Nguyen Thi Hoa:
On the 15th, there was no indication in the morning that the enemy would mount a counterattack. But at around 11 a.m., they began to direct artillery fires into the area, flattening it completely. All the houses and trees were razed. They also directed fire rockets into the homes of the inhabitants in this area. Here the people use kerosene and gasoline, and so when the homes were hit by fire rockets, they burst out in flames.
Old folks, children and pregnant women who could not run out in time were all burnt alive in the homes. We were able to save a few of these people, but only a few. The majority died. By 3 p.m., the enemy troops began to move in. We were already very angry at the enemy after several days in that area, and especially so because of what had happened during the period from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and so when we saw the enemy troops come in, our commander, Trong, said: “Charge! Be ready to fight the enemy!”
So we readied our guns. When the enemy troops were only about five meters from us, we opened fire on them. When the American soldiers fell down and died, three or four others would jump in to carry the body away, crying. They did not have any experience in fighting at all although they had been taking over the war in this area ever since 1968. So we took advantage of the situation to kill the rest of the group. By around five o’clock, we girls were able to establish contact between the stadium and the Cho Cam market forces and were able, as a result, to protect these areas.
When the enemy troops realized that they could not deal with the liberation forces, they retreated. We did not count enemy bodies, but we did capture 3 mortars and seven B 15s. After the enemy troops retreated, that evening we had a meeting in which we came to the conclusion that the enemy would mount another counterattack. So we reinforced our trenches and foxholes that night and also redeployed our forces. We expected the main enemy counterattack would be in the area of the stadium, so we placed more people there.
On the morning of the 16th, instead of charging our positions with infantrymen the enemy pounded these areas with artillery shells first. And then the tanks rolled in, followed by infantrymen. When we heard the tanks coming in, we had our B 40s, B 41s and mortars ready. When the tanks rolled in to about 20 meters from our position, we opened fire and destroyed three tanks.
The infantrymen tried to advance, but our fire was so intense that they could not make any headway at all. By 1 p.m., the enemy withdrew. We then reinforced our positions, tried to maintain our morale and our momentum by cheering each other up, and prepared to meet the enemy for a third time as we knew they would attack again.
SR 2068/1. Beep tone. Roll 68, Vietnam Project. 508 Take 1. Clapstick.
Interview with Nguyen Thi Hoa continues.
509. Take 1. Clapstick
Nguyen Thi Hoa:
During the third counterattack, the enemy sprayed us with toxic chemicals. Here, in the morning, the wind usually comes from the southerly direction. At that time our liberation forces did not have any effective means of defending themselves against the chemicals. Our only means was to use our scarves and the limes in the gardens which had been destroyed by artillery shells. We squeezed the limes onto our scarves or wetted our scarves by dipping them into the water basins to protect ourselves from the toxic chemicals.
But there were two brothers from the tenth squad who threw up blood as a result of the chemical spraying. We had to send them to the rear for treatment. A number of civilians who were staying around to help the fighters were also affected by the toxic chemicals because they had not had any experience in protecting themselves against the chemicals. And so, while we had to fight, we also had to transport these people to the rear area in order to treat them.
After the spraying of the chemicals, there were gun fights between us and the enemy. Two sisters in our female squad were killed but we were unable to bring their bodies out because the chemicals were so thick. When the enemy forces came in and occupied the Cong market area, they stripped these two girls completely naked and had their bodies displayed at the marketplace. This blatant and sadistic behavior caused the population to be even more outraged.
As far as the inhabitants were concerned, to strip the girls completely naked and display their bodies in such a manner was extremely immoral and vicious. And so they hated the Americans even more. After we were forced to retreat from the Cong market, we went over to the other side of the canal, which was only about 500 meters away, and dug in.