Military history



As the Marines at Chulai learned to fight a new kind of war there were major developments from both sides in troop deployments to South Vietnam. By June 1965 intelligence detected the presence of elements of the 325th North Vietnamese Army (NVA) Division in the south as well as evidence that the 308th NVA Division was on the way. General Westmoreland asked for the speedy deployment of additional forces, and on June 22 he was told that an additional forty-four combat battalions would be sent as soon as possible. America had fully embraced the tar baby and wouldn’t be able to pry herself loose until a decade had passed and 58,000 lives had been expended.

It was at this point that the war of attrition that characterized the conflict in Vietnam got underway. General Westmoreland ended the enclave strategy in favor of taking the fight to the enemy main-force units in the mountains and jungles. The first search-and-destroy operations were conducted by U.S. Army units near Saigon in June. Although much criticized, the war of attrition was one of Westmoreland’s few remaining options, because he resisted basing his effort on the type of pacification favored by the Marines, and the Johnson administration ruled out invasion of North Vietnam or even the full-scale application of military might against it.


The base at Chulai was on the border between Quang Tin and Quang Ngai provinces. The south end of the field was just a few kilometers from the Tra Bong River, a broad tidal body. The area to the south of the Tra Bong, in Quang Ngai Province, was a traditional Viet Cong stronghold, and it held a special place in the history of Vietnam. It was from this region that the Nguyen Dynasty began its long and difficult movement southward to bring the rest of the country under its hegemony. It was a province in which armed resistance against the French was legendary. From 1868, when French occupied the country, through peasant revolts against pro-French bureaucrats in the 1930s, and up until the post-World War II anti-French activity, which ejected them from the country, the Vietnamese here had fought long and hard against foreigners and their indigenous representatives. In 1948 Ho Chi Minh had declared the province one of Vietnam’s few “free zones,” that is, a region free from the influence of both the French and the “puppet” emperor Bao Dai.1 Diem’s government attempted to “pacify” this anti-government stronghold through the forced relocation of most of its inhabitants into “strategic hamlets.” Compelling natives to leave the only villages they had ever known and in which they had worshipped their ancestors for hundreds of years was a disaster. This policy of the South Vietnam government played right into the hand of the VC cadres, which used it as an example of oppression by a puppet organization, the Republic of Vietnam government, of another Western invader, the United States. Despite the government’s best efforts the area was strongly pro-Viet Cong and strongly anti-Saigon.

Inasmuch as this difficult region was closest to 3/3’s TAOR that battalion began to patrol south of the river. At first the Marines sent platoons into the area. When platoons ran into trouble, the Marines sent over entire companies. But every time the Marines raised the stakes, the enemy did the same. The VC did not stand and fight; they used methods designed to distract, confuse, and harry the larger Marine units. Finally, the battalion commander had to commit more than one company at a time to the operations on the other side of the Tra Bong. It was on one of these multi-company operations that the battalion first tasted tragedy.

In late July, Lieutenant Colonel Hall joined his Marines in crossing the river to investigate reports of enemy activity, such as bunker building and the like. The Marines got into a pretty good fight and lost several of their own, including their first officer killed in action in Vietnam, Lt Douglas Wauchope. They also destroyed a disabled amphibian tractor to keep it from falling into enemy hands. They recrossed the river in disarray that night, and the next morning, Major General Walt flew into Chulai to personally relieve Hall of his command, and he either relieved or transferred several other officers. Almost immediately LtCol Joseph E. Muir was sent to take over.

Joe Muir was a former enlisted man, like Bull Fisher, who had came up from the ranks by dint of his own talent. In contrast to the latter, he was a slender, soft-spoken individual who inspired confidence wherever he went. His Marines, some of whom affectionately referred to him as “the Grasshopper,” because he seemed to be jumping into everywhere and everything at once, held him in awe. Colonel Muir was a master at supporting arms and a believer in readiness. Within weeks any officer or staff NCO in his battalion, and many of the lesser ranks, could call in artillery, air, or naval gunfire. Moreover, their map-reading skills improved and they were turned out at all hours of the night and day to respond to drills.


During the late 1950s, Ho Chi Minh eliminated his rivals and put his country through drastic agricultural reform to return the land to the poorest peasants.3 His generals, primarily Vo Nguyen Giap, built the communist armed forces and fended off sabotage and commando raids from the Diem regime in the South. This harassment from the South was just that—harassment. Vietnam has always been a closed, largely agriculture society in which strangers are noticed, regarded with suspicion, and reported. Virtually all of the commandos inserted into the north were killed, captured, joined the other side, or simply disappeared.4

By January 1959 the Central Committee, Vietnamese Communist Party, had become impatient from waiting for its southern neighbor to collapse under its own weight. It passed Resolution 15, which stated: “The way to carry out the Vietnamese revolution in the South is through the use of violence.” This set the stage for organized insurgency in the south.

In this vein, the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam was formed on December 20, 1960, to appeal to the people to unite in the fight against the Diem regime. Capitalizing on the extremely poor reputation of the French among Vietnamese of all classes, the communists invariably linked Diem’s “puppet regime” with another white oppressor, the United States. They referred to the South Vietnamese president My-Diem, as “America’s Diem.”

In 1961 and 1962, the old southern Viet Minh units that had regrouped in North Vietnam after the 1954 armistice gradually infiltrated back into the South, dug up buried weapons, and recruited among young people of both genders. Marine LtCol William R. Corson, who ran one of the few successful pacification efforts during the war, asserts that the VC filled their ranks in three ways. About 40 to 42 percent of the new recruits succumbed to an intensive soft sell by the communists; another 40 to 42 percent was pressed into service; and the remainder were “walk-ins,” young men who had had enough of the southern regime and sought out the VC.5 The VC also attracted a considerable number of women, but despite many communist propaganda photos to the contrary, few were active combatants. The majority acted as auxiliaries—cooks, nurses, spies, and porters for the mostly male forces.6

The Bo Doi were emphatic that they did not have Chinese or Russian advisors with them in the South. Their reasoning was that they did not want to incur a blood debt. Debts of money and arms are relatively easy to repay, they argued, and if not repaid, are easily forgiven. Debts of blood are not so easily liquidated; they are debts of a far more serious nature whose price of repayment can be unacceptably high. The Vietnamese term for this is han tu. It literally means blood debt, although it is frequently used to mean “revenge” or even “hatred.”

From the very beginning, the VC were cautioned to work with the villagers, not against them. They were instructed to emphasize nationalism, not communism, and to work with incumbent officials whenever they could. Officials, village chiefs, and the like, were in a very difficult position. Appointed by the Saigon government, they were small islands of landowners in a sea of landless peasants and were often caught between both sides in a conflict they would rather have stayed out of. The Viet Cong took violent action against those who would not support them and assassinated an estimated eleven hundred in 1959, then greatly increased that number each year in the early 1960s. The Viet Cong cadres would obtain a consensus that such-and-such official was corrupt or an enemy of the people. At that point it was easy to eliminate the person without much public concern. The poor peasants, many of whose families had slaved for generations under an oppressive debt to the landowners, were either indifferent to these actions or glad to see them happen.7

On November 20, 1962, the Viet Cong 1st Infantry Regiment, consisting of three battalions, was born in Military Region V, the area around Quang Nam and Quang Ngai provinces of South Vietnam. To disguise their efforts from prying eyes and ears, the regiment was referred to in all conversations, correspondence and radio traffic as the “1st Construction Site.” These soldiers were not part-time fighters in black-pajamas. The 1st Regiment was a main-force unit whose soldiers were professionals, and many of its commanders were veterans of campaigns against the French. In addition to its role as a main-force unit, the regiment took charge of the VC provincial forces, the part-time guerrillas in the Quang Ngai area.8

Although the Government of South Vietnam appeared to be on its last legs, anxieties about the recent landings of American troops encouraged the communists to pick up the pace. A fourth battalion of native southerners was raised in the North to become part of the 1st Viet Cong Regiment.

Dinh The Pham was typical of the 1st VC Regiment officers. He survived a life of hard campaigning and was now the deputy political officer of the 40th Battalion, 1st Viet Cong Regiment. Born in 1928, Pham had joined the army at age sixteen to fight against the Japanese. After World War II, he saw nine years of constant combat in the Viet Minh and had fought in the terrible battle against the French in Dien Bien Phu in 1954. He was one of the soldiers who had hauled artillery pieces into the hills around the French position by hand and then went on to participate in the assault on several strongpoints. It was his battalion that captured the French commander at Dien Bien Phu. Like many Viet Minh, Pham chose, or was ordered, to go North after the peace accords divided the country in order to work on what he calls “nation building.”

In the early 1960s Dinh The Pham volunteered and went South with the new battalion. The communists were so certain of victory that they were choosy about whom they sent. Native southerners were preferred. At this time the Viet Cong did not have many northerners in its ranks. In the summer of 1965 the number of soldiers from North Vietnam comprised less than 10 percent of the total fighters in the South. Married men were not, at this time, eligible. Finally, the volunteers had to be in excellent condition and health. To prove their fitness and prepare for the long trek south, they spent weeks on end carrying up to 40 kilos of dirt or sand on their backs as they walked up steep hills.

Pham, now a 2d lieutenant, would survive the war against the Americans and retire as a major. There was continual promotion for those who survived combat, because casualties were high and the army was growing. After a fierce battle everyone who was not killed was put through fresh political, military, and physical conditioning courses, and many were promoted to replace the casualties. Some of the simplest men who remained alive managed to rise through the ranks, some to quite high positions. There were colonels who were functionally illiterate but who were excellent commanders because of their experience.9

The regiment and its three battalions, the 40th, 60th and 90th, spent most of 1963 and early 1964 training, arming, organizing, and engaging the ARVN in small battles. They significantly increased their activities in mid-1964. Coups and counter-coups that had disrupted the government of South Vietnam since the assassination of its president, Ngo Dinh Diem, allowed the communists to move quickly to take advantage of the disorder.

The 1st Regiment’s battalions fought three major actions in 1964 against ARVN forces and claimed victory in them all. In July the 60th Battalion ambushed an ARVN engineer company and destroyed most of its equipment. In August the 90th Battalion attacked a column of armored personnel carriers and destroyed several vehicles. And in October the 40th Battalion overran a company-sized ARVN camp near Tam Ky, killing or driving off the defenders and destroying two 105mm howitzers.

The early part of 1965 saw an increase in attacks on ARVN positions but not yet a regimental-size operation. The individual battalions fought two major actions in February, two more in March, and another in April 1965. Then, on April 19, the entire regiment came together and attacked the area from Vinh Huy market to Ong Trieu Bridge, where they killed or wounded 151 ARVN, destroyed 5 vehicles, and captured 51 weapons.

Following a rest of nearly six weeks, and expansion by the 45th Heavy Weapons Battalion, the regiment fought the first of a group of battles around a location, the name of which stays with it to this day, Ba Gia.

The planning directive for this series of battles was “Combat Order No. 1,”10 a detailed nine-page document for a sustained campaign to last from May 20 until August 20, 1965. The order laid out precise missions for all elements of the regiment’s battalions and supporting units. It also considered and planned for the possibility of intervention by the U.S. Marines, who had landed in Danang two months earlier and were newly ashore at Chulai. Their targets, units of the 51st ARVN Regiment, were analyzed, including estimates of mechanized equipment, artillery, and air support. The order also specified withdrawal routes. All units were ordered to complete their preparations, such as organization for combat, political motivation, and material replenishment not later than 1800 hours on May 25, 1965. The 51st ARVN Regiment was singled out for special attention because it represented a serious thorn in the side of the Viet Cong organization in Quang Tin and Quang Ngai provinces. It was part of BriGen Hoang Xuan Lam’s 2d ARVN Division, which had responsibility for all the southern half of the I Corps Tactical Zone. General Lam was a particularly aggressive commander for a member of the ARVN, and his units were beginning to make some inroads into VC control of the region. The commander of the 51st ARVN Regiment, LtCol Colonel Nguyen Tho Lap, was also a dependable and aggressive ARVN commander. He constantly harried the VC in an area where they had been ascendant for many years.

As a prelude to the fight the Viet Cong sent their sappers—reconnaissance personnel—to evaluate the targets. Sappers were specially trained for this type of duty and needed to have infinite patience and nerves of steel. Organized into three- or four-man cells, they wore black or brown clothes, and each carried a pair of wire cutters but little else. They were trained to operate softly and downwind of their targets. The men walked or crawled slowly in a line at five-meter intervals. When they were some distance from the post to be reconnoitered, they moved gently and observed. Drawing near, they made full use of the topography, lying in shallow places while looking for a suitable entry to the post. After making a circle of the target, all of them assembled at a designated place to discuss their ideas. Upon deciding on an entry point they penetrated the enemy position behind their cell leader, who went in first, quietly cutting the barbed wire with his wire cutters. They moved together at intervals of approximately one meter. If they saw searchlights from the post the men would drop silently to the ground and remain motionless. As they crawled, each member moved very slowly, using both their hands and bare feet to probe the ground to locate wire that indicated that grenades or mines were planted nearby. When transiting a rice field that was muddy or full of water, the men waded noiselessly by putting the end of their toes in the water and slowly following with the rest of the foot. If dogs barked, or any unexpected obstacles appeared, they lay motionless and reported this immediately to the cell leader. Once inside the post, all the men sat together in one place and observed carefully. Then everybody withdrew, one after another, using the same route by which they had entered. They gathered again at a designated safe area to discuss their ideas. These men were talented and could move like ghosts into and out of a position. Their expertise was going to spook a lot of Americans later in the war and add to their image of invincibility.

Upon returning to their safe area the sappers were expected to know how many rows of fences encircled the post; how many entrances or exits there were; the number of pillboxes; where the automatic weapons were; how many rooms there were in the barracks; and at what time the occupants went to sleep. Each cell member reported everything he saw to the leader, who made a chart and drew up a detailed report for his superiors.11

After numerous such reconnaissances, the Viet Cong hit the 1st Battalion, 51st ARVN Regiment, in several places on the night of May 28-29. A company-size ARVN force guarding a bridge 1,500 meters south of Ba Gia was struck first. Then, at dawn, another company on a clearing operation to the east was attacked. A relief force under the command of the battalion commander piled into five vehicles and went out to help the company in the east. By this time the VC had broken contact at the bridge. The ARVN commander ordered one of the platoons from the company at the bridge to return to reinforce at Ba Gia and the other two platoons to join him en route to the besieged unit to the east. The 60th and 90th battalions of the 1st VC Regiment12 ambushed the relief column and the ARVN lost radio contact with the outside.13 Among the members of this force were three American advisors, who were reported as missing in action and feared dead along with the battalion commander and his command group.14

The 1st Battalion, 51st ARVN Regiment, reported light casualties at the scene, but had an astounding three hundred men were missing in action. At mid-morning on May 29, the 39th ARVN Ranger Battalion; the 2d Battalion, 51st ARVN Regiment; and the 3d Vietnamese Marine Corps (VNMC) Battalion (VNMC) were committed to the operation.15

The 39th Ranger Battalion quickly became surrounded and lost control of the situation. Its CO and operations officer were badly wounded and the executive officer was killed in action. A U.S. advisor, Capt Christopher O’Sullivan, was also killed, and the battalion intelligence officer found himself in command. Casualties were so heavy that by the end of the operation the rangers would have only one effective company. Major General Nguyen Chanh Thi, the ARVN commander for all of I Corps, asked for a U.S. Marine battalion and two Vietnamese airborne battalions. He got neither, but he did get some Marine Corps helicopter and fixed-wing support.

To reduce the effectiveness of further ARVN reinforcement, Ba Gia again came under attack by artillery, mortars, automatic weapons, and rifle fire. The Vietnamese Marine battalion was hit in the night and suffered sixty casualties. The missing U.S. advisors who had been with the relief force were picked up the next day and survived the operation.16

The 1st Battalion, 51st ARVN Regiment, was badly mauled. Of approximately 500 men when the battle began, 392 were killed or missing and 446 individual weapons and 90 crew-served weapons were lost to the enemy.17

The Viet Cong also suffered grievous losses. The 40th Battalion was particularly hard hit. It began the operation with four companies. One of them, the 361st, was completely wiped out as it led the assault with human-wave tactics. In this company, every one of the 95 officers and men were killed or wounded except Mien, the political officer. All three company commanders in the battalion were killed in action.18

One of the reasons for high losses was erroneous information given to the 361st Company by its own reconnaissance people. The sappers claimed that there was only a platoon defending the position the company was to attack. The defending force was actually a company, and it decimated the VC ranks. The sappers who provided the faulty information were put in jail and their weapons and equipment were taken from them.19

Approximately 220 ARVN who were among the missing were captured by the VC and taken to a remote camp to be reindoctrinated. They were taught to hate the Americans, speak ill of the South Vietnamese regime, and praise North Vietnam. They were also taught to dig communications trenches, to make obstacles, and to attack fortified positions. Their training was unrelenting. It lasted from 0430 until 2130 daily, and covered a variety of subjects, including attacking with satchel charges, attacking communications trenches, attacking houses, defenses against aircraft and artillery, camouflage, and movement.20

Duong Van Phouc was one of these men. The 22-year-old had been a member of the 3d Platoon, 3d Company, 1st Battalion, 51st ARVN Regiment. After capture he was assigned to the 40th VC Battalion along with other former ARVN to replace the casualties at Ba Gia, and he was to fight on the VC side on Starlite. In the confusion of that battle he managed to detach himself from his new unit on August 22 and surrender back to the ARVN along with this weapon.21

For the three days of combat that ended on May 31, 1965, the 1st VC Regiment was cited and awarded the Honor Banner with the inscription “Loyal to the Party, Dutiful to the People, and First in the Victory of Ba Gia.”22 To this day, 1st Viet Cong Regiment veterans of the battle call themselves the Ba Gia Regiment and consider themselves to be the elite of their army.

The 1st Regiment hit Ba Gia again five weeks later. At 0300 on July 5, once again using human wave tactics, the 1st VC Regiment overran the 1st Battalion, 51st ARVN Regiment, once more. Of the 257 ARVN soldiers at the beginning of the battle, only 40 were left when relief came. The remainder and a U.S. Army advisor, Capt William Eisenbraun, were missing. Captain Eisenbraun’s body was found the next day and Army SFC Henry Musa, initially among the missing in the first battle of Ba Gia, was also dead. The VC captured numerous weapons, including two 105mm howitzers and several hundred 105mm rounds. The guns were last seen being towed from the area by jeeps. Among the missing ARVN were fourteen artillerymen who knew how to service and fire these weapons. For years the Americans worried about the artillery pieces and the use the VC might make of them. Lieutenant Colonel Trung, one of the Bo Doi, told the author in September 1999 that the weapons were buried in the hills to the west but never used by the Viet Cong. The ARVN eventually found and recaptured them but apparently never told the Americans.

Allied aircraft flew 110 sorties in support of the operation on July 5 and 6. One U.S. helicopter was shot down killing the copilot, CWO Allen Holt. The VC kept up mortar and harassing fires throughout the next two days and then again withdrew as Ba Gia was reinforced.23

Once more the VC paid for their victory in blood. The 364th Company of the 40th Battalion had been re-designated the 361st to replace the company wiped out in the first battle of Ba Gia. The 361st was once more named to lead the attack and was once more destroyed. Only the political officer who had escaped from the first battle, and one other unnamed soldier, survived. The other companies also sustained heavy losses, particularly among the officers.24

For two more months, the regiment planned and executed operations in Quang Ngai Province, keeping military pressure on their foes, capturing weapons, and eliminating strategic hamlets. Finally, in early August, the Ba Gia Regiment went to ground in rest areas. Two battalions, the 40th and 60th, and the regimental headquarters stayed in the coastal Van Tuong area while the other two battalions encamped about 15 kilometers south and slightly further inland. The regiment not only required rest, it needed to replenish its ranks, and it expected resupply to come in from the sea.

The regimental commander was Le Huu Tru, who had commanded the 803d Regiment of the 324th Division in 1954 at Dien Bien Phu. His political officer was Nguyen Dinh Trong, who had held the same post in the city of Danang in the war against the French. Nguyen Xuan Phung commanded the 60th Battalion, and his political officer was Nguyen To. Duong Ba Loi headed the 40th Battalion, and his political officers were Le Lung and his assistant Dinh The Pham.

Political officers were assigned at every level from the high command down through at least the company level. Their duties were overseeing the morale and motivation of the other members of their unit. To become a political officer was a great honor. They were selected from among those party members who displayed a great deal of knowledge about why they were fighting, demonstrated outstanding ability to influence others, and showed exemplary courage on the battlefield. They acted as father, elder brother, and confessor as well as political teachers. Because of their past actions they were regarded with a great deal of respect by the ordinary soldiers. They were instrumental not only in encouraging bravery on the battlefield but in reminding the soldiers to treat the people well and to win them over to the cause.25 Their propaganda was laced with tales of cruel landlords and repressive officials, something nearly all the soldiers had personal experience with. They also played the anti-colonial theme over and over; only these days the subject of their scorn was the Americans in lieu of the French. The political officers composed simple poems, slogans, and songs that were easy to understand and memorize. Conversation and self-criticism was mandatory. Everyone, including officers, was required to participate, and their confessional was held out in the open for all to see and hear. A form of absolution was passed along to those who satisfied the others with their sincerity and willingness to repent. This led even the lowest private to feel that he had a role in the decision-making process. In late 20th century business management this is known as “empowerment.”

During the period immediately after a major battle or campaign the Viet Cong customarily gathered their commanders in a central location to discuss further battle plans. At these times the units were left under the command of the political officers. This was the case with the Ba Gia Regiment in early August 1965. Le Huu Tru, the regimental commander; Luu Thanh Duc, his deputy; and the battalion commanders left for a secret location in the dense highlands west of Chulai for a conference. Command of the unit was in the hands of Nguyen Dinh Trong and the other political officers.

The first thing the two battalions of the regiment did when they reached the Van Tuong peninsula was to fortify and camouflage. Their survival against the French, and now the Americans, depended on their being able to hide well. Every man carried a small shovel he had a lot of practice using. Viet Cong units threw up bunkers and dug trenches and tunnels with astonishing speed. Their camouflage discipline was superb. Most Americans, their faith firmly anchored in firepower and technology, could not be bothered with camouflage at all. When they did anything it usually consisted of sticking a few branches of whatever they could find in their helmets, or around their positions, and then not change them no matter what the circumstances.

The Viet Minh and their successors, the Viet Cong, had learned that to avoid enemy technology, particularly air power, it was necessary to master the art of camouflage. Even when the VC thought they were in safe areas they would skillfully camouflage anything that might reveal their position. They camouflaged their pith helmets, and on his back each man carried a bamboo or wire frame for placement of concealing articles. As they passed through varying types of terrain they would immediately change the foliage to match that of their surroundings. For example, if they passed from a light to a dark green area or to the brown area of a ripe crop, they would stop and religiously replace the camouflage. When aircraft flew overhead they most often avoided detection simply by remaining motionless.

The men of the 1st Regiment were not expecting to fight a battle at Van Tuong. They looked forward to resting and supplementing their grim field rations with some vegetables and maybe a little fish or pork. They expected to engage in social and cultural activities with the population of this area, which had always been receptive to their cause. Most of them were young in years, not much different in average age, about nineteen, from their enemy. But they had just finished a hard campaign, so even the greenest among them had far more combat experience than their adversaries. They endured constant fear, poor diet, overwork, and filth. They knew the terrors of rushing into combat and the sorrow of mourning slain comrades. Unlike the Marines, they did not return home at the end of thirteen months. Only death or victory limited their combat tours. The best they had to look forward to was a few weeks of improved rations, singing, listening to guitars, and flirting with the local girls.


The Viet Cong were already taking the measure of their American opponents. An evaluation, dated July 3, 1965, said the following:

American strong points

· They have reached the training level of an expeditionary force

· Armed with modern weapons, lighter than French expeditionary forces, they have quick transportation, quick movement, have capability of quick reinforcement, thanks to vehicles, aircraft, boats

· Usually concentrated by groups

Weak points compared with French

· No spirit of combat; afraid of guerrillas; always rely on modern weapons, so they lose initiative and self-confidence (when in contact, they call fire for support and reinforcement); sometimes artillery must conduct fire support for the whole period of operation.

· Lack of combat experience, just know combat in theory only (through field manuals). Moreover, on a strange terrain, they usually walk in the open, bewildered like ducks (we say that American troops are most opportune targets for guerrillas).

· Much effort required for messing; and water. Food must be supplied for each meal by helicopters. When moving to any place they must use helicopters and artillery fire support, so objective will always be disclosed, bringing good opportunity for guerrilla follow up.

· Cannot undergo long and hard operations. When operating far from base, about seven kilometers, must use vehicles.

· Not able to bear local weather and climate, so troops will fall ill.

· Defensive positions sometimes well organized but they are slow to get that way. In one instance it took ten days to organize defenses and thirty to install mines.

· They do not know the terrain well.

· They run slowly.”

The evaluation ended with the statement, “Americans came to South Vietnam, killed, robbed and raped women, and invoked much blood debt with our people.”26

The VC also claimed to be able to tell Marine operational objectives by the way they moved, their supply activities, and their prep fires.

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