THE MEMORY OF A JOURNALIST IN THE FIGHT
This is a true story by Mr. Nha. He was a writer in the Vietnamese Army, working with a VC unit in the Delta. Now he is working in HCMC as the Editor of the Vietnamese Veteran's Association newsletter.
This incident occurred at approximately 1530 hrs, on May 24, 1968, just southeast of the intersection of Cia Lay and Highway 1. The US soldiers were believed to be with the 9th Infantry Division ("Florida?"). Mr Nha is hoping to identify the soldiers he encountered and sends his wishes that they all survived the war, as did he. (As translated from Vietnamese to English by Hoang Lan, LanAnh Enterprise, Saigon.)
If you have ANY information related to this event, please contact John Rossie.
Vo Tran Nha and John Rossie in Saigon in September 1997
Once during the war, the year 1968, I was on Road No 4 - Stage 2. A "ca-ro" helicopter interrupted my exit from a tunnel where I had taken refuge. There were many soldiers with me. They said to one another, "Oh! It is very dangerous for the safety of the journalist to be in the tunnel because the Americans are closing in with their 'ca-ro' helicopter."
"That's right," I wholeheartedly agreed.
(NOTE: The "ca-ro" helicopter was the Viet Cong name for the small, bubble-domed, observation choppers--Loaches--that were used as spotters for the Hueys that packed the punch. This particular Loach had a checkered tail, but the "ca-ro" part really refers to the small size and appearance. It is a Vietnamese reference to a sort of bubble-eyed fish.)
There was a farmer nearby. He also saw the "ca-ro" helicopter and jumped down to the tunnel in a panic. I knew that the situation was very dangerous at that time.
I thought I would die in the tunnel because the American troops would arrive at any moment. The farmer would be arrested; but after that,they would release him. But that would not be my fate. If they caughtme, I would surely be killed.
I had a shotgun, a "Browning-Canada," and an American grenade. In the tunnel was a cache of munitions for heavy machine guns as well as a record book and a camera. I am now very sorry that I was not calm enough to take a photo. It would be one that I would cherish if I had it now.
About fifteen minutes later, the helicopter troops arrived. I couldn't release the grenade, and there was not enough time to jump outof the tunnel. I still remember the American soldier when I was in the tunnel with the farmer. The American soldier had a high nose, blue eyes, and a red face.
He was wearing body-protection. I shot twice and ran quickly to the field. There was a pool with many kinds of trees on the water. I decidedI would hide there. As I approached the pool, I heard the "bop" sound of gunfire; and the shotgun dropped from my hand. Luckily, I had a belt to tie the gun to myself.
Once more, I heard the "bop" sound behind me. I thought I had been shot, but I was mistaken...my gun, now tied to me with a sling, had hit my head as I ran. I jumped down into the water. Shortly after that, I knew I had nearly shot to the "33 card" site of an American ambush.
I was calm now. My hand was broken inside, but my fingers moved. Not bad. I guessed they would look for me, so I prepared to undo the safety pin of the grenade to kill all of them when they found me.
A helicopter of American soldiers landed and pushed to the tunnel. They arrested the farmer there. They came to the field and around the pool and went back to the helicopter. I later learned that the farmer was released the following day.
I still remember that afternoon. There weren't any American search planes, which was unusual. I was still there. My hand was hurting badly now, but there was no running blood. I felt tired and afraid that American soldiers would return here soon.
Suddenly I heard a voice. "Journalist!" And other voices. "Let's find the Journalist. He might be in here" and "He might die here."
Everyone was looking for me; I called out to them. They were all very happy when they saw me; and they shouted, "The Journalist is alive! Alive!"
I then received some medical treatment from them.
I've often thought about and written about my lucky day and the fight on Highway No. 4.
Copyright © 1997 By Mr. Vo Tran Nha, All Rights Reserved.