IVY LEAF

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Lt X Tells Personal Thoughts

By CPT David R. Fabian

Lieutenant X bad 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 Battalion. 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.

PART VI

"I DONíT KNOW HOW you could convince other NVA soldiers that ARVNís do not kill or torture prisoners. One way might be to let some NVA captured by ARVN return to their units. However, I think that if I were released and went back to rejoin my unit I would be watched very closely at all timesÖ.

"The only soldiers who enjoy being in the NVA are the young hot-blooded ones. Most of us are merely draftees who do not enjoy the struggle. We do grow accustomed to some of the hardships. We donít care about not getting paid, for example, because there would be nowhere to spend the money. Very frequently we are faced with food and equipment shortages, which definitely affects troop morale.

"The North Vietnamese soldier is superior to the ARVN. but the ARVN can rely on artillery support. The American soldier Is strong and more intelligent than the NVA soldier, but he is not familiar with the terrain of the countryside, which I feel is a marked disadvantage. The US soldier Is also very noisy when navigating the terrain.

"I do not know if we are trying to force Communism on South Vietnam or not. I donít think this war can be won by military might. The military activities are merely in support of the political struggle. Yes, I have heard of the peace talks over radio Hanoi but I have no opinion regarding them. I think the only answer is a North Vietnam and a South Vietnam. There are just too many differences on each side. Once divided the country should be controlled by an International Commission at the DMZ. The UN cannot control it since they would oversimplify the problem as Communism versus the Free World.

"I WAS STILL IN North Vietnam when last yearís Tet offensive started. According to radio reports, the NVA had achieved great victories After my infiltration I saw that it was quite the opposite.. . . The people in North Vietnam are like the deaf and the blind ó they are not aware of what is actually going on, they believe only In what the communists tell them.

"Our leaders are speaking erroneously, they are lying to us. Yet if we refuse to fight our families will be harassed by the government. I would suggest that you exploit this type of propaganda. Nothing of the truth is broadcast to the North Vietnamese people or the NVA soldiers so the fact that our families are being harassed cannot affect the morale of our troops....

"I have heard of the Chieu Hoi program but I do not know exactly what it is. I also beard a little about it from one of the airplanes, but I and my men paid little attention to it since the voice sounded so insincere. I have also seen lots of the psyops leaflets but they seemed to make little Impression on the NVA soldiers.

IF THE AMERICANS WERE to let the South Vietnamese put the Ideas into poetry the leaflets would be much more successful. The Vietnamese are a very poetic people. I and all the men in my unit knew the lines to one of the poems used by the South Vietnamese. The best way to tell of good will is through poetry, and we thought of these lines very often:

Since I have been away from you while following my comrades into Laos and then in Central Vietnam along mountain trails, being sunburned by the sun near the coastal area, I have suffered all kinds of hardships. The age of youth is similar to a blossom of a flower. Due to the cost of peace we do not fear difficulties. During six months of day movement and night rest I have worn my boot soles and shirt collars. . ,,.Oh, wise Mother, I remember our home. In the evening our house is covered by the shadow of the sweet melon vine, and I am sorry that my hand has committed a crime.

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