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Saturday, 26 July 2008

Portrait of an ARVN soldier. Phan Thiet 1968

A South Vietnamese soldier in Phan Thiet in that year of 1968.

Most of the fighting at that time was undertaken by Montagnard units which had been flown in to get to grips with the VC at close quarters. These were backed up by armoured ARVN troops and United States recoilless rifle teams and aircraft.
The Viet Cong were very tenacious. There was a pocket of them holed up at the bottom of the cemetery which separated the airfield from the town, which made driving down through this cemetery two or three times a day rather dodgy. These were being continually attacked by US helicopter gunships.

There were VC positions off to the left. I recounted in an earlier post how one day a US jet fighter came in on a strafing run just over my head as I was driving down the raised road through the old gravestone. Not having heard nor seen its approach when it opened fire with its cannans just above my head I was more startled than I had ever been in my life.

The dead VC, its blackened corpse, arms and legs rigid and pointing upwards, leant a surrealistic touch to the atmosphere.

And from time to time a perty of Vietnamese came to bury their dead. Life must go on. Or should the expression have been “Death must go on”. “Viva el muerte” as the Spanish Legion used to say.

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