A tragic story of a failed commitment “to keep a hamlet free”: 100% original copies Diem’s Rural Revolutionary Development Pacification Strategic Hamlet Program. You might hear of the Civic Action Campaign (CAC) during the Vietnam War, a type of helping-hand works carried out by ARVN units or US Armed Forces to win the hearts and minds of the peasants. Unlike CAC which usually lasts only a few days, the (CAP) Combined Action Program was a long term commitment in which the participating soldiers would stay within the village, enhance the village people's lives and provide security around the clock. The following article is a unique, untold story that began with an optimistic promise, unfortunately ended in a sorrow outcome. Perhaps this was an early omen for the fate of South Vietnam when the US started to pull out his troops, cutting short the commitment "to keep a hamlet free.” USMC always the best of “Combined Action Program (CAP) The Combined Action Program was just one of the many humanitarian examples set in motion during the war. Each of the American military branches had large-scale humanitarian projects of their own and most individuals possessed his or her pet projects. As kids, Americans are taught to give and this feeling of giving doesn't end by serving in the military. In many cases, based on exposure to other countries, the feelings of giving and helping are greatly enhanced. For over thirty years, many Americans have only heard and sadly, believed the negative stories from the Vietnam War. The positive stories are just as real and truthful. Like those who served before them, Vietnam Veterans did their job well. The Đuc-Duc-Resettlement-Hamlet was also known Phu-Da. It was one of the hamlets that surrounded the Fifth Marine Combat Base in An-Hoa-Valley. A small team of Marines of the Combined Action Program (CAP) directly protected the Đuc-Duc Resettlement Hamlets (Phu-Da). These Marines, along with their Navy Corpsman, lived and served 24/7 with the peasants.
Located about 20 miles southwest of Danang, Duc-Duc was located in one of the hottest combat war zone in Vietnam. The peasant-farming village was surrounded by a number of notorious Communist staging areas for thousands of dedicated North Vietnamese Army Regulars and Viet Cong Terrorists. The Mt Que Son, Charlie Ridge and the infamous Arizona Territory were almost the sole responsibility of the 5th Marines. The two CAp Units of Ninth Company, 2nd Cag were the first line of protection for the important An Hoa Marine Combat. The Vietnamese people of Duc Duc, Phu Da were hard working; family-oriented and spiritually-oriented. Although most of the people were not politically involved, they were both supportive and many times they were protective of the Americans who live in their village. However, they were terrified of the Communist' threats on their village. Many times, whenever possible, peasants would bang their posts to warn the young Americans, when the Viet Cong entered the hamlet at night.
The Americans finally left Phu-Da in August 1970. Seven months later, in March 1971, the Communists slaughtered the village, burning 800 homes and killing and wounding 250 men, women and children. The peasant only crime... was they supported the Americans in the An-Hoa Valley. Jack Cunningham was one of the last Americans to serve in this hamlet. "SO ALONE": The script "So Alone" is based on Jack Cunningham's experiences of serving in the Marine Corps/ Navy Combined Action Program (CAP.) This special Civil Action/ Anti-Terrorist unit were one of the most unique fighting contingents in America's history. Small teams of four to fourteen Marines and Navy Corpsmen lived and served 24/7 in farming villages of sometimes thousands of peasants.
Although, the Combined Action Program (CAP) was part of the Marines, it worked very closely with the Republic of Vietnam and received that Country's highest unit awards for both "Gallantry and Civil Actions."
Prior to the American CAP teams taking over, many of these villages were once under Communist physical and political control. For unknown reasons, few Americans back in the United States ever heard from our News Media that the Communists were known and feared for their heartless tactics. But they were! Terror and death were regular tools they used from their arsenals for controlling their own people.
On the other hand, the Americans of the Combined Action Program were known by the poorest of the Vietnamese poor for their kindness, friendship, help and protection. In order to be accepted as a volunteer, an American had to have some extraordinary qualities. Qualities that would make the (mostly teenage) Americans winners dealing with all cultures, societies and nationalities CAP performed many of the same Civil Action tasks around the villages that Peace Corps members would have achieved if they were assigned. The unit daily earned its nickname "The Peace Corps Volunteers with Rifles" The American s' duties included everything from medical treatment to security for the villagers. Oftentimes the Marines and Corpsmen provided extra assistance -- building bridges, schoolhouses, wells, homes, irrigation ditches, delivering babies, breeding pigs, etc. Well beyond what was called for in their duty rosters. CAP supported the peasants, so much around their villages that many of the Vietnamese families adopted the young Americans. They became anti-terrorist specialists because of their kindness to the people.
Our Navy Corpsmen treated 300 to 500 peasants a month in each of the villages. These medical services, coordinated by our Navy Corpsmen, were called "MedCaps." These "MedCaps” were a major part of the success of the Combined Action Program.
To this day, Vietnamese village peasants still remember the names of the American Cap Veterans, who served so proudly and faithfully in their villages.
Because the peasants loved and trusted the young Americans, the Communist revolutionaries despised them that much more! Only half of the 5,000 Marines and Navy Corpsmen, who served honorably in CAP, survived the heavy combat. And 70 percent of those survivors were hurt at least once. A full 45% of the Americans were wounded more than once. Cap Veterans are the ultimate survivors. The terrorists were constantly thwarted by CAP Teams in their hideous campaigns to intimidate the peasants into submission. Often, the regular Vietnamese Communist Army was called in to strike against CAP. This led to many fierce firefights, where CAP Teams were out-manned by ten times their number. In many cases, entire CAP Teams were wiped out to the last man, but the following day, another CAP Team would be back in the same hamlet.
But the U.S internal politics, their influence on the conduct of this war, and the reasons why the American withdrew from Vietnam in 1973 would be the subject of another story? As the beginning of this book, I had many time emphasized on this question in which I was discuss three axioms in the dominant interpretation of the nature of US-Vietnam-War that were established by the venality of the antiwar movement during 1960s, and subsequently taken up by teachers at most schools and universities as the basis for explaining the war. The last axiom is that: “the US could not have won the war under any circumstances!” –US honorable withdraw by Paris Peace talk 1973.
But those forces were striving for just one thing victory – victory defined as a Saigon regime capable of defending itself and determining its own political, economic, and cultural future. But alas the Axis of Evil was prevailed over the native population. This betrayal was perfectly with anticipated purpose, orchestrated and preceded by a campaign of denigration and disinformation in favor of the Hanoi, which was fostered by most of the US media and intelligentsia in the cog-wheel with Western world as well. Took out you a comprehensive U.S policy?
The Strategic Hamlet Program continued to far-southern Mekong Delta like cap Ca Mau, a 31st ARVN/Regiment strived help peoples to unite along the river, U-Minh-Ha’s sanctuaries build up some offensive-hamlets composed 12,000 peasants. In the Spring1962, President Diem pronounced in the international newsmen, given in public: There is a just the beginning of the project, our fellow citizens were elated at the new 1,500 offensive-hamlets, among them emerged a couple dozen hamlets became the Strategic developed hamlets where there had an elementary school, school-boys and girls having same color uniforms, stores, church, pagoda, people have had TV, beautiful dresses…the activities looked like a small county. They’re so happy under their houses with aluminum roofs and mud walls. In this stage, as a helicopter pilot I had the chances to see that “progress was most visible in the expanding secure rural road network and in the increased traffic on both roads canals, and rivers.”
Toward center of South Vietnam, Diem’s regime realized an operation with the “Sun-Rise 2” spreading over Binh Dinh province territories, those zones were so easy to transformation due to they had had so much brutal experience with those bastards Viet Cong. When ARVN troops coming with their great welcome. GVN reorganized 328 Strategic-hamlets. The saver-troops were proceeding toward northern to Quang Ngai province by an operation “Phoenix” established more 162 Strategic-hamlets. And returned back toward southern, Phu-Yen province realized more than 281 offensive-hamlets by an operation “Seagull”.
The Saigon government invested a huge some of money for establishment of radio communications in case emergency, some construction materials, wired barbs-pylons, ammunition for light self-defense weapons, organizing some people-force groups from 20 to 30 gunmen to self defense. And the crucial objective was helping their increased economical resources and welfare for the new comers. The Political Action Teams (PAT) have shown up the experience to grow crop with fertilize, build the school, dispensary-clinic, military training how to shot the gun safely and mines, organized people vote to elect the hamlet administrative officials, GVN furnished the teachers.
At the end of the year 1962, those groups to include enough specialists for better hamlets government and health, education, and agricultural improvement work.