Interview with Dao Vien Trung, 1981


Dao Vien Trung describes how Vietnamese in the village of Ap Bac supported Viet Cong troops in the face of an American attack.


Civilian support to the Communists at the Battle of Ap Bac

662. Take one. Clap Stick.
Interview with Dao Vien Trung, 44, local cadre.
Please tell us how the paratroopers came down that day and how the villagers helped the fighters.
Dao Vien Trung:
Now, talking about the battle of Ap Bac and the landing of the paratroopers, I thought that they were very daring at that time. The paratroopers jumped right into the position of our fighters. They jumped down and landed only 5, 10, 15 meters from where our fighters were. And so our fighters...
663. Take one. Clap stick.
Please just tell us how the villagers supported the troops that day.
Dao Vien Trung:
As far as the villager’s support of the fighters was concerned, it was very enthusiastic. This was because when the paratroopers landed, they got entangled in the trees and on the roofs of the house. The fighters shot at some of them. But the villagers also ran out there and used knives and hoes to kill them. They did not kill too many of them. But this proved that the population was very angry at the enemy.
What about the villagers doing the cooking, the logistical support, etc.?
Dao Vien Trung:
The villagers were doing so many things. In my opinion, if you were to describe everything in detail you will see so many interesting things. For example, during the fighting when the bombs and the shells came down like rain, many people, especially the old folks, who built bridges out of boards in order to allow the troops to bring out the injured. Then there were many who cooked the food, brought the meals to the troops and carried the wounded back to the village.
In short, they were doing many things. Nobody was telling them to do so, but they were all doing all these things in a very coordinated manner. Each person was doing his or her own particular job such as cooking, bring ammunition to the fighters, and bringing back the wounded. I thought this was a very good thing.
But why did the villagers do all these things? Was it because the Americans and the Diem regime had been too brutal?
Dao Vien Trung:
As reported previously by the other interviewees, the inhabitants of Ap Bac had a long-standing tradition of non-cooperation. This already happened when the French were here. In the past Ap Bac had been called “Protesting Ap Bac” because we always opposed the foreign invaders.
We fought against the French. But Diem was even more brutal than the French. Therefore the inhabitants of Ap Bac, and the inhabitants of the whole of My Tho province for that matter, were very outraged at the Diem regime. They thought that only in fighting would they be able to exist. There was no other way.