiring from the world of computers in 2001 he turned to writing, travel and gardening. He lives on a lake in Minnesota with his Thai wife of 40 years. They spend their winters on her farm in Thailand some 50 miles from where the now-disappeared Ramasun Station of his 'Tales' once stood.

Product Details

  • File Size: 385 KB
  • Print Length: 128 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1477415076
  • Publisher: BurtonBooks (October 15, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007EEIFP2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #379,351 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DISAPPOINTED September 8, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having been stationed there, the outlay was not as I remembered it. Ditty-boxers are 05H's not 05B's. We worked in clusters of 14 with a room supervisor in charge. Spent too much cutting down officers/NCO's, taking away from our purpose of being there. Seemed to enjoy telling stories of how a SP5 could successfully negatively effect the careers of senior NCO's/officers almost at will. The length of tour at the 7RRFS was 12 months not 18. Really expected more mission, less bull.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Acurate Portrayal October 19, 2012
By lynn300
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having been stationed at Ramasun, I enjoyed the descriptions of attitudes and people in this book. I assume that the author used fictitious names for the characters in the stories, because I definitely remember some of them, but with different names. For liability purposes, I suppose it would be necessary to use alternate names, as some of the actions described would not reflect well on the actual people involved. I wonder if "Lt. Gillis" has read this and recognizes himself. My only complaint is that the copy I received had no page numbers, so the Table of Contents was only of limited help. I recommend a good bookmarker. Anyway, I would recommend this book to others, and have already done so.

Shipping was timely and the book arrived without damage.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Info August 10, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Interesting to hear other perspectives on their adventures in Thailand and area of expertise. I was there in ASA assigned to the comm center from the second half of 1973 to the first half of 1975, which included a few extensions. I wondered whether the elephant cage (FLR-9) was still standing. One of my clients (now) developed the technology and was involved in the construction. Another client's daughter-in-law living in Kansas is from Udorn and tells me the city is thriving. A few phrases not included that may bring back memories to some who served there: Paradise Hotel, Number 32 at the Venice (always pronounced Venus), Ceasar's for Best Girls, Pou-ying Raffle (door prizes), Golden Triangle, Nong Khai boat races and cock fights, Sri Chang Mai waterfalls, Monkey Village, logging elephants, plowing water buffalos, Teak forests and bungalows, topless dancers at on base outdoor parties, MJ marinated Kobe beef banquets, etc. Fun times had by most all at the Rock N Roll Freak Show.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Precious Walk Down Memory Lane September 17, 2012
By D. Mann
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed every page of this book. I was there in Thailand at the times the author tells about and could relate very well. Some of the characters in his history sounded mighty familiar to me, to say the least. It's been many years since I was stationed at Ramasun Station and ran HUMINT activities into Laos while my "day job" was a part of the S-2 section charged with security of the place. Specialist Seven "Decker" was well known, to say the least, and about that I can say no more. For those interested in the history of US intelligence operations in the little part of Thailand where Ramasun was located, this book must be on your reading list.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Most of what takes place at Ramasun (Thailand) took place about a year and a half before I arrived. It brought back a lot of good memories. I spent 21 months there from '72 through '74 as a 98C Traffic Analyst, which was a couple of years before they disbanded the Army Security Agency (ASA) and rolled it into I believe Army Intelligence. I know he was telling his life story there but, a little more stories of the place and the surrounding area especially up in Udorn would have been good. More pages would have allowed that. If I could write, I could tell some great stories. In fact just met a buddy from back then that I haven't seen in 40 years. As most people who were there will tell you it was probably some of the best times of their lives especially if you were there more then a year. The 7th RRFS at Ramasun is the equivalent of Mash in Korea. Although we were in the Army we really reported to that acroymn that has become negative as of late, the NSA. It was a tuff war, we had some great times, as we were not on the front lines, but we had an important and difficult job and we did a great job of providing a high level of intelligence for a war that ended up wasting the lives of a lot of people. I am looking forward to starting the 2nd book in the near future.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 1st third? Gag me. 1star. 2nd 2/3s? 5 stars. October 21, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was stationed at Ramasun during same time period as author---1969-70.
Lousy officers and sergeants are a cliché. All postings I had, had
these---EXCEPT for DLIWC, Monterey, California.

There was an incident regarding a Black, Staff Sergeant (newly promoted)who stomped
on a 5 Baht piece in a Udorn cantina which caused something of a riot and international
incident. Unfortunately, this Sgt. was still in the Udorn Monkey House when I left in
March, 1970. Last time I saw this guy was when a bud and I took a 'Care Package' to
him. This Infantry Sgt. had had two tours in Vietnam before his Thai posting and the last
thing he said as we were leaving: "I didn't know! I didn't know!" while he was crying.
5 years in the 'Monkey House' unless Higher-ups could get him out.

Anyway, the final portion of the book was what I was looking for. A love story,
an adventure story, a story that gave some insight into a phenomenal culture.
'An Onion of a Culture' AND into some of our missions in SE Asia.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This book brought back many memories of my time at Ramasun Station
Published 1 month ago by Grandpa Larry
4.0 out of 5 stars A little flashback of my time there!
I thoroughly enjoyed Tales of Ramasun. After serving a year there in 74-75 I could so relate with some of the stories. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Thomas R Suttle Jr
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 4 months ago by William F. Spargur
4.0 out of 5 stars Accurate
Being ex-ASA this was quite interesting plus it pointedly exposed some of the problems with the officer corps during the Vietnam era
Published 4 months ago by jim miller
4.0 out of 5 stars Army Security Agency 7TH RRFS Thailand short stories
A interesting read if you served in Thailand or were in the ASA . Others may enjoy it as well ans it is well written short stories of one man who served there view .
Published 4 months ago by Grover Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Got this book and the sequel as a surprise for my dad. He spent 2 and a half years on the Ramasun base but after the majority of the books timeline took place. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Kristie
4.0 out of 5 stars Brings back good memories
I purchased both Tales of Ramasun 1 and Tales of Ramasun 2 for my father because he was stationed at Ramasun in the early '70s. Read more
Published 5 months ago by C. S.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for Thais to know their own history
I write this not as a veteran of any war but as a Thai citizen of 22 years of age. I have been curious about the roll that my country has played in the 'fight against communism'... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Ben Henderson
4.0 out of 5 stars Inside the 'Elephant Cage'
Tales of Ramasan (and Ramasan II) brought back fond memories of my years at Udorn. I frequently visited Ramusan Station and vividly remember the FLR9. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Steven D. Herberth
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read
Thank you...thank you. Was in Thailand twice on leave from Okinawa...Torii Station...July '72 to Udorn and and stayed at RMasun
Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
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More About the Author

I always wanted to be a writer but got a rather late start at age 60. The first thing I wrote was "Tales of Ramasun" based on my experiences as a US Army Security Agency intelligence gathering spook at a remote, and top secret, base called Ramasun Station in Thailand during the Vietnam War. That has been so well recieved that there will be more 'tales' in print by early 2013. Then I branched out into the detective novel genre with "Mixed Foursome: The Zach Roper Mysteries". I have always been a great fan of 'whodunnits' so I decided to take a crack at writing them....have gotten some positive feedback including a recent review from Kirkus, so I am going to keep at it. I've written many short stories, some of which have made it into print in various anthologies, but finding Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace has been a real godsend. From now on I'm going to do nothing else. I love to write, wish I had started earlier in life, but the advantage of old age is that you have lots of good material stored up. I've never had 'writer's block', can't imagine what it would be like. Fame and fortune do not interest me at this point in my life. I just want to tell stories for those who appreciate them, I don't care if they number in the dozens, hundreds or thousands.

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