Search and Destroy Mission in the Mekong Delta 

Describing the Batangan Peninsula in Quang Ngai province Time O’Brien wrote in the New York Times: “The Graveyard we called it. Littered with land mines, almost completely defoliated, this spit of land jutting eastward into the South China Sea was a place Alpha Company feared the way others might fear snakes, or the dark, or the bogey man. We lost at least three men here; I couldn’t begin to count the arms and legs.”

On the Batangan Peninsula O’Brien’s company battled the 48th Viet Cong Battalion. “It was the 48th that Alpha Company chased from village to village, paddy to paddy, during my entire tour in Vietnam,” he wrote. “Chased but never found. They found us: ambushes, sniper fire, nighttime mortar attacks.”

The commander of the 48th, Ngu Duc Tan, a man with sixteen battle scars scattered around his body, later told O’Brien, “U.S. troops not hard to see, not hard to fight. Much noise, much equipment. Big columns. Nice green uniforms.”

To make the searching easier, the Americans dug canals to drain the swamps and used napalm and herbicides to clear the vegetation. Describing an area in northern part of the Mekong River, one former Viet Cong fighter told National Geographic, “The Plain of Reeds was an ideal hiding place. We were not afraid of anything but chemical warfare. Then we were helpless.”

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