11 May 1969
Charlie Loses Rice To Cacti Blue Hunt
By SP4 Michael Tousey
OASIS—In a two day search of a stream bed near the battalion firebase, Cacti Blue, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry, uncovered five tons of Viet Cong rice and captured one North Vietnamese submachine gun.
A Viet Cong suspect, detained by the Cacti Blue the previous day, led the Bravo Company troops to the first of four caches found in the area.
"The detainee said there was only one cache along the blue line," said 1st Lieutenant William R. Burdick of East Lyme, Conn., Bravo Company Commander, "but we were skeptical and probed out to the east about 50 meters where Specialist 4 Leonard Peak of Havre, Mont., found another cache of approximately one ton of rice.
"Close to this location Private First Class Robert Hill of Plainfield, Ill., found a North Vietnamese submachine gun with a loaded magazine and a round in the chamber. It was in perfect condition."
The search was discontinued for the day and a small element was left near the two caches. An enemy force, estimated at between a squad and a platoon, attempted to reach the rice, but was driven off by grenades and artillery fire.
The search was continued downstream the following morning, where two more caches were found with a total of about three tons of rice.
"All four caches were constructed the same," said Sergeant Robert A. Toledo of New York City. "They built a hooch just like the Montagnards use to store rice. Then they dug out the stream bank and lowered the hootch into the hole.
"This kept the rice off the ground in the hole. They even placed rat traps around the area to protect the rice.
"They put a log roof over the hole and camouflaged it with straw and leaves, leaving an entrance through the bank facing the stream. You could only see the cache from the stream bed."
During the search, Bravo Company also found caches from which the rice had already been removed. These structures were also destroyed.