NVA/VC Part Three
My first tour of duty was in 1967. The soldiers I
mentioned were there from sometime in 1966 and near the end of their
12months, or working their way through a 6 month extension after
completing a 12 month tour. As bad as things were, a lot of guys extended
for 6 months to reduce the time remaining in the Army and receive an early
out (honorable discharge). One, a Dutchman, had been in country for 3
years when I knew him and had gone from private to staff sergeant (our
basic paper squad leader rank) - not the same as your staff sergeant -
more like your corporal. Yes, the VC were largely well armed with SKS
instead of French, German, or American relics. Pistols were mainly
Tokarovs, but Colts, Browning Hi-Powers, and a French auto pistol were
commonly carried, along with some Walther 9mm P-38s.
MAINFORCE VC/NVA pistols were mainly Russian or CHICOM made Tokarovs, but
there were a few ultramodern Soviet weapons - 9.5mm Stechtkins and
Makarovs in 9.5mm (could use 9mm Parabellum ammo). The Toks were 7.62mm
pistols using a "hot" 7.62mm round, not the puny thing common in
Europe or USA.
Apparently the local VC did visit the patrol base on occasion (but it
moved if they did) and yes, when questioned by the ARVN interrogators
(French and Japanese schools of interrogation!) they told everything they
knew or died (drowned, mostly) trying to escape. I have seen the ARVN
interrogators at work in the field as a grunt and as an MP. Water was their
preferred method of torture in the boonies, and Americans were always
getting into "discussions" with counterparts about this and
losing.......We had no authority to stop them, short of shooting our
allies, and then you would be tried for murder if THE POWERS THAT BE
GOT INVOLVED. Part of the VC success was the hatred the corrupt RVN
government promoted by its actions against its own civilians. And then
these same farmers were abused and murdered by the VC too. It was a
I was gonna say, I even saw a very few (like 2) broom
handle Mausers like were common in parts of the world around WW I.
Both old and battered but usable and now living at some old ex-GIs
MAINFORCE VC WERE ALWAYS IN LARGE FORMATIONS PLATOON AND UP - MOSTLY UP IN
SIZE and as well armed as the NVA and as well trained and tough. Only
difference I could see was the black pjs instead of khaki or green
uniforms, papasan hats and scarves, instead of pith helmets (sunhelmets).
It was something that apparently started in 66 - these guys and gals did
not live in the villages and hamlets normally - they stayed in regular
combat units ALL THE TIME!
TET WAS AN UNQUALIFIED AMERICAN VICTORY!!!!!
THE VC, MAINFORCE AND LOCAL, ALMOST CEASED TO EXIST AFTER TET. WHOLE
UNITS WERE WIPED OUT - KIA, WIA, MIA, AND POW - MOSTLY KIA DURING TET AND
THE LESSER KNOWN ATTACKS THAT STARTED UP IN JUNE 1968...............
NVA UNITS TOOK HORRIBLE LOSSES TOO, BUT WERE REBUILT. OTHER NVA BECAME
MAINFORCE AND LOCAL VC CADRES AFTER TET!
With my own eyeballs and from friends info, I have no doubt that the
NVA were present in local and MAINFORCE VC prior to 1967. Remember the
Dutchman? He had been swapping bullets with NVA in VC/MAINFORCE VC
since about 1964 or 1965!!!
ALL VC/NVA PREFERRED A PREPARED AMBUSH TO A HASTY, BUT WERE VERY CAPABLE
OF SAME TOO!!!
L-shaped ambushes were common, also just about any linear formation;
some times, after a unit entered the kill zone, attackers would come
at it from all sides, or three sides with a terrain barrier if possible.
Great believers in snipers, and spiderholes during ambushes too!! Made
huge claymores out of 50-gal fuel drums packed with junk (rebar, rocks,
glass, anything, explosives provided by dud bombs, artillery, and mortar
rounds). Command detonated by common household extension cords in really ridiculous
colors using M57 firing devices, field phones, batteries, etc, to set off
the charges. And bad news!!! All in all I guess the tactics, if not
identical were similar to those of the US, the Russians, and Chinese.
YEP, they were able to remove a lot of dead and wounded when they retired
from a fight. They did it the same way we did it - fought for the corpses
and wounded!!! Some really vicious, close range fights could and did
develop for the bodies of the dead. THEY MUTILATED OURS, and what
they sowed, they reaped!!! Few things in this world are more remorseless
than an18 year old who has seen his buddies killed and butchered by the
Of course there comes a time when you either run out of soldiers trying to
recover the dead and wounded, or you just run for it! And this also
happened on both sides, when one was driven away leaving dead and wounded
behind or , everyone was killed or wounded right off so there was no one
available to drag away the corpses.
They buried their dead in mass graves, often very
shallow ones, so that animals got at them, and/or the tropical heat caused
them to stink worse than the jungle and your buddies, so it was easy to
find them. They also booby trapped graves so that the stupid and the
careless blew themselves to hell while DIGGING UP THE BODIES, SO THEY
COULD BE COUNTED! Unfortunately, the stupid and the careless also
took their nearest buds with them when setting off booby traps.
Our call sign was *******, so we went on every operation equipped
with stencils and black MARKS-A-LOTS, as well as bunches of
ACE OF SPADE CARDS and big nails to attach them to the corpses with
(along with booby traps to blow away the guys buds when they came to
get the corpse.) Bodies were used as bait for ambush patrols too.
THEY KEPT IN CONTACT WITH EACH OTHER THE OLD FASHION WAY. MESSENGERS, HAND
SIGNALS, SMOKE SIGNALS (GRENADES), AND WHISTLES AMONG OTHER THINGS. THEY
DID NOT SPREAD OUT ALL OVER THE PROVINCE DURING A FIRE -FIGHT!!! THEY ALSO
DID HAVE RADIOS - AMERICAN, CHICOM, RUSSIAN, KOREAN. BUT NOT MANY.
One time, I actually heard the NVA slapping the
stocks of their rifles for a reference point as they formed and maintained
a skirmish line to sweep through the jungle in pursuit of a scattered US
ambush patrol. I was between 2 of them - they were about 8 -12 feet apart
- and it was so black, no one could see a hand at arms length let alone
If things went badly, the NVA/VC had a hard time disengaging, but
would use pre sighted or hasty ambushes to cover the retreat of their
units just like we did. If they had mortar support, they used it to
try and cover the withdrawal too.
TO "DELTA, MIKE 2" INDEX
Infantry Division TAOR (1969)
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