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U.S. Helicopter Pilots Take Full Combat Role in Vietnam

July 25, 1963 - American armed helicopter pilots in South Vietnam have started taking a full combat role in the war against Communist guerrillas. They have been given most of the credit for the big kill against Viet Cong soldiers who tried to trap a ranger battalion north of Saigon Monday. Earlier in July, they swooped on guerrillas who were ambushing a civil guard company in Tay Ninh province, killing at least a dozen Reds. The American high command in Saigon has declined comment on the use of armed helicopters in South Vietnam, since officially it is still claimed that Americans are filling an advisory and support role there. One senior U.S. officer, asked to comment on a U.S. helicopter attack on guerrillas north of Saigon Tuesday, said, “We were sure they were Viet Cong guerrillas, weren’t we? Then why can’t we kill them?” Meanwhile, qualified sources in Saigon reported today that the number of U.S. military advisers in South Vietnam has reached 14,000. The buildup in the American military establishment in South Vietnam began in late 1961 when the threat of a victory by Communist guerrillas was viewed as critical. At the time, there were only about 1,000 American advisers there.


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