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A TRAGIC STORY OF A FAILED COMMITMENT "TO KEEP A VILLAGE FREE"
You might hear of the Civic Action Campaign (Cong Tac Dan Su Vu) during the Vietnam war, a type of helping-hand works carried out by ARVN units or US Armed Forces to win the hearts and minds of the peasants. Unlike CTDSV which usually lasts only a few days, the Combined Action Program (CAP) was a long term commitment in which the participating soldiers would stay within the village, enhance the village people's lives and provide security around the clock. The following article is a unique, untold story that began with an optimistic promise, unfortunately ended in a sorrow outcome. Perhaps this was an early omen for the fate of South Vietnam when the US started to pull out his troops, cutting short the commitment "to keep a village free"...
COMBINED ACTION PROGRAM (CAP)
The CAP Program was just one of the many humanitarian examples set in motion during the war. Each of the American military branches had large-scale humanitarian projects of their own and most individuals possessed his or her pet projects. As kids, Americans are taught to give and this feeling of giving doesn't end by serving in the military. In many cases, based on exposure to other countries, the feelings of giving and helping are greatly enhanced.
For over thirty years, many Americans have only heard and sadly, believed the negative stories from the Vietnam War. The positive stories are just as real and truthful. Like those who served before them, Vietnam Veterans did their job well.
THE DUC DUC RESETTLEMENT VILLAGE
(aka PHU DA)
The Duc Duc Resettlement Village was also known Phu Da. It was one of the villages that surrounded the Fifth Marine Combat Base in An Hoa Valley. A small team of Marines of the Combined Action Program (CAP) directly protected the Duc Duc Resettlement Village (Phu Da). These Marines, along with their Navy Corpsman, lived and served 24/7 with the peasants.
Located about 20 miles southwest of Da Nang, Duc Duc was located in one of the hottest combat war zone in Vietnam. The peasant-farming village was surrounded by a number of notorious, Communist staging areas for thousands of dedicated North Vietnamese Army Regulars and Viet Cong Terrorists. The Que Son Mountains, Charlie Ridge and the infamous Arizona Territory were almost the sole responsibility of the 5th Marines. The two CAp Units of Ninth Company, 2nd Cag were the first line of protection for the important An Hoa Marine Combat Base.
The Vietnamese people of Duc Duc/Phu Da were hard working; family-oriented and spiritually-oriented. Although most of the people were not politically involved, they were both supportive ans many times, they were protective of the Americans who live in their village. However, they were terrified of the Communist' threats on their village. Many times, whenever possible, peasants would bang their posts to warn the young Americans, when the Viet Cong entered the village at night.
The Americans finally left Phu Da in August 1970. Seven months later, in March 1971, the Communists slaughtered the village, burning 800 homes and killing and wounding 250 men, women and children. The peasants only crime... was they supported the Americans in the An Hoa Valley. Jack Cunningham was one of the last Americans to serve in this village.
PHOTOS OF DAILY LIFE IN DUC DUC RESETTLEMENT VILLAGE, ON THE HAPPY DAYS
DUC DUC VILLAGE RUINS AFTER THE MASSACRE BY COMMUNISTS & VIET CONG WEAPON CONFISCATED FROM THE ATTACK
DUC DUC RESETTLEMENT VILLAGE MAP
The script "So Alone" is based on Jack Cunningham's experiences of serving in the Marine Corps/ Navy Combined Action Program (CAP.) This special Civil Action/ Anti-Terrorist unit was one of the most unique fighting contingents in America's history. Small teams of four to fourteen Marines and Navy Corpsmen lived and served '24/7' in farming villages of sometimes thousands of peasants.
Although, the Combined Action Program (CAP) was part of the Marines, it worked very closely with the Republic of Vietnam and received that Country's highest unit awards for both "Gallantry and Civil Actions."
Prior to the American CAP teams taking over, many of these villages were once under Communist physical and political control. For unknown reasons, few Americans back in the United States ever heard from our News Media that the Communists were known and feared for their heartless tactics. But they were!
Terror and death were regular tools they used from their arsenals for controlling their own people.
On the other hand, the Americans of the Combined Action Program were known by the poorest of the Vietnamese poor for their kindness, friendship, help and protection. In order to be accepted as a volunteer, an American had to have some extraordinary qualities. Qualities that would make the (mostly teenage) Americans winners dealing with all cultures, societies and nationalities.
THE CAP TEAM IN ACTION AT DUC DUC RESETTLEMENT VILLAGE
CAP MEMORABILIA: MAP, CERTIFICATES, POCKET PATCH
CAP performed many of the same Civil Action tasks around the villages that Peace Corps members would have achieved if they were assigned. The unit daily earned its nickname "The Peace Corps Volunteers with Rifles"
The American s' duties included everything from medical treatment to security for the villagers. Oftentimes the Marines and Corpsmen provided extra assistance -- building bridges, schoolhouses, wells, homes, irrigation ditches, delivering babies, breeding pigs, etc.
Well beyond what was called for in their duty rosters.
CAP supported the peasants, so much around their villages that many of the Vietnamese families adopted the young Americans. They became anti-terrorist specialists because of their kindness to the people.
Our Navy Corpsmen treated 300 to 500 peasants a month in each of the villages. These medical services, coordinated by our Navy Corpsmen, were called "MedCaps." These "MedCaps" were a major part of the success of the Combined Action Program.
To this day, Vietnamese village peasants still remember the names of the American Cap Veterans, who served so proudly and faithfully in their villages.
Because the peasants loved and trusted the young Americans, the Communist revolutionaries despised them that much more! Only half of the 5,000 Marines and Navy Corpsmen, who served honorably in CAP, survived the heavy combat. And 70 percent of those survivors were hurt at least once. A full 45% of the Americans were wounded more than once.
Cap Veterans are the ultimate survivors.
The terrorists were constantly thwarted by CAP Teams in their hideous campaigns to intimidate the peasants into submission. Often, the regular Vietnamese Communist Army was called in to strike against CAP. This led to many fierce firefights, where CAP Teams were out-manned by ten times their number.
In many cases, entire CAP Teams were wiped out to the last man, but the following day, another CAP Team would be back in the same village.
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