Well, I, I think that ah, in relevant terms there were,
there were more...ah, substantially more than we had encountered, but
that's not to say that there was a large number of them. In, in our
sector, we, we would – I guess maybe we found, ah, five or six...ah, but
we had found none of that type in the villages we had been in before, we
had found punji
pits...um, but no explosive
devices that were s- at least still...armed and, and functioning.
Ah, so the scene was, ah...ah, a fairly substantial
departure from what we'd encountered ah in the past month or so.
Ah...ah, having been fired upon, ah, initially...there was small arms
fire – and then encountering, ah, the booby traps and other defensive
systems that were organized in the village – it was much different than
those that were more adjacent ah mor, closer to the airfield itself. Ah,
but we had an expectation that it was not going to be a walk in the sun
there...ah, we had reason to believe that um...because of previous
casualties, that it would not be um...a, a friendly reception. But we
didn't know just to what extent, ah, ah, the difficulties would arise
and we also did not know whether it was a transitory thing.
We, we didn't know whether the Viet Cong simply moved ah about through the
areas and if you encountered them, you would have a problem, and if not
the villagers would be in a peaceful, you know, living peacefully. Um,
the delays that we were encountering in searching the ah, houses and
talking to the villagers were slowing down the operation significantly,
and, ah, the, ah, way the village had developed, ah, in n-, in a random
pattern, so to speak, was making it very difficult to maintain any kind
of contact with the, eh, other ah units...that were involved, the other
two platoons...on ea, one on each side.
Ah, so there was a, ah, a difference in pace in the
development of the search and it caused our formations to get out of
contact with one another and just created a number of command and
control problems. Um...the, ah, the reception that we received in the
village, ah, I think, ah, was about what I had expected – ah, simply,
ah, a high degree of, ah, ah fright and apprehension about what was
going on and ah, ah...it was very difficult to determine, ah, whether
any of these particular villagers that we talked to had been involved in
the firing at all. Ah, in fact, there was little evidence to support
that they had...ah, they were simply caught in the middle of it.
And ah we were attempting to move them, ah, out of
the way so that they wouldn't be caught in any kind of, ah, crossfire.
And in the process, give the Vietnamese soldiers a chance to talk to
them at some length about the village itself.
Ah, as we moved into the further into the village, ah,
we did encounter a problem, which ah which was ultimately to become, ah,
a very difficult situation...in that we had not gotten a report from one
of my squads that they had been fired from behind. Ah, it meant either
that our search was not, ah, ah, sufficiently, ah, adequate, or that we
were facing some other kind of a problem; um that perhaps they had come
from some other area of the village and come in behind us or whatever.
Um, it was my deter, determination at that point
that, ah, we needed to first research some of the, the houses that we
had ah gone by, and ah try to determine why, ah, we had missed these
people, and, in the process of doing that, we began to ah, uncover, ah,
bunkers – just simply ce, ah, cellars – ah dug in the, in the ground,
ah, beneath the floor of, of the dwellings, which might well have been
simply for protection of the, the family itself – somewhere to go if
Ah, there did appear to be some, ah, ah, further
digging ah, of smaller exits or, or perhaps adjacent tunnels or
something from some of those ah, pits. Ah, then it began to be-, uh
become apparent to me that we were facing a problem in which a, a
sniper, or a, a Viet Cong
soldier, ah, could fire at us from one building, one hut, ah, and
disappear down these tunnels and then come up in another one and fire
from a completely different direction, which ca- ah posed substantial
problems for us. Um, there was...