Mar. 8, 1962 - United States Army helicopters carried a Vietnamese battalion in a successful raid against the Communist stronghold of Cai Ngai near the southern tip of Vietnam. Five helicopters were struck by Communist bullets, and one was disabled. There were no American casualties. Cai Ngai, a clutter of huts along a canal 20 miles southwest of Ca Mau in An Xuyen Province, fell easily after a brief fight. Three Communist guerrillas were killed in a bamboo thicket at the edge of the village. Strafing by Vietnamese fighter planes killed an estimated total of 25 more who had been seen to flee in the encirclement. A Communist armament factory, a food supply depot, and a first-aid station were captured and destroyed. About 20 suspected Viet Cong guerrillas were seized. But as usual, the main enemy force got away. The Government troops failed to take advantage of the Communists’ initial shock. They bunched up and dawdled in drainage ditches and under the shade of coconut trees until an American advisor cried out in exasperation, “Let’s move the thing forward!” By late afternoon, it was apparent that the battle was over and that most of the 200 Communists had exited the area. Captain Robert Bebber of Knoxville, Tenn., who is advising the South Vietnamese, said: “We sure hit a nestful this time, but we just didn’t move fast enough."
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