Early service in the N.L.F.

502, Take 1. Clapstick.
Interview with Nguyen Thi Hoa.
Please tell us what your activities were in your village, after that how you participated in the clandestine cell, and then how you helped the NLF troops to come into your village and, subsequently, into the City of Hue.
Nguyen Thi Hoa:
I was a fourteen year old girl at the time and was living with my family. In 1964 my native village was liberated. After the liberation of the village, revolutionary forces came into the village and operated clandestinely there. I was basically from a revolutionary family, so the cadres trusted us and came and asked me to become a courier. At first, I served as a courier. And my responsibility was to tell the cadres there of any troop movements by the enemy toward that area from this city so that they could go into hiding.
In 1965, I was chosen to become a guerrilla fighter and a member of the local guerrilla unit. During daytime we worked like all other villagers. But at night we armed and trained ourselves. We were armed with AKs and K-43s. During the day we wrapped our guns up in sheets of nylon and hid them in a pond near my house. In the afternoon, around 6 p.m., we would check to see whether there was any enemy force left in the area and then we fished our weapons out of the pond and served as guards for the cadres who came into the village to hold meetings with the village inhabitants. This was our daily job.
In 1966, an enemy Security Force (Bao An) company came to the village and put up a military fort there, just about 300 yards from my hamlet. We continued with our regular activities for a while. But later a number of female guerrilla fighters in our unit betrayed us. So we fled to Hue, staying in the Dap Da area. I stayed there for several months and then returned to my village and continued with my activities again, again serving as a guerrilla fighter.
In 1967 the enemy dispatched a company of Special Forces to our village. The Special Forces forced us girls to service them. The idea was to use us as shields for them. Because should the Viet Cong forces want to attack them, they would not be able to do since there were civilians inside this Special Forces compound. Secondly we had to serve them in every way.
SR 2067/1. Beep tone, Roll 67 of Vietnam Project, Feb. 29th, 1981.
503, Take 1. Clapstick.
Nguyen Thi Hoa:
I served as a guerrilla fighter until 1968. But let me tell you more about the situation in 1967. In 1967, when the company of Special Forces came to the village, their aim was to pacify the area by resettling the population into strategic hamlets. This was in order to make it impossible for the revolutionary cadres to carry out their political work among the population and to try to catch the guerrilla fighters.
When they forced me to service them in their compound, I refused and fled the village for a short period of about a month. When I returned to the village again, I continued to serve as a guerrilla fighter until December 1967. In that month there was a communication from above saying that cadres would come into the village to persuade the inhabitants to gather funds to support revolutionary soldiers. The objective was to get each family to put up a soldier and feed him for two months.
And so my girlfriends and I had the responsibility of rallying the village inhabitants to support the preparation for the coming offensive. On the 30th (of the 12th month) we received communications to the effect that we had to prepare the routes which would be used by the armed forced in the attack (of the city of Hue). Beginning around 8 p.m. our infrastructures walked along the chosen routes.
They were supposed to light a lantern in any place where there was no enemy troops to signal us and not to light any lantern in places where there were enemy troops stationed. And so we would take short cuts to try to avoid the enemy troops in places where we saw no signal lantern. This was how we prepared the route for the revolutionary forces to follow from Phu Vang to my native village.
It was in my village that the soldiers were fed and were given time to check their weapons and ammunition. Then beginning at around 10 p.m. we took the soldiers across a large stretch of paddy fields to the enemy military base, which was about one kilometer from Hue. No, not as much as one kilometer. Only about half a kilometer, about 500 meters...

N.L.F. strategy at the beginning of the Battle of Hue

Please tell us again from the time you prepared food for the army for two months, beginning in December 1967, to the night you brought the troops to your village and then to that bridge which is about 500 meters from Hue. Please also tell us whether you had any worry along the way and whether you were afraid that the enemy would be able to detect you.
Nguyen Thi Hoa:
At that time we received communications from above, saying that there would be an offensive and an uprising by the inhabitants of Hue, that this offensive and uprising might last for an extended period, that there might be difficulties in term of foodstuff if the fighting between the revolutionary forces and the enemy troops lasted for an extended period that our responsibility was to see to it that the inhabitants would not go hungry in that event and that the revolutionary forces would have enough to eat to fight the enemy. After we took our troops to about 500 meters from Hue, we returned to our native village in order to protect it and to rally the people there to...
505, Take 1. Clapstick.
Nguyen Thi Hoa:
In December 1967 I got the inhabitants of my native village to stock up enough food for two months. On the 30th (of the 12th month), I served as a courier and prepared the route to bring liberation troops all the way from Phu Vang (20 kilometers south of Hue) to my native village. The revolutionary forces arrived in my village at around 8 p.m., then at about 10 p.m. I led them across a stretch of paddy fields to the enemy military base.
Along the way, I was very worried myself. We wanted to attack the enemy by complete surprise. If we met with enemy forces suddenly along the way, we could still manage them. But this would create problems to the coordination of the attacks from various points. All attacking forces were supposed to open fire on the target areas at the same time in order to be able to take over the city quickly. But if we should be detected prematurely, it could be very dangerous. And so I had to prepare the route very carefully.
The coordination was very tight. The fact that the enemy was not very vigilant was also in our favor. On the 30th (of the lunar month), which was (lunar) New Year’s Eve, the enemy was preparing for Tet celebrations. And so the enemy was not very vigilant. They only made merry that night and did not have too many guards posted around the city. And so I took advantage of this situation to take the liberation troops to the target area safely. After that, I went back to my native village to organize logistical support for the troops.
506. Take 1. Clapstick.
Please tell us again of the events starting from the 10th when the enemy counterattacked and when you were summoned to Hue. How did you train for the battle, where did the battle take place, how close were you to the American soldiers, and how the dead American soldiers were taken away? After that, please tell us about the battle at the stadium, the spraying of toxic chemicals, and how you protected yourself against the chemicals.
Nguyen Thi Hoa:
After the 10th, our squad was ordered to coordinate with Company K 10 to provide a defense for the No. 6 area against an enemy counterattack. There were three enemy target areas which we had not been able to take over yet: One was the Huong Giang Hotel area where there was one battalion of American soldiers but where the Americans had surrounded themselves with 3,000 civilians which they had herded in there, so we could not attack the area without hurting the innocent people.
The second place was the Thuan Hoa Hotel and the third place was the Mange Ca Nho area where there were still many enemy forces. When we first entered the city, we felt very awkward and felt that it was a very difficult task. We were only guerrillas, and the situation was extremely difficult. If we used high explosives, then what would happen? We had been trained in using explosives in our spare time by the regular forces in anticipation of difficult situations. On the 15th, the enemy began to shell at around 11 a.m...
507. Take 1. Clapstick.

The American counterattack

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.
Nguyen Thi Hoa:
When the enemy mounted their third counterattack, they became more vicious in their tactics. They used toxic chemicals and began to spray early in the morning. This was because we are on the bank of the Huong river and in the morning the wind usually comes from the southerly direction. They sprayed the chemicals before sending their troops ins. At the time the liberation forces did not have any effective means to defending themselves against eh chemicals. They could only use...
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.
We want to ask you whether you were afraid or were calm when you were fighting? What was in your mind?
Nguyen Thi Hoa:
While fighting, I was very worried. I worried about the problem of survival so that I could continue to fight the enemy and destroy him in order to defend my native village and my homeland. But my mind was always alert and I was thinking how I could fight best in order to contribute to effort of destroying the enemy and to be a deserving daughter to the nation. I was not afraid of death. If I had to die, I felt that it would only be an honor to die in a deserving way for my family and my country. I had no fear of death. The only concern was how to be able to stay alive and energetic long enough to fight and push back the enemy battalion.