Delta, Mike 2 - NVA/VC Part 1

NVA/VC Part One


I have a few bits of info that may be useful to you, all from the observations of a Grunt in 1967.

I was in the US First Infantry Division, First Brigade, operating out of the base camp at Phouc Vinh, RVN, then later from the base camp at Quan Loi, RVN, after Pappa Victor was turned over to the 101st Airborne Division.

First, all of the VC forces that I ever came into contact with had RPGs, RPDs, and SKS or AK47 rifles. Only the so-called fighting farmer VC had older weapons. There seemed to be more of a shortage of magazines rather than ammo. The VC always has one magazine for each pouch of their ammo vest, and one in their AK.

Extra ammo was carried about in cloth bundles, as was raw rice, and these were carried in a canvas rucksack. All VC seemed to have hand-grenades of some sort – Chicom, Russian, or NVA made being the most common: often augmented by captured US M26S and the older ‘pineapple’ US grenade used by ARVN’s, RF’s and PF’s.

RPG rounds seem to have been, at times, in short supply, but always available for use as anti-personnel, anti-bunker and anti-armour weapons.

Mortars were very much in evidence, 60mm as well as 81mm US types, with USSR and Chicom weapons too. Mortar ammo (from my personal point of view) seemed unlimited – we were always on the crappy end of mortar rounds from the VC.

The ever popular 122mm artillery rocket also seemed to be readily available and was often used with just a pair of tree branches tied together as a rest/launcher combo.

There was no shortage of VC Mainforce or NVA soldiers in our AO. Like roaches or ants, there were always more to replace the ones that were killed. Their medical care was about par with the USA in 1861, so battle wounds were a lot less survivable for them.

They suffered from disease – terribly.

They were very good fighters, good jungle fighters, but not the seemingly all invincible forces I have heard them described as. They screwed up, often, and screwed off, often, and when they did they paid for it in blood. Just like we did.

Most combat was between squads and platoons, at short ranges, with no quarter asked or given due to their own previous actions. Most of these fights resulted from ambushes, meeting engagements, and defence of USA NDP and VC/NVA Base Camps or supply caches. Most were fought in areas that were howling wilderness (just a set of map co-ordinates). Firefights were also fought at or near MSRS, or very isolated fire support bases.

There were also many larger engagements fought by Companies, Battalions etc. These larger engagements usually saw the US grunts outnumbered by bods but not firepower and air support.

NVA/VC nearly always fought their larger (Company and up) battles during darkness and bad weather to try and negate US firepower/airpower. Also there were thousands of night AP actions fought by squads and platoons of US Grunts vs squads, platoons, companies, and yes, battalions of NVA/VC troops. Only God knows how many night AP’s the VC/NVA blew on the ARVN, and the ARVN sprang on the NVA/VC. I am sure neither side never had the faintest idea then or now.

Also, it is little talked about in these PC times, but the NVA/VC were well known for killing the US wounded and prisoners that fell into their bloody hands. They also butchered the ARVN and the peasantry with bloody and monotonous regularity. And what they sowed, they reaped.

But nearly every firefight or battle that I have personal knowledge of, saw the VC/NVA trying to close with the US Grunts or FSB or whatever, in an effort to prevent the use of airpower and artillery support.

I want to say that the NVA/VC were not shy and would mix it up in close combat, and that GI’s were just as inclined to do so. Close combat is a really confusing and deadly place – anything and everything is a weapon and there were only winners and losers, with the losers mostly dead, or soon dead, and losers holding their ground to avoid falling into a trap.

The NVA/VC made extensive use of mantraps, booby traps, mines, and snipers! Mines and snipers were two of the most difficult things for Grunts to move against or through, and snipers, when caught, were not taken alive. Snipers used wounded GI’s for bait to draw other targets as the victim’s friends tried to go to his aid.

Oh, well, I hope this helps you with info, from an ex-Grunts point of view. It was all sooo long ago and far away, yet is still sooo near.

I was told this was a Veterans site, but, as I am a gamer in other areas, I thought I might offer my insight as a Vet.

Have a good Memorial day and do not forget the Veterans of this and all our wars. This is our weekend.


1st Infantry Division TAOR (1969)

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