It could have been done differently by genuinely setting some objectives of dealing with the people, with the infrastructure of Vietnam, ah, in those particular areas by ah you know having medical services and training services and people who could speak Vietnamese. You know, all of the ingredients of trying to constructively build some kind of a relationship with the people with whom you were supposed to be prosecuting this effort.
But, on the contrary, there was no relationship. I mean there was this incredible division which I noticed the first day I arrived in Vietnam between those of us who were supposedly helping people to fight the war and those for whom we were fighting the war, and that division was so enormous that those for whom we were fighting the war were not even part of the damn thing. I mean they were just ah ancillary really to the process.
Ah. And, and people had disdain for the rough puff troops as they were called for the regional popular reconnaissance forces and Vietnamese forces were the few minor exceptions. There were a few units that were capable and good. But, by and large, you never wanted to go out with them. I mean every time we ever involved ourselves with any Vietnamese forces you could be guaranteed there would be an ambush, and ah gees I remember going out once with ah two very close friends of mine one of whom was killed Don Droz and another who now writes for a newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, Bill Rude.
Ah. And, we went up the river, a tiny little river you know with thirty troops on each of our boats unable to move very fast and sure enough within ten minutes of leaving the village we were being shot at. We were ambushed.
And, ah, that was the day that ah we were all decorated because instead of ah instead of just going through the ambush and getting shot up ah I I just got fed up with it. I got, de—decided to ah ah attack the ambush and we just turned our boats and we beached right in the middle of the ambush and we ran right over it.
And, ah, the ah eh eh when we came back to the village, as a matter of fact, I'll never forget it, there wasn't a soul at the dock, which was to—totally different from normal because normally whenever we came back all the kids were there and all the villagers were but this time when we came back the dock was empty, the village was empty, and you just knew that they knew both what had happened as well as the fact that it was going to happen.