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NVA Officer Reveals Life In Hanoi

Story By CPT David R. Fabian

LIEUTENANT X had been extensively trained as a recon specialist in North Vietnam prior to his infiltration south. After serving four months in South Vietnam with the 320th Regiment Recon Company as a Master Sergeant, he received a battlefield commission and became the executive officer of the 19th Recon Company, 320th Regiment, 1st NVA Division.

He participated in the battles of Chu Do, Chu Ben and Hill 800 in Kontum Province in 1968. In late summer his unit was moved further south toward Ban Me Thuot. While on a recon mission, he was found wounded by an alert 4th Division LRP team.

The desire to live had been sapped from his body. Now he suffered the grave mental anguish of a severely wounded soldier who had been abandoned by his fleeing comrades.

Perhaps he felt as though death had smoothed her lap and beckoned him to rest his head. Or perhaps he felt that his battered body had begun melting into the thickly carpeted jungle floor.

The desire to destroy the enemy, however, still pulsed, and with what little strength he could muster, he cradled two grenades beneath his body, intent upon killing his American captors in a final gesture of hostile defiance.

To his surprise, the NVA soldier found his foes to be compassionate. His wounds were immediately tended, and he is alive today to tell the story of his tour with the North Vietnamese Army.

What follows is the first in a series of weekly installments which will make known to Ivymen the contents of a lengthy interview between the NVA officer—we shall call him Lieutenant X—and intelligence experts. The comments made by Lieutenant X during the interview were offered freely and sincerely.

The IVY LEAF wishes to acknowledge the efforts of Major Billy J. Biberstein, Commanding Officer, 13th Military History Detachment, who transcribed notes of the interview into narrative form.

Here, however, the narrative has been abridged and in part specially rewritten to meet practical demands. No factual material has been altered in any way.

Part I

GENERALLY SPEAKING, I enjoyed a relatively good childhood. Although my father died before my birth, my mother was able to manage household and financial affairs throughout my early childhood because she was successfully renting sections of our 50 hectars of rice fields to neighbors. When I was six years old, however, my mother and I - I should mention that I was an only child - moved from Nam Ha, the place of my birth, to Ngol Cao village in Ninh Binh Province in North Vietnam. We did so because we wished to escape the fighting being waged by the French and the Viet Minh.

"While living in Ngol Cao, I attended school for eight years, earning the equivalent of a high school diploma. I recall enjoying mathematics a great deal, but I felt I had little aptitude to appreciate and understand literature.

"In 1960 I joined a high school youth group. For me, membership in the group was a new experience. Perhaps it was because my mother was fairly rich, or perhaps it was because I was cherished by her as her only child, but prior to joining the group I led what would be referred to as an irresponsible and reckless teen-hood. My social life was very active. There were always folk festivals, dances and movies.

"The high school group matured me. It was not a communist organization, however. My first experience as a member of a communist youth organization occurred later when I was drafted into military service. I am not certain, but I think that every NVA soldier must be a youth group member."

"Personally, I am not pleased to be under the communist regime. Before it became prominent in North Vietnam, my mother was able to sell our farm products directly to the people, but after they (the communists) came, she was forced to sell all her products to the cooperative."

(At this point in the interview, Lieutenant X mentions the numerous hardships his mother. encountered when trying to sell crops at the cooperative, the loss of personal property, and the rationing of foodstuffs in North Vietnam).

"The North Vietnamese people do not like it under the yoke of the communist party either, but they dare not express their true feelings and anti-communist sentiments for fear of punishment. If they do speak out against the ideologies which have been imposed upon them, they are immediately arrested and sent to a reform center for one to four months. If they are guilty of more flagrant violations against the government, the sentences are longer

NEXT WEEK: Lieutenant X will tell about his military training in North Vietnam.

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