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In Black Hawk Down, the fight went on for a day. In We Were Soldiers Once & Young, the fighting lasted three days. In The Village, one Marine squad fought for 495 days—half of them died.
Few American battles have been so extended, savage and personal. A handful of Americans volunteered to live among six thousand Vietnamese, training farmers to defend their village. Such “Combined Action Platoons” (CAPs) are now a lost footnote about how the war could have been fought; only the villagers remain to bear witness. This is the story of fifteen resolute young Americans matched against two hundred Viet Cong; how a CAP lived, fought and died. And why the villagers remember them to this day.
police chief—Bac Si Khoi—agreed with the method. Trao had not had the time to manage the village and keep up with police matters. The village council had not thought the village needed another Thanh, so Khoi it was, although he spent as much time at the dispensary as at the village office. But then the enemy threat had diminished. The P31st was not what it had been. American planes had caught the company in the open somewhere over in the Phu Longs and the villagers said the company was hurt
trowel. The villagers wanted to give it to us, but its owner had thrown it away years ago. A stone’s throw north of the marker was the village shrine, a simple cement room, dyed yellow, with four pillars and an open front facing the paddies. Inside, surrounded by joss sticks, was a bright wooden altar honoring the spirits of the village. Once a year, the villagers gather to pray for good crops and no floods. Behind the building is a cement well bearing a Vietnamese inscription to the Marines who
callused hands over rough cement and to remember the faces which were stalwart. The village remembers. SIMON & SCHUSTER PROUDLY PRESENTS THE PEPPERDOGS BING WEST Now available in hardcover from Simon & Schuster Turn the page for a preview of The Pepperdogs…. If one falls down, the others will lift him up. —Ecclesiastes 4:10 I MITROVICA VALLEY, KOSOVO-SERB BORDER SUNDAY, 21 DECEMBER 11 A.M. To the half-drunken Serb soldiers in the tan Toyota pickup, the farm looked inviting. Its
“Right, it’s an HMO plot to shift votes,” the SecDef said. “All I’m saying is we have to stick to our game plan. It took a year to get back on track after the Twin Towers,” the Chief of Staff said. “Every military incident can’t end up at the Oval Office. We’ve agreed the domestic agenda is the focus for the next Congress. You’ll keep this across the river?” “It’ll be managed from Brussels or Kosovo.” “Good, the farther away, the better. It’s a distraction,” the Chief of Staff said, “and we
housewife swore they spoke with North Vietnamese accents. The rumor upset the PFs, who were not sure how they should react to the news. Even Luong seemed uncertain and looked to the Marines for tactical advice. The Marines were less concerned because they had fought against North Vietnamese units several times before coming to the village and all were convinced that the Viet Cong made the more dangerous adversary on patrols in the hamlets. The North Vietnamese moved and fought in platoon-,