The American soldier seemed very naive in the art of the type of warfare used in Viet Nam. There were no open fields with tanks and soldiers marching across it. Most of the warfare was in dense jungle with a visibility of about ten yards, if that. The undergrowth was thick and allowed the Viet Cong to assemble in it. You could loose yourself or your buddy and never be the wiser for a period of time. Ambushes were the prime tactic of the Viet Cong. With the use of the thick underbrush, bunkers could be really concealed and never be seen until it was too late. The rapid flow of AK-47 fire and machine gun fire would wipe out a company in a matter of a few moments. Being the AK-47 had a 50-60 round clip. This next to the Americans 20 round clip, that needed replacement. That change time caused many deaths, etc.Then the scavenging for equipment would go on. It was not unusual to find the Viet Cong, well equipped with captured American equipment. There means or resupply was carried out in the same manner over and over.
The Americans relied more and more on the use of aircraft and heavy artillery in the country. The search and destroy missions seemed only like bait being thrown out to the enemy. When the company was hit, the call would be made for air-strikes in the neighborhood of the enemy fire. At times the planes and rockets from the aircraft, would find the American company. The pilot at times found it difficult to distinguish the enemy from friendly forces due to jungle density. This led to many unnecessary deaths and wounded. The artillery shells that fell short of their point of impact would also add to the casualties. Maybe there was less powder in one shell or it missed fired. Sometimes in the dark, a notch on the trajectory of the shell was set wrong. The more the war relied on the use of tech. weapons the more was the margin of error.
How could the margin of error replace the lost arm or leg, not to mention the life. There were the moral questions, that led to some of the decent ion of the troops. Why should I be used as bait for this war. Why do I have to go out in the field and walk around in the mud and risk my neck? That place is loaded with booby-traps . I'LL never return once I enter the jungle. What if I'm captured and taken prisoner of war. Maybe they wont kill me, but just put me to slow death. I remember the other guy that I smoked grass with, hanging from a tree by his thumbs. They had skinned him alive and cut his testicles off. Then they put them in his mouth and placed his company insignia on his forehead. Do I really want to cope with this reality.
The thought of being taken prisoner was probably the most frightening of all fates. You never knew what the enemy would do with you. Sometimes they would keep you in the jungle or send you up to Hanoi. Sometimes they would make you into a slave and carry ammo, packs or supplies.
Once you were captured you could be sure of the worst treatment possible on the face of the earth. Your food would be left overs or non at all. Roots or berries found in the woods. Bugs, worms, snakes, which were a delicacy, would be the main substance of food. You could be sure of being beaten for the least infraction of rules. Rifle butts in the ribs, so a few ribs would crack, and make sure your captivity was more painful. Sometimes you could be bound to a tree for days, without food or water for days. This was while the enemy was out on a mission. Then you hoped they wouldn't get killed or even they would come back for you. These were some of the fears that played on the mind of the American soldier.
There was always the possibility of escape. If you did manage to free yourself, you had better not get re-caught. You could be sure of worse treatment if apprehended. You could be chopped to death by machetes. Skinned till you died from blood loss. Sometimes you could be tied next to a red ant hill, and they would eat you alive. These were all against the Geneva convention, but that didn't exist in the back jungles of Viet Nam. There life was to survive and come back alive. Some guys if they knew they were at the point of capture, would take their own lives. Rather than face capture, and the duration of capture.
Sometimes sutler means of torture were used to extract information. You could be kept awake until delirium set in. Electric shocks from motor vehicle batteries. Your gentile area was usually the prime area of contact. This would produce sever pain. After being kept awake for days on end this cold reek hardest damage on the nervous system. These were added fates of captured American soldiers.The Viet Congwas out to win the war and used every method, that could come into his mind. This fear made the American soldier more calculated.
This gave the Viet Cong, the upper hand in psych. warfare, his specialty. You had to think of these things or you were not facing up to reality of war and its results. Sometimes truth and reality could get caught up into fantasy realities. The Viet Cong made sure you were jolted in and out of that world. The above mentioned pages are only some of the means deployed in the Viet Nam War. It was a cruel war and vicious at times, past television images, which present a fantasy reality without pain and suffering.
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