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South Vietnamese Forces Press Action against Communist Viet Cong

May 18, 1963 - South Vietnamese forces scoured the Cambodian border along the Plain of Reeds today and killed at least 40 Communist guerrillas in an operation about 65 miles west of Saigon. U.S. military advisers were pleased with the conduct of the operation. The armored vehicles, moving northward from the Mekong River to link up with 2 helicopter-borne battalions, first flushed 25 guerrillas. Twenty-two of these died in waist-high reeds under the steel tracks of the carriers and from machine-gun fire. Later, as another carrier unit of 12 vehicles approached a village, 2 men rushed forward as if they wanted to surrender. When they got within 50 yards of the vehicles, they threw 2 grenades and were immediately shot down. “I guess Communist propaganda had convinced them we were made of paper,” a U.S. military adviser with the unit remarked. Four waves of American-piloted helicopters flew into the area. Passengers in the first wave saw a lone peasant standing as if petrified. “We’ve told the local population not to move,” a Government officer explained. “Otherwise, they’ll get shot.” A mile further on, another peasant also froze until the last group of helicopters came overhead. Then the peasant reached into the reeds, pulled out a rifle, and started firing. Three helicopters swept down on him, firing with 12 machine guns. His body spun into the reeds. U.S. officers of the 57th Helicopter Transport Company, based in Saigon, called the operation the “best we’ve had so far.” The only drawback was that most of the guerrillas in the area had apparently slipped into neighboring Cambodia yesterday after having got wind of the operation.


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