Thien Vu' - A Vietnamese warrior.
In Vietnam I always knew that out there, somewhere, was that VC Super Guerrilla, could be a she, might be a he - In this recounting I am going with she. Thien Vu' had been a keen young Sapper during the Japanese occupation and the French Indochina war, and had survived into middle age to fight this new bunch - the Running Dog American Imperialists, us. She was wise in the way of no-quarter given ambush, practiced with booby traps; a master of small unit tactics designed to sap her enemies will, to confound and confuse them. Bite them here, snap at them there. Tonight would be a prime example of her craft, thumbing her nose at the hated invaders.
At the "Fishnet Factory" a few miles southwest of Saigon; late October, 1968. An hour after dusk a duel stream of interlocking green tracers lit up the evening sky, The tracers sailed overhead as the heavy machine guns fired rapidly for about a minute or so. The sheets of tracers impacted the second floor of the factory where some simply winked out but others pinwheeled away into the dark. The Mint Green tracers always indicated enemy fire, we preferred the red/orange red-hot flavor. I knew there was a village out there and it is pretty certain the fire came from it.
Hook, line and sinker...
The 199th Infantry Brigade officers at the TOC (Tactical Operations Center), held a hasty Pow-Wow. Their decision was to send a platoon of troopers to the village to snoop around for those guns. I watch as the troopers made preparations to move out, there is a lot of "WTF GI" talk among them. Their platoon leader instructs them to take no backpacks, weapons, water and extra ammunition the Order for the Night. Eventually two columns of GI's amble through the barbed wire surrounding our site, their upper bodies and helmets illuminated by hand flares as they surmount the low berm then quickly fade into the bush. I know that there is nothing but tangled scrub jungle between us and the village. Machetes with grunts go thunk'n into the night, crackly, Low voiced, reports are broadcast on PRC-25 radios.
We wait, an hour, then two...
Word comes into the TOC that the platoon has reached the village - they search but find nothing. The troopers are instructed to RTB (Return To Base). About twenty minutes later a a muffled explosion is heard from the direction of the village.
Her Trap springs!
There would be other explosions, Ms Vu' and her cohorts had infiltrated around and behind the Imperialists and heavily booby-trapped their return route while they were occupied searching the village. Actually, it turned out, that the booby-traps had already been in place and only needed to be activated after the invaders invaded past the traps. Troopers died, were wounded dusted off to the rear. I eventually sacked out for I had a schedule to keep working SIGINT at the Fishnet Factory.
In Vietnam if you lived, you learned. But Thein Vu' and her crowd could be counted on to always be one step ahead of those playing her game.
PS; My story is fact - those troops really were sent out and suffered coming back to the Fishnet Factory. You can find photographs of the factory on the 199th Light Infantry Brigades website - Google "Redcatchers."
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